Can Dogs Eat Beans Safely?

dogs eat beans safely featured image

For those of us who make our dog’s food from scratch or are simply looking for an easy, tasty, and nutritious treat for our pups, beans are a popular option. Not only are they inexpensive to buy, but there are a wide variety of beans out there, with multiple different ways to cook them.

However, it is incredibly important to remember that dogs cannot eat everything humans can eat – with some human food options being downright toxic for our pets. So, when it comes down to it, can dogs eat all types of beans?

And if they can, are they actually good for them? In this article, we take at the different types of beans and whether or not they serve any major nutritional benefits for your pup – or if they’re downright dangerous.

Can Dogs Eat Beans?

The answer to this question is, in short, yes! However, this applies to certain types of beans prepared in certain ways only and does not apply to beans in general, regardless of how they’re prepared!

While it is true that certain beans are good for your dog, you should still limit how much they eat, which is a common instruction when feeding human food of any kind to your pup. This is especially true when beans are not already a regular part of your dog’s diet, as consuming too much of any foreign food will most definitely upset your pup’s tummy.

And with over 400 types of beans in the world (yup, there’s that many different kinds of beans!), you should definitely be able to find a legume that your dog loves.

Beans for Dogs: What You Need to Know

As a general rule, beans are very good for your dog’s health. Being rich in protein (beans contain two to four times more protein than grains), they are, in fact, an excellent addition to a pet’s diet. They are also packed with fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients essential to a growing dog’s health. They can also help your pup build strong muscles and help regulate blood sugar.

However, it’s important not to rely solely on beans for your pet’s protein intake unless recommended by your veterinarian. Regardless of the many health benefits that beans offer, there are still some beans out there that can cause more harm than good to your dog. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of beans and whether or not they’re recommended (in moderation) for canine consumption.

Black Beans

black beans

Black beans are incredibly healthy for your dog and contain high sources of vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese, as well as lots of fiber and protein. It’s important to keep in mind that you should only give your dog fresh-cooked beans that have been soaked overnight and then cooked.

Kidney Beans

While kidney beans are safe for your dog to eat, this is only true if they are cooked. Cooked kidney beans can provide valuable antioxidants that will help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

red kidney beans in water close up

However, raw kidney beans are toxic to your dog, as they contain lectin phytohemagglutinin (PHA). PHA poisoning can make your pup incredibly sick and cause symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

If your dog has eaten raw kidney beans and/or shows any of the above symptoms, it’s important to immediately take them to the vet.

Pinto Beans

pinto beans

Pinto beans are a great choice for your dog. Not only are they high in magnesium, but they can help fight off bacteria and help your dog to feel fuller longer. You should always avoid raw or canned pinto beans and should only feed your dog pinto beans that have been cooked at home, with minimal to no spices and salt.

Green Beans

Due to their name, we obviously think of green beans as belonging to the legume family. After all, the word “bean” is right in the name! However, green beans are actually a vegetable, making them a little less risky for your pup to consume, and they can most definitely be given to your dog in their raw form.

In fact, the most ideal green beans for your pup are in your store’s produce section and are best served fresh or cooked. While canned beans generally won’t hurt your dog, they often have added sodium and potentially preservatives, so it’s important to examine the label before giving them to your dog.

sliced green beans focus

Flash-frozen green beans are also a great option and can be prepared by steaming or microwaving them until they are ready to serve.

Can Dogs Eat Baked Beans?

Eating baked beans is a definite no, no for your dog. Not only do baked beans often include unsafe garlic or onion powder, but they are often high in sugar, regardless of whether they’re homemade or canned. Consuming high amounts of sugar can lead to blood sugar issues and weight gain in your pup, causing much more damage than any benefits they might receive.

What About Refried Beans?

No, you should not let your dog consume refried beans. There are little benefits to your dog in the form of refried beans, often including preservatives that are an unnecessary additive to your dog’s diet. Refried beans also often contain spices like garlic, chili powder, and salt, which can be potentially dangerous to your dog and are hard on their stomach.

More Beans for Dogs

With the hundreds of different types of beans out there, it’s difficult to cover all of them. However, here’s a quick rundown of some more common types of beans out there and whether or not they’re safe for your precious pup. It’s important to note that the beans listed as safe for your dog to eat are only guaranteed if you make them at home.

  • Broad/Fava Beans – These beans are NOT safe for your dog in any form and contain PHA, which is toxic to your dog.
  • Butter/Lima Beans – These popular beans are great for your dog, especially if they have diabetes.
  • Chili Beans – Chili beans are off-limits to your dog. Chili beans usually contain harmful spices such as garlic and onions, which are toxic to dogs. Chili beans are also spicy, which is harmful to your dog’s stomach.
  • Coffee Beans – Never let your dog eat coffee beans. Caffeine should never be consumed by a dog in any form, as it is toxic to dogs.
  • Cocoa Beans – Absolutely not. Cocoa and chocolate of any kind are highly toxic to dogs.
  • Navy/Pea Beans – Navy beans are just fine for your dog to eat.
  • White Beans – White beans come in the form of the Great Northern beans and the cannellini. Both types of white beans are safe for your dog to eat.

white beans

How Should Beans For Dogs Be Prepared?

Beans for dogs should initially be prepared in the same way they would be for people. In all likeliness, you would never eat raw beans or serve them to a family member (unless in the case of green beans, which again, are not technically a bean!).

Uncooked beans are almost indigestible, and dogs must have beans that have first been soaked and then cooked so they can reap the benefits of the large amount of fiber that beans contain.

Can Dogs Have Beans Instead of Meat?

Substituting meat with beans is never a good idea, especially in the long term, nutritionally balanced diet. While swapping out meat for beans may be a good idea in a human vegetarian diet, this is not the case for dogs, who need quality protein to thrive. It’s important to remember that dogs are not meant to be vegetarians and need high-quality protein sources to maintain good health.

Why Are Some Beans Toxic?

Many raw beans contain the toxin Phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), which is a type of lectin. Lectin causes red blood cells to clump together and can produce nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, and diarrhea in both animals and humans.

Raw kidney beans contain the highest toxin levels of PHA. While cooked beans also contain the toxin, soaking and cooking the beans destroys enough of the toxin to keep it at a low and harmless level to not harm our dogs or us.

Even if consuming beans that are not considered toxic and prepared properly, a bean overdose can have a similar effect on dogs as it does people. Side effects of consuming too many beans include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive gas
  • Abdominal pain

Ingesting potentially toxic spices commonly found mixed in with beans, such as garlic, onion, and chemical preservatives, is another reason why beans must be prepared at home when feeding to your dog.

What Are the Health Benefits of Beans?

Many health benefits come from beans, as they are jam-packed with nutrients. They can help regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation is a great incentive to include dog-safe beans in a diabetic dog’s diet.

In addition to large amounts of fiber, here is a breakdown of the essential nutrients that beans have to offer:

  • Protein – Supplies amino acids to build hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage and plays a main role in hormone production.
  • Vitamin A – Essential for skin, coat, muscles, and nerves
  • Vitamin C – Important antioxidant that helps supports the immune system and reduce inflammation
  • Vitamin K – Helps the body recover from injury
  • Potassium – Keeps kidneys functioning normally, required for heart function, normal digestion, and muscle function
  • Iron – Creates red blood cells
  • Magnesium – Helps the body absorb other nutrients more effectively, as well as regulating muscle and nerve function
  • Antioxidants – Reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol, fights cancer, minimizes effects of arthritis

How to Add Beans To Your Dog’s Diet

Looking to start adding beans to your pup’s diet but don’t know where to start? Consider these tips in incorporating beans into your dog’s diet safely:

  • Never feed your dog raw beans, except in the case of green beans. Always wash beans well and cook thoroughly before serving them to your dog.
  • To make sure your dog is properly digesting the beans and getting the most nutritional value out of them, it’s ideal to mash the beans before serving.
  • Skip on seasonings to prevent potential toxins, as well as an upset stomach, bloating, and gas.
  • If you do wish to feed your dog canned beans instead of fresh beans, rinsing in running water for two minutes can eliminate more than 40 percent of the extra sodium contained in canned beans. This is also ideal for beans found in the freezer aisle (regardless, fresh beans are always the best option!).

Should Dogs Eat Beans?

So, can dogs eat beans? At the end of the day, it is perfectly safe and nutritious for dogs to eat beans as a healthy, balanced diet (we repeat, as long as they’re cooked properly and are confirmed as being non-toxic!). As with any human food, it’s important to limit how many beans your dog is getting, as there is such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to highly nutritional food.

What should you take away from this article? Dogs cannot eat all types of beans, with some of them in their raw form being highly toxic. It’s important to always cook your beans at home, so you know exactly what’s in them.

You should not substitute meat with beans as part of a healthy, balanced canine diet. And minimize the amount of beans you give your dog at once to avoid an upset stomach! Beans should be used as a nutritious treat and should never be more than 10% of your dog’s diet.

All and all, we definitely recommend reaping the many benefits of what beans have to offer for both you and your furry best friend!

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Michael Brady

Michael is an animal-lover who specializes in marketing. He started running Dog Food Care with his mother, Sarah, after leaving his office job. Michael gained enough flexibility in his schedule to be able to adopt a dog of his own and welcomed Emmie the dachshund into his home in 2020.