Beans are one of those vegetables we all have in our homes in one form or another, be it a can of baked beans in the cupboard or a packet of green beans in the freezer. There are loads of different varieties of legumes and beans that we use in our human meals and snacks because they are healthy and filling. But are beans as tasty and nutritious for our pets?
Beans are often used in some recipes of dog food, so you might assume that dogs can eat beans. But, not every variety is safe for canine consumption. Read on to find out how dogs can eat beans safely as part of a healthy diet, and what benefits - or risks - might come from feeding them these vegetables.
Yes, dogs can eat some varieties of beans safely. However, not every kind of bean that is edible for us humans is safe for canine consumption. It’s always important to check the veggies you want to offer your pup are safe for them to eat, and introduce any new foods into their diet slowly, including beans.
The kinds of bean that are safe for dogs to eat are packed full of great nutrients, like protein and fibre, making them a filling and healthy snack.
There are a few varieties of beans that are safe for your pooch to try. These include:
Cooked kidney beans
Butter beans (Also called Lima beans.)
Haricot (Also called navy beans.)
Soy and edamame beans
Green beans (Although technically these aren’t a bean!)
Unless you are offering your dog edamame beans or green beans, you must cook beans before offering them to your dog. This is because many varieties of bean naturally contain high levels of Lectin, which can make dogs sick if consumed. Cooking not only reduces Lectin dramatically, but it also makes the beans easier for your pooch to digest.
Just remember to always feed your dog beans in moderation and only feed them plain, cooked beans. Never feed your dog any beans that have been cooked or coated with oils, seasoning, spices, or sauce, as these can be unhealthy and even harmful for your pup.
Your dog can’t eat every variety of bean that’s edible for humans. Some beans you definitely have to avoid feeding your dog include:
Broad beans (Also called fava beans.)
Raw kidney beans
Broad beans are known to cause vomiting and diarrhoea if eaten by dogs, while raw kidney beans are toxic because of the high levels of Lectin. Meanwhile baked beans and refried beans are unhealthy and contain ingredients which can make your pooch sick.
No, dogs shouldn’t eat baked beans because the sauce contains a lot of salt and sugar which is unhealthy for your pooch. Sugar contributes towards bad oral health and weight gain, whereas salt can lead to dehydration and sodium poisoning. The sauce also contains herbs and spices which could cause sickness, such as garlic and onion powder, which is toxic to dogs.
It has also been reported that dogs who eat baked beans regularly can develop pancreatitis, and potentially suffer from damage to their red blood cells. Since prevention is safer and more effective than a cure in these situations, it’s best to avoid feeding your dog baked beans.
However, a small number of baked beans shouldn’t be toxic or harm your dog. So if your dog has eaten a few beans by mistake, or licked some sauce off your plate, they should be okay.
Yes, dogs can eat kidney beans as long as they are thoroughly cooked. Cooked kidney beans are quite nutritious and perfectly safe for your dog to eat. On the other hand, raw kidney beans are toxic to both dogs and humans because of the high level of Lectin found naturally in the beans. Cooking reduces the amount of Lectin and makes the beans edible for both us and our pups.
As with most vegetables and all kinds of beans, you must feed them to your pooch in moderation to prevent overfeeding and illness.
Butter beans, also called lima beans, are perfectly safe for dogs to eat provided they have been cooked thoroughly and are served plain. Butter beans have very little fat but do contain a lot of carbohydrates, so it is important to only feed your dog a few butter beans at a time to ensure it won’t contribute to unhealthy weight gain.
Canned butter beans can contain a lot of salt as well as other additives and preservatives. If you want to feed your dog a few of these beans, you can instead try feeding them fresh, frozen, or dried butter beans instead.
Butter beans are not only tasty, but they contain a good amount of plant-based protein and fibre, making them a healthy and filling snack or dinnertime extra for your pooch. Butter beans also contain a good dose of vitamin C and manganese, as well as a few other vitamins and minerals that make this a wholesome treat for your pooch to enjoy.
Green beans are a tasty treat to offer your pup as they are safe to eat when raw or cooked and offer great nutritional benefits. Although green beans aren’t really a type of bean, they are a legume like peas, we thought we best include them in this list given their name!
Yes, your pooch can eat runner beans as long as they are cooked thoroughly, served plain, and cut up into bitesize pieces.
Cooking is essential when serving runner beans for your pooch because raw runner beans contain lectin. However, cooking reduces the amount of lectin and makes the beans perfectly safe to eat. It’s also important not to feed your dog a whole runner bean as it can be a choking hazard.
No matter what type of bean you’re feeding your pooch, you should always feed them in moderation. Beans have some great nutritional benefits, but they shouldn’t make up most of your pup’s meal.
The rule of thumb with any snack or treat is that your pup should not eat more than 10% of their daily recommended calories in treats. This includes healthy snacks like beans or other veggies, like peppers.
That means if your pup is supposed to eat 700 calories a day, they shouldn’t eat more than 70 calories worth of treats and snacks. The other 630 calories must come from a complete dog food to ensure your pooch is getting all the nutrition they need to stay healthy.
Feeding beans in moderation is an important way of keeping your dog safe and healthy as there are risks of illness if your pup eats too many beans.
Firstly, vegetables are very nutritious for dogs but they do not need to eat a lot of them to stay healthy. If your dog eats too many fruits or vegetables, it can put a strain on their digestive system and cause some GI issues, usually in the form of diarrhoea.
Secondly, as we humans are well aware, eating beans and legumes can make us quite gassy. If you don’t want your dog to be full of flatulence, make sure to only feed them a small number of beans irregularly. This will also protect your pet from bloating, which is a medical emergency for dogs and requires urgent veterinary care.
Yes, there are certain kinds of beans that your dog can eat as a treat. Just remember that any beans you feed to your pooch must be in moderation alongside a healthy diet to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need to stay happy and healthy. Pure offers complete and balanced nutrition for all dogs, ensuring that your dog gets all the nutrients they need in every single bite.
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.