Paprika is one of the world’s most commonly used spices. There are several different varieties, the most two common being sweet and hot. And each paprika blend adds a unique depth of flavor to any dish it’s combined with. It’s seriously good stuff.
But is it good for dogs? Can dogs eat paprika? Yep. It’s safe for dogs to eat paprika. However, that doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to feed them. There are a few minor health and safety reasons why you should avoid it.
In this article, we’ll cover what paprika is, why your pup should avoid it, and some better spice alternatives for your dog.
What is Paprika?
Paprika is unlike most spices in which a singular source or ingredient makes up the seasoning. Instead, paprika is a finely ground powder of dried capsicum (bell pepper), various chili peppers, and Aleppo peppers.
This spice can alter in taste from blend to blend depending on the ratio of peppers. Sweet paprika typically has more capsicum than other types of paprika and the chili seeds are removed during the creation process. This gives it a more mellow and sweet flavor.
Hot paprika, on the other hand, has a spicier flavor as the chili seeds are left in during production. Inside of a pepper, chili seeds are what normally contain the most capsaicin, which is the element that provides the heat for a chili.
Hot paprika usually falls between 500-1,000 SHU on the Scoville scale—the scale that measures how hot a chili is. For a point of reference, jalapenos typically range between 2,500-8,000 SHU. Sweet paprika is exceptionally mild and only registers between 100-250 SHU.
Why Your Dog Should Avoid Paprika
Just because your dog can safely eat paprika doesn’t mean that they should. While not outright dangerous, paprika can prove to be a nuisance for your pup and their comfort.
Hot Paprika Can Irritate Their GI Tract
Dogs can’t handle spicy foods in the same way that humans can. When it comes to handling heat, their stomachs and intestinal tracts are rather sensitive. Sweet paprika doesn’t pose much of a problem at all. However, hot paprika does.
Hot paprika is spicy enough to cause your dog to suffer from indigestion, vomiting, or diarrhea when eaten in larger quantities. And while this a rather unlikely circumstance, it’s still a possibility.
Paprika Contains Solanine
Another risk stemming from a massive paprika intake is solanine overdose. Solanine is found in members of the nightshade family including potatoes, eggplant, and paprika. Large amounts of solanine can lead to difficulties in breathing, drowsiness, and impaired nervous system reactions. However, your pup will have to consume enormous amounts of paprika for this to happen.
Paprika Can Be a Nasal Irritant
A dog’s sniffer is exponentially more powerful than our own and is much more susceptible to irritation. The capsaicin inside the paprika can cause mild discomfort and may cause your pup to sneeze controllably for a few seconds and quickly locate their water bowl.
What Are Some Safe Spice Alternatives for Dogs?
Not all spices and seasoning are irritating for your pup. Some of them are good and healthy for them to eat. Here are five different spices and seasonings that you can feed your dog instead of paprika:
Turmeric is a yellow root spice that can provide excellent benefits to your dog’s health. First, it can give them a much-needed boost to their metabolism, making this spice a great addition for those pups who are overweight or need a little pep in their step. Second, turmeric provides a boost to your pup’s brain health. And lastly, it’s amazing for arthritis.
This herb is rich in antioxidants and can help your pup relieve the ill effects of arthritis. However, basil has been found to do much more. It can also help act as a stress reliever for anxious dogs.
Love your pup but can’t stand their bad breath? Try giving them a little parsley. Parsley helps to combat bad breath and improve overall dental health. It’s also full of heart-healthy antioxidants, fiber, and other minerals your pup needs to be their best.
Like parsley, cinnamon can help promote your pup’s dental health and freshen their breath. But it can also help counteract the effects of doggy diabetes. Cinnamon is an excellent addition to an overweight pup’s diet. Just be careful and mix it in thoroughly. Loose powder can irritate your pooch’s snoot if inhaled.
There are tons of spices and seasoning that if ingested will upset your dog’s digestive system. However, ginger isn’t one of those. It can actually boost your pup’s GI health, soothe nausea and diarrhea, and improve their circulation. If you’re going to use ginger in your dog’s diet, we recommend ground ginger because fresh ginger—even finely grated—can be overly powerful.
While paprika might not be the ideal spice for your pup, there are some suitable replacements if you’re trying to spice up your dog’s diet — pun intended. However, you should keep in mind that none of these spices are an essential part of your dog’s diet.
But if you do want to supplement their meals, be sure to do so in a controlled manner. Always check with your veterinarian before making any major changes. And if given the green light, ensure that you make gradual changes to monitor for any adverse reactions.