The short answer is “yes”, bell peppers are fine to add to your dog’s diet. Not only that, they are packed with vitamins and nutrients your dog can use, they are high in fiber, and they make tasty snacks. So can dogs eat bell peppers? Not only “yes, they can”, but in many cases, they should as it can improve your dog’s health.
Bell peppers are one of the most nutritious and tasty fruits and there’s no reason your dogs can’t enjoy them as much as you do. And yep, I said fruit.
Health benefits of bell peppers for dogs (and humans)
In humans, the benefits of bell peppers are extensive. This is one of those cases where the human benefits closely align with the benefits the dog will see as well.
Bell peppers are high in vitamin C, as an example, which is instrumental in keeping humans healthy and our immune system active. Vitamin C does that same thing for your dog’s diet.
Another example is the high Vitamin E content of bell peppers. In humans, we like this because it helps to keep our skin soft and pliant, and therefore younger looking. Dogs aren’t so much concerned about looking young, but that same Vitamin E works to keep their skin and coat in good shape so it looks healthy and vibrant into their later years. Don’t we all, humans and dogs, want to look good as long as we can?
Another important factor is the beta carotene in bell peppers. This is an important antioxidant that helps to protect your dog (and yourself) from infections and disease. In addition, beta carotene is a catalyst in the creation of Vitamin A, which helps to protect your dog’s eye health as well as providing critical assistance to maintain skin, coat, and bone development. Lastly, studies have shown a connection between beta-carotene and arthritis improvement.
All in all, the humble bell pepper packs quite a powerful punch and should be a part of any dog’s, or human’s, meal plan.
Which bell peppers are best? Red? Green? Yellow? Hot?
Bell peppers change colors as they “ripen on the vine” before being harvested. The longer before they are picked, the riper they are. Red bell peppers are more ripe than yellow. Yellow bell peppers are more ripe than green.
Stoplight bell peppers – red, yellow, green?
Generally speaking, the red bell peppers are the most nutritious. Some reports indicate they have up to nine times as much vitamin C as green peppers do. The longer they age before being picked, the more nutritious they are. If you are looking for a sweet bell pepper, the red one is the one you want. The orange bell pepper is a bit less ripe and, therefore, a bit less sweet as well.
Are they different plants though?
No. Similar to olives, there are no “red bell pepper plants” or “yellow bell pepper” plants. They are all just “bell peppers”. The color is determined by how long they are left to ripen before being picked. Olives, as a side note, are the same way. The color depends on how long they ripen before being picked and like bell peppers, this amount of time before being picked affects its color, taste, and nutritional value.
For bell peppers, red is riper than yellow or green. The riper the bell pepper is, the sweeter and more nutritious the pepper will be. So a red pepper will be sweeter and more nutritious than a yellow pepper or green one.
What about hot bell peppers?
Well, oddly enough, there’s no such thing. Bell peppers are the only member of the pepper family that does not produce capsaicin. Capsaicin is what causes the burning and irritation from hot peppers. Bell peppers just don’t have any so are not a spicy pepper. They have a recessive gene that prevents capsaicin production.
On the Scoville scale, which measures the “hotness” of peppers, the Bell Pepper rings in at ZERO. Zilch. Nada. No heat. It’s not a hot pepper.
This also reinforces their value of a dog snack since we should never feed spicy or hot food to dogs.
What about the purple ones? And other colors?
The most common colors are green, yellow, and red. There are variations though and you’ll see purple, blue, black, and even one that stays green no matter how ripe. But, don’t let the colors fool you. They are all bell peppers, they all rate zero on the Scoville scale, and they all become sweeter and more nutritious as they ripen. The color doesn’t really matter.
Feeding your dog bell peppers
Ok, so we know they are good for dogs but how, exactly, should dogs eat them? How should you prepare them for the dog? How do you turn them into dog treats?
Start slowly to ensure your dog tolerates it well. Also, bear in mind they are high in fiber so the digestive processes for your dogs may be in for a bit of a shock if you start with too much at one time. An upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting could be the result if started too aggressively.
Experts recommend perhaps half a bell pepper, sliced or diced for larger dogs, and a quarter of one for smaller dogs. This makes for a nice, crunchy, tasty, healthy snack for your pooch.
Remove the seeds and stems as they can upset the digestive processes.
In the video below, Alex is eating the whole thing, seeds and all. We recommend feeding only the outside and not the seeds and stems. But, you can see that Alex is enjoying his snack!
This is a good case where raw food beats cooked. Raw bell peppers are easier to manage and have a satisfying crunch. No need to cook them before sharing them with Fido.
We do see folks adding bell peppers (any color!) to kimchi for their dogs. Dogs benefit just as humans do from fermented food so throwing a few bell peppers into the kimchi concoction is highly recommended.
What are the risks of my dog eating bell peppers?
There aren’t many.
You don’t want to feed your dog too many, of course. Don’t overdo it. They are high in fiber and can cause tummy problems for your pooch if given too much.
Think of a few raw bell pepper slices as a tasty morsel along with their normal meal.
Dogs are carnivorous so they really should not try to go on a sustained veggie diet.
Far better to use the raw pepper snacks as just that – snacks. Perhaps a few used for training treats or a small service alongside the normal kibble.
But don’t feed your dog bowls of bell peppers.
Can dogs eat bell peppers? Conclusion
Can dogs eat bell peppers? Absolutely – it’s great for them as well as you. Start slow, with a slice or two to make sure your dog tolerates it well. Eventually, bell peppers can be a healthy treat for your dog.
We often hear “can dogs eat [fill in the blank]” so we are working on a series of articles to discuss these topics. Please see our additional articles on our main dog health page.
Also for a more information overview about what your dog should and should not eat, be sure to take a look at our “Can dogs eat…” article where we cover over 80 different items.