Can Dogs Have Hummus?
One of the tastiest health food trends of the decade is the delicious, nutritious, legume-based food known as hummus. Though there is great debate on how this treat is best consumed—spread on pita chips, stuffed into sandwiches, spread on toast, or as a dip for vegetables of all sorts—everyone can agree that it is one of the most enjoyable guilt-free snacks widely available today. Hummus is one of the few condiments that has earned a respectable place as the heart of a meal, rather than remaining relegated to the sidelines like other dips and spreads.
Since we smear hummus on virtually everything, our dogs have many opportunities to beg for it. So, what are we, as responsible pet owners, supposed to do? Can you give your dog hummus? Is it okay to let them lick the spoon? Can we top their dog food with a dollop of savory chickpea goodness?
The answer: well, it depends. While hummus itself—the ground chickpea spread—is perfectly safe for your dogs, many store bought or homemade recipes contain garlic, which is extremely toxic to dogs. Chickpeas are not considered at all dangerous to dogs. So you should feel free to feed your dog plain hummus, or hummus flavored with dog-friendly ingredients, but steer clear of anything containing garlic or onions. Read the ingredients twice!
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Hummus
What are the positives to feeding your dog hummus? The biggest ones are fiber, protein, Vitamin A, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Vitamin A is important for eye health—it improves vision and reduces the risk of both macular degeneration and cataracts, which are the leading causes of blindness in dogs. B vitamins are important for maintaining skin and coat health. Combined with the small amounts of healthy fats, this means that chickpeas can be the key to keeping your dog’s skin itch-free and dandruff-free. They can also help make your dog’s coat softer and shinier than ever.
Chickpeas are high in dietary fiber, which means that they can work wonders on your dog’s digestion. This is largely due to the balance of the two different types of fiber. Though most of the fiber found in chickpeas is insoluble, about 25% of it is soluble. Soluble fiber regulates digestion because it absorbs water—it can treat both constipation and diarrhea! Soluble fiber can prevent diarrhea by soaking up excess water in the colon, making stool less watery.
The insoluble fiber, which does not absorb water, serves another purpose. Since insoluble fiber stays whole all the way into the large intestine, it serves to ‘bulk up’ loose or highly concentrated stools, which can relieve diarrhea and encourage fuller, more frequent bowel movements in constipated dogs.
But the benefits of insoluble fiber go beyond regulating your dog’s excretory habits. Your dog is unable to digest the insoluble fiber found in garbanzo beans, but your dog’s healthy gut bacteria love it. The good bacteria in the colon feed on the indigestible fiber and produce short-chain fatty acids as a waste product, which can improve the health of the cells which form the intestinal wall. This is one of the reasons why fiber reduces the risk of a wide variety of intestinal illnesses, including colon cancer.
Hummus is an excellent source of protein, too. While chickpeas are not a complete protein, meaning they cannot apply all of the amino acids your dog needs to be healthy in the long-term, they are an excellent supplement. Protein is important for maintaining healthy muscles, skin, and connective tissues. Growing puppies and athletic dogs may have increased protein needs, which can make chickpea-based foods an excellent addition to their diets.
Things to Keep in Mind
The big downside with chickpeas is their tendency to increase gas. Like most legumes, chickpeas can cause excessive gas in individuals who are not used to eating them or who have sensitive digestive systems. If your dog is eating legumes for the first time, feed them a very small dollop of hummus and watch to see if they develop gas. While most of the time, gas just results in temporary discomfort, extreme cases can cause a potentially fatal condition called bloat. If your dog develops a swollen abdomen, exhibits behavioral changes, or drools excessively, take them to see the vet.
In sum, hummus is a safe, healthy choice for active dogs. Chickpeas are full of protein, B vitamins, Vitamin A, and both soluble and insoluble fiber, which maintain skin and muscle health and regulate digestion. The most important thing to look out for when feeding your dog hummus is the other ingredients. If your hummus contains any amount of garlic or onions, avoid letting your dog have a taste. Both garlic and onions are extremely toxic to dogs—your dog should not eat them in any amount. For the best results, try making your own hummus with no added salt or oil.
Dog Eating Hummus Video: