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Tasty and spicy, capers are great additions to pasta, sandwiches, vinaigrette, and salad dressings. They are a common sight in Italian dishes and many other cuisines not only for their rodent flavors but also for their many health benefits. But can you share capers with your four-legged friend? Let’s find out but before then…
What Are Capers?
Capers are little green berry-sized, unripe flower buds of the caper bush (or Capparis spinosa). Capers are perennial deciduous plants that are native to the Mediterranean regions and some parts of Asia and South Africa. After the buds are cultivated, they are sun-dried and used in pickles due to their acidic and yet enchanting flavors.
As hinted, capers are not only famed for their salty and piquant tastes but they have also been associated with a wide range of important health benefits. In ancient Egypt, for instance, the roots of caper plants were used to ease symptoms of kidney and liver diseases while Ancient Romans used the plant to treat paralysis. The Capparis spinosa plant has also been used to treat other illnesses like headaches, fever, painful menstruation, sciatica, rheumatism, and toothaches.
Can Dogs Eat Capers?
The short answer is: Yes, dogs can eat capers. These tangy buds are not toxic to dogs and have never been added to ASPCA’s list of plants that may have systemic effects on dogs and/or intense effects on their gastrointestinal tracts. If anything, these flower buds are rich in essential vitamins and minerals (such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium, and Magnesium) that may help your dog reach his body’s daily requirements. The buds are also packed with alkaloids, terpenoids, flavanoids, and tocopherols, which play a crucial role in regulating cellular functions, inflammatory responses, and other vital body functions of your dog. Other potential benefits of feeding your dog capers include:
- Maintaining Strong Bones: Capers are rich in Calcium, Magnesium, and vitamin K, which are all important for maintaining the integrity of your dog’s bone structure. In a past study on rats with damaged jawbones, caper extract was shown to improve the formation of new connective tissues and bones.
- Promotes Healthy Digestive System: Capers are also rich in dietary fiber, which may help your pooch reduce gastrointestinal issues like constipation and fecal compaction risks.
- Promotes Healthy Blood Circulation: Capers have rutin, which can boost the smooth circulation of blood and ease your dog’s strained blood vessels.
- Skin Protection: Capers may also help relieve dry skin and other skin issues in your dog. In a past clinical trial done on 6 healthy people, caper bud extracts were found to prevent skin inflammation caused by harmful UV light. Capers are also used in a wide range of hair care products because they are rich in iron and vitamin B, which are all known to promote hair growth. In particular, vitamin B promotes blood circulation in the body, which can go a long way in sustaining the overall health of healthy fur in your dog given that blood circulation is one of the main stimulants for healthy and shiny hair and coat. Iron is also great in curbing hair loss, so capers may be used as a remedy for shedding issues in dogs.
Potential Health Concerns
Although capers are safe for dogs, there are a few health concerns that you should be aware of, including:
Capers are usually stored in brine (which has high amounts of salts), making them relatively high in sodium. Sodium is a crucial component in a balanced dog’s diet, helping them to maintain fluid balance in and around their body cells. However, consuming salt in excess can lead to detrimental health problems and could potentially be fatal. A dog that weighs 33lb should consume about 100mg (or less) of salt a day according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council’s division, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources. It is estimated that canned capers contain up to 250mg of sodium per tablespoon. So, if you give your dog too much canned capers, he is likely to suffer from a wide range of health complications, including sodium poisoning. Sodium poisoning is a dangerous condition, particularly if your dog can’t get access to clean water to rehydrate.
Although it takes the consumption of high amounts of sodium to cause fatality in dogs, symptoms of sodium poisoning may occur even after taking a small amount. So every time your dog chows down some unknown quantities of salt, you should be concerned because some of these symptoms can be distressing and uncomfortable for your dog.
Common symptoms of sodium posing in dogs include limping, weakness and lethargy, lack of appetite, increased thirst and consumption of water, increased urination, scratching and disorientation, tremors, seizures, and coma.
Since capers typically contain high amounts of sodium, if you want to share some of these buds with your dog, it is advisable to thoroughly soak and rinse them to get rid of excess salt. Soaking capers may also help bring out the unique flavor and aroma of these amazing flower buds.
2. Blood Sugar Control
There are some concerns that consuming capers might alter the body’s potential to control blood sugar. In particular, capers are believed to lower blood sugar. If your dog is diabetic or taking diabetic medications, therefore, avoid feeding him capers because it may cause his blood sugar to go too low (Remember that diabetes medications are designed to lower blood sugar).
Capers are a nutritious way to enhance the taste of a wide range of our meals. These spicy flower buds are not only simple to use but also combine well with almost any food. They are safe for our dogs too but be cautious when feeding them to your dog as they can be high in salt and can alter your dog’s blood glucose level. If you notice any abnormal symptoms after giving your dog capers, consult your vet immediately for professional advice on what to do.