Lentils are a healthy legume that has lots of nutritional value. They are a trendy food that is easy to prepare and add to a variety of salads, soups, and main meals. With its 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 take a look at the nutrition of lentils, can dogs eat lentils safely, are lentils good for dogs and what are the benefits, and 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 a variety of 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?
So, can dogs eat lentils safely? Yes, lentils are relatively safe for dogs to eat and they do provide extra nutrition to a dog’s diet. 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 digestibility and effects of lentils in dogs, too.
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). It was 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.
What this tells us is that too many lentils for dogs may result in gastrointestinal problems and stomach upset. Diarrhea may be the result of feeding dogs lentils in large amounts, as well as possible constipation.
Lecitins in lentils for dogs
A study has found that raw lentils and all legumes in general contain large quantities of lecitins, a group of glycoproteins (Dolan et al. 2010). Technically, lecitins 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 in order to achieve the side effects of lecitins from feeding dogs lentils, a huge amount of raw lentils must be used. Moreover, lecitins can be reduced by 200x times during a cooking process.
Therefore, it's advisable to always cook lentils for dogs. A study found that boiling or steaming lentils, as well as all other legumes, will provide the greatest reduction of lecitins. 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 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 a 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 which gives your dog the energy he needs to be happy, healthy, and active on a regular basis. Dogs need a strong level of iron in their bodies to produce blood.
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 amount of lecitins 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 of Lentils for Dogs
So, are lentils bad for dogs when prepared in a specific way or given in certain amounts? 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 due because they are easier to digest, each dog has its 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 highly dangerous additives that your dog should not ingest at all. High levels of sodium over time 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. Do not give him any lentils combined with other mystery ingredients in soup.
Can Dogs Eat Lentils?
In conclusion, can dogs eat lentils safely and are lentils good for dogs? 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 due to high fiber content, there may be some flatulence or digestive upset for some dogs.
Are lentils bad for dogs in anyway? 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.
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