Black pepper has been a welcome friend in kitchens around the world for centuries.
Although more comically known in cartoons as the reason for many a would be chef to sneeze dramatically all over their meal, it’s also a valuable ally in giving depth, flavour and nuance to our cuisine.
But of course, our furry family members love good flavours as much as we do. Because of that, many a conscientious dog owner might wonder – can dogs eat black pepper?
Is black pepper good for dogs?
Black pepper on its own isn’t good for dogs any more than a human being would get any benefits from eating it fresh from the pepper mill.
You can imagine the severity of the flavour and smell of black pepper if you ate it right from the grinder, and it’s only likely to be worse for dogs.
Dogs can enjoy black pepper as a very light seasoning, although it’s best to consider this if you’re adding it to your own cooking and offer your pet some leftovers, rather than sprinkling it purposefully on your dog’s dinner.
Your pooch isn’t going to get any nutritional value from eating it alongside dog food, and it could well irritate his or her highly sensitive nose.
It’s often easy to forget how much more sensitive canine digestion is when compared to human digestion, and what often goes hand in hand with this is that what seems like quite a small dose of something to a human being is something altogether more overpowering to a dog.
In other words, what might seem like a reasonable amount of black pepper for your own meals, and those enjoyed by your family, might be somewhat too strong for your dog.
This can be problematic, because although black pepper is not toxic for dogs or likely to cause your pet any fatal harm, it can certainly add to their discomfort and make them ill if enjoyed anything but sparingly.
Dogs do best with simple yet striking flavours, and it’s why even things like beef and chicken are best served to your pet plain, without any of the trimmings or any condiments, spices or additives.
Good wholesome cooked food is all your pet needs to enjoy his or her happy lifestyle, and you’ll find that he or she is always more than content with the naturally occurring tastes of all those things they love to eat.
Dangers of black pepper for dogs
Just as we limit the use of black pepper while cooking to avoid it overpowering the other flavours, aromas and ingredients we are using, so too must dogs and their owners be careful to not let our furry family members eat too much of this surprisingly powerful spice.
The dangers of black pepper for dogs are largely to do with your pet’s stomach and digestive systems.
However, you should also keep in mind that the richness of black pepper and the way in which it irritates your dog’s nose creates some breathing issues for your pet too, which can be pretty nasty.
In the past, black pepper was sometimes used as a way of discouraging dogs from getting their noses into things that didn’t concern them – a tiny sprinkle would be irritating enough to have the dog back off and avoid the offending object.
Yet this style of discipline has fallen out of practice for good reason – it can lead to horrible respiratory problems in dogs and harms their sensitive noses.
More than this, it can even lead to oxygen deprivation and a host of associated dangers if your dog’s body is so busy trying to flush out and avoid black pepper that it doesn’t take in enough air to keep proper functions going.
The harm can go a few steps further too, if black pepper manages to damage the lungs or aggravate them to the extent that it causes bronchitis.
However, black pepper can also cause harm and discomfort at the other end of your dog’s system, so to speak.
In other words, black pepper can aggravate your dog’s digestive system enough that it creates diarrhoea.
And of course, black pepper is also liable to cause a burning sensation in your dog’s stomach, which will make him or her uncomfortable, perhaps even to the point of throwing up.
How much black pepper can a dog eat daily?
Dogs can safely enjoy a lot less black pepper than we human beings would likely put in our dinners.
If you’re preparing a family meal and are carefully trying to identify how to also make that meal safe for your pet, consider adding no more than the tiniest pinch of black pepper.
Hopefully, that will strike a balance between flavour for you and for your dog – remember, dogs get no nutrition from black pepper and don’t need to be eating it daily unless you make a habit of preparing meals for them as much as yourself.
Black pepper is far more a human seasoning option than something to be considered for adding to your dog’s diet.
You likely won’t find any reason to add black pepper too your dog’s diet in pursuit of upping their vitamins and minerals, for example.
Ideally, your dog won’t be coming into contact with black pepper often enough to experience any of the health risks that come with it – even more ideally, it’ll be entirely off the menu for them.
However, every dog is an individual, and by all means sensibly experiment with how much they enjoy black pepper as part of the food you offer them – just make sure you always keep their long term well being in mind.
What to do if your dog eats black pepper
There’s little risk of your dog helping him or herself to black pepper, but out pets are nothing if not consistently surprising.
It’s likely that a dog who is feeling especially hungry, especially cheeky or just doesn’t know any better will lap up as much black pepper as they can from a pepper mill that’s dropped on the kitchen floor.
This excitement might well turn into a sneezing fit though, so be on your guard and try your best to offer your dog some fresh water – not just to drink to diminish the heat of the flavour of the black pepper, but also so your pet can wash his or her muzzle and get all the ground peppercorns out of their nose and mouth.
Remember, if your dog is too caught up in dealing with black pepper in the airways, he or she may begin to choke, or even suddenly seize up and be entirely unable to breathe.
If you’re specially worried, make sure to get your dog to your vet with all speed.
You should also consider professional intervention if your dog begins to show signs of incredible stomach pain or cramps – even if it’s not an emergency, your vet might be able to offer some medication to help out.
Again, keeping lots of water by for your dog is a great idea here.
Dogs who are experiencing a lot of digestive discomfort and pain in the stomach are often likely to throw up to rid themselves of whatever has caused their issues.
With this in mind, be ready to help your dog not only with – you guessed it – some fresh water, but also some more neutrally flavoured food to soothe the stomach.
Think of decent cooked chicken or fine white boiled rice with no added salts or sauces.
Of course, the problems from your dog eating black pepper might well emerge, quite literally, some time later.
The sheer amount of intestinal aggravation that eating so much black pepper has caused your pet might well result in some pretty nasty diarrhoea, and your pet will be grumpy and difficult to please in the run up to that too.
Getting some fibre into your dog’s system in times like this is a good idea – a little oatmeal made with water, rather than milk, can help out here.
As far as commonly used seasonings go, black pepper is ubiquitous, and makes incredibly tasty dishes however it’s put to work.
However, dogs have a different approach to how they get their nutrition – as well as how sensitive they are to what they eat.
What seems like a decent portion of pepper for us is far too much for your pet, and could lead to aggravation of the airways and stomach.
Overall, it’s best to avoid black pepper where possible, but also to not worry if your dog eats some as part of other food every so often.