Doesn’t your heart just melt when your furry bud looks at you with those sad, puppy eyes, asking for a taste of that burrito you’re eating? Dogs are curious beings, especially when it comes to whatever their master is doing—or eating.
While it will have been effortless to give in to what your dog wants, it’s safer to ask: can dogs taste spicy food? And if they do, do they like it?
Can dogs taste spicy? The quick answer is no. Dogs don’t actually taste the spice in spicy food, but they do detect and react to the heat that comes after. Essentially, this means that, while your dog won’t be able to distinguish the spicy flavor, you can expect there to be physical reactions, including general discomfort, an upset stomach, vomiting, and more.
How Do Dog Taste Buds Work?
When it comes to tasting foods, you can say that we’re just the same as dogs. Humans and canines are both made to taste the same primary flavors: sweet, bitter, sour, and salty.
Where we differ from dogs is the number of taste buds on our tongues.
While we have more than 9,000 taste buds, dogs only have around 1,700. This considerable difference means our taste spectrum is very much broader than that of dogs’.
Because of this flaw in their physiology, dogs often rely on their sense of smell more than their sense of taste.
Basically, this means that they use their sense of smell to determine whether something is safe for them to eat or not. This is made possible thanks to a unique organ found in a dog’s palate called the vomeronasal organ.
Interestingly enough, the same organ is what dogs use to detect pheromones, which they use during social and sexual interactions.
What Flavors Can Dogs Taste?
Though they only have a limited number of taste buds, dogs do have the ability to differentiate different flavors. As such, it’s safe to assume that they also prefer a specific flavor over another.
You already know that dogs are able to taste sweet, sour, salty, and bitter foods. More than that, they appear to also have taste receptors specific for meats.
If you pay attention close enough, you might notice that dogs generally don’t like salty and bitter-tasting foods. In fact, some use this information to create products that discourage dogs from chewing on specific items.
When it comes to spicy foods, like we said, dogs aren’t programmed to taste it. Still, this doesn’t mean that they are safe from the effects of capsaicin.
This chemical triggers the burning sensation associated with hot peppers and other chilis.
Do Spicy Foods Hurt Dogs?
Think of it this way: We all have a preference as to the level of spiciness we want and can tolerate.
You may enjoy biting into a habanero while the guy next to you can’t even stand to eat a single piece of buffalo wing.
The same can be said about dogs and spicy food. We know it won’t hurt us, but how sure are we that eating spicy food won’t hurt our dog?
Signs of a Dog Tasting Hot Spice
There is a reason why vets don’t recommend feeding dogs with people food.
You can go on and eat all the spicy food you like, but there’s just no telling how severely it can affect your dog.
Here are signs and symptoms your dog might be having a reaction to eating spicy food:
- Excessive gas
- Stomach pains
If you notice your dog licking his lips, shaking his head, pacing, and whining after eating spicy food, you can be sure it made him uncomfortable or possibly even caused pain.
Spicy Food Reactions and How to Treat Them
If you’ve always been careless when it comes to giving your dog human food, now you know better to stop the habit.
Even then, accidents can happen. Alternatively, someone not educated enough about the subject may give it to your dog to eat.
If that happens, it’s better to be prepared than sorry. Here’s what you can do to help minimize your dog’s discomfort:
Start with water.
To help make the taste go away and calm the heat down, make sure your dog has unlimited access to clean drinking water.
Give them milk.
If you notice that hydrating with water is just not going to make it, consider giving them milk.
This helps to calm the burning pains associated with eating spicy food.
If your dog has lactose-intolerance, make sure not to give him too much.
Get in touch with your local vet.
More than anyone else, you know your dog. Assess whether or not drinking water and milk helped with his discomfort.
If not, and if you think his condition is getting worse, do not hesitate to contact your trusted veterinarian.
This is especially important if your dog starts vomiting and/or gets diarrhea, which may lead to dehydration.
Spicy Food Safety Tips
Owning a pet means being responsible for the welfare of another living being. This means taking on the responsibility of making sure he remains healthy, safe, and happy.
We’re not saying that you have to stop eating spicy food, though. After all, there are health benefits to eating it, too, as long as you do so in moderation.
However, when you do eat them, avoid having your dog eat your leftovers. Also, you might want to keep the plate away immediately so that there’s no chance the dog licks it.
Lastly, if you love cooking with chilis and hot peppers, make sure you keep the dog away from the kitchen.
If it’s something you won’t feed young children, you probably shouldn’t give it to your dog, too. In fact, forego human food altogether and stick to dog food instead.
With dog food, you’re confident your dog gets the nutrition he needs and, at the same time, enjoy what he’s eating. You will find a long list of dog food in various flavors and texture profiles, too.
This allows you to treat your furry bud to different kinds of flavors you’ll sure he will love.