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Adding seasonings to your diet is often touted as one of the simplest ways of cooking healthy. Herbs and spices are not only affordable but also come packed with tons of health benefits. Paprika is no exception. Adding this versatile spice to your dishes may help you lower your intake of fat, sugar, and calories and boost the intake of myriad beneficial phytonutrients. What about our canine friends? Do these health benefits of Paprika hold true for dogs? Can dogs eat Paprika in the first place? Well, let’s begin with the basics…
What is Paprika?
Paprika is a spice made from a mixture of peppers in the capscium annum family, including chili peppers, bell peppers, red peppers, cayenne peppers, and Aleppo peppers among others. Typically, it is used to add flavor and vibrant red color to a wide range of ethnic dishes. The heat and flavor of Paprika vary depending on the types of peppers that have been used to make it. So, it doesn’t have a distinct taste or smell.
Paprika shouldn’t be confused with red chili powder though. While they usually look pretty much the same—perhaps the only difference is a slight variance in color tone—the two differ when it comes to their ingredients. Paprika is made from specific peppers found mostly in Paprika-producing countries like Hungary and Spain (we’ve listed a few above). On the other hand, ground chili powder is a mixture of spices including chili pepper, cumin, salt, garlic, and even Paprika itself. As you can guess, Paprika and Chili powder also taste differently. While Paprika tastes sweet, chili powder has a more spicy and earthly flavor.
Can dogs eat Paprika?
Technically, dogs can eat Paprika. It is not toxic to dogs, so your pup won’t drop dead after eating Paprika. If you notice your dog gulping down foods with Paprika seasoning, don’t panic. Nothing terrible will happen to him because the spice is not poisonous to dogs and small amounts will have little to no effect on your pup.
However, Paprika is not beneficial to dogs either. If anything, eating anything spicy or “hot” for that matter is always uncomfortable for dogs. So, you shouldn’t really give Paprika to your canine friend. Still not convinced? Here’s a quick overview of why it’s best to avoid giving your pup this spice.
Potential Health Concerns
Here are some of the top reasons why we caution against allowing your dog to eat Paprika:
1. Nasal Irritations
The Paprika powder has a dusty texture that your dog can breathe in or get into his eyes. This can cause breathing and nasal irritation issues as well as eye and sight problems. Essentially, the peppers used to make Paprika have an active component called Capsaicin. This organic compound is an irritant to all mammals and often produces a burning sensation on any tissue that it comes into contact with—whether it is skin, eyes, or lips. The more Capsaicin present in a pepper, the stronger is the irritation effect and the stronger the burning sensation. So, you shouldn’t only avoid including Paprika in your dog’s food but also keeping it close to your pup or where he can easily access it.
2. Heat Sensations
Since dogs have fewer taste buds than humans, some dog parents tend to believe that dogs may not feel the heat from Paprika. However, this is not true because dogs also feel the heat caused by Paprika. In fact, it could even be more intense for them.
So, by eating even a small amount of Paprika, your dog can experience a great deal of pain and discomfort. Depending on the origin of the Paprika, your pup might also suffer other extreme symptoms like coughing, drooling, or even foaming at the mouth. His eyes might even start watering or some pups may begin pawing at their faces to get rid of the pain. Some dogs may also gag or dry heave.
3. Gastrointestinal Problems
Paprika and other spicy foods can also cause a wide range of gastrointestinal issues, including pain, diarrhea, and gas. Paprika can also make your dog excessively thirsty, causing him to vomit. If your pup has consumed large amounts of Paprika, watch out for symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion, and dehydration.
Paprika also belongs to the nightshade family of vegetables, which means that it contains solanine, a chemical compound that can be toxic to dogs. If a dog consumes large quantities of foods containing solanine, he may suffer from a wider range of symptoms, including impaired nervous system, breathing difficulties, and drowsiness. Some people also believe that solanine can aggravate inflammation and arthritis symptoms.
There is no doubt that your canine buddy will be willing to wolf down any amount of Paprika if it is the seasoning in some yummy dish you want to share with him. However, as a responsible dog parent, it is best to avoid feeding your dog any food containing Paprika, especially if he is prone to gastrointestinal issues.
But Paprika Is Jam-Packed With Tons Of Health-Giving Nutrients?
Yes, it is undeniable that Paprika is packed with beneficial phytonutrients. In fact, one tablespoon of the spice has about 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin A, which is known to boost our immune systems, protect vision, and supports overall organ health. Paprika is also rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E, which protects our bodies from oxidative damage by free radicals. Besides, the capsaicin in Paprika has potent anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve pain and swelling.
However, while all these are great phytonutrients that may benefit humans and canines alike, our dogs don’t need to get them from spices. Dogs are facultative carnivores. The primary component of their ancestors’ diet was prey that they caught. They didn’t season their prey with herbs and spices, so it is fair to state that dogs don’t need Paprika in their diets. The spice is more likely to cause your pup nasal irritations, uncomfortable heat sensations, and upset stomach than it is beneficial. In the worst case, it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration, which are all unpleasant symptoms to deal with in dogs.
What Can I Do If My Dog Accidentally Consumes Large Amounts Of Paprika?
As aforementioned, Paprika is not poisonous to dogs, so don’t panic. Consider giving your dog some water or milk to lick or drink so that the pain or heat sensation can be relieved. And if you notice his eyes watering, wipe his face with cold water. Wipe his paws as well to prevent the spread of the burning sensation to his eyes and other sensitive areas should he paws his face.
After the above steps, observe your pup for a few hours. If the symptoms we mentioned (diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion, and dehydration) persists, take him to a local vet immediately. Generally, you know your pup better, so if you notice any weird behavior apart from the above-mentioned symptoms, it should be a sign that something is wrong. And the best course of action is to rush him to a vet.
On the other hand, if your pup seems fine after the initial distress. You shouldn’t worry much.
Nonetheless, whether the symptoms are mild or severe, we suggest that you keep your veterinarian aware of the situation. Your vet will help you figure out the best steps to take depending on your dog’s size, breed, and health history among other factors.
Besides, we all know that our pups are naughty—they tend to eat and do things that they shouldn’t. So, if you realize that your canine buddy has a thing for Paprika, ensure that he doesn’t have access to your kitchen counter, especially if you are not around.
We also suggest that you forgo growing decorative pepper plants like Ornamental pepper if you have a dog in your home. These plants are toxic to dogs can result in a devastating situation for your pup if he gets curious and eat them.
Alternatives to Paprika for dogs
Save your furry friend from nasal irritations, painful sensations, and stomach distress by keeping Paprika and other spices away from his reach at all times—even when he gives you those puppy eyes. There are plenty of safe and well-tolerated vegetables that you can give your dog instead of Paprika. Apples, carrots, Kohlrabi, and beetroot, for instance, are great anti-oxidant-rich vegetables that can give your pup the same benefits as Paprika while being a little easier on his taste buds and stomach.
You can also try the following treats from Amazon. Many dog owners have found them great for training and redirecting their pooches from things that could be intoxicating to them:
While Paprika is not toxic to dogs, it is advisable to avoid giving them this spice. Paprika can cause nasal irritations and disturb your pup’s gastrointestinal system as well as lead to other health issues. Besides, there are no significant nutritional benefits of this spice for dogs. As a responsible dog parent, I think it is prudent to always err on the side of caution. Avoid giving your furbaby spices and foods that don’t do anything to him. If you want to treat him, give him dog treats—he will be happy and you won’t be putting them at risk of an upset tummy and other problems.