NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian first before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be OK for one dog might not be good for your dog, depending on multiple factors, such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.
Wondering if dogs can eat beans? Good news—most beans make the list of human foods that dogs can eat safely. With more protein than grains, these legumes are packed with vitamins and minerals that are healthy for dogs’ dietary needs (as well as your own).
But not all beans are created equal. For instance, while green beans can make a great snack for your furry friend, baked beans and refried beans should be avoided because they include extra ingredients that can make your pup sick.
So which beans can you feed your dog, and which ones should be avoided?
Are Beans Good for Dogs?
Most beans are good for dogs when fed in moderation and prepared without ingredients that are unsafe for dogs (like garlic, onions, or salt). When cooked plain, beans can be a great source of protein and fiber for Fido while being low in fat. They’re also rich in vitamins like iron, potassium and magnesium, and are a source of amino acids that dogs need to stay healthy.
But there are some limitations to how many and what kinds of beans your dog should eat. Canned beans, for example, are laden with sodium that can cause problems for your pooch.
Moderation also matters. Beans can cause digestive issues (such as gas) for your furry friend if they’re eaten in large quantities. You can help avoid too many toots by starting with small amounts: Try incorporating just a few cooked, plain beans to your pooch’s food as a treat or food topper before making these a big part of their bowl. That way you can monitor your dog's reaction for any signs of digestive upset or a food allergy.
What Beans Can Dogs Eat?
Below are a few of the most common types of beans you may find in your kitchen. As with any new food, be sure to check with your vet before making any major changes to your dog's diet, especially if your dog has any health conditions or sensitivities.
Green beans, also known as string beans, can be a good choice for dogs to snack on because they’re low in calories and high in fiber. They also contain essential vitamins like A, C, and K, as well as folate and potassium.
That said, the strings can pose a choking hazard, so break them up before giving them to your dog.
Black beans are rich in antioxidants and are another good source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Just be sure to avoid extra seasonings when you prepare them.
Lima beans are also a good source of fiber and protein. This can help your dog maintain a healthy weight by keeping their digestive system running smoothly and helping them feel full longer. Lima beans also contain calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Pinto beans are another safe bean for dogs to eat, and they’re a great source of fiber and protein. They're also high in antioxidants, which can help boost your pet’s immune system and keep them healthy as they age.
Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are another good source of protein and fiber. If you decide to feed your dog garbanzo beans, make sure they're cooked thoroughly. Steer clear of chickpea-based spreads if they contain harmful ingredients (garlic hummus is a no-no).
Raw kidney beans are toxic to dogs. But when cooked and given in small amounts, they’re OK.
Like other beans on the list, kidney beans are full of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and essential vitamins. But keep kidney beans to a minimum—these red legumes contain higher levels of phytohemagglutinin (a type of lectin) that can make dogs sick if they eat too many.
If your dog does get a hold of raw kidney beans by accident, call your vet to determine the next course of action.
Do not feed your dog refried beans. They are very high in fat, which can trigger pancreatitis in dogs. Refried beans also contain garlic and other spices such as cumin, chili powder, and salt that are harmful to pups.
Baked beans are a summer staple at barbecues and picnics, where dogs may be more prone to gobbling up dropped food and sniffing out unattended plates. But because baked beans are cooked with molasses or brown sugar and other spices, you should not feed them to your dog.
Chili beans are another bean that should be avoided. Like baked beans, this dish is made with extra sugar and spices that can upset your dog’s stomach.
While canned beans may be more convenient than dried beans, they are not the best option for dogs. Canned beans are very high in sodium, so dogs who have heart conditions or high blood pressure should avoid the canned stuff. Instead, opt for dried beans and prepare them by soaking them overnight and cooking.
Occasionally offering your dog a small bite of canned beans from the safe varieties will probably not cause them harm. But if you’re including beans in their diet regularly, the sodium can add up quickly and cause serious long-term health issues, even if you’re rinsing them before feeding. Dried beans (or beans fresh from a garden) are a safer option.
Soybeans, also known as edamame, are a tasty snack for us humans. But they’re often prepared with spices, salt, or soy sauce—additives that are all bad for dogs. But when prepared plain, soybeans are OK for dogs to eat and have the same potential health benefits as other dog-safe beans on this list.
How to Prepare Beans for Dogs Safely
Make sure any beans you feed your dog are plain and cooked properly. Dried beans purchased in bulk are better than canned beans (watch that sodium content!). Just be sure to soak them overnight and cook them thoroughly. Raw or undercooked beans can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea.
When preparing beans for your dog, keep any additional ingredients out of their bowl. Extras that us humans might enjoy—like butter, salt, spices, or high-fat oils—can make your dog sick and should be avoided. Plain is the way to go!
How Many Beans Can Dogs Eat Safely?
Feeding Fido too many beans can cause gas and other digestive upset. When introducing a new food, moderation is key. That way you can monitor for any signs of discomfort like flatulence or diarrhea and reduce the amount in their diet.
If you decide to add beans to your furry friend’s mealtime routine, start slow. Incorporate a few cooked, plain beans to their dish at a time and monitor for any signs of digestive upset (like gas, bloating or diarrhea). If that happens, cut back.
Small dogs (Yorkies, Chihuahuas) will want to start with a small amount mixed into their regular food bowl, like a teaspoon. Much larger dogs (Great Danes, Saint Bernards) could probably opt for 1/2 cup of cooked beans in their food dish.
Note that these are just general guidelines. It’s always best to check with your vet before making major changes to your furry friend’s food bowl.
Featured Image: Adobe/Monika Wisniewska
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