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Can Dogs Eat Kidney Beans? Yes, But Only In Moderation

Written By
Reviewed by
Richard Lovejoy, Professional Dog Trainer
5 min read

Updated - Mar 8th, 2022

When prepared correctly and offered in moderation, cooked kidney beans are safe for dogs. Along with a healthy day-to-day diet, beans are a rich source of plant protein and dietary fiber.

But not all beans are safe. Beans carry some hidden hazards that can make your dog very sick. Let’s go over the nutritional benefits of these tasty treats from the legume family, as well as the risks and how to avoid them.

The nutritional benefits of beans

Beans are legumes, the family of foods that include beans, peas, and lentils. They provide two to four times more plant-based protein than grains and are rich in fiber and nutrients. 

Legumes add an inexpensive source of protein to foods, which is why many commercial dog foods use them to boost protein values. But your dog needs protein from animal sources to remain healthy; meaning vegetarianism is not the daily diet choice for our dogs. 

Beans add some excellent health benefits when fed properly. They are bursting with antioxidants, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Antioxidants: Vitamin C, and vitamin A found in beans offer powerful antioxidant properties to boost your dog’s immune system. Antioxidants fight free radicals that cause cell oxidation because of stress and illness. They also aid in slowing or preventing some cancers and improve cognitive function to help prevent dementia in older dogs.

Vitamin K: Aids in blood clotting, and metabolizes calcium into your dog’s blood to prevent calcium deposits that can clog arteries and the heart.

Minerals: Beans provide iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and manganese to aid in growth and metabolism. 

Folate: Also known as folic acid, is a B vitamin (B9) that aids in metabolism and red blood cell production.

Dietary fiber: Dogs need dietary fiber to keep their digestive system healthy and moving smoothly, ensuring healthy bowel movements. Fiber also stabilizes blood sugars and lowers bad cholesterol levels.

Too much dietary fiber can cause stomach upsets, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and excessive gas. Beans, fed as an occasional treat, are fine.

Low calories: Beans are low in calories, making them an ideal occasional snack for diabetic dogs, or dogs on a weight-loss diet. 

What types of beans can your dog eat?

  • Lima beans and butter beans
  • Black beans
  • Green beans or string beans
  • Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Lentils
  • Red kidney beans 
  • White beans, navy beans
  • Soybeans (including edamame-young soybeans harvested before they harden)

What types of beans are not okay for your dog to eat?

Raw beans: Beans in their raw form harbor the Lectin Phytohemagglutinin (PHA). This is a type of protein that binds to carbohydrates, causing red blood cells to clump together.

You can soak dried beans and cook them over high heat to deactivate the lectins. Simmering beans on low heat won’t deactivate all the lectins. 

Symptoms of Lectin toxicity are:

Talk to your veterinarian immediately if you notice these symptoms or your dog eats raw red kidney beans or any raw bean. 

Canned kidney beans: The canning process for canned beans can add preservatives and sodium your dog should not have.

Baked beans: The sugars, spices, and preservatives can be dangerous for a dog’s digestive system.

Broad beans or Fava beans: These beans contain PHA in high levels. Avoid giving these beans to your dog raw or cooked.

Refried beans: These beans can contain preservatives, seasonings, salt, garlic, cumin, and chili powder that can make your dog very ill. Garlic is especially toxic to dogs. 

Adzuki beans: Known for heart health and aiding weight loss in humans. However, this bean is toxic for your dog. They can cause vomiting and digestive upsets.

Chili beans: A dog’s digestive system can’t process the seasonings, onions, garlic, and tomato paste or sauce in chili beans, causing stomach upset or a toxicity situation.

Coffee beans: The caffeine found in coffee beans is very toxic to dogs.

Can dogs eat beans instead of meat for protein?

The answer is no. Dogs require a species-specific diet that contains a high percentage of protein from animal meat. Dogs are called omnivores by many, but fall on the carnivore side of that spectrum (facultative carnivores) because they need meat, but can also benefit from plant nutrients. In order for them to live long, healthy lives, they must consume diets rich in animal protein. 

In some rare instances, a veterinarian will suggest a vegetarian diet for a dog. But for most dogs, it’s not recommended. Always ask your vet before you change your dog’s diet.

Best ways to prepare beans for your dog

The best way to prepare beans for your dog is to soak them in water overnight. This will remove some lectins from the surface of the beans. Once soaked, cook them thoroughly using no seasonings or added ingredients to deactivate any remaining lectins. 

Plain beans: Dogs love the taste of a variety of beans. Using them individually as treats will only give your dog a health boost as long as you feed them sparingly. 

Follow the 90/10 rule of thumb for a dog’s daily caloric intake to avoid unnecessary weight gain or the risk of diabetes: 90% of your dog’s daily caloric intake should come from regular, balanced dog food. The remaining 10% is for healthy snacks. 

Beans and rice: This is a favorite human food recipe, and our dogs love beans and rice too. Prepare a plain version of this recipe, if you plan on sharing it with your dog. 

Turkey, rice, and beans:  Cook the rice and the beans plain and unseasoned. Add ground turkey or chicken and some healthy veggies for a dog food replacement meal. We do not recommend this as a daily diet, but when you unexpectedly run out of dog food, it works and dogs love it. It also works for a midday snack when your dog needs some extra boost of energy.

Though kidney beans can hit the spot from time to time, the best treat you can give your dog is a healthy life. Pumpkin’s dog insurance plans can help pay 90% of covered vet bills when your dog gets hurt or sick, so you can say ‘yes’ to the best care.

Writer, Mom of a Fab Fur Fam of Five
Lynn is a writer and long-time Learning & Development Manager at a large PNW retailer. She's also mom to 3 dogs & 2 cats!
Reviewed by Richard Lovejoy, Professional Dog Trainer