Dogs can snack on many “people foods,” but some foods that are healthy for people are not safe for dogs. It’s important to know that the foods you’re giving your dog are OK, and this applies to spices as well as whole foods. People often share their own food with their dogs, and our food is usually seasoned, even if it’s just a little salt and pepper. Before sneaking your dog a bite of your food, it’s a good idea to find out if dogs can eat black pepper.
Potential Health Concerns
First, let’s address salt, which is commonly used in conjunction with black pepper as an all-purpose seasoning. Although dogs can eat a little salt, too much salt is harmful. For this reason, you should avoid feeding your dog overly salty things, and definitely skip the salt if you’re cooking for your dog.
Black pepper is another seasoning where moderation is key. Although a small amount of black pepper is generally considered to be safe for dogs, large quantities of black pepper can cause stomach upset in dogs.
Of course, just because small amounts of black pepper are likely safe for dogs to eat, it doesn’t mean dogs like eating black pepper. In large amounts, black pepper is spicy—a flavor most dogs do not enjoy. If your dog inhales black pepper (if it spills onto to the floor, for instance), it might cause a very uncomfortable sensation in his nose, making him sneeze uncontrollably.
As is the case with salt, you should not intentionally add black pepper to any food you are cooking for your dog. If you want to share some of your own food with your dog and it contains salt or black pepper, use your best judgement. If you’re eating a grilled chicken breast seasoned with a small amount of salt and black pepper, it’s likely going to be fine to share that with your dog (in moderation, of course). However, if you are eating a peppercorn-encrusted steak or other food heavily seasoned with lots of black pepper, it’s best not to feed that to your dog.
(Remember, extra foods—even healthy foods like grilled chicken breast—are not a substitute for your dog’s complete-and-balanced diet. All treats should make up less than 10 percent of your dog’s entire diet; the remainder should be his regular, complete-and-balanced diet.)
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Black Pepper
Black pepper doesn’t offer any health benefits for dogs, and dogs don’t really enjoy the taste of black pepper the way people do. For these reasons, it’s best to skip this seasoning for dogs.
However, some dogs will eat anything that falls on the floor or wolf down scraps they find in the trash. If your dog eats a large amount of black pepper, watch him for a few hours to make sure he doesn’t experience any stomach upset (vomiting and/or diarrhea). If your dog begins vomiting or has a lot of diarrhea after consuming a lot of black pepper, contact your veterinarian for advice.