If there is one thing that humans and dogs have in common, it's a love for food. But what if one of you has dietary restrictions?
Some dog owners may be on a kosher, pescatarian or low-fat diet, and others may be vegetarian or vegan. With certain dietary restrictions or food allergies, people tend to incorporate a lot of soy protein, like tofu, into their meals. And some people just love to eat tofu in addition to their other sources of protein, even if they don't have any restrictions in their diet.
So, if you have tofu among your table scraps and are enjoying its many benefits, can you enjoy some tofu with your canine friend? Is tofu harmful to dogs? Can dogs eat tofu?
Where does tofu come from?
According to BBC, legend tells us that tofu was originally discovered in China around 2000 years ago. Apparently, the magic began when a cook curdled a batch of soy milk after accidentally adding some nigiri seaweed, and voila, tofu was born! BBC reports that the modern day bean curd is made similarly to this day by curdling fresh soy milk, pressing the curd into a block, and allowing the block to cool.
Besides being a somewhat bland block of awesome, tofu is a great source of protein for human carnivores and vegetarians alike as it contains all nine amino acids. It also happens to be seriously yummy!
Can dogs eat tofu?
Well… kinda. While the subject is often debated, it is safe for dogs to eat tofu in moderation. First and foremost, it will depend on if your dog can tolerate tofu to begin with, as many dogs have different food allergies and sensitivities, but tofu certainly is not a notorious "people food" toxin to dogs like chocolate, xylitol, or grapes or raisins. These food items can be deadly and should never be given to your dog. Tofu is definitely not on this list.
Health benefits of tofu for dogs
Have you ever eaten tofu when you weren't feeling good? If so, you and your pup may gain similar health benefits from eating tofu. When your dog has an upset stomach, your vet may recommend putting your friend on a bland diet until they are feeling better: a little tofu can be a good protein supplement to your dog's diet in addition to rice when your dog is under the weather. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, soy proteins like tofu, can even lower cholesterol, decrease urinary incontinence, and aid in the cancer treatment of some pets.
The best ways to feed tofu to dogs
As with any "dog-safe" people food, the best way to feed tofu to pups is in moderation. You can serve small amounts of tofu over rice to your dog, give him some tofu along with some healthy sweet potato, or you can keep it simple and crumble a little bit of tofu on top of your dog's regular food of choice every once in a while for some extra protein. Some dogs even like a little piece of tofu as an occasional tasty treat. Just be sure to check that your tofu is served plain (no oil, sauces, or seasoning!) and at room temperature for your dog's safety and enjoyment.
Start out with a small sample and wait 30 minutes to an hour to see how your pup tolerates a new food before you let him dig in for more! You don’t want your friend to end up with a belly ache!
Are there any concerns with feeding tofu to dogs?
Not really. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, soy proteins like tofu are generally ok for dogs to consume. Soy proteins have estrogen-like activity, but VCA Animal Hospitals reports that more research is required to understand the full effects of soy protein on both humans and doggos alike. Overall, tofu appears to be safe for pups in moderate consumption. As long as your dog is getting all of his essential diet and nutrients in, a little tofu will not hurt him.
If have concerns with feeding your dog anything out of the norm, contact your vet's office for further advice.
Just like humans, every dog is different, and some can have sensitivities to certain foods. Tofu – in small amounts – is not harmful to dogs. In fact, it can make for a wholesome treat every once in a while and could bring some health benefits to your pupper! As always, proceed with caution when feeding your dog unfamiliar foods, and be sure to talk to your vet if your canine exhibits unusual or concerning behaviors.
Remember to double check that any tofu you give to your dog is not covered or cooked in other ingredients that could be toxic to your friend!