Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are legumes. They are high in plant protein and have been used in cuisine in India and the Mediterranean for thousands of years. They are widely used today in North America in salads, falafels, and in hummus. Many dog food companies also use ground chickpeas or chickpea flour in the ingredients of grain-free foods so if you are thinking of giving some to your dog, they are safe in small amounts. Learn more about chickpeas and dogs below.
Chickpeas are sometimes used in animal feeds for birds and pigs as a replacement for soybeans and other feed. They have also been used in rabbit diets.
Some of the components of chickpeas such as lecithin, polyphenols, trypsin, and others can lead to lower nutrient availability, resulting in impaired growth and health of animals, especially in animals that are not ruminants. There are ways to improve digestibility of the protein in chickpeas such as heat extrusion. (More on this later as it relates to dogs.)
Chickpeas are nutrient-dense. They are high in protein, dietary fiber, folate, and minerals such as iron and phosphorus. They are also high in manganese and copper. They have moderate amounts of thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium, and zinc. They also contain essential amino acids such as lysine, isoleucine, tryptophan, and total aromatic amino acids.
A 100-gram serving (3.5 ounces) of cooked chickpeas has 165 calories. It contains 9 percent protein, 27 percent carbohydrates, and 3 percent fat. Three-quarters of the fat content is unsaturated fatty acids. Most of the total fat is made up of linoleic acid (43 percent).
Several health benefits are attributed to chickpeas. The combination of protein and fiber in these legumes may help you feel full longer and thus help you lose weight.
Chickpeas may be better than some other sources of plant protein because they contain all but one of the essential amino acids. They lack methionine. They are an incomplete protein so if you eat them it’s important to combine them with other sources of protein to make sure you are getting all of the essential amino acids you need in your diet.
Chickpeas may also help people manage their blood sugar levels. They are fairly low on the glycemic index (we found several numbers online but the most common number for chickpeas was about 28). The fiber in chickpeas may also help slow carbohydrate digestion which regulates blood sugar levels. This may help people avoid diabetes and heart disease.
The soluble fiber in chickpeas can also increase the healthy bacteria in your gut. This can help reduce some digestive problems and improve the ease and frequency of bowel movements. This soluble fiber may also reduce triglycerides and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Chickpeas also contain some plant compounds such as saponins that may help reduce your risk of some kinds of cancers.
The choline in chickpeas is also good for brain function.
Chickpeas are inexpensive and easy to add to the diet.
Can you give your dog chickpeas to eat?
Yes, you can give your dog chickpeas in small amounts. As mentioned earlier, many dog food companies already use chickpeas in various forms in their grain-free recipes. They are a good source of plant protein.
We do need to mention that there has been some investigation into whether the overuse of legumes, including chickpeas, has contributed to a sudden increase in a nutritional form of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs (and a few cats). Researchers and customers were concerned about this problem several years ago when dogs from breeds not normally prone to dilated cardiomyopathy began to show symptoms of it. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration took up the investigation.
More than a 1100 cases were reported to the FDA, with others that went unreported. Some dogs died. Some dogs recovered when they were switched to a diet that did not contain peas, lentils, or legumes in the first 10 ingredients. Some of these dogs also received taurine supplementation.
The FDA did not find a real solution to the problem but announced they would not be issuing anymore updates for the time being. Researchers continue to investigate the issue but the number of cases has subsided. Some of the companies involved reformulated their foods.
A recent report from Guelph University in Canada stated that pulses (the dry, edible seeds of legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, peas, and beans) were not the cause of nutritional DCM in dogs. However, the study was paid for by one of the brands that had a high number of dogs which had been affected by DCM. Some experts have cited conflicts of interest and problems with the study.
Back to whether or not you should give your dog chickpeas to eat. Yes, you can, in small amounts. If you are buying chickpeas in a can, you need to drain them and rinse them thoroughly. Most canned chickpeas contain lots of salt. It’s a good idea to soak them to remove as much of the sodium as possible. Canned chickpeas have already been cooked so after they are rinsed and you have tried to remove the salt, you can add some to your dog’s food.
If you are buying dried chickpeas, you need to let them soak for several hours, as with other dried peas and beans. You will also have to cook them for a long time to soften them up. A pound of chickpeas usually has to cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours. More if you want them softer. Keep them simple with no added salt or spices.
How many chickpeas can your dog eat?
Remember that fiber in chickpeas that is good for you? Too much of it can produce gas and a painfully bloated stomach in your dog. If you want to give your dog some chickpeas, only give him a small amount.
Besides the fiber, chickpeas also contain sugars (oligosaccharide raffinose) that will ferment in the gut, producing gas. If your dog has any digestive problems, you may want to avoid giving him chickpeas. Otherwise you can expect him to be flatulent and he may have diarrhea.
A small dog should be able to safely eat a couple of tablespoons of chickpeas. Medium and large dogs can eat 1/4 cup. Watch your dog for any side effects such as gas or diarrhea.
Do not give your dog raw or dried chickpeas. They are not safe. Dried chickpeas can be a choking hazard as well, especially for small dogs.
How often can you give your dog chickpeas?
If your dog likes chickpeas and has no problems after eating them the first time, you can add some to his diet once per week.
Chickpeas are not especially high in calories or fat but too much fiber can lead to digestive problems. Once per week, in small amounts, is enough to be good for your dog’s digestion without causing problems.
Chickpeas have many fans today because they are a plant protein with lots of nutrients. Too much of a good thing can still be harmful. The fiber in chickpeas can lead to problems for some dogs, producing gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea. You can give your dog a small amount of chickpeas once per week as long as he enjoys them and doesn’t have problems digesting them.