Are you fond of falafels? In case you’re wondering, falafels are deep-fried appetizers usually made from ground chickpeas, herbs, and spices. They are Middle Eastern in origin but they have become popular in many places, including North America. Eaten with a tasty hummus or a lemony tahini sauce, and falafels can be delicious. You might wonder whether dogs can eat falafels, too. Let’s find out.
Falafels can vary in nutrition, depending on the ingredients used. However, most falafels are made with chickpeas or fava beans, or sometimes both. Onions and garlic are frequent ingredients. Fresh herbs and spices are added to the mixture before it is deep-fried in oil. Falafels can be served alone or they can be served in pita bread or another flatbread, then topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, red cabbage, or other ingredients.
Six small falalfel patties might make up 3.5 ounces (100 grams) and contain the following nutritional values:
- Calories: 333
- Protein: 13.3 grams
- Carbs: 31.8 grams
- Fat: 17.8 grams
- Fiber: 4.9 grams
- Vitamin B6: 94% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Manganese: 30% of the DV
- Copper: 29% of the DV
- Folate: 26% of the DV
- Magnesium: 20% of the DV
- Iron: 19% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 15% of the DV
- Zinc: 14% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 13% of the DV
- Potassium: 12% of the DV
- Thiamine: 12% of the DV
Falafels also contain small amounts of niacin, vitamin B5, calcium, and other micronutrients.
Despite all of these nutrients, the falafels you buy in restaurants or from street vendors are often deep-fried. That means they are high in calories and fat.
Falafels are a good source of fiber and plant-based protein. Both of these things can help you feel full between meals. Chickpea fiber, in particular, may help manage blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates. It may also improve bowel health. And it has been associated with lowering the risks of heart disease and colon cancer in humans.
However, eating deep-fried foods has risks. It increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
You can make falafels at home and avoid the deep frying. Eating falafels this way can keep their health benefits and minimize the potential health problems.
Can You Give Your Dog Falafel?
The short answer is no. Dogs can’t or shouldn’t eat traditional falafels. At least they shouldn’t eat the falafels you find in restaurants or from food vendors. That’s because these recipes almost universally call for the use of onions, garlic, spices, and herbs which can be bad for your dog. They can also contain a lot of salt that your dog doesn’t need. In addition, most falafels that you buy are deep-fried. Deep-fried foods are not good for your dog. Foods high in calories and fats are unhealthy for dogs.
There are exceptions. If you would like to make your own falafels at home, you can modify a recipe to make it dog-friendly. To make a doggy version of falafels, you will need to leave out the onions and garlic, as well as the herbs and spices. Cut down on the salt in the recipe. The ground chickpeas and other ground beans should be safe to give your dog in a falafel treat occasionally. We recommend baking them instead of deep frying.
If your dog does eat regular falafels that contain onions and/or garlic, you may need to call your veterinarian. It can depend on the size of your dog and how much onion/garlic your dog ate. Watch for the following symptoms:
- Decreased appetite
- Pale gums
- Reddish urine
Vomiting, elevated heart rate, and panting may also appear as signs.
Onions contain a toxin called N-propyl disulfide. This compound causes red blood cells to break down which can lead to anemia in dogs. It reduces the ability of the red blood cells to carry oxygen. Your dog’s body is essentially tricked into thinking that his own red blood cells are invaders. His body begins to attack his red blood cells in a process called hemolysis. This results in hemolytic anemia.
If you notice these symptoms, especially if your dog has eaten onions or garlic, contact your veterinarian immediately. Hemolytic anemia can be fatal but there are treatments.
Onion and garlic powders are also dangerous to dogs for the same reasons.
How Many Falalfels Can Your Dog Eat?
Falafels vary in size depending on who is making them and what ingredients they contain. If six small falafel patties contain 333 calories (3.5 ounces or 100 grams), that would be far too much for most dogs to consume as a snack or treat.
Assuming you have falafels that are dog-friendly, with no onion or garlic, you could give a small dog one or two very small falafels. Medium and large dogs could eat two or three dog-friendly falafels that do not contain onions or garlic.
Keep in mind that if you give your dog any food that is deep-fried, not only is it likely to lead to weight gain but it can also result in an upset stomach. Rich, oily foods can cause your dog to have diarrhea or other digestive problems. If you do want to give your dog some dog-friendly falafels as snacks, it’s best to bake them instead of deep-frying them.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Falafels?
If you make falafels at home without onions or garlic, and they are baked, you could give a few to your dog each week. They should be safe and even healthy for your dog.
Chickpeas and DCM in Dogs
We haven’t mentioned dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs in connection with falafels even though these appetizers are made from chickpeas, one of the ingredients that has been associated with DCM via some grain-free dog foods. That’s because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still investigating the link between DCM and grain-free foods. And, if you do decide to share some dog-friendly falafels with your dog occasionally, they probably won’t make up a very large percentage of your dog’s diet.
In case you are curious about peas, lentils, and legumes (chickpeas and some other beans are included), you can find out more about dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs and the research into grain-free dog foods here . The FDA and other research groups are continuing this investigation.
Traditional falafels are not safe for dogs to eat. They normally contain onions, garlic, spices, and herbs which can be harmful to dogs. Onions and garlic, in particular, can be deadly to dogs. Falafels are also typically deep-fried which is not healthy for dogs. If you would like to give your dog some healthy falafels you will probably need to make them yourself. Toss out the onions, garlic, spices, and herbs. Bake the falafels instead of frying them.