“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you…” Well, we all know what happens if we eat beans. But what about our pets? You might have wondered “can dogs eat baked beans” and found a split response online.
That’s because although baked beans aren’t necessarily toxic, they aren’t a suitable snack for your furry friend. Read on to find out if it is safe for your pooch to eat beans and why it can pose problems for our pets.
Generally, no, your dog should not eat baked beans. Your pooch can probably eat a small amount without causing them any harm. So if your pup has just hoovered up some spilt beans, don’t worry too much.
However, you should not make a habit of feeding your dog all the components of a full English fry up, as eating fatty foods such as sausages, bacon and baked beans can impact their health in the long run.
There are a few reasons why you should avoid feeding your dog baked beans. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising, as baked beans are not a natural food source they’d come across in the wild and their digestive system isn’t designed to handle them effectively.
Firstly, baked beans are high in sugar which is never good for dogs to eat. A dog’s energy should largely come from eating protein and some long-chain carbohydrates. If your dog has diabetes you definitely shouldn’t give them baked beans. It’s also advisable to avoid feeding baked beans to any dog in general as the sugar can contribute to unhealthy weight gain.
As well as sugar, baked beans contain a lot of sodium. Salt is another additive that should never be introduced to your dog’s diet as it can cause dehydration and sickness.
Another problem with baked beans is the fat and saturated fat content. Not only can this cause weight gain, but increased fat in a dog’s diet also puts a strain on their digestive system, particularly their pancreas.
It has been found that dogs who eat baked beans regularly are susceptible to developing pancreatitis. As with many canine illnesses, prevention is far easier and safer than the cure, which is why it’s advised not to feed your dog baked beans.
Here in the UK, Heinz is pretty much synonymous with baked beans. Admittedly, there are some good things to be said about the brand of beans as they are free from artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives. But that alone does not make them any better for your furry friend.
As mentioned, the problem with baked beans is that they are high in sugar and salt, and Heinz is no different here. Additionally, Heinz beans contain “spice extracts” and “herb extract”. Given the nondescript nature of what’s inside the can in terms of spices and seasonings, it’s safest to avoid feeding them to your dog in case it contains toxic ingredients like garlic or onion powder. Better to be safe than sorry, after all.
There are many other kinds of bean out there that are perfectly safe for dogs to eat and can even make a healthy snack for your pooch. Some varieties of bean that your dog can eat include:
Butter beans (Also known as Lima beans)
It is important to remember that any beans must be fed in moderation as they can cause flatulence. Overeating beans and the increase of gas can lead to bloating which is a medical emergency for dogs. Additionally, always feed your dog cooked beans as they are easier to digest. (Except green beans, which can be fed raw.)
There are some beans you need to avoid feeding your dog. These include broad beans because they cause vomiting and diarrhoea, and raw kidney beans as they are toxic. (Cooked kidney beans are perfectly safe for dogs to eat though.)
As mentioned above, the sauce is the real problem when it comes to dogs eating baked beans. Although red tomatoes are not toxic to dogs, other ingredients included in the sauce have the potential to make your furry friend ill.
Most tomato sauces are made using a bunch of seasoning and spices. We’ve already talked about the problem of sugar and salt, but there are other ingredients to be wary of.
Many baked beans contain “herb extracts” and “spice extracts”, which makes it difficult to judge whether they are safe for canine digestion or not.
Doggy stomachs are pretty sensitive when it comes to spices and many ingredients we humans use are likely to cause GI issues if ingested by our pets.
More worryingly, many common ingredients in our favourite human foods are harmful to dogs. For example, onions and garlic are both toxic and they can be found in baked beans, usually in the form of garlic and onion powder.
Because of the likelihood of these ingredients lurking in your beans, the safest thing to do is not to let your dog eat any. (Although a tiny amount probably won’t cause them any harm.)
When eaten in large quantities or regularly over time, baked beans can have some adverse effects on your dog’s health. For example, dogs who eat baked beans could be prone to developing pancreatitis.
As baked beans contain garlic and onion, eating large amounts can be toxic. Ingesting either of these ingredients in large quantities or regularly over time can cause anaemia and even damage to your dog’s red blood cells.
Overeating beans can also lead to increased flatulence. This might seem harmless, albeit unpleasant for your nose, but it can give your pooch abdominal pain and bloat. While bloat in humans isn’t a big deal, it is for dogs. In fact, bloat is considered a serious medical emergency.
If your dog shows any signs of bloat, you need to take them to the vet as soon as possible. Symptoms can appear within a few minutes of eating and they include:
A swollen, hard stomach
That being said, small amounts of baked beans aren’t likely to cause serious illness. So if your dog licks up some spilt sauce or you mistakenly offer a spoonful of beans on their dinner, then they should be okay. Just make sure to keep an eye on them and contact your vet if they develop any signs of illness.
Usually, no, eating baked beans won’t hurt your dog provided they are healthy and only eat a small amount. If your pooch eats a lot of baked beans then they may become ill. Eating baked beans shouldn’t endanger your dog’s life though.
However, if your dog eats a lot of baked beans and becomes bloated it must be treated as an emergency.
Less urgently, your pup may develop pancreatitis if they eat baked beans regularly. Pancreatitis ranges in severity and in acute cases there is the possibility it could be life-threatening.
Therefore, it’s best not to feed your dog baked beans. You definitely should not feed your pooch beans regularly in large amounts. However, a small amount, such as a spoonful, should not pose any immediate risk and your dog will probably be fine.
Technically, yes, dogs can eat a small number of baked beans without significant risk of illness.
However, beans are not something you should actively feed your dog as they are unhealthy due to the amount of sugar and salt. If your dog is eating kibble, they are probably already eating more sugar than they ought to be and so definitely should not be fed baked beans.
Dogs should never eat baked beans regularly or in large amounts as this can cause illness. To be on the safe side, don’t feed your dog baked beans but instead opt for a safer and healthier legume like peas or even other kinds of bean.
We actually use peas in our Pure recipes, as we know they're a great nutritious addition to your dog's dinner. They're rich in vitamin C for a healthy immune system and high in fibre for great digestive health.
We include ingredients in Pure that you'd buy for yourself, such as chicken, beef, salmon, turkey and duck, alongside tons of fruit and veggies to give your dog complete and balanced nutrition.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.