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Dogs may not be the most curious pets. That reputation goes to cats. However, most dogs are curious enough to eat just about anything that can fit into their mouths. That includes human foods like ball peppers.
But if you’ve owned a dog long enough, you must already know that not everything we eat is safe and healthy for them. This brings us to our main question – can dogs eat bell peppers? Bell pepper is generally viewed as a fruit, and many fruits are inherently harmful to dogs. Fortunately, this particular fruit is safe for dogs to eat. So, there shouldn’t be any cause for alarm if you discover that your pooch has helped himself to bell pepper leftovers on the dinner table.
However, to fully understand the safety of bell peppers for dogs, we’ll begin by expounding further on what these fruits are. Thereafter, we’ll review some of the potential benefits and adverse effects of bell peppers for your canine companion.
Read on for more inspiration on the topic.
What Are Bell Peppers?
The bell pepper goes by several other names, including sweet pepper, capsicum, or simply pepper. It refers to any fruit produced by plants in the Grossum cultivar group of the Capsicum annuum species. Although widely considered a fruit and commonly used as a side dish or vegetable ingredient, the bell pepper is botanically a berry.
Bell peppers also belong to the nightshade family. This is the same family that produces tomatoes, chili peppers, and breadfruit.
Nearly all plants in the nightshade family are native to South and Central America. However, due to their high nutritional profile, fruits from these plants are popular in almost all cuisines worldwide. And that explains why interactions between dogs and bell peppers aren’t uncommon.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Bell Peppers?
According to information provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of chopped, raw red bell pepper (about 150 grams) provides the following nutrients;
• Calories – 39
• Protein – 1.5 grams
• Carbohydrates – 9 grams
Fiber – 3.1 grams
Sugars – 6.3 grams
• Fat – 0.5 grams
• Sodium – 6 milligrams
• Vitamin C – 190 milligrams
In addition to the above nutrients, a similar serving of bell peppers provides many other important vitamins and minerals. They include vitamins B6, E, and K, as well as potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc. Not to mention water.
Potential Health and Nutritional Benefits of Bell Peppers for Dogs
The benefits of bell peppers for your dog depends on the specific nutrients in these fruits. This section explores the main minerals and vitamins in bell peppers with a view to examining how those nutrients may benefit your pooch.
Protein performs nearly all critical functions in your dog’s body. But most notably, it forms the foundations for the development of muscles, organs, tissues, and bones.
Protein deficiency can lead to muscle wastage and degenerative bone diseases. That’s why experts always recommend supplementing your dog’s regular diet with various protein-rich foods, such as bell peppers.
2. Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber can help your dog in many ways. First, this nutrient supports digestion by adding bulk to stool. Bulkier stools translate to more efficient bowel movements, which consequently helps in relieving constipation and an upset stomach.
Fiber also provides the nutrients required by the useful microbes that inhabit your dog’s gut. Keeping these microorganisms well-nourished could protect your dog from certain digestive and metabolic disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and leaky gut.
Last but not least, fiber works in combination with water (another relatively abundant compound in bell peppers) to maintain your dog’s weight. Both fiber and water produce incredible filling effects. Feeding your dog diets high in these two compounds might help to reduce the amounts of food the animal can eat in one meal while also keeping hunger pangs at bay. This can be a proactive way of preventing undesired weight gain. And the fact that bell pepper is low in both fat and calories makes it all the more recommended for dogs with weight problems.
3. Vitamin C
Bell peppers are considerably high in vitamin C compared to many other fruits in the nightshade family.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is required for the normal growth, development, and repair of all tissues in the body. Some of the core functions the vitamin can perform in your dog’s body include;
• Collagen formation
• Iron absorption
• Maintenance of bones, teeth, and cartilage
• Wound healing
Last but not least, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant. Therefore, it can boost your dog’s immunity and help reduce the risks of certain diseases.
4. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is a large family comprising various nutrients, the most common of which is pyridoxine. Pyridoxine plays a major role in the formation of red blood cells.
5. Vitamin E
Just like vitamin C, vitamin E also acts as a powerful antioxidant and may help to boost your dog’s immunity. The vitamin is also essential in promoting the development of healthy muscles and nerves.
6. Vitamin K
Bell peppers are high in a type of vitamin K known as vitamin K1 or phylloquinone. Phylloquinone is important for blood clotting and the development of healthy bones.
7. Vitamin B9
Also known as folate, vitamin B9 helps in the normal growth and development of embryos. That makes it particularly important for pregnant dogs.
Supplementing with folate-rich diets like bell peppers during pregnancy ensures your expecting ball of furs gives birth to healthy pups.
Potassium may help in stabilizing the electrolyte balance in your dog. The abundance of potassium in bell peppers is of particular importance considering that the fruit is also high in sodium, a mineral notorious for messing up the body’s electrolyte balance.
Potassium may also help to improve your dog’s heart health. That’s due to its positive effects on blood pressure and heart rate.
9. Vitamin A
Bell peppers are loaded with beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A when it gets into the body.
Vitamin A can improve your dog’s vision by slowing down age-related macular degeneration while also combating other vision problems like cataracts.
10. Other Antioxidants
Vitamins C, E, and A are not the only antioxidants in bell peppers. The fruit also contains many compounds responsible for its antioxidant properties. They include;
• Capsanthin – Abundant in red bell peppers
• Violaxanthin – Abundant in yellow bell peppers
• Lutein – Abundant in green bell peppers and black paprika
Can Dogs Eat Bell Peppers Of Any Color?
Bell peppers come in different colors, ranging from red and yellow to orange, green, purple, and white. Most bell pepper varieties are green when unripe. The fruits then become more colorful as they ripen.
Unripe bell peppers have a slightly bitter taste. However, the taste becomes sweeter as the fruit ripens.
In terms of nutritional profile, red bell peppers are the most nutritious. For comparison sake, red bell peppers can be up to nine times richer in beta-carotene than other bell pepper colors. Red bell peppers are considered the most nutritious because they’ve been on the vine for the longest duration. Therefore, they’ve had ample time to absorb essential nutrients from the environment.
That said, all bell peppers contain decent amounts of useful minerals and vitamins. Perhaps the only bell pepper you might avoid giving your dog is the green ones. That’s because they’re unripe, hence unlikely to appeal to your pooch’s taste buds.
Potential Risks of Bell Peppers for Dogs
Bell peppers do not contain any known toxins. These fruits are also not known to induce serious allergic reactions in humans and canines alike.
However, feeding bell peppers to your dog excessively could still trigger certain side effects. The symptoms can be gastrointestinal (such as vomiting and diarrhea) or neurological (such as seizures and tremors).
Bell peppers may also present blood sugar issues to your dog. That’s due to their relative abundance of carbohydrates. Note that dogs require only minimal carbohydrates in their diets. An excess of this nutrient could cause high blood sugar levels, opening the animal up for medical conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Fortunately, you can minimize these risks by feeding bell peppers to your dog sparingly.
Bell peppers are loaded with powerful nutrients, making them an excellent addition to a dog’s diet. The fruits can be served to dogs either raw or cooked.
If feeding raw bell pepper to your dog, be sure to wash the fruit thoroughly to minimize possible bacterial contamination. You can then slice the fruit into small pieces or puree it to make it more digestible.
And if you prefer giving your canine friend cooked bell pepper, the best cooking method would be to steam or boil the fruits in plain water. Never serve your dog bell pepper that has been prepared with onions and garlic, or excess fat and salt.
Most importantly, only feed bell pepper to your pooch as an occasional snack.