Can I Give My Dog Black Beans?
Beans have been a staple food in many parts of the world for as long as humans have been growing their own food. Black beans, one of the most popular varieties, have been key components of the human diet in Central and South America for upwards of seven thousand years. This traditional food seems to be perfect in every way: it is flavorful yet versatile, loaded with the nutrients that we need to thrive, easy to store, easy to grow, and easy to prepare. Many people, whether they are particularly health-conscious or not, have black beans on hand at all times. We stuff them into burritos and tamales and we mix them into salads and soups. The more creative among us even use them to make meatless nuggets or meatballs.
But is this all-purpose food suitable for our furry family members, too? Black beans may be a valuable source of nutrition for us, but are they safe for our pets? Can dogs have black beans?
Yes, dogs can (and should!) eat black beans. Beans are one of the best ‘people foods’ that you can include into your dog’s diet, and black beans in particular are a well-tolerated variety. If they are thoroughly cooked and low in unhealthy flavorings, your dog can consume black beans in moderation without any real risk to their health. This food is not poisonous to pets in any amount, but it is wise to watch your pup’s portions. Beans, after all, can lead to some unpleasant side effects if consumed in excess.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Black Beans
Black beans are not as flashy and exotic as many of the so-called superfoods pushed on us today, but they are absolutely loaded with the nutrition that helps us and our dogs thrive. Beans of all types contain moderate to high amounts of many key minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that can help support a healthy body. Two of the black bean’s most compelling superpowers, however, are fiber and protein.
The dietary fiber found in beans does not fulfill any of your dog’s vitamin or mineral needs, but it can have just as powerful an effect on their health. Fiber is the part of black beans that goes through the body without being digested—dog bodies are not set up to process fiber, so it flows harmlessly through their bodies without contributing any calories or vitamins. Because fiber is zero calories, it occupies space in the stomach without actually giving your dog any energy. This can come in handy for dogs who need to lose weight. The fiber in black beans will add volume to meals, which will keep them satiated while reducing the amount of calories.
If weight loss is your only goal, there are more efficient options—foods like cucumbers, which are higher in fiber and water and lower in calories—but beans provide more nutrition and may be more satisfying to your dog in the long run.
Black beans are also loaded with protein, which is the most satiating macronutrient. Dogs are true omnivores whose protein needs (per calorie) tend to be higher than ours, so the best foods you can give them are ones that contain a healthy balance of amino acids. While it is true that meat offers ‘complete proteins’, beans can be just as valuable a protein source in a well-balanced doggy diet.
The protein in black beans provides moderate amounts of several amino acids that serve as the raw materials your dog’s body is made out of. Protein is crucial in maintaining healthy structures all over the body, from their shiny fur coat to their powerful heart muscle.
Black beans also provide important micronutrients like iron, manganese, potassium, and folic acid, as well as antioxidants. All of these can protect muscle, nervous, and immune health, keeping your dog fit and illness-free.
Things to Consider
As previously mentioned, black beans should only be fed to dogs in moderation—too many black beans can cause bloating, indigestion, vomiting, gas, or diarrhea. Any beans that have been cooked with garlic, onions, sugar, or large amounts of salt should be completely off limits. Dogs should never eat raw beans, and canned beans should be rinsed thoroughly before serving. Though black beans are considered healthy, they should not make up a large part of your dog’s diet. Treat black beans as a treat or a side dish rather than as the main meal.
Black beans (and, in fact, most types of beans) are good for canines in moderation. These affordable, easy-to-prepare morsels are loaded with fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates that will regulate digestion, maintain lean muscle, and provide sustainable energy for active or athletic dogs. All beans served to dogs should be thoroughly cooked and low in salt and seasonings. If your dog suffers from bloating or gas, back off on the beans. This food may be great for their health, but it is best fed in limited amounts.