Dogs can taste the same four basic tastes that we humans can taste: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. However, compared to humans, dogs don’t have nearly as many taste buds. Humans have about 9,000 taste buds where dogs only have about 1,700 taste buds. (Dogs do have some special taste buds for tasting water that we don’t have. And they aren’t very good when it comes to tasting salt.) Since they have fewer taste buds, you might be wondering if dogs can taste hot, spicy foods. Can you give your dog jalapenos? Or, put another way, should you give your dog jalapenos?
Jalapenos are a member of the pepper family which ranges from the mild bell pepper (also called sweet peppers) to the scary hot Carolina Reaper. Jalapenos are a hot chili pepper. While jalapenos are hot and spicy, compared to many other chili peppers they are relatively mild though some are bred to be hotter than others.
Jalapenos are a surprising source of nutrients. They are made up of 11 percent protein, 72 percent carbohydrates, and 17 percent fats. They only have a glycemic load of 2.
They are low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol and sodium. They are a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, copper, and manganese. They are also a good source of riboflavin, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are an outstanding source of vitamin C.
One cup of sliced jalapenos contains just 27 calories, 5.6 grams of carbs, 2.5 grams of dietary fiber, and 1.2 grams of protein. One raw jalapeno typically contains about 4 calories.
The vitamin C in jalapenos provides lots of antioxidants to fight damage from free radicals.
Jalapenos and other peppers also contain a compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin is an alkaloid that gives peppers their spice but it also provides some of the health benefits found in peppers. It’s believed to boost the metabolism and help you burn more calories, for example. Capsaicin is also used in many therapeutics for pain relief. It has anti-inflammatory qualities that make it good for heart health.
Capsaicin also seems to reduce the appetite – another reason why jalapenos are often favored by dieters.
Capsaicin is also thought to have cancer-fighting properties. It appears to stop the growth of cancer cells; slows the formation of new blood vessels around cancerous tumors; and helps prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. More studies are needed to confirm these results.
There is a common belief that eating spicy food, including jalapenos, increases the risk for stomach ulcers. However, research has shown this to be a false belief. The capsaicin in peppers such as jalapenos appears to help prevent stomach ulcers.
There are some possible side effects from eating hot peppers such as jalapenos. Some people have a low tolerance to spicy food. You can expect a short-term burning sensation in your mouth when eating jalapenos.
Capsaicin can worsen heartburn, if this is a problem for you. People who experience irritable bowel syndrome can have extra difficulties if they eat hot peppers. Common side effects can include abdominal pain, burning, cramping, and diarrhea.
Dried peppers and spices can sometimes be contaminated with the aflatoxin mold. Choosing spices and dried peppers that have been irradiated can reduce the risk.
If you enjoy spicy food, jalapenos are not a problem for most people. They also provide health benefits in many ways. If you’re not a fan of hot and spicy peppers, use your best judgment. Jalapenos are widely used in Mexican and other cuisines. They are also added to hamburgers, salads, and other foods at many fast food restaurants today so check the menu.
Should You Give Your Dog Jalapenos?
Most dogs want to eat whatever you’re eating. If your dog sees you eating food that contains jalapenos, your dog isn’t going to stop to consider whether he likes them or if they are good for him. It’s up to you to make that decision. In many cases, your dog can eat a couple of jalapeno slices and not even realize it for a few moments. That’s because the taste buds that notice something like spiciness are far back on your dog’s tongue, in the same area as the sour taste buds. Your dog might even seem to like jalapenos before he really tastes them.
In actuality, your dog probably won’t have much reaction to eating one or two jalapeno slices. You will only be able to tell if the jalapenos are a problem if he has any gastrointestinal problems later. Jalapenos are not toxic to dogs but your dog could have some stomach pain, diarrhea, or gas. He is more likely to have problems if he eats a lot of the peppers.
Most of us probably won’t give our dogs jalapenos but we might be tempted to share some salsa or some other food that contains some jalapenos. It’s a good idea to stop and think about the ingredients before sharing dips or other foods with your dog.
If you dog really wants a pepper when he sees you eating a jalapeno, try giving him some slices of bell pepper. They are mild and rather sweet. They have some of the same nutrients as jalapenos without the heat and spice. And your dog can eat them without harm. They make a good treat.
Can Dogs Have Other Spicy Foods?
In general, it’s best not to give your dog spicy foods for the same reasons you wouldn’t give your dog jalapenos. Spicy foods can upset your dog’s digestive track. Your dog can experience abdominal pain, digestive difficulties, gas, and diarrhea.
Lots of dogs will steer clear of spicy foods after they have had a bad experience but there are always a few dogs who keep coming back for more. If your dog keeps begging for spicy food when you have some, try substituting a healthier snack for him without the spice.
How Many Jalapenos Can You Give Your Dog?
It’s best not to give your dog jalapenos but he should be all right if he eats one or two slices of jalapenos in something you drop or in a bite of food you share.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Jalapenos?
We don’t recommend giving your dog jalapenos, especially not often.
Jalapenos are one of the milder hot chili peppers. They are surprisingly full of nutrients and very healthy for humans. However, it’s not a good idea to share them with your dog. If your dog happens to eat one or two slices of jalapenos, it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. Eating more could lead to digestive problems. Contact your veterinarian if your dog displays any signs of digestive distress.