Healthy or Not So Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Beans

The next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy or Not So Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is Beans. In recent years and likely a result of the grain-free push in nutritional circles, beans have become a logical replacement in human as well as pet foods for grains and other starches.

What are beans?

Beans belong to the legume family and are a seed from the flowering plant family called Fabaceae.

Why would it be in pet food?

Beans can be a great source of fiber and protein, but they are not a replacement for animal proteins in your pet’s diet.  Some beans, like peas and other legumes are starchy and are used as a binder like corn and other grain products in pet foods. Basically, they are inexpensive fillers and they give a boost to the overall protein content in the food even though vegetable proteins are not a substitute for animal proteins in your pet’s diet.

Are there any risks to feeding your pet beans?

Some beans are perfectly safe for your pets, but like all things, in moderation and according to guidelines. A few cooked garbanzo beans added to their food is fine but replacing your pet’s animal protein with a vegetable protein such as bean can be dangerous and ineffective.

Beans, due to their high fiber content can also make your pet gassy. If they develop gas, cut back on the volume. RAW beans are not okay, so be sure that you rinse them thoroughly, soak them and cook according to directions.

Beans that are okay to feed your pet:

  • Lima
  • Garbanzo
  • Navy
  • Black
  • Pinto
  • Lentils

Beans to avoid:

  • Baked
  • Chili
  • Canned

In addition, another reason to limit the volume of beans in your pet’s diet is the presence phytates and lectins that are naturally found in beans.

“Phytates are substances that carnivores can't break down because they lack phytase, the enzyme necessary to process phytic acid. Phytates bind minerals (including zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium), leaching them out of your pet's body, and potentially creating nutritional deficiencies.

Lectins are sticky proteins that when consumed in large quantities may contribute to gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances and dysbiosis (leaky gut syndrome).”

Bean Factoids:

  • Green Beans, a favorite snack for pet owners to give their pets are not really ‘beans’, they are a vegetable.
  • January 6th is National Bean Day.
  • In Nicaragua, newlyweds are given a bowl of beans for good luck.

Pet foods that contain beans:

Acana Heritage Meats

 Great Life Grain Free Wild Salmon

Avoderm Duck with Turkey Meal


Personalize your pet’s daily meals.

Feed the right amount each day with the SmartFeeder and SmartDelivery.