Peppers Are Not for Pups

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Hi Dave,

I have a question which may be out of the ordinary for you, but I pray you can answer it for us. We ordered a chicken dish from a Chinese Restaurant, General Tso’s Chicken, and there were these whole, really small, red peppers in the dish. My son fed our beagle, Freckles, some of the chicken. Shortly after she ate it, she became ill. We had no idea what was wrong. The dog had developed some kind of burns or sores on the roof of her mouth, paced, whined, wouldn’t eat and was panting very heavy. We took her to the vet but she had no idea either. All lab tests showed she was fine, no infection, etc. They did sonograms, endoscopy, xrays, blood panels, called a specialist in to examine her, and still have no answer. The vet asked if she had possibly eaten something thermal, something that might burn her mouth and esophagus. Well I thought maybe she got one of those peppers and maybe chewed it. Here’s my question. Can a pepper be so hot that if you chewed it, could it burn your mouth and esophagus? I’d love to know if could have been those darn peppers.


Hello Pat:

Capsaicin, the active chemical that makes chile peppers hot, is extremely powerful and can cause blistering of the skin to people (or dogs) who are sensitive to it. I think this is what happened. It doesn’t matter what variety of chile it was, but usually, the smaller the pod, the hotter the pepper.

For more information on capsaicin, see here and here.

I don’t mean to be critical, but never feed pets human food. Chocolate can kill dogs, for example. Look at all the misery and expense this one instance has caused.  I sincerely hope Freckles feels better soon.


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