Are Beans for Dogs a Tasty, Nutrient-Rich Treat?

Are Beans for Dogs a Tasty, Nutrient-Rich Treat?

Posted by Volhard Dog Nutrition on Aug 29th 2023

Curious about whether beans are safe for dogs? The majority of beans are indeed on the list of human foods that are safe for dogs. Richer in protein compared to grains, these legumes come loaded with essential vitamins and minerals beneficial for both dogs and humans.

However, not every bean is suitable for your pet. For example, while green beans can be a delightful treat for your canine, it's best to steer clear of baked beans and refried beans, as they contain additional components that could harm your dog.

So, which beans are suitable for your furry companion, and which ones are a no-go? Join Volhard Dog Nutrition as we dive into the wonderful world of dogs and beans, ready to guide you on how to serve up these versatile legumes safely.

Can Dogs Eat Beans?

The nutritional profile of beans

Yes, beans are safe for dogs to eat — as long as you're observing moderation and a handful of feeding guidelines.

From a nutritional perspective, several types of beans pack a healthy punch! They're rich in various nutrients we immediately associate with thriving pups, such as:

  • Vitamins (for example, vitamins A, C, and K)
  • Minerals (especially iron, an essential nutrient for energy production and oxygen transport throughout the body)
  • Potassium (involved in nutrient absorption, nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and healthy teeth and bones)
  • Protein (we're talking about plant-based protein, which is NOT a substitute for animal protein)
  • Fiber (the amount of fiber found in raw beans makes them indigestible, which is why you must thoroughly cook them before serving)
  • Plant-based amino acids (the basic building blocks of protein; although nutritionally valuable, plant-based amino acids are not imperative for your furry friend to thrive)

Are All Beans Fair Game for Dogs?

When it comes to feeding beans to your furry friend, not all are paw-fectly safe.

Dogs can eat most of the bean varieties we often include in our daily dishes, as long as we don't turn a treat into a meal staple. People often prepare certain beans with ingredients that are unsafe for dogs, such as onions, salt, and seasonings.

Furthermore, there's no predicting how your dog will respond to new foods, which is why we recommend a cautious approach to feeding beans. No need to cause a digestive upset or, even worse, an allergic response!

6 Healthy Bean Options for Dogs

Healthy bean options for dogs

Let's explore the six most common types of beans that your canine companion will gulp down in a heartbeat:

Green Beans

Green beans, otherwise known as string beans, are a common sight in our backyard gardens. Although not a member of the bean family per se (they grow inside a pod), green beans are a splendid low-calorie snack for our canine companions!

Caution: Although green beans are healthy, the pods themselves pose a choking hazard. Remove the beans from the pods before feeding them to your dog.

Black Beans

Black beans are a rich source of antioxidants, fiber, potassium and magnesium.

Caution: Do not sprinkle any seasonings on black beans before feeding.

Lima Beans

Lima beans — commonly known as butter beans — pack healthy amounts of protein, calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium. Feeding lima beans in moderation will help your dog maintain a healthy weight and keep the digestive tract running smoothly.

Suggestion: The high-fiber, low-sugar content of lima beans is ideal for dogs with diabetes.

Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans are another fantastic source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants — the nutrient trifecta for a strong immune system!

Garbanzo Beans

Unfamiliar with garbanzo beans? You'll probably recognize them by their other moniker — chickpeas!

These legumes pack tons of protein, fiber, and folic acid (necessary for new red blood cells), nutrients your furry friend needs for a healthy life.

Caution: You must thoroughly cook garbanzo beans before serving. Avoid feeding chickpea-based spreads to your dog, such as hummus.

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are generally toxic to dogs, unless cooked and fed in small amounts.

Caution: Uncooked kidney beans are rich in phytohemagglutinin (PHA), a chemical compound that causes red blood cells to clump, leading to cardiovascular issues and even heart failure. (Source: National Library of Medicine).

Beware of These 5 Types of Beans: They're Canine Kryptonite!

Unhealthy bean options for dogs

Now that we've covered some safe legumes for dogs, let's review the bean options no dog should ever come across:

Refried Beans

A staple of the American Tex-Mex cuisine, refried beans are an unhealthy way for your dog to share in the Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Their high fat content, coupled with the cooking process (with salt, cumin, and chili powder), make refried beans unsafe for our four-legged friends.

Caution: Feeding refried beans to your dog will increase their risk of pancreatitis. Likewise, canned beans may be rife with nasty preservatives, such as nitrates and nitrites (Source: Healthline).

Baked Beans

Akin to their refried counterparts, baked beans are cooked with all sorts of ingredients your dog's digestive system will not welcome, such as sugar, salt, and onion powder.

Of course, sneakily gulping down a few beans is not the end of the world. It's only when your dog constantly indulges in baked beans that they may risk pancreatitis and red blood cell damage.

Although the 4th of July is the National Baked Beans Day, let's find healthier ways to include our dogs in the celebration.

Chili Beans

All of that sugar, onion powder, and spices we cook chili beans with will only cause chaos in your dog's stomach. Also, dogs are indifferent to spicy foods, so there's no way your dog might be a hidden chiliphile.

Canned Beans

Canned beans are a big no-no if you value your dog's health.

Manufacturers treat canned beans with salt and all sorts of other preservatives to increase their shelf life.

Their convenience over dried beans is undeniable (not everyone has the time to cook beans appropriately). However, choosing convenience at the cost of a healthy diet is not a healthy trade-off.

Coffee Beans

A hard no when it comes to dogs eating coffee beans!

Just like chocolate, coffee beans contain all sorts of toxic compounds for dogs, such as caffeine, theobromine, oxalic acid, formamide, and phenylethylamine.

Even the slightest suspicion of your dog ingesting coffee beans calls for an immediate vet visit!

How Many Beans are Enough for a Great Snack?

Moderation is the key to a healthy relationship between beans and dogs. These healthy legumes may provide your dog with a vast gamut of nutrients, but only to a certain degree. For example, all that fiber content can be heavy on the digestive system, causing gas and an upset stomach — not to mention the threat of biological warfare!

Also, there's no telling how your dog's immune system will react to this peculiar food. So, start by feeding a few well-cooked beans before making them a staple of your dog's food bowl.

As always, we advise our readers to enforce the distinction between dog food and treats. Beans work best as a food topper and should stay within 10% of your dog's daily recommended calorie intake.

The number of calories found in green beans

Source: Google

Are All Legumes Healthy for Dogs?

Legumes have become more and more of a common occurrence in the canine nutrition universe. But, do all legumes play a fitting role in the way we feed our dogs? And where do we draw a line?

The term "legume" refers to the seeds or fruits produced by plants in the Fabaceae family, which are typically enclosed in a pod. Beans, soybeans, peanuts, lentils, and peas all fall into the legume classification.

Legumes are not species appropriate for dogs, which means their stomachs were not designed to digest this type of food.

However, legumes have become increasingly popular in dog foods as an alternative to canine-appropriate ingredients. They act as a cheap filler in highly processed pet foods, supplementing their protein content.

Aside from the fact that plant and animal-based protein are not interchangeable, legumes have a high concentration of harmful chemical compounds, such as:

  1. Phytates: These antioxidants bind to minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium, preventing your dog from appropriately absorbing them (mineral deficiency).
  2. Lectins: Dogs cannot digest this group of proteins, which may lead to digestive distress, an immune response, and damage to the gut (leaky gut syndrome). Lectins allow molecules to pass through the gut, hindering the absorption of nutrients. Symptoms of lectin poisoning include: bloating, gas, tummy cramps, skin rashes, joint pain, lethargy, allergy-like symptoms, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How to Cook Your Dog's Beans

Canine nutritionists agree that you should cook beans for dogs in a similar way to how you would prepare them for human consumption (to a certain extent, of course). Preparing the beans lowers their amount of fiber, making them digestible (never try eating a raw bean!), preventing any choking hazard, and mitigating any potential biological threats.

As a best practice, we recommend that you soak dried beans overnight and cook them plain the next day. Avoid cooking the beans with any butter or sprinkling any seasonings on them.

Although multiple online sources suggest feeding canned beans after a proper rinse, it's best to avoid feeding them altogether. The rinsing process does remove a substantial amount of sodium from the brine. Still, the leftover sodium, together with the preservatives and seasonings found in the canning sauce, is just as bad for your pup.

Dog eating beans

Are Beans Safe for Dogs? Yes, but up to a Point!

Beans are a fantastic source of numerous health-boosting nutrients for dogs. But, before rushing to the grocery store, make a list of the healthy bean options, lest you pack your pup's meal with unwanted legumes. Also, refrain from feeding too many beans from the get-go — there's no telling how your dog's immune system will react to the new food. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!

Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!

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