- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Many dogs can benefit from a healthy measure of vegetables in their diet. Most of us have at least considered feeding our dogs pumpkin to sooth their tummy, sweet potato as a treat, or carrots for their vitamin content. Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about the benefits of feeding your dog green beans, especially for weight loss. We wondered if it was a legitimate weight loss technique and whether it was healthy for our beloved pets, so we looked into the benefits and possible problems with this trend in dog nutrition.
What’s so Great about Green Beans?
There’s no doubt about the health properties green beans provide your dog: fiber, vitamins, even magnesium. Vitamins include A, C, and K, all beneficial to your dog’s physical health. Oh, and a dose of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, folic acid, iron, potassium, and beta-carotene. Green beans make for a wonderful treat, snack, or part of a whole food diet. And unlike most kids, dogs seem to love the taste of green beans.
But the green bean diet trend goes beyond that. More than just a supplement or snack, many swear by making green beans a significant portion of their dog’s diet to help them achieve a healthy weight. The specifics of the diet vary depending on who’s recommending it, but the gist is replacing up to half of your dog’s dry food with green beans (salt-free, preferably fresh or frozen), which supposedly leaves them feeling satiated from the fiber while eating fewer calories.
Wait, Does My Dog Need Green Beans to Lose Weight?
Maintaining your dog’s healthy weight and shape can be a challenge. But a lower weight can add enjoyment to walks, dog park visits, hikes, swimming, and even chasing a ball in the backyard. Maybe you already know that keeping your pet at a healthy weight can increase your pet’s life by two years, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. That’s two more years of fun and snuggles!
We asked veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter about the green bean diet for dog weight management. He agrees that replacing dry food with green beans and other vegetables can be a good option for reducing a dog’s caloric intake, explaining, “The goal is to decrease calories ingested while maintaining or increasing the volume of food eaten. This way the dog feels full but ate less calories.” But overall, he suggested larger dietary changes. “The answer to keeping [a] dog’s weight optimal is to feed them a fresh, whole food diet. Dry dog food is loaded with carbohydrates that contribute to weight gain.”
Green beans could be a part of a healthy, lighter calorie diet to support an overweight dog. Your dog’s veterinarian can tell you whether your dog needs to shed some pounds, and it’s a good idea to consult with a vet whenever embarking on any changes to your dog’s diet.
How to Feed Your Dog Green Beans
There are many ways to incorporate green beans into your dog’s food regimen. Fresh beans make a fun treat for playing toss with your pet. I tested freshly farmed green beans on my pit bull, Pepper, and she approved, especially once I figured out how she liked them prepared. She prefers them broken into small pieces, less than the width of a dime, as raw beans can be tough to chew.
Green beans can be fed whole to your dog after sautéing them lightly or baking in the oven, which softens their texture. Incorporate cooked beans into a dog’s meal, or put them into the blender for a delicious addition to a dog’s meal. Some owners have found dogs love a frozen, pre-cooked green bean snack in the summer.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
As with humans, a quick Google search will bring up a slew of ways to help your dog lose weight. But also like people, nutrition and exercise plans aren’t one-size-fits-all, and it’s important to look after your dog’s health while seeking to maintain or reduce their weight.
Green beans offer many health benefits, but as Dr. Ken Tudor at PetMD points out, supplementing up to half of your dog’s dry food with green beans could lead to dietary deficiencies of much-needed protein, amino acids, vitamins, and even just too much calorie reduction, causing rapid weight loss and nutrition issues. To avoid some of these downsides, talk to and regularly check in with your pet’s veterinarian.