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Vets’ fury at latest TikTok craze, the hot sauce challenge for dogs

Hungry dog with his tongue hanging out
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re a fan of TikTok you may have spotted a disturbing new trend called the hot sauce challenge for dogs that has seen irresponsible owners forcing their canine companions to ingest a dangerous food with alarming results. The craze sees owners slathering chicken with the spicy condiment and feeding it to their dogs. It's causing global alarm in the animal community, with leading U.K. animal rights charity the Blue Cross saying they’re horrified by what they’ve seen.

“Spicy foods should never be fed to our pets as they can cause severe indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea,” says Alison Thomas, head of veterinary services at the Blue Cross. “Some of the ingredients in sauces like this, onions and garlic, for example, can also cause harm and should also never be fed to pets.”

Posting videos of themselves attempting to feed their dogs hot sauce and referencing the trend “Give your dog something with hot sauce and get their reaction” the scenes depict dogs crying and snarling as uncaring owners try to get them to keep eating. 

An RSPCA spokesperson has slammed the trend, labeling it ‘very irresponsible’ with the potential for severe gastrointestinal pain and discomfort. Dr. Mary Altomare, the head veterinarian at the Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter in New Jersey, expands on the RSPCA’s comment, explaining the discomfort that spicy food can cause dogs.

"As it travels to their stomach, it can cause further upset such as heartburn and even ulcerations," Altomare said. "Once it passes through the stomach, pets are likely to experience intestinal cramping and diarrhea. Depending on how sensitive of a stomach your pet has, you may also see some vomiting and subsequent dehydration."

Hot sauce often also contains garlic and onions, two ingredients that are toxic to dogs. "They both contain a specific ingredient called n-propyl disulfide that targets and can destroy red blood cells in dogs, causing anemia," Altomare explains. 

A spokesperson for TikTok says they are aware of the situation and that the platform will remain a space for positive creative expression. “We have banned videos of this nature and content depicting cruelty to animals will be removed. We will continue to monitor this situation for further developments and take action wherever necessary.”

While vets and animal organizations are pleased the platform is acting swiftly, the RSPCA remains concerned about the increase in animal cruelty that’s taking place on social media. “Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more social media content that is celebrating animal suffering, even inadvertently, and we ask owners to always consider the impact on their pet,'” the spokesperson said, adding “A selfie or video clip is never worth causing an animal to suffer. Dogs are sentient beings who can find experiences like this very frightening.”

Looking for more dog-related food and nutrition content? Check out our comprehensive advice on how to choose dog food. You might also like our guides to the best wet dog food and best dry dog food