Jalapenos are among the most commonly used chili peppers. Their versatility makes them a perfect addition to many dishes, particularly to the Mexican ones. They can be used to spice up salsa, tacos, and cocktails.
On top of that, jalapenos also have several health benefits. Their capsaicin content makes them helpful in improving heart health, losing weight, and lowering risks of ulcers in humans. Is this active compound in jalapenos also safe for dogs? Does jalapeno cause ill effects in pets? Read on to find out.
What You Need to Know About Jalapenos
On the Scoville heat index, the jalapeno peppers range between 2,500 to 8,000 units. The Scoville scale measures the pungency or the spiciness of peppers. As with all peppers, jalapenos get their flavor from capsaicin.
Some jalapenos can also be hotter than the others, with several factors affecting their pungency. Like in the case of bell peppers, it’s the red ones that have the most pleasant taste. The red ones actually have a hint of sweetness in them. So, if your pet gobbled down a small amount of jalapeno and actually liked it, it must be because of the sweetness.
Capsaicin is responsible for that burning sensation you feel whenever you eat spicy food. The burning sensation occurs because it prompts the C fiber to detect the heat. The C fiber is one of the nerves that can be found in the peripheral and central nervous system.
As with humans, capsaicin offers certain health benefits to dogs. The only difference is that it is not meant to be ingested by animals. Rather, this compound can be used as an ingredient for pain relief medications. It is available in the form of creams, lotions, and even supplements.
In veterinary medicine, it is considered a natural alternative for controlling pain in animals because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also capable of removing allergens and irritants from the surface of the skin, so there are people who use it for atopic dermatitis in dogs.
Meanwhile, the effect of capsaicin may be different for atopic dermatitis from dog to dog. A research published in the Official Journal of the European Society of Veterinary Dermatology suggests that it still needs further evaluation as an antipruritic in canines suffering from atopic dermatitis.
Just a quick word of warning, don’t apply any capsaicin-containing ointment to your pet without consulting a vet first. Your pet still needs to be evaluated before undergoing topical treatments, especially if he has a history of hypersensitivity to certain medications.
Capsaicin overwhelms the group C nerve fibers so they will lack the ability to report pain for a certain period. If you are planning to use capsaicin therapy for your pet, seek your veterinarian’s consent first. This is very important and should not be taken lightly.
There are readily available capsaicin medicated creams and lotions in the market. They are easy to use but make sure to be extra careful in using them. Your dog might lick them so you might need to look for ways to prevent him from doing so, such as using a neck collar.
Can Dogs Eat Jalapenos?
While it can be used externally, it will be risky to give dogs any food containing capsaicin. Therefore, avoid giving your pet jalapeno or any type of chili pepper. They could cause gastrointestinal problems in canines characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, and flatulence.
The only kind of pepper you can share with Fido is the sweet pepper or bell pepper. This is the only member of the Capsicum family that does not produce capsaicin. You can share a few slices of the red ones since they are the sweetest of all the bell pepper colors.
If you have a jalapeno plant at home, you have to also make sure Fido will not eat parts of the plant. Aside from the white innards in the pepper itself, most of the heat of jalapenos come from their veins. Jalapenos with white striations are said to be hotter than the others.
What to Do If Fido Ate Jalapenos
Dogs, like people, react differently to certain foods. Most dogs hate spicy foods while there are rare ones who seem to enjoy them. It might sound weird but there are actually dogs that can tolerate spicy foods very well.
Regardless of that, it’s still not a good idea to experiment and see how your pet reacts to jalapenos. Apart from causing stomach upset, jalapenos could also make your pet nauseous. So to be on the safe side and prevent any potential problem, don’t offer it even in small amounts.
Spicy foods could leave your pet extremely thirsty, so make sure your dog gets access to plenty of water if he just ate a jalapeno. The best thing you can do to make him feel at ease is to administer an antacid such as Pepcid-AC or Prilosec.
These OTC drugs can help settle Fido’s stomach. A bland diet consisting of rice and chicken is also recommended for dogs suffering from gastrointestinal upset. You can offer this type of food to your pet for a few days until his appetite returns.
Dogs should not be fed jalapenos or any type of chili peppers as they contain capsaicin which has cardiovascular side effects in canines. What’s worse is that jalapenos can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs, so just avoid them at all costs.
Did Fido just beg you for a taste of those lip-smacking jalapeno poppers? Don’t mind him. He can get along just fine without them. When you’re tempted to share some, just think of the consequences of feeding spicy foods to dogs.