When we think about healthy food alternatives for ourselves, beans often find their way into the conversation.
A great source of protein, antioxidants, fiber, and our daily needed vitamins, beans can be found in dishes such as soups, stews, and much more. With the growth of soybean drinks and snacks, our healthy food options are filled with this nutrient-rich vegetable.
You want the same health benefits for your best friend, but are beans safe for dogs?
What Beans Are Safe For Dogs?
With more than 400 species of beans on the market, beans fall under a type of vegetable known as a legume, which are plants that can take nitrogen from the air and put it back into the soil. In many cases, beans are bought dried, which increases their shelf life.
With so many beans found around the world, talking about them could become an overwhelming subject. Luckily, you won’t find many of these beans in your local grocery, as many are specific to small regions around the world and consumed primarily by the locals.
So are beans safe for your puppo?
The simple answer is yes, depending on the bean. Many beans, when cooked correctly, provide a great healthy food source for your pup, but should never exceed 10% of their daily diet and should remain an occasional snack at most.
Some beans do remain unsafe for your pup, and much like humans can have a sensitivity or allergic reaction to certain foods, new treats should be tested first.
Canned beans are often packaged in a salt brine, which is a salty juice mix that expands the shelf life of your food and also provides seasoning. High sodium intake is a health risk for your pup and should be avoided at all costs.
Beans you can generally safely feed to your dog include:
- Kidney Beans
- Soy Beans
Haricot or Navy Beans
Green Beans (Although technically not a traditional bean, they are a legume your pup will love.)
Remember the old children's rhyme “beans, beans, the wonderful fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot?” This happens from the high levels of fibers found in beans, and your pup eating beans will be no different.
If they become too gassy, this could be a sign of an upset stomach, so keep in mind the more beans they eat, the more you can expect gassiness.
How Do I Prepare Beans To Be Safe For Dogs?
Have you ever tried to eat a raw or dried bean?
When uncooked, beans are very hard and the skin very thick and dense. This can be dangerous for your pup both as a choking hazard as well as being difficult to digest.
You should always cook beans thoroughly, or until they become soft and easy to eat. This is most commonly done by boiling the beans.
When cooking for your pup, you should avoid using butters, fats, or seasonings.
While fresh-cooked beans are the best option, some canned beans can be cooked for your dog, as long as they are rinsed thoroughly and the brine or the canning sauce doesn’t have ingredients you should avoid giving to your pup, such as onion or garlic.
Beans should make up a small amount of your pup's meal, usually less than 10%. They can be mixed in or used as a food topper if your dog particularly loves them.
Once the beans are thoroughly cooked, you’ll want to let them rest, or place them in the refrigerator for some time before feeding them to your pup. Beans hold a lot of heat internally, meaning just because the outside feels cool to the touch, the inside could still be very hot. Make sure you break a few beans open to check the temperature before feeding your pup.
What Beans Should I Never Give My Dog?
While most beans are safe for your pup, you’ll want to add a few types of beans to your Do-Not-Give list.
Baked beans are a form of pre-cooked, pre-seasoned beans in some form of a sauce. These cans of beans should be avoided due to their high levels of seasonings and the ingredients used. Many cans of baked beans use sugar, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and other ingredients that can be harmful to your dog.
Refried beans are a paste-like mix most commonly using a mix of black beans and pinto beans. Refried beans are common in Hispanic cooking, used as a dip or inside dishes, and should be avoided due to their seasonings. Common seasonings in refried beans include salt, cumin, garlic, and chili powder.
Chili beans are a spicy form of beans used in soups. Higher levels of chili powder and peppers are used in chili bean recipes, which are generally not safe for your pup.
Canned beans should generally be avoided due to the increased sodium and sugars used in the brine, but generally can be rinsed for your pup. This means if you’re making a soup or other dish that requires beans, you could set a small amount to the side to share — just don’t make this a regular routine.
Coffee beans, or any form of caffeine, can be extremely toxic and life threatening for your pup. Both caffeine and theobromine can be detrimental as dogs and cats are far more sensitive than humans. If your dog eats a large amount of coffee beans, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately and watch your pup closely for signs of:
Elevated heart rate
Hypertension or elevated blood pressure
Hypothermia or increasing body temperature
Hyperactivity or restlessness
Collapsing or the body shutting down
Can Dogs Eat Peanuts?
Although it’s in the name, peanuts aren’t actually a form of nuts, and instead are a form of legume more closely related to a bean. Peanuts are a great snack on the go, especially while hiking or getting out in nature. As a compact and tasty form of protein, you may want to share your favorite snack with your best friend.
You shouldn’t give your pup the shell of the peanut, as these are hard to digest and fibrous and could cause some irritation or discomfort when going potty.
The issue with many forms of peanuts is the seasonings. Most snack peanuts are salted, and you should avoid giving salty snacks to your pup. Trail mixes can be a blend of a range of snacks such as dried fruits, chocolates, or other nuts seasoned with a range of flavors — all unsafe snacks for your little one.
You’ll need to be cautious and read the ingredients before giving peanuts from a trail mix, or avoid the mixes altogether.
While dogs can have peanut butter (avoiding the sugar-free variety that usually includes xylitol, which is toxic to your pup), it’s generally better not to share peanuts because they both present as a choking hazard and are rarely the plain, unseasoned variety that’s actually safe for your dog to eat.
Can My Dog Be Allergic To New Foods?
Much like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to different foods such as peanuts or beans. Unfortunately, your pup can’t tell you they feel off, or that they are having trouble breathing.
It’s important when you give your pup new treats that you start out giving them a small amount, monitoring them very closely for any changes.
You should start by watching for:
- Changes in the sound of their breathing, or gasping
- An increase in itchiness especially around the mouth or face
- Swelling in the lips or around the eyes
- Upset stomach leading to vomiting or diarrhea
- Draining eyes
It’s a good idea to take note of all possible allergies, getting a deeper understanding of what your dog can or can’t have, or even what they do or don’t like over time. Consult your vet if you notice these symptoms.
While beans may not be inherently harmful to your pup, they also may not be beneficial or good for your pup. Known as anti-nutrient, some beans such as chickpeas, peas, and lentils could block your pup’s ability to absorb other nutrients. These ingredients are especially popular in many grain-free formulas, and can contribute to a life-threatening condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
This is why at Sundays For Dogs, we don’t use any of those negative fillers and avoid any potential for anti-nutrients.
By sticking with USDA grade beef, adding healthy plant-based nutrients from whole fruits and veggies like carrots, apples, pumpkin, tomatoes, and other real foods you know and recognize, your dog will have the diet they need to thrive.
Give Sundays a try, your pup will thank you.