Our ongoing series on herbs for dogs comes with this look at cayenne.

Cayenne is actually from the nightshade family and is most commonly associated with the spicy cayenne pepper, which itself is named after the city of the same name in French Guiana.

There are dozens of varieties of these hot peppers, but they all appear very similar.  Cayenne is typically found in Central and South America, although changes in growing habits have made them available around the world.

Some people even grow the little things as houseplants.  Most plants will produce their “fruit” in mid-August, with blooms appearing in the early summer.  It is that fruit that is most relevant to our discussion. It has a number of applications for dogs, surprisingly.

Because of its warming properties and anti-inflammatory capabilities, it can actually be a very helpful addition to your herbal treatment arsenal.

article about using cayenne pepper for dogsTherapeutic Uses for Dogs

Most internal uses of cayenne for dogs comes in capsule format, although whole fruits can be used in oil infusions, ointments, salves, tinctures, and even creams.

Some stores carry commercial brands of cayenne creams or ointments that are useful in treatments of things like arthritis, stiffness and sore muscles.

You can track down cayenne almost anywhere, as should be apparent by now. Should you be so inclined, you can also find the plants at most nurseries that sell vegetable plants.

  • One of the key therapeutic uses for cayenne is in widening the blood vessels. This process is called vasodilation, which occurs after the relaxation of “smooth muscle cells” within the walls of the vessels themselves. This naturally increases the flow of blood, which is why hot foods – like those foods with heavy doses of cayenne peppers – make us sweat. They have the same effect on our four-legged friends.
  • When cayenne is used internally, it will warm the body with remarkable speed. It dilates the smaller capillaries and aids in circulation to the extremities, which makes it a valuable treatment option when dealing with things like poor circulation. Because of the quickness with which cayenne can push the blood, it is sometimes used alongside other herbal treatments to quicken delivery of said treatment.  While
  • When injuries crush extremities or otherwise prevent the flow of blood, cayenne can be especially useful. If your pup has endlessly cold paws or feet, you may want to look into using cayenne as a treatment.
  • It should also be noted that cayenne is very effective when it comes to stopping bleeding. Considering its properties when it comes to quickening the flow of blood, one might not expect it to work this way. But cayenne is actually very effective in direct application when applied to the skin. Interestingly, it doesn’t hurt very much when applied to an open wound. You should test this out on a small sample size first, of course, as your dog could have a problematic reaction.

Dosage and Directions:

Never give over the counter capsules meant for humans.  When considering using it  internally, you should actually talk with a holistic vet first.  Internal applications for a dog or cat would come in the form of a capsule with a smidgeon of  powdered cayenne enclosed.  This is generally enough to satisfy whatever needs the animal has.  Again, any other internal dosages should be discussed with a professional.

What You Should Know Before Using Cayenne on Your Dog

dried cayenne pepper for dogs

Preventative Measures

It’s natural to assume that the heat of cayenne peppers would be problematic for dogs. A simple Google search of “cayenne” and “dogs” turns up an array of abuses, from applications in dog repellent to cases of animal abuse charges. It’s a nasty selection, to say the least.

But here’s the thing: cayenne does not cause irritation to the digestive tract when used moderately.

  • Steer clear of administering it to animals with kidney or urinary problems, sensitive stomachs or those with inflammatory digestive conditions such as IBD , but recognize that most dogs will find it safe for use. The issue here is with ensuring that it is for your pet. Some dogs will not take to it, while others will have no problem with a little spice now and then.
  • Cayenne is a strong irritant to the nose and eyes, of course, which is where its application as a repellent comes into play. Cayenne is also in bear spray, so you can get a good sense for how it might work if it gets in contact with your pup’s more sensitive membranes.
  • After use, make sure you wash your hands so you don’t get a hit of the “bear spray” yourself.  Ouch!

Reasons to Use

In summary, cayenne has some surprisingly effective applications for your dog. It’s a mostly safe herb, when used properly, and it can help quicken blood flow. You should be fine if you use it within the required dosage and test topical applications before committing to a larger area.

References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen

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Showing 31 comments
  • alexandra fabritsi
    Reply

    What can I give my dog with pancreatitis.
    At the moment I give him gastrointestinal low fat food and enzymes. He is a boxer 23 months old.

    • janie knetzer
      Reply

      Alexandra:

      Please view my article regarding Pancreatitis here. Maybe it will help.

      Janie

  • Jessica Schubert
    Reply

    I just found out that my almost 8 year old pekingese has an enlarged prostate. We are actually going to a new vet next week for a second opinion and for them to run some tests to see if it is cancer or enlarged due to some other type of bacteria infection. Either way, I have researched the use of cayenne and have found several references to it being used by humans to shrink the prostate, burn out bacteria, and in some cases, cure the cancer for some individuals. I am going to ask the vet next week, but of course the side of me who is not patient can’t wait for an answer. I would like to try it in my dog, but am not sure of if it is safe, how to/what form to administer it, and the dosage. He is 13 pounds. Many thanks to you for your help in this matter.

    • janie knetzer
      Reply

      Hi Jessica:

      I’m not really sure about using cayenne to shrink enlarged prostates. However, a little goes a long way. So, you don’t need much at all in order to receive the benefits. You can certainly use fresh and simply snip a tiny piece or two off for your little guy daily. Or, use an organic tincture and give one drop orally twice daily.

      Cayenne is a pretty safe herb. Just monitor him and if you notice any digestive upset, etc., then stop.

      Janie

      • Lisa Cassio
        Reply

        Saw Palmetto. I have used it on my Boxer and it worked wonders! I gave him a pill twice a day to start..maybe for about a week straight. When I noticed him getting better..I did once a day until I didn’t see him struggling anymore. Since your dog is small..I would give him 1 a day to .5 a day .

        • janie
          Reply

          Hi Lisa!

          Thanks for sharing.

          Janie

  • Sandy
    Reply

    What is the dosage for a 25 lb dog? I found some capsules that are 450 mg per capsule

  • Gaynor
    Reply

    My dog has been diagnosed with an enlarged heart,she is 13yrs old and is on cardslis 20mg and tore 40mg ,she did have the cough but is gradually getting a lot better,she has had a couple of fainting stints,would giving her cayenne pepper help? Or can you suggest or recommend anything Please,I’ve also read that Hawthorne berry/tincture is also good,I’ll try anything as its only her heart that is wrong and is still eating,drinking and still mischievous,

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Gaynor:

      I’m so sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Too many responsibilities and not enough hours in the day. 🙂 I’m sure you understand. We’re all in the same boat.

      Anyway, what I would recommend more than anything IS Hawthorne Berry tincture. That would be my “go to” choice for heart problems Gaynor. Hopefully you can purchase a good tincture over in the UK. Try to get alcohol free if you can.

      I hope this helps your old girl Gaynor. Stop back and let us know how she’s doing and if the Hawthorn Berry helped. Glad to here she’s still mischievous! 🙂

      Janie

      • Gaynor
        Reply

        Aww that’s brilliant thank you Janie,I’ll definitely let you know how she gets on once it’s been delivered, fingers crossed it helps even a little, once again thank you!! ?Xx

        • yourolddog
          Reply

          My pleasure Gaynor!

  • richard
    Reply

    my dog has a torn tendon in his back leg the vet wants to oprate but this will be far to expencive for me to have done plus the dog is getting on in life i have been told that cayenne mixed in cooking oil and mixed in his food will hepl him

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Richard:

      I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of cayenne and cooking oil for torn tendons. I recommend purchasing a brace to stabilize the leg and take the pressure off. I would also use Ligaplex II to help rebuild the ligament or tendons. Adding a good fish oil is recommended as well (along with the other two suggestions).

      Hope this helps Richard.

      Janie

      • Ellie
        Reply

        I used turmeric ( 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs) twice a day in my dogs food and arnica ( it’s a flower) muscle and joint gel topically on the affected tendon when my dog tore his. The swelling went down within the first day and by the third he was walking pretty close to normal. Also I use vet wraps (self adhering disposable bandages found at the horse store lol ) to gently wrap the tendon for ectra support while hiking or playing at the dog park.

  • Jessie
    Reply

    I have an elderly Labrador Retriever, he somethimes has a drop of blood after bowel movements, think I should give him a capsule of Cayenne daily?

    • janie
      Reply

      Is his stool hard or soft? Does he strain to go?

  • anita campbell
    Reply

    14 year old female irish setter with cancer in her blood- need the names of supplaments or foods to give her please respond broken hearted owner

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Anita:

      I’m on my way out the door. I’ll get back to you later this evening.

      Let me know that you received this message please. In the mean time, what are you feeding her and what supplements? When was she last vaccinated?

      Janie

  • Stephen Gheen
    Reply

    My dog is 100 lbs and 17 years old with severe arthritis is this safe to use and at what dosage?

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Stephen:

      I’m not sure where you are located, but you’re best bet is get her CELTIC SEA SALT – THIS IS THE BRAND WE RECOMMEND. DO NOT USE IODIZED TABLE SALT. Hymalayan Rock Salt WILL NOT DO EITHER. It MUST BE CELTIC SEA SALT.

      You’ll have to do a test on her with it and she will drink the amount she needs. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the Celtic Sea Salt to 1 Quart of FILTERED PURE WATER in bowl, then add 1/2 teaspoon of the Celtic Sea Salt to 1 Quart of FILTERED PURE WATER in another bowl and let her choose. She knows which one she needs.

      You can try this Stephen and see if it helps her. I would love to hear back.

      Janie

      • Stephen Gheen
        Reply

        Will give it a go does the salt itself help? Btw we are in the metro Atlanta area of GA.

        • janie
          Reply

          Hi Stephen:

          Yes, it’s the iodine. Although you’ll read on the package it says “This salt does not supply iodide, a necessary nutrient”, it does contain trace amounts of iodine and it contains vital minerals that your dog is most likely lacking, like most. This includes potassium, magnesium and calcium. Celtic Sea Salt is VERY low in toxic metals which is why another reason this salt is recommended Stephen.

          PLEASE, don’t forget to come back and share with us how it goes. Your story can help others, either way.

          Janie

  • Stephen Gheen
    Reply

    I already give her fish oil tablets and glucosamine…

  • Stephen Gheen
    Reply

    Please she is in direct straights can barley walk on her own still goes to the Lottie by herself though

  • Patty
    Reply

    My dog has mitro valve pro lapse and I was told she might need a Lasix shot every 3 weeks, is there someone that can help me with a homeopathic cure? I DON’T want these drugs to kill her, I live in Painesville ohio

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Patty:

      I’m sorry to hear about your dog.

      Natural diuretics include dandelion (one of the best natural diuretics) and burdock root. You can read more about dandelion here. READ THE ENTIRE PAGE PLEASE. You can also include burdock root which is another good diuretic. Feed a very good natural diet for the heart. You can read about heart disease here. My cookbook offers recipes Patty for heart disease to be cooked in the crock pot, if that helps. Home Cooking for Sick Dogs.

      I hope this helps.

      Janie

  • Theresa
    Reply

    I have a 9 year old pit bull with kidney disease. His numbers are moderately high. I am in need of help with what herbs to incorporate into his diet. I am making his food fresh now. Low phosphorus and high quality low protein . Please help

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Theresa:

      I sent you a private email.

      Janie

  • Simone
    Reply

    Dear Janie,

    I need to know what dosage of cayenne powder to give to my 20 lb, 4 month old puppy who loves to eat her stools. I have read this supplement could help with this problem. Thank you! : )

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Simone:

      When a dog eats their own stool, it’s important to figure out “why” it’s happening and not just try to stop it without knowing why.

      In my experience, coprophagia happens for several reasons, but the best place to start is to assume that your pup IS NOT getting what she needs nutritionally. If she’s living on a kibble diet, rounds of vaccines, chemical flea and tick products, etc., then her immune system is most likely shot. She could be hungry for vital nutrients and just acting out in an effort to get them. Before putting a bandaid on the problem, I highly recommend that you make sure your pup is a eating a REAL meat based diet in form of REAL MEAT and not kibble. Make sure she is eating a high protein diet as well. If you have to feed her kibble, then add a little organic meat to it daily! Add some steamed greens as well.

      Regarding dosage of cayenne, it is a very, very small amount like 1/16th or 1/8th of a teaspoon twice daily depending on her size. Make sure she has fresh water. Keep in mind though that this definitely should not be your first priority. I would definitely give her a good multi like Nuvet which could indeed take care of the problem.

      Janie

  • AngelaEarls
    Reply

    Can I buy the cayenne pepper sold in grocery stores and give to my dog in some food or something? I have looked everywhere for the pills and other things but I cannot find them anywhere. If so how much do I use?

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