Lentils are a healthy legume that has lots of nutritional value. They are a trendy food that is easy to prepare and add to various salads, soups, and main meals.
With their high nutritional content, lentils are a small but tasty way to get some needed vitamins, minerals, and proteins. But can dogs eat lentils too, and are lentils good for dogs to consume?
If you've been wondering, “can I give my dog lentils,” the answer is YES – dogs can eat lentils with relative safety and reap some of the benefits.
There are a few caveats to feedings dog lentils, however, and we'll examine those below.
In this article, we'll look at the nutrition of lentils; dogs can safely eat lentils, lentils are good for dogs, and the benefits are lentils safe for dogs to consume in any shape, form, or amount?
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What are lentils?
Lentils are members of the legume family, and they are very high in fiber and protein.
They come in various colors, including green, brown, red, and black, and they resemble very tiny beans in shape.
They are easy to prepare and cook and are reasonably priced, making lentils a low-cost protein source available to people worldwide.
This is what lentils look like:
Lentils have become a favorite nutrition option for healthy eaters because of their potential health benefits. But can dogs eat lentils just like humans can?
Are lentils good for dogs to consume regularly, and are lentils safe for dogs to eat in any form?
Lentils for Dogs 101
Can Dogs Eat Lentils?
Some dogs, however, may experience some mild gastrointestinal issues after consuming any legume due to their high-fiber content.
Lentils, legumes in general, are known for being uniquely high in protein and fiber. For example, one cup of lentils contains:
18 g protein
16 g fiber
40 g carbohydrate
Vitamins B1, B3, B5, and B6
While lentils aren't associated with huge amounts of health benefits, say, pumpkin seeds, lentils like most legumes, do have some that have been proven in studies:
- Lentils may lower cholesterol levels (1)
- Lentils may reduce risks of heart disease (2)
- Lentils reduce blood pressure (3, 4)
- Lentils may help with weight loss (5, 6)
But can dogs eat lentils too, and are lentils good for dogs, especially their digestion due to high fiber content? Yes and no.
While most studies are based on human trials, there is some evidence on the digestibility and effects of lentils in dogs.
Digestion of lentils for dogs
For example, a study with 36 dogs tested six different starch sources, lentils being one of them (Carciofi et al., 2008).
The results show that out of those six starches, brewer's rice and cassava had the best digestibility in dogs, followed by corn and sorghum. Lentils and peas had the lowest rate of digestibility.
Another study tested dogs and humans for similar factors (Lin et al. 1992).
We observed that lentils clearly slow down the digestion process in dogs, and the digestion continues to slow down with an increased amount of lentils serving.
This tells us that too many lentils for dogs may result in gastrointestinal problems and stomach upset.
Lectins in lentils for dogs
A study has found that raw lentils and all legumes, in general, contain large quantities of lectins, a group of glycoproteins (Dolan et al., 2010).
Technically, lectins can cause intestinal absorption and produce toxicity through bacterial growth in the GI tract.
However, before you get up in arms, it's important to note that to achieve the side effects of lectins from feeding dogs lentils, a huge amount of raw lentils must be used.
Moreover, you can reduce lectins by 200x times during the cooking process.
Slow cooking or crockpot cooking is not recommended.
That said, can dogs eat lentils, and are lentils good for dogs when prepared, right? And are they safe for dogs to eat in moderate amounts when boiled or steamed?
4 Benefits of Lentils for Dogs
1. Lentils may help dogs suffering from diabetes.
Unfortunately, some dogs develop diabetes, but adding lentils to the dog’s diet can help better manage that condition.
These beans have low sugar content and combined with their nutritional content, they are virtually the perfect food to add to a diabetic dog’s diet.
The fiber and protein within lentils help rid the digestive tract of toxins, helping a dog to feel fuller, longer. A veterinarian can provide advice on the number of lentils to add to a diabetic’s food.
2. Lentils are an excellent source of energy for dogs.
Lentils are a great source of iron that gives your dog the energy he needs to be happy, healthy, and active regularly.
Dogs need a strong level of iron in their bodies to produce blood.
The iron itself is a necessary part of hemoglobin and is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the body’s cells.
From there, iron boosts metabolism function and produces energy.
3. Lentils are a superfood that can help improve your dog's health.
Lentils may be considered a superfood in some aspects. Multiple aspects in lentils may contribute to extending your dog’s lifespan, including:
- the high levels of fiber that contribute to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- The leveling of blood sugar after a meal.
- It’s low in fats and calories.
4. Lentils may prevent certain diseases.
Lentils contain an essential mineral and antioxidant called selenium.
This element is not found in most other foods. Selenium reduces tumor growth, improves immune system response, and prevents inflammation.
Selenium also assists with liver enzyme function, specifically detoxifying cancer-causing compounds.
Additionally, the fiber in lentils can reduce the chance of colorectal cancer.
So, can dogs have lentils and reap the benefits?
You can definitely feed dogs lentils, and in small amounts, they are safe for canines to consume.
However, it's best to cook lentils (boil or steam) to improve their digestion and lower the number of lectins in lentils.
As a cheap source of fiber and protein, lentils can become a staple in the diet. But are lentils bad for dogs in any way? Let's take a look.
3 Potential Side Effects for Dogs That Eat Lentils
The fact is that although lentils are harmless for dogs to eat in general, there are some aspects of this bean you should know and be cautious about.
1. Lentil consumption can lead to gas and stomach upset in dogs.
Some beans can cause dogs to become gassy and uncomfortable, including lentils.
Although lentils are less likely to cause flatulence than other legumes because they are easier to digest, each dog has an individualized response to this type of food.
Gas can be followed by diarrhea and stomach upset, so be sure to introduce lentils gradually and in small amounts.
Then observe your dog’s reaction before adding more of these beans to his diet.
2. Commercially sold lentils may have added salts and seasonings.
If you want to give your dog lentils, buy them in natural form and cook them thoroughly, serving them.
Many kinds of lentils purchased in stores have additional and hazardous additives that your dog should not ingest at all.
Over time, high sodium levels can cause salt toxicity, and some seasonings may not sit well with your dog’s tummy.
3. Lentil soup is a potential danger for your dog.
These beans are frequently used in many soups, but you should not feed those soups to your dog.
Often, canned or homemade soups have garlic or onion added to them, and these two members of the allium family are toxic to dogs.
Even small amounts of onion or garlic can cause a dog to become anemic, and in worst-case scenarios, coma or death can occur.
Feed plain, unsalted, cooked lentils to your dog. Please do not give him any lentils combined with other mystery ingredients in the soup.
Can Dogs Eat Lentils?
Yes, you can feed dogs lentils, and there may be some benefits your dog will reap from this, although we are yet to see those proven.
Remember that there may be some flatulence or digestive upset for some dogs due to high fiber content.
Are lentils bad for dogs in any way? Technically, no – lentils aren't bad for dogs, provided that they are offered in a plain, cooked format.
In this way, your canine gets an excellent source of fiber, protein, and vitamins, and minerals. Remember to introduce these beans slowly into your dog’s diet to limit the chance of stomach upset.
Common Questions about Dog Food with Lentils
For dog owners who have questions about including lentils or other foods in their pup's diet, the following information should help.
A lot of it is a more concise version of the information we already mentioned about pet foods. Some information, however, is new.
Why Are Lentils Bad for Dogs?
Lentils are not necessarily bad for dogs, and you can find them in some dog food recipes.
The only caveat is that your dog is likely to have some gas after you feed him red lentils or green lentils. He may also have some bloating and other bowel issues like loose stools.
Lentils can be bad for dogs if you give your pup human food with lentils. This is because of the additional ingredients in lentil soup and other human foods.
Before giving your pup any lentil soup or pre-prepared lentils, look at the ingredient list. Pre-prepared lentils are likely to have seasonings and salt that are not part of a dog's healthy diet.
Lentil soup can be even worse with questionable ingredients. It frequently contains onion or garlic, both very bad and potentially deadly for your dog.
Which Lentils Are Good for Dogs?
Lentils provide your dog with plenty of nutrients. But you always want to make sure you give him cooked lentils.
They should be plain and unsalted. Remember that your dog doesn't need all of the other minerals you do, and he likely won't be happy if you feed him red lentils with extra flavorings.
Why Are Peas and Lentils Bad for Dogs?
One reason red lentils, peas, and other legumes are sometimes considered bad is an ongoing FDA investigation.
However, this investigation is not because of the lentils themselves. It is because of the dog food that contains them.
Certain low-quality foods contain lentils, peas, other legumes, and potatoes. These foods feature those as the main ingredients.
There may be a connection between those brands and canine dilated cardiomyopathy.
You don't have to worry about this when you feed lentils to your dog as long as you take the precautions already mentioned.
Before giving your pup new foods, dog owners should always look at the ingredient list. Make sure foods have the essential nutrients your canine needs.
You can also avoid problems by researching the brand before giving your dog new food.
How Do You Cook Lentils for Dogs?
Cooking lentils for dogs is simple. Just boil the lentils according to the instructions on the package. Do not add anything other than water and lentils.
The salt and flavorings that make lentils tasty to humans are not healthy for dogs. Remember only to feed your dog cooked lentils.
If you want to cook lentils for yourself at the same time, make a larger batch. Then, separate it into two large portions and add flavorings only to your half.
This way, you can enjoy the extra flavors you want without your dog eating them.
Do Lentils Cause Heart Disease in Dogs?
The FDA is investigating whether lentils may be linked to heart disease in dogs. It is also investigating whether there is a connection between certain potatoes, peas, and chickpeas.
However, this seems to be more of a brand-specific problem than a general issue. The FDA has not announced any recalls or suggestions to avoid lentils.
If you are concerned, we suggest being extra careful when choosing what to feed your pup.
Look for foods that are a healthy source of all the essential minerals your dog needs. If you make your dog's food, you can add lentils.
You likely only want to do so in small quantities anyway as they can cause gas in dogs.
Is Rice Good for Dogs?
White and brown rice are good for dogs and can be part of a healthy diet. Rice will not add the same nutritional value as green lentils will to your dog's food, but it is still good for him.
As a bonus, rice is gentle on your dog's digestive tract, making it a usual food for dogs with problems with their digestive system, such as a leaky gut.
Is Oatmeal Good for Dogs?
As long as you prepare it properly, oatmeal can be good for dogs. Just make sure to give your plain oatmeal and to cook it.
Do not give your dog uncooked oatmeal or flavored oatmeal. You should also always prepare it using water, not milk.
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