5 min read


Can Dogs Taste Fiery Food?



5 min read


Can Dogs Taste Fiery Food?


Some like it hot! There are many dishes from around the world that are spicy. There are also many snack foods that are zipped up with fire on the tongue. While it might be tempting to share the excitement of the burn on the tongue with your dog, it is most likely not going to be a pleasurable experience for your pup. 

The problem with fiery food is in the spices that give us those tantalizing sensations. There are substances within those spices that are not good for your dog. So when it comes to feeding your dog and sharing tasty treats, keep it a simple and feed quality dog food. Save your fiery delights for yourself!


Signs Your Dog Does Not Like Fiery Food

Did you ever eat a pepper in your food that you weren't expecting? If you were like many people, it took your breath away and you did not even have the words to exclaim what you were experiencing.  It is likely that your eyes became wide, your mouth opened, you inhaled air rapidly and started even fanning your mouth. You probably grabbed your water glass and could not get enough liquid in your mouth to cool down your tongue and help yourself. Some people will begin sweating profusely and their faces will go red. 

These are all body signs that your fiery food was too hot. What would you look for in your dog's behavior to understand how your dog is reacting to fiery food?

Most dogs are food motivated and they are known for being indiscriminate when it comes to taste. Dogs will approach food based on scent. You will see your dog sniffing the air and sniffing food. Many dogs will then devour the food. 

You will know the dog does not like the food if it is left in the dish. You may see reactions to the taste in the food by how the dog is licking. The dog may lick their lips repeated. The dog may shake their head as if saying, "No, I don't like it!".  

If the food is making the dog thirsty or giving them a burning sensation, the dog will drink water, lapping it up quickly. Other signs of reactions may be found in the dog's temperament around the food. If the food is unpleasant, you may see the dog avoid it all together, running away or cowering. You may see their tail tucked and the dog may back away from the fiery food.

In the dog, reactions to food can share common symptoms. Spicy foods are not good for your dog. They can have toxic reactions. Dogs of any breed, age, or gender can be affected by spicy foods. Symptoms of problems with a food include vomiting, diarrhea, and flatulence. Your dog may show a lack of appetite, avoiding the food. 

Spices containing capsaicin cause irritation in the dog's mouth and stomach. If the fiery food contains onions, this can cause anemia, damaging red blood cells and causing toxicity. If your dog is acting sickly and has consumed fiery foods, seek advice from your veterinarian!

Body Language

Some signs your dog may show if they have eaten a spicy food include:

  • Cowering
  • Sniffing
  • Lip Licking
  • Running
  • Tail Tucking

Other Signs

More clues that your dog got into some fiery eats are:

  • Vomitting
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Food Avoidance
  • Drinking A Lot Of Water

The History of Dogs Eating Fiery Food


When it comes to taste, dogs do not have the sensitivity that we enjoy as humans. Humans have 9000 taste receptors while dogs have only 1700 taste receptors on the tongue. For dogs, their drive to food comes from scent. They have extremely powerful sensory abilities when it comes to scent, with the capacity to detect smells at 10000 to 100000 times that of humans. 

All mammals share abilities to taste. Humans and dogs can taste sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Dogs have a specialized ability to detect water, on the tip of the tongue where they drink. 

Taste has evolutionary origins. The sense of taste will protect the mammal from eating substances that are dangerous. Tastes that are sour or bitter are usually signals of a potential danger in the food. Sweet is appealing to humans and dogs. 

Dogs are omnivores and will scavenge for fruits and plants in the wild. Dogs evolved from wolves hunting and eating meat. Meat is naturally high in salt. The dog's sense of taste has evolved to not like salt. When it comes to foods that are toxic for your dog, they do not have an ability to discern if you are feeding them things that are dangerous.

To dogs, spice is an indication that they should not be eating that specific food. Spice deters mammals in the wild from consuming hot peppers. Humans are rather unique in our addiction to the painful pleasuer of food that makes our mouths burn.

The Science of Fiery Foods


Dogs do not like spicy foods. Even the smell of the chemical is unappealing to the dog. Hot and fiery foods usually come from peppers that have a chemical called capsaicin. This chemical stimulates the nerves that respond to a rise in temperature.  

Capsaicin is found in chili powder, paprika, and just about any other pepper (bell, chili, etc.). It is an irritant for mammals of all shapes and sizes. The chemical sends a message to the brain of heat and pain. The experience of fiery food is a sensation of pain and the nervous system can trigger thermal effects all over the body. The same receptors that trigger these reactions in humans are present in dogs.  

Spicy foods can cause pancreatitis in dogs. This condition is most common in middle age to older female dogs. Many spicy foods include onions and garlic, both of which can cause loss of red blood cells and lead to death. 

There is also a tendency for fiery foods to be salty. Dogs do not like salt and too much salt is bad for them. As a responsible dog master, it is advisable to learn what your dog can and cannot safely eat. Prevent your dog from having the problem in the first place by not feeding your dog fiery foods.

Training Your Dog to Only Eat Appropriate Food


Dogs are scavengers. They can get into the trash or food left out in your home. They can also find things in the yard or the park to eat. It can be a good idea to teach your dog to only eat the food you provide at mealtime. To train your dog to eat only from the bowl, you will need to train the dog to not eat food that is laying around. 

One method used by professional trainers is to place food about in the yard. Put the dog on a leash. Walk the dog to downwind of the scent of the food. When the dog approaches the source of the scent, firmly say "No" and give a leash correction. Do not be severe with the dog. 

Continue practicing by placing the food in more locations. You may even hide food in the area where you walk your dog, restraining the dog from going to and eating the food with the "No" command. 

Once the dog is learning to not approach the food on a leash, the next step is to work with the dog to not eat the food when off leash and when you are not giving the "No" command. One recommendation is to use an electric collar when the dog goes to eat the food. You may even need to hide with this level of training so the dog learns to not approach the food even when you are not present.

You will also want to teach your dog to eat from the dog dish. Even as a pup, you should be teaching your dog to eat from the bowl. Place the bowl for 20 minutes, then remove it. With young pups, feed three times a day. After the age of 4 months, feed twice a day. Do not feed your dog from the table. Teach family members to not share their food with the dog. 

Dogs are perfectly happy to eat the same dog food every day and it is best to provide them with diets designed for their metabolism.

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Safety Tips for Feeding Your Dog:

  1. Consult with your veterinarian on appropriate food for your dog.
  2. Do not overfeed your dog.
  3. Do not feed your dog fiery foods.
  4. Watch your dog for signs of digestive issues and seek medical assistance.

By a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lover Pat Drake

Published: 04/30/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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