Beans are a staple ingredient in many international cuisines. They are cheap, healthy and make a highly nutritious addition to one’s nutrition. With about 40,000 bean varieties, it is impossible not to like at least some of them. Also, there are endless ways to prepare them. You can cook, bake them, include them in your vegetarian dishes, cook them with meat, and one will be sure – they will be super delicious and provide you with lots of protein. Dogs are known to flourish on protein-rich diets, but do beans provide a good source of protein for dogs? Are they safe to share with dogs, or not so much?
In this article, we’re investigating all kinds of beans that you can share with your dog, as well as pointing out types of beans that should be strictly avoided in a dog’s diet. So, let’s spill the beans and reveal the truth about dog nutrition and beans!
Can Dogs Eat Beans?
The answer to this question is quite ambiguous. There are beans that your dog can safely eat, but there are also types of beans and bean preparation processes that shouldn’t be a part of your dog’s diet. So, before getting into a more detailed answer, the answer would be YES and NO.
Generally, beans are a great source of protein, although they aren’t really considered as a low-calorie legume. As you might know, protein is a crucial part of a dog’s diet, but the truth is that the proteins our dogs need should come from meat sources. However, there are also other nutritional benefits that beans can provide your dog with.
For instance, beans are rich in vitamins C and K and have high levels of Magnesium as well. Magnesium is a crucial part of a dog’s diet since it is a necessary mineral for many bodily functions. But, this powerful legume has more to offer, it also contains Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Folate. Potassium is a very important mineral for dogs and it’s necessary for good muscle growth, healthy heart, stronger bones, strong immune system, and healthy nervous system.
So, if beans contain all these nutrients, why can’t we feed all beans to dogs? The truth is that it’s mostly a matter of how the beans are prepared. What we know is that pinto beans and green beans are the most nutritionally dense representatives of the legume family. So can your dog have them? Let’s take a closer look at all bean types that are safe for your dog to eat.
Beans Dogs Can Eat
Out of 40,000 bean varieties that exist in nature, there are quite some that are not only safe for canines but are also healthy and bring a great dietary boost to a dog’s nutrition. If you want to include protein-rich legumes in your dog’s diet, you should know which ones to pick and which ones to avoid.
1. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are a variety of kidney beans that are packed with minerals and vitamins. They make a great source of quality plant-based protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber. Feeding pinto beans as a snack to your dog will help to make your dog feel fuller and aid his digestion. So, if your pup needs to tighten up his daily intake because of some additional pounds gained, cooked pinto beans might be a great choice.
2. Green Beans / String Beans
Out of all beans, green beans or string beans are the ones that are most commonly shared with dogs. They are a top source of protein, fiber, vitamins C and K, and Manganese.
Dogs usually love having green beans as a snack.
3. Lima Beans / Butter Beans
Lima or also called, butter beans make a perfect source of fiber and iron. Being so rich in fiber, they prevent blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after eating them, which is why they are often used as snacks for dogs with diabetes.
Soak dried lima beans overnight, and then cook them plain. No seasonings or spices included. Then, mix them with some rice and meat and you have just made a great raw meal for your pup.
Lentils are another bean variety that is safe for dogs to eat. Unlike other beans, they have a reduced risk of increasing flatulence in dogs because of their alkaline nature. However, recent FDA investigation has shown that dogs that were fed with grain-free dog foods that included peas and lentils had a higher risk from developing a heart disease.
So, until everything’s clear, it might be wiser to opt for a different bean type.
5. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are definitely the most common beans used in various international cuisines. These are rich in antioxidants, but they also contain the toxin Phytohaemagglutinin (more than all other beans). However, after kidney beans are soaked and cooked, the toxin drops at a much lower and harmless level that can’t cause any side effects.
6. Black Beans
Still high in antioxidants, black beans are also packed with vitamin A and K. They can enhance your dog’s vision, and improve your pup’s cardiovascular system.
7. Chickpeas / Garbanzo Beans
Garbanzo beans, commonly known as Chickpeas as well, are safe and healthy for dogs as long as they are properly cooked. They should be prepared in water only, without any additions that are toxic to dogs, such as spices, onions or garlic. That’s why feeding that delicious hummus you love isn’t a good idea after all.
Soybeans are safe to feed to dogs under several circumstances. What matters with soybeans is where and how they have been grown. If there’s a label saying the soybeans are grown organically, then you can feed them to your pup. If the origin of the soybeans you bought is somehow hidden or suspicious, it would be better to skip it.
Beans Your Dog Shouldn’t Eat
While there are definitely a lot of beans that might benefit your dog if fed in moderation, there are also some that better left avoided. Most of the beans in this list are not actually a variety of beans itself, but rather represent different ways of preparing them. Let’s find out which ones might be toxic or harmful to your dog’s digestive system.
1. Baked Beans
Although you might be a big fan of the delicious baked beans, sharing them with your pup isn’t quite a great idea. Baked beans are usually sweetened with sugar
in order to achieve that incredible tastiness. Not only, but they also often contain tomatoes, onions, and garlic which aren’t really safest foods you could feed your pup with.
2. Chili Beans
Nothing that contains garlic and onions basically shouldn’t be given to dogs. Therefore, just like baked beans, avoid feeding chili beans to your pup. These contain garlic, onions and spices that can lead to severe gastric upset, diarrhea and flatulence.
3. Coffee Beans
Coffee beans are still beans. No matter how big a fan you might be of your coffee cups, you should be aware of how much caffeine is dangerous to your dog. Just small amounts of caffeine can damage your dog’s neurological system and potentially result in death.
4. Raw Red Beans
Cooked red beans are fine and even healthy, but raw red beans have a high concentration of phytohaemagglutinin which leads to severe gastrointestinal issues. It can lead to severe diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Be aware that ingesting a couple of uncooked red beans can even be dangerous to you as well. So make sure raw beans are held in a safe place.
5. Canned Beans
When it comes to canned beans, it’s difficult to give a univocal answer. Some might be ok, others are a definite no-no. What you should do before feeding your dog with canned beans is to read the label. If there is salt or sugar in the bean water, then sharing is not a good idea.
Look for sugar-free, low-sodium, spices free canned beans as those are safe to share with your dog. Just to be sure, rinse canned beans under running water for a couple of minutes to eliminate eventual traces of salt or sugar. All other variations aren’t supposed to be fed to dogs.
6. Fava Beans
There is no reason not to love fava beans if you’re not a dog. Fava beans are perfectly fine for humans, but in dogs, they can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Not quite the treat you had in mind for your pupper, right?
7. Refried Beans
Refried beans are a staple side dish of Mexican cuisine. Can you even imagine tacos without them? But, in order to achieve that amazing flavor, refried beans are packed with seasonings such as garlic, salt, cumin, and chili powder, none of which is suited for dogs. Instead of being tempted to share some of it with your pup, leave some plain, cooked beans by the side before you prepare your homemade refried beans, and give them to your pup as a treat.
8. Adzuki Beans
Adzuki beans are known to be great boosters of heart health and weight loss in humans. But, unfortunately, these beans aren’t supposed to be shared with dogs because it was found that they are poisonous to dogs.
How To Serve Beans To Dogs?
There are several basic steps you should follow when feeding beans to your dog.
- 1. Wash and rinse- Wash your beans thoroughly and rinse them a several times in order to remove any potentially harmful toxins or perservatives.
- 2. Soak overnight- By soaking the beans overnight, the toxin contained in beans will lose its strength making the beans safe to eat.
- 3. Cook- Make sure that you cook the beans plain. So no salt, sugar, or other spices added. Only water and beans.
- Pro tip- Mash the beans for an additional nutritional boost. Mashed beans are also easier to digest than entire beans because our canine friends don’t tend to chew their food quite enough.
Serving Canned Beans: Although it is not the best choice, you can also feed canned beans to your dog by doing the following: rinse the beans for 2 minutes under running water. This way a large amount of sodium will be eliminated, making it a safer option for pups.
Green beans can be safely served raw without adverse effects, as long as they are thoroughly washed.
Benefits Of Including Beans In Your Dog’s Diet
So, now that we’re well aware of the bean varieties that are safe to share with dogs, and of those that aren’t, we can tell you more on what are the health benefits of including beans in your dog’s diet. However, it is important to know that beans are only beneficial when they are properly served and fed in moderation.
- High In Antioxidants – The increased level of antioxidants helps fight free radicals causing damage to body cells.
- Lowers Your Dog’s Cholesterol Levels – Beans can lower cholesterol levels in blood, which makes them a great protector of heart health in both dogs and humans.
- Improved digestive health and bowel movement – Thanks to high levels of dietary fiber found in these legumes, beans are a great way to prevent constipation and improve bowel movement.
- Slight energy boost – Although dogs need meat-source protein as the primary protein of their diet, beans contain twice to four times more proteins than grains. These will provide your dog with a natural energy boost.
Risks Of Feeding Beans To Dogs
Apart from dog-unsuitable beans, and raw beans that contain toxic, feeding your dog with too much “good” beans can also be dangerous. As you may know, too many beans usually mess up our digestive system for a little while, and the same is true for dogs too.
Eating too many beans can lead to diarrhea, excessive gas, and stomach ache. Funnily enough, feeding too much of them might even end up in constipation.
Also, the plant-based protein contained in beans shouldn’t be used as a replacement for the meat-sourced protein that dogs need in adequate amounts.