Hearty, flavorful seitan, also known as "wheat meat," is a high-protein, cholesterol- and saturated fat-free vegetarian favorite made from vital wheat gluten flour that even many self-described 'carnivores' also enjoy (except for those with gluten sensitivities or wheat allergies). And Gentle World, a resource for vegans, says that dogs absolutely love it, too. But should dogs eat seitan?
The answer is: only in strict moderation. Wheat gluten, from which seitan is made should not be eaten in excess by canines. For that reason, seitan should be relegated to the occasional treat for our dogs.
Where does seitan come from?
Developed centuries ago by vegetarian Buddhist monks, seitan is flavored wheat gluten, the protein portion of wheat that gives bread dough its elasticity. Pronounced say-tan, it has been used as a meat substitute for centuries in China and Japan. It is made by mixing flour with water to make a dough. The dough is repeatedly rinsed to remove all the starches and only the stringy gluten or seitan remains. Infused with soy sauce or other flavorings and spices, it can be steamed, baked, or boiled for a plethora of delectable dishes that easily replicate meat-based cuisine.
Can dogs eat seitan?
Dogs should not overindulge in seitan. In fact, a vegan dog diet should be comprised of soybeans or pinto beans (less allergic than other beans), lentils, rice, oats, and sweet potatoes, as advised by the Vegan Dog Nutrition Association. (If you want to put your dog on a vegan diet, make sure to consult with a canine nutritionist first.) As much as savory, tasty, and meaty-tasting seitan naturally appeals to dogs, seitan must be given only occasionally as a treat.
However, if your dog has a wheat allergy, seitan will be completely off limits, of course. And because soy is often predominant in a well-seasoned seitan, dogs with any allergies to soy will be excluded from enjoying even an occasional treat of seitan. Allergies usually present with chronic ear inflammation, gastrointestinal tract issues, chronic diarrhea, chronic flatulence, licking their feet, or an itchy rear end, and you should consult with your veterinarian for evaluation. And don't forget that some commercial seitans may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs such as onion powder and garlic powder. Always carefully read the label if your seitan is store bought.
Are there health benefits of seitan for dogs?
While no one should overindulge in seitan, it has several beneficial aspects for people who do not eat meat, such as adding protein to their diet. Many meat eaters enjoy seitan when prepared as mock chicken tenders, steak, or turkey roast with stuffing, for example. But aside from an occasional treat, even for vegetarian or vegan dogs, seitan should be fed as a treat occasionally. It will not provide any significant health benefits, but it will also not do them any harm in minimal quantities.
The best ways to feed seitan to dogs
Slice it, dice it, or otherwise make tiny pieces of seitan for the occasional treat for your dog. Think training treats or the treat that you pop into your pocket for a vet visit.
Are there any concerns with feeding seitan to dogs?
Too much seitan is not good for you or your dog, but it's generally safe, and certainly not toxic to dogs. However, from too much sodium to the potential for allergies to wheat or soy, seitan is best omitted from any regular treat regimen, and given only occasionally.
Seitan should be fed to your dog only as an occasional treat, and it's perfectly safe to do so. But like a lot of yummy foods, seitan should never be consumed in large quantities or every day, by dogs or their people.
For other ideas about what to feed your dog, check out our list of everything your dog can and cannot eat.