Can My Dog Eat Legumes?

Picture of peas

Wondering if your dog can eat legumes? Legumes and dogs have been in the news recently so you might have questions about their safety. Legumes are an enormous plant family that includes peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, peanuts, and many other popular crops. Dogs can eat some legumes in moderation but there are some that they should avoid.

Find out more about legumes and dogs below.

Legume nutrition

Legumes are generally high in protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and dietary minerals https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legume. For example, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are 19 percent protein, 68 percent carbs, and 13 percent fat. A one-cup serving contains 50 percent of a person’s daily requirement of dietary fiber along with high amounts of folate and manganese.

Studies suggest that legumes are an excellent source of resistant starch. Regular portions of legumes in the diet may also help lower blood pressure and reduce LDL cholesterol.

Legumes are also widely used for forage for livestock, for crop rotation to put nitrogen back into the soil, and as feed for animals.

There have been concerns raised about legumes (including peas and lentils) in dog foods. In 2018 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced an investigation https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy underway into a potential link between legumes, peas, and lentils and a dietary form of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. Most of the foods involved were grain-free and included large amounts of legumes, peas, and lentils as plant sources of protein.

In the most recent update https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-01-01/fda-urges-collaboration-dilated-cardiomyopathy-afflicts-more-dogs, the FDA has still not found a complete link, though they have a number of theories. Legumes, peas, and lentils fed to dogs in large amounts are still being examined as problems.

This use of legumes applies to dog foods. You should still be able to add small to moderate amounts of some legumes, cooked at home, to your dog’s diet without causing problems as long as you keep in mind that legumes should not be given to dogs as a substitute for meat/animal protein. Dogs are omnivores but they need quality sources of protein which are not provided by legumes alone.

Can dogs eat legumes?

Yes, dogs can eat some legumes prepared at home in moderation but they should not be a substitute for meat or animal protein.

There are a vast number of different kinds of legumes. Some are considered safe for dogs to eat and others are not.

Legumes you can give your dog:

  • Black beans
  • Butter beans or lima beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Green beans or string beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Lentils

Legumes to avoid giving your dog:

  • Fava beans or broad beans
  • Baked beans
  • Refried beans
  • Canned beans

In general, you should avoid giving your dog legumes that have been seasoned or commercially prepared. This is because these foods usually contain sodium, spices, and artificial additives that can be harmful to your dog.

How many legumes can you give your dog?

It’s best to give your dog legumes in small amounts. Different legumes can have different nutritional pros and cons but many of them, especially beans and lentils, can produce gas and discomfort in a dog’s stomach. Keeping portions small will help reduce this problem.

Preparing legumes for your dog

For legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils, we recommend that you buy them in dry form and soak overnight. Soaking longer will let the gasses bubble off and reduce the chance that your dog will be gassy.

After soaking the legumes you should drain them and cook, following package directions. Cook slowly without adding salt or spices. It’s best to keep them plain for your dog.

After they have finished cooking you can mix them with some rice, meat, or vegetables. Add a small amount to your dog’s regular meal. You can use them legume mixture as a topper or separately as a treat.

How often can you give your dog legumes?

Since most legumes are high in dietary fiber it’s best not to give them to your dog too often. Giving them to your dog two or three times per week would be sufficient. If you give your dog legumes more often he could have loose stools. If you notice problems with your dog’s stool after eating legumes, cut back on the frequency and amount you are giving him. 

Dogs and legumes: conclusion

Legumes can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet, in small amounts. You should check individual legumes to make sure they are safe to give your dog. Some legumes are safe for dogs but some are not. Because of the high dietary fiber, you should not give your dog legumes too often or in large amounts. Do not use legumes in your dog’s diet as a source of protein.

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Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine DN Dog News. She's the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, a Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) award winner. In addition, she is an American Kennel Club Gazette breed columnist and is the author of several books about dogs. She has been reviewing pet foods and writing about dog food for more than 10 years.

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