Some foods like lentils are considered a healthy addition to the human diet. But what about domestic pets? Can dogs eat lentils? Are they safe for dogs let alone healthy for them?
As dog owners, we’re of course tempted to give our furry friends the odd treat, perhaps something different from what they normally eat. While this is understandable, it’s important to be aware of what dogs should and shouldn’t eat. Let’s not forget that some human foods are dangerous to dogs.
Lentils have gained much praise and subsequent popularity in recent years for the nutritional benefits they deliver to us. But, can dogs eat lentils?
In this article, we’ll ill be discussing whether lentils are safe for dogs to eat and whether they provide any health benefits.
Table of Contents
- What Are Lentils?
- Can Dogs Eat Lentils?
- Possible Benefits of Feeding Lentils to Dogs
- Are Lentils Safe for Dogs?
- How to Add Lentils to a Dog’s Diet
- Lentil Alternatives for Dogs
- Related Posts
What Are Lentils?
Lentils are a type of “pulse“, which is the name for edible seeds from plants in the “legume” family. They are known as healthy foods as they are hogh in protein, fiber, antioxidants and other essential nutrients as well as being low in fat.
Can Dogs Eat Lentils?
Dogs can eat lentils… as long as you prepare them properly first.
Lentils should be soaked and then cooked, after which dogs can eat them safely. Uncooked lentils do pose some potential health risks (see below).
Although dogs can eat lentils and may actually offer nutritional benefits as a healthy snack, it’s important to understand that while not toxic they may cause upset.
Dogs have different nutritional needs to us and so many “human” foods that most dogs can eat may cause problems for some.
A diet that’s too high in fiber can cause gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea in dogs. Furthermore, individual dogs might be sensitive to lentils and could suffer allergic reactions ranging from mild to severe.
Uncooked lentils contain lectin, which can be harmful to dogs. Lectin is a type of protein that can block the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, which could lead to mineral deficiencies in dogs if consumed in large enough amounts.
Lectins can also remain in a dog’s gut, causing inflammation, pain and stomach upset.
However, properly soaking and cooking lentils naturally decreases lectin levels.
The upshot is, if you’re considering allowing your dog the odd portion of cooked lentils it probably won’t cause harm, and I’m sure your dog will enjoy them. However, it’s likely best to:
- Never allow your dog to eat large portions of lentils, especially if they’ve never eaten them before
- Check with your vet about the risks of feeding lentils to your dog. Your vet might be aware of risks specific to your dog.
Possible Benefits of Feeding Lentils to Dogs
Assuming you know of no reason why your dog can’t eat lentils, there are potential nutritional benefits.
As vegans know, lentils are an excellent source of plant-based protein. While it’s likely that dogs won’t get all of their protein needs from lentils alone, the occasional conked lentils treat may be a decent supplement.
Additionally, lentils contain important nutrients such as folate (aids cell growth), iron (promotes healthy red blood cells) and magnesium (helps nerve and muscle function).
Lentils are also high in fiber, which in appropriate amounts is important for the digestive system. Just like us, dogs need fiber to maintain healthy gut function.
While lentils may be a healthy addition to a dog’s diet, it’s important to remember that they shouldn’t be overfed or become the mainstay if any dogs diet.
As always, speak to a veterinary professional who understand your dog’s needs if you’re unsure about any aspect of feeding, or if you want specific guidance on how often to allow your dog to eat lentils.
Are Lentils Safe for Dogs
Lentils can provide a healthy and safe occasional supplement for dogs as long as they are prepared properly.
Raw, uncooked lentils contain lectin, which can be dangerous to dogs. Lectin can cause a range of health issues from stomach upsets (diarrhoea, constipation etc.) to severe kidney damage.
You should try to minimise opportunities for your dog to eat uncooked lentils. While consumption of a small uncooked amount is unlikely to cause serious harm, large amounts over the long term might be dangerous.
Additionally, it is possible for dogs to be either allergic to lentils or sensitive to them. While allergic reactions can be severe (or even life threatening), sensitivities tend to be less serious but can still be unpleasant.
There has been some speculation in recent times that there’s a link between grain-free foods produced commercially for dogs and canine dilated cardiomyopathy, a dangerous heart condition. While no hard evidence proves this is true, if you own a dog breed known to be at risk from this condition, you may prefer not to allow your dog to eat lentils or foods that contain them.
Lastly, lentils are high in carbohydrates. Certain health conditions like diabetes may mean that consumption of foods high in carbohydrates must be restricted.
If your dog requires a low-carb diet because of diabetes or any other condition you may need to avoid feeding it lentils or restrict the amount you allow it to eat.
As with any food, always check with a veterinary professional who understands your dog’s specific needs before feeding it lentils.
How to Add Lentils to a Dog’s Diet
If you decide you want to let your dog eat lentils you should always make sure you:
- Understand if it’s safe for your dog to eat food like lentils. Your veterinary centre might be the best place to advise you on this.
- Properly cook lentils to remove lectin and make them softer and more easy for your dog to digest.
- Give your dog only a small amount the first time they try them and monitor for reactions… especially if your dog has allergies or sensitivities to other foods.
- Don’t give your dog a huge portion of lentils. You might add them as an accompaniment to your dogs main feed… but only ever give them as an occasional treat.
Lentil Alternatives for Dogs
Lentils may not be suitable for your dog so the following are alternatives that most dogs can eat.
Remember, while most dogs can eat these foods safely, individual dogs may may have sensitivities or allergies to them. If you are ever in any doubt about what your dog should or shouldn’t eat, speak with a veterinary professional.
Summary – Can Dogs Eat Lentils?
To summarise, most dogs can eat cooked lentils safely. Cooked lentils can be a beneficial supplement to a dogs diet as they contain a range of nutrients that support healthy bodily function.
However, as with most foods dogs can eat, lentils should never be over-served to dogs and they shouldn’t be the mainstay of any dog’s diet.
As a general rule, if your dog eat uncooked lentils by accident it’s likely not to cause harm. You shouldn’t give your dogs uncooked lentils as they can be harmful in sufficient quantities.
Finally, it’s worth noting that individual dogs may be sensitive to lentils or even be allergic to them.
Talk to your vet if you wish to give your dog lentils so that you can do so in as safe a manner as possible.
Does your dog eat lentils? Or perhaps your dog has had a problem with them? Please tell us about your experiences or ask a question in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Enjoyed this post? Please share it.