Can Dogs Eat Black Beans?

Originating in Central and South America over 7,000 years ago, black beans are dry, edible beans or field beans that have become a staple in the modern diet of North Americans, particularly with the popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets, where they provide a high-value protein alternative to meat.

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Along with kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and garden variety green beans, black beans belong to the plant species Phaseolus vulgaris L. and are enjoyed in everything from Cuban black bean soup to Brazilian black bean stew to dips, salads, refried beans, burgers, and more. Dense and meaty with a satisfying texture, black beans are delicious and nutritious, being packed with protein and fiber.

So, while there is lots to love about black beans, if you are a pet parent, you probably want to know if you can share them with your dog? The good news is that not only can dogs eat black beans, but they are just as good for them as they are for you, albeit in controlled portions fed occasionally.

Where do black beans come from?

Nicknamed "turtle beans" for their shiny, purple-black shell, black beans are small, oval dry beans known as buul in the Mayan language and frijoles negros in Spanish.

Once grown alongside corn, and sometimes squash in their native Central and South America, black beans moved their way northward into Mexico and spread through the continental United States. Over time, black beans were replaced by soybeans in the corn fields where both soy beans and corn are now primarily grown together to feed livestock while black beans and other dry beans are an important food crop for human consumption predominantly grown in North Dakota, Michigan, Nebraska, Colorado, California, and Idaho.

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Can dogs eat black beans?

Yes, dogs can eat black beans in moderation, and without any added spices or salt. Just as they are good for people, the high-quality nutrition found in black beans is also beneficial to our dogs.

Are there any health benefits of black beans for dogs?

A protein powerhouse, black beans are also rich in phytonutrients like saponins, anthocyanins, kaempferol, and quercetin, all of which have antioxidant properties. They also contain selenium, a mineral found in fruits and vegetables that aids in liver enzyme function helping to detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. In addition, the fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin B6 found in naturally cholesterol-free black beans all support heart health. Further, black beans are loaded with Vitamin C, K, B-vitamins, and potassium. Black beans also regulate blood sugar and provide a good dietary source of fiber.

Fed in small portions occasionally, black beans can provide a healthy alternative to high-fat treats and can enhance your dog's menu, changing things up to keep meal- and treat-time interesting.

The best ways to feed black beans to dogs

Black beans are sold canned or dry, and by far your best choice is dry black beans since canned black beans often contain high levels of sodium or other additives. If you choose the canned variety, look for 'sodium-reduced' and drain and rinse the beans thoroughly before use.

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Soaking your dry black beans overnight (about eight hours) before cooking them yields a more digestible and flavorful bean for your dog and also reduces the oligosaccharides (a carbohydrate found in varying amounts in legumes, onions, leeks, garlic, wheat, asparagus, and other plant foods) that can cause gastrointestinal upset and flatulence. (Sort and wash the dry beans well before soaking to discard any debris, rocks, or damaged beans.)

To cook black beans simply put them in a stockpot and cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for one to one and a half hours. Add more water as necessary, keeping the beans submerged throughout the cooking process.

Here are some ideas for the best ways to feed black beans to dogs:

  • Share dinner with your dog by whipping up a pot of white or brown rice and add a dollop of black beans. Just make sure you keep your dog's portion small with no added salt or spices, especially garlic and onion.
  • Make a polenta by cooking cornmeal in boiling water and fold in some black beans, raw carrots for extra crunch, and nutritional yeast for a cheesy, dog-pleasing flavor. Pour the hot cornmeal into a sheet pan and cool in the refrigerator, then slice into squares. Freeze unused portions in plastic zip lock bags for another day.
  • Black beans are tiny, but a couple go a long way when you are training your dog to take treats gently.
  • Feed your dog a small portion of beans and rice mixed into dry kibble.

Are there any concerns with feeding black beans to dogs?

Any time you give your dog black beans, limit it to beans alone or if mixed into rice, sweet potato, or polenta keep it plain and simple and don't add any salt, spices, hot peppers, or anything from the onion family (toxic to dogs). Additionally, it's very important to make sure the black beans, if canned, don't contain any other spices or salt. Be sure to thoroughly read the label on the can before giving the beans to your dog.

All treats, including black beans, should never comprise more than 10% of your dog's overall diet, explains Purina.

Always wash, soak, and cook black beans before serving.

Generally, black beans are OK now and then in small portions, but there are a few concerns with feeding black beans to dogs you will want to consider, as follows:

Flatulence and constipation

Life with a gassy dog can be a wee bit unpleasant, of course, so limiting your dog's intake of black beans and other dry beans is essential. Soaking black beans before cooking can reduce this somewhat. While fiber is a good thing, too much can cause constipation and gastrointestinal upset.

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Conclusion

Black beans are a healthy, nutrition-packed, high-protein legume that are safe for dogs to eat occasionally. Start with dry beans you have soaked overnight and cook for an hour to an hour and a half. Sprinkle a few into your dog's meal or serve with rice or polenta. Black beans should only be served to your dog occasionally and in small amounts to avoid flatulence or gastrointestinal upset. Make sure the beans do not contain any added salt or spices, especially garlic or onion.

For more information, check out our list of everything dogs can and cannot eat.

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