Can I Give My Dog Chickpeas?
With green juices, vegetarianism, and a general respect for plant foods on the rise, many people have begun to seek out efficient sources of plant protein. One of the most popular options today is the little round chickpea, which has worked its way into a wide variety of lunch and dinner recipes. This high-protein legume is mild in flavor and unique in texture, which makes it incredibly versatile. Today’s health-conscious protein-seekers often incorporate chickpeas into salads, wraps, pastas, sandwiches, stir fries, and even soups. With the rise of hummus, chickpeas are showing up in our meals more than ever before.
Because this food has become so popular, it wiggles into our kitchens quite often. This is great for us, but, as pet owners, we have to wonder what the impact on our canine companions will be. Is this food as promising for our pets as it is for us? Can dogs have chickpeas?
The answer is yes, dogs can eat chickpeas. On their own, these legumes are not at all poisonous to pets, so even if your dog devours half a can’s worth of them while your back is turned, they are unlikely to need an emergency trip to see the vet. In moderation, chickpeas and many other legumes are safe for canine consumption, so you should feel free to give your dog a taste. Just remember to be mindful of the other ingredients that may have been used to prepare whatever chickpea product you may decide to share—chickpeas are safe, but not all of the foods commonly eaten with chickpeas are safe!
So, are there any benefits to adding chickpeas into your dog’s diet? Though your dog should not eat large quantities of legumes, there may be a few pluses to eating them in moderation. The biggest benefits are protein, fiber, antioxidants, and several different vitamins. The B vitamins found in chickpeas may help protect your dog’s skin and coat health. Those vitamins, in conjunction with the healthy fats found in chickpeas, can help combat dry, itchy skin, dandruff, or a dull, thinning fur coat. Incorporating foods like chickpeas in to your dog’s diet may help restore their coat to its natural soft, shiny, luxurious glory.
Chickpeas are also loaded with dietary fiber, which many pet owners find very helpful in regulating doggy digestion. There are two different types of fiber in chickpeas—soluble and insoluble—that work together to keep your dog regular. Soluble fiber is helpful because it turns into a slick, gooey substance when it absorbs water. This spongy type of fiber can help soak up the extra fluid sitting in the colon, alleviating watery stool; it can also soak up fluid in the stomach and introduce it into the colon, helping to soften hardened or impacted stool.
Insoluble fiber may not absorb water, but it can still benefit digestion. This type of fiber remains relatively unchanged throughout its journey through the digestive system. Instead of soaking up water, it just adds bulk to loose or concentrated stools. This means that insoluble fiber can help relieve diarrhea, yes, but it also encourages regularity. Adding bulk to stool leads to fuller, ‘fluffier,’ more frequent bowel movements which will help speed the process of food through the intestines.
Dietary fiber works fabulously for potty-related problems, but it can work wonders on overall gut health, too. Dogs do not have the ability to digest the insoluble fiber inside of chickpeas, but the healthy gut bacteria in their intestines do. High-fiber foods help to nourish these healthy gut bacteria, which then produce short-chain fatty acids that nourish your dog’s body! This symbiosis is thought to be one of the reasons why dietary fiber intake correlates with a lower risk of intestinal illnesses.
Chickpeas are also full of protein. Though they are not ‘complete proteins,’ meaning they do not provide all of the amino acids your dog needs, they can still help boost your dog’s overall protein intake. Protein is the macronutrient that supplies the raw materials required to make most of the structures in your dog’s body. Dogs who are very active or still growing may have higher protein needs. For these dogs, high-protein legumes like chickpeas may be an excellent treat.
Things to Consider
Though wonderful, chickpeas aren’t perfect. Dogs who eat too many of these high-fiber legumes may suffer from gas, bloating, or indigestion. Usually, gas will not cause anything worse than slight (and temporary) discomfort, but in extreme cases, it can cause a life-threatening condition called bloat. If your dog’s abdomen swells up, or if they begin to drool excessively, take them to the vet’s office immediately.
In conclusion, chickpeas are safe, healthy legumes to feed your dog in moderation. They are loaded with B vitamins, protein, and dietary fiber that can improve skin and digestive health. If you decide to feed your dog food containing chickpeas, make sure to read the ingredients—many brands of hummus, for example, contain garlic or onions, which are highly toxic to dogs. The best way to give your dog chickpeas is cooked and unflavored.