Wasabi is a spicy addition to any dish, but although you might be able to handle the heat, it doesn’t necessarily mean your dog will enjoy it too.
If you regularly share food with your dog, you might be thinking to yourself, “can dogs have wasabi?”.
Well, although it isn’t toxic, wasabi isn’t something you should feed to your dog. Let’s take a closer look at why not.
What is wasabi?
Wasabi is a plant that originates from Japan.
While you’re cooking, suddenly, your dog looks at you. You want to give them a little treat but wonder if they can eat the food you are holding in your hand.
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It is a brassica, a family of plants also used to make other spicy foods such as mustard and horseradish. You will most likely associate wasabi with eating sushi.
It usually comes as a thick green paste that is very spicy. You can also buy wasabi peas, which are dried peas coated in wasabi and salt and are also very spicy. Wasabi is often referred to as a superfood as it contains a large number of vitamins and minerals.
Can dogs taste wasabi?
While your dog’s taste buds may not be as sensitive as yours, they can definitely still taste the strong spicy flavor of wasabi, even if it is to a lesser extent.
Bear in mind that their sense of smell is far more sensitive than ours, and the senses of smell and taste are strongly linked.
Although dogs can taste wasabi, their lowered sensitivity to taste distinction means that the first couple of licks might not register as being too spicy.
Some dogs may continue to eat wasabi paste or wasabi peas for longer than they should before realizing that they do not like the taste.
As with all foods, different dogs will have different affinities for different foods. Some dogs may turn their noses up at wasabi once they’ve had a sniff and won’t choose to taste it at all.
Then, of course, there are those dogs that seem to eat anything and everything. Even if your dog seems to enjoy the taste of wasabi, it’s not a good idea to intentionally feed wasabi peas or wasabi paste to him.
Is wasabi bad for dogs?
Wasabi is not inherently toxic to dogs, but this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for them to eat it.
Its hot, spicy flavor implies that if a dog eats a lot of wasabi, it can cause their throats to constrict, which could cause difficulty breathing. Just as with humans, spicy foods can cause an upset stomach, resulting in painful gas and bad flatulence.
A lot of wasabi can irritate the lining of your dog’s gut, which can result in vomiting and diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea can sometimes lead to dehydration, making your dog very poorly indeed.
As with any new food, there is always the small chance that your dog might be allergic to wasabi. Signs of an allergic reaction include skin hives (small raised bumps all over your dog’s skin), swelling of the lips, eyes, tongue, or throat, excessive drooling, or difficulty breathing.
Contact your veterinarian straight away if you suspect your dog is having an allergic reaction as left untreated, it could be life-threatening.
What about dogs with specific conditions?
Dogs that already have sensitive stomachs should definitely avoid wasabi as they are likely to suffer more severe gut side effects than other dogs might.
It can also take them much longer to recover from any side effects they may experience.
If your dog has a medical condition such as kidney or liver disease, then eating wasabi could pose more of a risk than to an average dog. Contact your veterinarian for further advice if your dog has a medical condition and has eaten wasabi.
My dog ate wasabi; what should I do?
Suppose your dog has eaten a small amount of wasabi. In that case, you probably don’t need to do too much other than keep an eye on him and wait for the unpleasant spicy effects to wear off. Make sure he has plenty of fresh water available.
If he seems distressed by the spiciness or starts drooling excessively, you can try flushing his mouth out with cold water. Be very careful not to choke him, though, and ensure he doesn’t gulp down excessive amounts of water.
Even if your dog has eaten a lot of wasabi, you do not need to worry about him being poisoned.
However, keep a close eye on him for any unwanted side effects such as vomiting or diarrhea. If your dog seems unwell or is vomiting repeatedly, then take him to a veterinarian to get him checked out.
What will happen if my dog has eaten wasabi?
There are a few tell-tale signs that might lead you to suspect your dog has actually eaten wasabi rather than just sniffed it. These include:
● Pawing at his mouth
● Drooling excessively
● A gurgling stomach or signs of stomach pain
● Seeming unsettled or distressed
● Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Usually, these symptoms will resolve on their own after a short time, but contact your veterinarian for further advice if you are at all concerned.
So, is wasabi for dogs? The answer is no. Wasabi isn’t good for your dog and is best avoided completely if possible.
However, wasabi isn’t toxic, so do not worry too much if your dog does manage to snaffle some – just watch out for the unpleasant side effects that might follow!
Gemma is an experienced small animal vet who combines her love of writing alongside working in practice. Since her graduation from the University of Liverpool in 2014 she has worked in a wide variety of roles including first opinion practice, as a night vet and as a locum vet. She has also spent time working at a charity clinic in the Cook Islands which was a challenge but also immensely rewarding. She loves all aspects of veterinary work, but she especially enjoys medicine cases and diagnostic imaging. She is passionate about pain-management, particularly in her more senior patients. She currently works in a first opinion small animal practice in North Yorkshire where she deals with both routine and emergency cases.