Can Dogs Eat Legumes
Dogs Grooming

Can Dogs Eat Legumes

Hira Saleem

October 31, 2023 . 11 min read
Quick Answer:

Yes, but not all legumes are safe for dogs. Some legumes, such as raw kidney beans, can be toxic to dogs. Other legumes, such as cooked black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzo beans, are safe for dogs to eat in moderation.

Most dogs can eat legumes like green beans, peas, and lentils as part of a healthy diet as long as they are cooked properly and given in small amounts. 

However, legumes like kidney beans, pinto beans, and chickpeas contain chemicals that can be harmful to dogs even after they have been cooked and should be avoided. Learn more about which legumes are safe for dogs and how to serve them safely.

What Are Legumes?

Legumes are a type of vegetable that includes beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts. They are great forms of protein and nutrients that come from plants. However, some beans contain chemicals that are bad for dogs if they eat a lot of them. Some common legumes include peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas, and peanuts. 

For instance, lentils, per 100 grams, contain approximately 25 grams of protein and a whopping 31 grams of dietary fiber. Such nutritional richness makes legumes a fantastic addition to your dog’s diet.

Legumes get their protein from compounds called lectins. In small amounts, lectins are usually safe for people, but they can be bad for dogs’ digestive systems. Some legumes like beans and lentils also contain carbohydrates, and these starches can ferment in the dog’s gut, causing gas and other digestive difficulties.

Raw Vs Cooked Legumes – Which Are More Beneficial for Dogs

Raw Legumes

Raw legumes are rich in nutrients as they have yet to be exposed to high temperatures that can sometimes destroy specific vitamins and enzymes. They are good for your dog’s health because they have a lot of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. There are, however, some major problems with giving raw legumes.

Raw legumes may contain anti-nutritional factors such as lectins and phytates, which can interfere with nutrient absorption and cause digestive problems. They may also be harder for your dog to eat because their shells are solid on the outside, which could make their stomachs upset.

Moreover, certain legumes, like raw kidney beans, contain toxins that can be dangerous to dogs if not prepared correctly. These toxins can be neutralized through cooking.

Cooked Legumes

Cooking legumes can be a safer option for your dog. It helps break down the tough outer shells and eliminates anti-nutritional factors. Moreover, cooking destroys potential toxins present in some raw legumes. Because of this, cooked beans are easier to digest and less likely to hurt your stomach.

Additionally, cooking can enhance the palatability of legumes, making them more appealing to your dog’s taste buds. You can mix them with your dog’s regular food or serve them as standalone treats, ensuring your furry friend enjoys the benefits without any reservations.

Which Legumes are Best for Dogs & Which One They Should Avoid

Legumes Safe for Dogs

  • Cooked Plain Beans
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Edamame
  • garbanzo beans
  • Pinto beans

Legumes to Avoid for Dogs

  • Raw kidney beans
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • High-Fat Legume Preparations
  • Seasoned or Spicy Legumes

Benefits of Legumes for Dogs


Legumes are an excellent source of plant-based protein, which is essential for your dog’s muscle development and maintenance. For example, lentils have about 25% protein by weight, which makes them a great choice for dogs that are allergic to or sensitive to meat. The protein content in legumes can help support a healthy, active lifestyle for your canine companion.

Fiber Content

The high fiber content in legumes supports digestive health. For example, cooked lentils contain approximately 7.9 grams of fiber per 100 grams. Fiber helps control bowel movements and can keep your dog from getting constipated, which is good for his health in general.

Vitamins and Minerals

Legumes are rich in important vitamins and minerals. Peas, for instance, are a good source of vitamin K, offering around 24% of the recommended daily intake per cup. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health, providing an additional nutritional boost for your dog.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets guidelines for pet food, which include making sure it has all the nutrients pets need.


Many legumes, such as chickpeas, contain antioxidants that help combat free radicals in the body. Antioxidants play a significant role in preventing cell damage and promoting overall health. Research has shown that chickpeas possess antioxidant properties that can benefit your dog’s well-being.

Digestive Health

The high fiber content in legumes supports a healthy digestive system. Legumes like lentils promote regular bowel movements and help prevent gastrointestinal issues in dogs, ensuring their digestive tract functions smoothly.

Weight Management

Legumes are good for dogs who want to lose weight because they are low in calories and nutrients. The low-calorie nature of legumes can assist in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity, a common issue in dogs.

Energy Source

Legumes provide carbohydrates that can serve as a source of sustained energy, which is particularly beneficial for active dogs. The slow release of energy from carbohydrates in legumes can help maintain your dog’s vitality throughout the day.

Low Fat

Legumes are generally low in fat, making them a suitable dietary choice for dogs that need to manage their weight or have specific dietary restrictions. Lentils contain only about 1.6 grams of fat per cup, ensuring your dog receives essential nutrients without excess fat intake.

Alternative Protein 

For dogs with allergies to popular animal proteins like chicken or beef, legumes can serve as a valuable alternative protein source. They have the amino acids your dog needs for good health without the allergens that some meat proteins have.

How Much Legumes Can Dogs Eat?

Dog SizeRecommended Legume Portion
Small Breeds1-2 tablespoons or a few small pieces
Medium Breeds1/4 cup or a few tablespoons
Large Breeds1/2 cup or more, depending on size

Do I have to Worry if Dog Consumes too much Legumes

If your dog happens to consume an excessive amount of legumes, there can be concerns, and it’s essential to be vigilant. While legumes are healthy in small amounts, eating too many of them can cause stomach problems.

Problems with the joints can cause gas, diarrhea, or upset stomach. Dogs that consume large quantities of legumes, particularly in one sitting, are at a higher risk of experiencing these gastrointestinal discomforts. 

Additionally, some legumes, like raw or undercooked kidney beans, contain lectins, which can be toxic to dogs and cause severe digestive distress.

Therefore, it’s crucial to monitor your dog for discomfort or pain and consult your veterinarian if you suspect any issues. In addition, giving your dog too many legumes can make his food unbalanced, since legumes only provide some of the nutrients he needs.

Is There Any Side Effects of Legumes in Dogs – Separating Fiction from Reality

Gas and Bloating

While some dogs may experience gas after consuming legumes, it’s not a universal issue. This problem can be fixed by slowly giving your dog beans and making sure they are cooked correctly. A study by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) found that the gas-producing effect of legumes varies among individual dogs.

Digestive Upset 

Legumes are a source of dietary fiber, which can cause stomach problems if added too quickly or in large amounts. However, when integrated gradually and in moderation, legumes can support healthy digestion. The fiber content in legumes varies, with lentils, for instance, containing between 7.9 to 17.5 grams per 100 grams.


Some legumes, like raw kidney beans, contain lectins that are toxic to dogs. Feeding them raw or undercooked legumes can result in severe digestive distress. They strongly advise against feeding dogs raw kidney beans due to their lectin content.


Dogs can develop allergies to legumes, which may lead to skin problems, digestive issues, or, in severe cases, anaphylactic reactions. The American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD) recognizes that legumes are among the potential allergens for dogs.

Nutritional Imbalance  

Legumes should complement a well-balanced diet for dogs. Relying solely on legumes can result in nutritional deficiencies, as legumes only provide some of the essential nutrients your dog needs. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet for canine health.

Do legumes cause DCM in dogs?

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) has been a subject of concern among dog owners, with questions arising about its potential link to legumes in dog food. DCM is a severe heart condition that can lead to heart failure in dogs. Researchers have found a link between some types of dog food that contain legumes and a higher chance of DCM.

But it’s important to remember that we still don’t fully understand how beans and DCM are connected.  While there have been reported cases of DCM in dogs consuming legume-rich diets, it’s a complex issue with multiple factors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and veterinary pros are still looking into this to get a better picture.

Do legumes cause heart disease in dogs?

Concerns about legumes causing heart disease in dogs, particularly Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), have arisen. DCM is a condition that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, potentially leading to heart failure. Some reports suggested a connection between DCM and specific grain-free dog diets incorporating legumes as primary ingredients.

Dogs heart murmur

A heart murmur in dogs is an abnormal sound detected during a veterinary examination. It’s caused by turbulent blood flow within or near the heart. While heart murmurs are not a disease, they can indicate an underlying issue.

Murmurs are graded on a scale from 1 (very soft) to 6 (very loud), helping veterinarians assess their severity. Common causes of heart murmurs in dogs include congenital heart defects, heart valve disease, and certain infections.

Famous Dog Foods Containing Legumes


Merrick is another renowned pet food brand with legumes, including lentils, in their formulas. These legumes provide essential plant-based protein and fiber, offering dogs a well-rounded and wholesome diet. Merrick is recognized for its commitment to natural ingredients, making their legume-rich recipes a popular choice for pet owners who prioritize the health and well-being of their furry companions.

Wellness CORE 

Wellness CORE recipes include legumes like peas and chickpeas. Their formulations focus on high-protein content, along with a balanced mix of vegetables and legumes. Wellness CORE aims to provide dogs with a diet that supports lean muscles and a healthy weight.

Key Takeaways

Blue Buffalo: Blue Buffalo offers a range of dog food products incorporating legumes like peas and lentils. These legumes are alternative protein sources, making them ideal for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies to common animal proteins.

Protein-Rich Legumes: Legumes like lentils offer approximately 9 grams of protein per 100 grams, making them a valuable source of plant-based protein for dogs.

Dietary Fiber Content: Legumes are rich in dietary fiber, which promotes healthy digestion. Fiber content in legumes can vary from 7.9 to 17.5 grams per 100 grams, depending on the type.

Rare Legume Allergies: True legume allergies in dogs are relatively rare. Food allergies in dogs are more commonly associated with proteins like beef (34%), dairy (17%), and chicken (15%).

Taurine Deficiency Concerns: Taurine deficiency, while linked to specific breeds, is influenced by genetic factors. Genetic predisposition varies, with some species being more susceptible.

Complex DCM Relationships: Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) cases in dogs have multifaceted causes, including genetics, individual health, and dietary composition.

Individual Variability: Dogs’ responses to specific foods differ widely. While some dogs thrive with legumes, others may have sensitivities. Monitoring individual responses and seeking veterinary guidance is advisable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why large dogs shouldn't eat legumes?

Legumes can be high in fiber, which may lead to digestive discomfort in large dogs, including bloating and gas. Monitoring legume intake is essential for their digestive health.

Can my dog have protein legume broth?

While plain legumes are generally safe for dogs, it’s best to avoid legume broths with added ingredients like salt, spices, or onions, which can harm dogs.

Hira Saleem

Hira Saleem


Hira is a dedicated freelance writer specializing in health and nutrition, holding a degree in Food Science and Technology. Her expertise in the field stems from a profound commitment to promoting well-being. Inspired by her love for animals, Hira has cultivated a deep understanding of the importance of nutrition in fostering a healthy lifestyle.

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