Can Dogs Have Bell Peppers?
For years, experts in health and nutrition have been telling us to eat the rainbow; to layer out plates with a wide variety of (naturally occurring—red dye does not count!) colors in order to achieve health and vitality. This is fantastic news for bell pepper lovers, because these crunchy, slightly sweet vegetables come in a wide variety of colors. But how does the rainbow rule apply to our pets? We know that these beautiful vegetables fall into the health food category on ours and our children’s food pyramids, but where is their place in our dogs’ diets? Can you give your dog bell peppers?
The answer is yes, dogs can eat bell peppers in moderation. Unlike other nightshades, which some people believe contribute to inflammatory illness in dogs, there are no real risks associated with feeding your dog bell peppers. Eating any food in excess will probably make your dog vomit, but you probably have no reason to panic if you catch your canine gobbling up bell peppers. These vegetables are considered safe for dogs raw, cooked, or pureed, so feel free to experiment to see how Fido likes their veggies.
Bell peppers may provide a wide variety of health benefits for your dog. Like most vegetables, they are high in dietary fiber. Fiber is not technically a nutrient—neither dogs nor humans can digest it—but its health-boosting superpowers should not be underestimated. Fiber is most famous for its ability to combat digestive troubles on both ends of the spectrum. Because it absorbs water, fiber can fight diarrhea by acting as a sponge that soaks up excess fluid sitting in the colon. Its absorbent properties can also help introduce fluid into the colon, helping to soften hard stool and get things moving through the intestines again. Dietary fiber serves to add bulk to stool, too, which makes for more regular bowel movements.
High fiber, low calorie foods like bell peppers have also proven to be remarkable weight loss aids. Dogs who are overweight or obese are often put on calorie restricted diets, but they do not find them any easier than we do. Dietary fiber is a great way to solve that problem: since we can’t digest it, it occupies space in the stomach without providing any calories. This means that your dog gets to fill up on less energy. At the end of the day, your dog will get the best of both worlds: satiation and the caloric reduction they need to get healthy again.
Bell peppers are also full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can keep your dog energized and healthy. These crunchy vegetables have fair amounts of beta-carotene, phytonutrients, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and other nutrients. Beta carotene in particular is thought to play an important role in protecting eye health. Giving your dog foods high in this nutrient, like carrots and bell peppers, may decrease your dog’s risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are the leading causes of canine blindness.
In terms of vitamin content, red bell peppers are thought to be the best choice because they are fully ripe and higher in carotenoids. That said, any color is going to boost your dog’s vitamin and antioxidant intake.
The antioxidants found in bell peppers can play a powerful role in protecting your dog from the effects of one of the body’s most damaging waste products: free radicals. Free radicals, which are a natural byproduct of several metabolic processes, are highly reactive—this means that they mess with the atoms that make up body cells. This often causes damage that results in mutations that can eventually lead to many of our most feared illnesses. Research suggests that free radicals may be at least partly responsible for everything from cancer to dementia to the typical physical and psychological decline associated with aging.
Antioxidants destroy dangerous free radicals, which may help curb their dangerous effects over time. This can help preserve your dog’s physical health, mental sharpness, and energy well into old age. Antioxidants may even slow the progression of diseases like arthritis.
Things to Consider
Bell peppers are not poisonous to canines, but it still is not a good idea to overdo it. Feeding your dog too many of these vegetables, cooked or raw, can result in bloating, upset stomach, or diarrhea. Vegetables should not make up a large part of your dog’s diet anyway, because they do not provide adequate amounts of several key nutrients your pet needs to stay healthy. If your dog seems to have problems digesting raw bell peppers, try lightly cooking or pureeing them before serving. This will help pre-digest the food for your dog.
In conclusion, bell peppers are an excellent treat for dogs. They are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that will keep your pet healthy and happy. Though they are safe raw or cooked, some dogs may struggle to digest uncooked bell peppers. Cater to your dog’s digestion and feed this treat to them in moderation.