Can dogs eat beans?

Just like with most human foods, some beans are safe for dogs to eat, while others pose a threat. With the large variety of beans available, it should be easy to find a legume your pet loves. Rich in protein—legumes contain about two to four times more protein than grains—beans are an excellent addition to a pet’s diet. But, do not rely solely on beans for your pet’s protein intake, unless recommended by your veterinarian.

Which beans are safe for dogs to eat?

With more than 19,000 varieties of legumes, there’s a wide selection of pet-safe beans to choose from. Keep in mind, though, that not all beans are safe for pets. Stick these beans in the cart when shopping for your pup:

 

  • Pinto beans

  • Black beans

  • Kidney beans

  • Soybeans

  • Garbanzo beans

  • Green beans

  • Butter beans

  • Lima beans

  • Lentils

When feeding from the approved list of beans, avoid seasonings, and always cook beans thoroughly. Just like with all treats, beans should not make up more than ten percent of your dog’s total calorie intake. Nutritionally balanced, high-quality dog food should be the basis of your pet’s diet, sprinkled with healthy, low-calorie treats.

Which beans should dogs avoid?

Although people enjoy large doses of coffee beans and commonly bring baked beans to barbecues, pets should not share in these human delights. Avoid these beans to keep your pet safe:

 

  • Fava beans (or broad beans) — Can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain

  • Baked beans — High in sugar, and also often contain tomatoes, onions, and garlic, which can be dangerous for dogs

  • Refried beans — Contain preservatives and seasonings not suited for pups, including garlic, salt, cumin, and chili powder

  • Canned beans — Loaded with sodium and chemical preservatives

  • Chili beans — Contain garlic, onions, and spices

  • Coffee beans — Can cause neurological damage and even death

  • Raw red kidney beans — Contain a toxin dangerous to dogs

More about beans:

Though many raw beans contain the toxin Phytohaemagglutinin, also called kidney bean lectin, kidney beans contain the highest toxin levels. Cooked beans also contain the toxin, but in much lower and harmless levels. Soaking and cooking the beans destroys enough of the toxin so that symptoms do not occur.

What are the health benefits of beans?

In addition to helping regulate blood sugar, beans are jam-packed with nutrition, including these essentials:

  • Protein — Vital part of a healthy diet

  • Vitamin A — Good for the heart and eyes

  • Vitamin C — Supports the immune system

  • Vitamin K — Helps the body recover from injury

  • Potassium — Supports muscle and bone health

  • Iron — Creates red blood cells

  • Magnesium — Helps the body absorb other nutrients more effectively

  • Antioxidants — Lower cholesterol, fight cancer, minimize arthritis changes

Although beans are excellent sources of protein and are great alternatives to animal-based proteins, to remain healthy, your dog’s body requires that the majority of protein come from animal sources.

What are the dangers of beans?

A bean overdose can have similar effects on dogs as it does people. If your pet gorges on beans, look out for:

While most beans are not exceedingly toxic to pets, they can cause some gastrointestinal discomfort. The true side effects occur from ingesting many of the ingredients commonly found mixed in with beans, such as garlic, onion, salt, tomatoes, and chemical preservatives. To avoid these dangers, stick to pet-safe beans, cook appropriately, and skip the salt and seasonings.

How to add beans to your dog’s diet

When adding beans to your pup’s diet, follow these key tips to do so safely:

  1. Always wash any beans well and cook thoroughly before serving to your dog. Green beans are the exception to this rule, and can be served fresh and raw with no issues.

  2. Ideally, mash beans before serving to your pet, except for green beans. Most dogs tend to not chew well, and mashing the beans aids in digestion and provides greater nutritional value.

  3. The best (and least expensive) way to serve beans is to purchase dried beans in bulk. Soak overnight and rinse several times before cooking. Avoid adding salt or seasonings to your dog’s beans—plain is best. Cooking thoroughly and skipping on seasonings helps prevent gastrointestinal upset, bloating, and gas.

  4. When feeding canned beans, rinse in running water for two minutes before serving. A good rinsing routine can eliminate more than 40 percent of the sodium in canned beans, making this option a little healthier when in a pinch.

  5. If your pet is not too sure about developing a love of legumes, try mixing a new bean in with other tasty fruits and veggies she enjoys. Check out these pet-friendly fresh foods to add some variety and nutritional benefits to your dog’s menu.

  6. Choose healthy recipes incorporating beans to add fiber, protein, and antioxidants to homemade dog treats. This turkey meatball recipe from the Dog People adds healthy green beans into the mix.

Turkey meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound leftover turkey, with bones and skin removed

  • ½ cup rolled oats

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons plan, low-fat yogurt

  • 1 cup mixed veggies (carrots, peas, and green beans)

  • ¼ cup fresh parsley

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. Pop leftover turkey into the bowl of your food processor and pulse a couple times to break up the meat.

  3. Add the rolled oats and pulse until well-combined and no large pieces appear.

  4. Add the egg and yogurt and pulse until the mixture just starts holding together.

  5. Transfer your mixture to a large bowl.

  6. Add your veggies and parsley and mix with your hands until incorporated.

  7. Roll into 1” balls and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet.

  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until just becoming golden around the edges.