Updated - Oct 15th, 2022
Ever wondered if green beans are safe for your dog? The short answer is: yes, dogs can have green beans. Not only are they safe – they’re a low-calorie, high-fiber treat that most dogs love.
The first year I ventured into vegetable gardening, I planted green beans. They’re an easy-to-grow veggie that’s also safe for my dogs. Little did I know that my dogs would come to love green beans a LOT. One day I walked out to the garden and saw my dog Molly munching on a piece of the green bean plant, gobbling up all the tender beans from its limbs.
I discovered that one plant was not enough. I planted several more so my dogs would always have plenty of green beans. We also freeze them and offer them as treats instead of commercial dog treats throughout the year.
Let’s dive into why green beans are so healthy for your dog.
Meet the Green Bean
We think of green beans as vegetables, but they aren’t. The fruit of the plant is a pod, so they’re technically legumes. Farmers harvest the beans when they’re immature. The young fruit is tender, with small beans inside the pods. Once they mature, the beans become much larger and tougher. There are even some varieties of green beans that don’t contain beans at all!
These beans grow in a few colors, including green, white, purple, and striped. But they’re all from the same family and carry the same nutrients as their plain green bean sibling. If they’re not green, we call them string beans or snap beans.
Health Benefits of Green Beans
Green beans have many nutritional benefits for you and your canine companion. They’re low-calorie treats with high amounts of fiber and many essential nutrients that boost your dog’s immune system and overall health. Here are a few of these nutrients, and what they do for your dog:
Antioxidants: Vitamin C, Vitamins A, and beta carotene work alongside flavonols, quercetin, and kaemferol to combat free radicals that cause oxidative damage to cells. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, boost your dog’s immune system, and help fight some cancers.
Vitamins B6: This essential vitamin helps regulate your dog’s nervous system and metabolism.
Vitamin K: This vitamin helps your dog’s blood clot and aids their bone metabolism.
Minerals: Iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium are trace minerals found in green beans. They work together to support the growth of red blood cells, the formation of healthy bones and teeth, and the smooth functioning of bodily systems.
Fiber: The fiber in green beans is an insoluble fiber that adds bulk to stools and keeps the digestive system moving. Foods high in fiber can help with weight loss, since they keep your dog satisfied for longer after meals.
Water: Foods with high water content are hydrating – and low-calorie – making them ideal for dogs who need to lose weight.
Though green beans are healthy for your dog, they can still pose a choking hazard, or upset your dog’s stomach. They can also cause gas and diarrhea – or vomiting – if your dog eats too many green beans. Your vet will know how much is appropriate for your dog.
Weight Loss and Green Beans
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight. Dogs who are overweight can suffer serious health conditions because of the added stress to their bodies and joints.
The first step in helping a dog lose weight is increasing their daily amount of exercise. However, If your dog hasn’t lost weight after you do this, you should schedule a vet check to rule out serious health issues – like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s Disease – before you start any diet for your dog.
Veterinarians have long recommended green beans as a food supplement for weight loss. Dog parents have used the “green bean diet” for years. Some swear by it, while others say their dogs gained the weight back quickly. The premise of this diet is that the high fiber and water content of green beans keep dogs full for longer without providing as many calories as dog food.
To put your dog on a green bean diet, start by replacing 10% of their dog food with green beans. After two or three days, increase the proportion of green beans to 20%. After a few more days, increase the proportion again to 50%. Keep serving your dog a diet of half green beans and half dog food until they reach the desired weight.
Once that weight is off, you can increase the proportion of dog food in their meals to pre-diet levels on a similar timeline. Feed your dog 20% green beans for a few days, then 10% green beans for another few days, and then start feeding them 100% dog food again – calibrated for your dog’s ideal weight, of course.
This diet has worked for many dogs. However, when you replace dog food with green beans, it can lower the amount of essential nutrients you feed your dog. Before your dog begins any weight loss plan, consult your vet.
These nutritional deficiencies are the biggest drawback of the green bean diet. Green beans have many healthy nutrients, but dogs need amino acids, fats, vitamins, and minerals as well. If you replace a well-balanced dog food with green beans, your dog’s diet may not have all the nutrients they need for optimum health – which is why, again, you should always talk to your vet before putting your dog on a diet.
Pet Pro Tip: If you have a dog that is prone to ‘snacksidents’ – you should consider getting a dog insurance plan as soon as possible. It can help you afford the best care in the future by covering eligible vet bills for digestive illnesses, toxic ingestion, and more.
Preparing Green Beans for Your Dog
Green beans are most nutritious for your beloved canine when served raw. You can also serve them frozen (my dog’s favorite), boiled, grilled, or steamed, but be aware that the cooking process takes out many of the nutrients.
Dogs tend to gulp down their food and treats. And green beans are large, so you should cut them up into small pieces so they’re not a choking hazard. This is especially important for small dogs.
Additionally, many things we add to green beans when cooking them for ourselves – like seasonings, oils, onions, and garlic (which is toxic to dogs) – can cause stomach upsets, so be sure to serve them plain when feeding green beans to your dog.
Overall, green beans are a healthy treat replacement for high-calorie commercial treats. The low sugar and high fiber content in green beans also make them acceptable for dogs with diabetes.
Plus, they’re portable, so you can take them along when you’re out and about with your pooch. They’re also a hydrating treat for a hot day, not to mention a healthy way to boost your dog’s energy level until dinnertime.
That said, be aware that canned green beans may contain too much salt, which is bad for dogs. If you want to offer your dog canned green beans, make sure they have no added salt.
The best way to serve green beans to your dog is raw or frozen. Because of the aforementioned choking hazard, make sure to cut them up first. Dogs love green beans, so you don’t have to worry about them turning the vegetable down.
Cut up, raw green beans make tasty toppers for your dog’s food. Whether you steam them or offer them raw, your dog will enjoy their crunchy texture.
You can also create a soup for cold weather, by adding green beans, spinach, and sweet potatoes sodium-free chicken broth. Not only will this slurpy goodness hydrate your dog – it’ll boost their immune system, too.
You can find several tasty dog treat recipes using green beans on the Internet. Here are a few I found that look interesting:
Cheese and Green Bean Dog Treats
Apple and Green Bean Dog Biscuits
But green beans aren’t the only great snack option for dogs. Look beyond commercial dog treats and check out the many fruits and veggies that can boost your dog’s overall health.
Can My Dog Eat Green Beans?
Yes. Green beans are healthy treats your dog can enjoy in moderation. Whether you use them as treats or food toppings or add them to your homemade dog treat recipes, green beans provide will benefit your dog’s health.