Let’s face it, most dogs will eat anything. Be it animal, plant, or vegetable, the only thing they seem to care about is whether or not they can fit it in their mouths. But there’s a world of difference between what a dog CAN eat and what a dog should eat. Some of the things they like to chomp down on aren’t exactly healthy. Some can be downright dangerous. So, what about green beans? Are they a healthy snack or a potential danger? Should you be letting your dog eat them with impunity, or should you be hiding them away at the back of the fridge?
Can Dogs Have Green Beans?
If you’ve been secretly treating your pooch to a handful of green beans with their dinner, don’t panic. As akc.org writes, whether they’re chopped, steamed, raw, or canned, all types of green beans are safe for dogs to eat. In fact, they’re not just safe – they’re packed with enough good stuff to make them a very healthy and helpful addition to your pet’s normal diet. They’ve even been recommended by vets as a good doggy treat. As far as snacks go, you can’t ask for much more than a veterinary recommendation.
All that being said, there are a few caveats. For a start, feeding whole, large green beans to a dog can be a choking hazard. Stick to small slivers to avoid problems. Secondly, while the beans themselves are A-OK, the other ingredients we traditionally cook them with most certainly aren’t. Resist the temptation to serve your dog anything other than plain beans cooked in water: beans boiled with salt, oils, spices, or harmful veggies like garlic and onions should be strictly off-limits. Similarly, avoid feeding them canned beans that have been brined with salt or sugar.
If your dog has never eaten green beans before, introduce them slowly at first. While there’s nothing intrinsically harmful about the beans, dogs with sensitive stomachs or digestions may struggle with their high fiber content. Give them a small amount and check how they respond. If there are no complaints, feel free to continue to add them as and when you like. If your dog has any problems with the fiber content, or if they simply don’t like the taste, don’t force the issue any further.
Why Are Green Beans Healthy for Dogs?
Certain snacks aren’t harmful in the sense of posing an immediate risk, but neither are they exactly healthy in the long term. Pork skin, bacon bits, ham… as a once in a blue moon treat, snacks like this aren’t going to kill your dog. But neither are they going to add much by way of nutrition. Green beans, on the other hand, aren’t just safe, they’re positively healthy. First of all, they’re incredibly low in calories. While their sweet taste and crunchy texture will satisfy your dog’s cravings, they won’t make them pack on the pounds in the process. The high fiber content will also do wonders at keeping them feeling full for longer. If your dog could stand to drop a few, green beans make the perfect low-fat snack.
Secondly, they’re bursting with vital vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including protein, fiber, iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K, all of which are needed to keep your dog in peak physical condition. Of course, if your dog is already eating a well-balanced, nutritionally complete diet, these extra nutrients aren’t strictly speaking needed. But neither will they do any harm either, especially if you’re serving up green beans as an alternative to fatty, nutritionally questionable treats and snacks.
Is There Such a Thing As Too Many Green Beans?
As with most things, moderation is the key when it comes to introducing any new food item to your dog’s diet. In recent years, there’s been a lot of fuss about the Green Bean Diet for dogs, a faddy diet that requires you to swap 10% of your dog’s usual food for green beans, gradually working up to 50%. While obesity is a problem that shouldn’t be ignored, restricting your dog’s diet in this way is far from ideal. Although greens beans have some great health perks, they lack many of the essential nutrients your dog needs to stay fit and healthy. As rover.com notes, over time, the restrictive nature of the diet can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies and unhealthily rapid (not to mention unsustainable) weight loss. To avoid the pitfalls of trendy diets, stick to feeding green beans as a complement to your dog’s diet – using them as a substitute for it won’t do your dog any favors. If you continue to have concerns about your dog’s weight, speak to your vet about a healthy, calorie-controlled, and most importantly of all, nutritionally balanced diet plan.
What’s the Best Way to Feed Green Beans to Your Dog?
Going overboard with green beans (or with anything else, for that matter), won’t do your dog’s health much good. But provided they’re fed in moderation, green beans offer a tasty, healthy treat that most dogs will love. As thesprucepets.com notes, added salt, sugar, and spices can irritate your dog’s stomach and lead to digestive issues. Stick to plan green beans only. Canned are ok providing they’re packed in water only (check the label in case of any lurking salts or sugars), while fresh, frozen, steamed, boiled, baked, dehydrated and raw beans are all fine. Make sure to trim the beans and cut them into small, bite-sized pieces to avoid any risk of choking. If you want to save yourself the prep work, check your local pet food store for pre-made green bean treats – they’re more expensive than the regular kind, but great for convenience.
If your dog is wary of trying new things, try the classic trick of sneaking them into other foods without them knowing. Try mixing them into some plain yogurt, chopping them into their usual wet food, or freezing them to make a refreshing popsicle. If, after they try the green beans, they really don’t like them, don’t worry. There are plenty of other vegetables that might appeal to them more. But if they do like them, great – you’ve found a cheap, healthy, fat-free alternative to all those high fat, low nutrient treats you’ve been spending a fortune on.