Beans can be a healthy snack or supplement for your dog’s diet, however, there are some important safety precautions to understand before feeding your dog any of the varieties.
This article we will explore dangers to avoid with feeding your dog beans, tips for feeding them right way, the nutritional value, and some thoughts on the so called “Green Bean Diet.”
Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine
Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here
Dangers To Avoid
Avoid raw dried beans, of any type, which have not been boiled.
Many raw dry beans, including but not limited to kidney beans, have a toxin in their shell called phytohemagglutinin. The only way to remove this toxin is to fully boil for 15 minutes.
Simmering beans alone is not enough and may even increase toxin levels. Cooking them in a crockpot or slow-cooker is DANGEROUS and can lead to food poisoning in both humans and dogs.
Avoid canned beans with added preservatives, sodium or flavorings.
Your best bet is to cook dry beans without any flavorings or additional salt with the exception of adding some low sodium chicken broth to the cooking liquid for flavor. But, if canned versions have no added ingredients they are probably okay in moderation.
Avoid baked, chili, refried, and other processed beans.
Dogs have sensitivities to a variety of ingredients that humans eat without any problems. Sugars, spices, sodium, chilies, onions, garlic are all common to these processed bean products. Avoid them to be on the safe side.
Avoid cooking beans with any other vegetables that are not safe for dogs.
The list of vegetables unsafe for dogs is not super long, but you should check every single ingredient before adding it to your dog’s diet. Onions, peppers (hot and mild), tomatoes, tomato sauce, and garlic are definitely off-limits and dangerous to feed your dog, among other veggies. Always check first!
Coffee beans are very dangerous.
The caffeine in coffee is extremely toxic to most dogs. If your dog has ingested coffee or coffee beans, call the ASPA poison control number at 888-426-4435 right away, or call your vet immediately. Time is of the essence, and you may be advised to induce vomiting in cases where it might prevent an overdose.
Avoid over-doing it.
Beans are okay as an occasional supplement to your dog’s diet as long as you are following the advice above for preparing them safely. However, despite being nutritious, they do not contain all of the essential vitamins and nutrients that your dog needs to thrive – so keep it in moderation.
Avoid feeding beans to gassy dogs.
If your dog is gassy (Ahem… Boxer lovers, we are talking to YOU!) then you might want to skip the beans. Just like in humans, they can create excess gas for dogs. Unless you really need a patsy for game day, find a different treat for flatulent dogs.
Tips for success
The best way to control ingredients is to cook beans at home using ingredients you control. If you want to make dry beans more palatable for your dog, try adding some plain (preferably homemade) low sodium chicken stock.
It is also fine to add cooked meats such as chicken, beef or pork. However, we wary of cured meats such as ham that are traditionally used for flavoring bean dishes. These kinds of meat have high levels of sodium and nitrates, neither of which is a healthy addition to your pup’s diet. Keep additions lean and natural whenever possible.
When it comes to green beans, however, you can feed them raw for a crunchy snack. Most dogs love them and they have a lot less calories than traditional treats.
If you are feeding them to toy breads, it might be a good idea to make sure you pull the “string” of the green been off, or chop the bean into smaller bits, just to avoid the choke hazard.
If you decide to cook green beans for your dog, just remember that cooking destroys a lot of nutrients so just lightly steam them. Do not add other ingredients like fats or oils unless you know they are safe for your dog.
Almost everyone knows that beans are an excellent source of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates, all of which are beneficial to dogs. Additional nutritional advantages vary by bean type but tend to include:
- Manganese and magnesium
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B6
Remember that no super food replaces the balance of a specially formulated diet for dogs that meets all of their nutritional needs. If you want to feed beans as more than just the occasional snack, work with a veterinarian or holistic dog nutritionist to develop a meal plan that is sound.
The Green Bean Diet
A few years ago a fad diet for dogs called the “Green Bean Diet” surfaced on the internet. The diet has been debunked by some prominent vets and you should definitely talk to your own vet before coming up with any diet plan for your dog to help them lose significant weight.
However, one place where it may be a great idea to make a change with green beans is to use them instead of high calorie treats to help reduce overall daily calorie intake without depriving your dog of nutrients they need.
Often dogs just like variety, and many dogs seem to really enjoy green beans. Chop them up into ½” pieces to use as rewards for a training session.
To make green bean frozen treats for a quick cool down on a hot day, cut them into bit sized pieces, drop them into boiling water for 45 seconds, and drop them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Then, freeze these blanched beans flat on a tray before portioning into snack sized bags for the freezer.
Green bean-sickles are perfect for an outdoor training session in the heat!
So Can Dogs Eat Beans?
Yes & no, but if you follow what you've read in this article you should be OK!
For more information check out this great resource on pet-safe fruits and veggies!
What Else Can Dogs Eat?
Check out some more frequently asked questions below:
Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer
Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.
For more info on Sharon click here