Can Dogs Eat Lima Beans?
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You may know them as the musical fruit, but beans are actually a legume. There are many different species of bean which we eat regularly in our diet, some varieties being different cultivars of the same species. For this reason, many people may know certain beans by different names. We are discussing beans from the species Phaseolus lunatus, the seeds of which are known invariably as lima beans or butter beans. Originating in the Americas, they are used in various dishes and are sold dried, canned or even fresh. While we know they can provide nutrition for human beings, can dogs eat lima beans?
At AnimalWised, we look more closely at lima beans for dogs. We discover whether dogs can benefit from having butter beans in their diet and how much they can have if we do choose to feed them to our pets.
Are lima beans bad for dogs?
Beans are legumes, meaning they are from a type of plant which has fruit or seeds in pods. It is these seeds we know as beans and which we can enjoy in a variety of ways. When dried, the beans are known as pulses. They are particularly known for their association with Mexican cuisine, but they are popular in dishes from all over the world. They are particularly good in soups, stews and salads.
Lima beans and other legumes are known for their high fiber content, as well as various other vitamins and minerals. They are known for having a slow-energy release as they impede the digestion of carbohydrates. Along with their ability to be stored easily, this made them ideal foods for traveling during migration. Although these properties have made them very useful in human history, are lima beans good for dogs?
Dogs can eat lima means. In moderation, they can even provide certain health benefits. There are fruits and vegetables forbidden for dogs due to them containing certain toxic compounds. Cooked lima beans do not have anything toxic for dogs, so they can be eaten without fear. This does not mean lima beans should be a large part of a dog's diet. We explain further in the following sections.
Benefits of lima beans for dogs
Now we know that dogs can eat lima beans or butter beans, we should know what level of nutritional value they can provide. Specifically, the benefits of lima beans for dogs include the following:
- Great source of protein: dogs require high levels of protein in their diet, something they usually derive from animal protein. For a plant-based food, lima beans have a relatively high level of protein. These include essential amino acids which the dog needs to synthesize through diet.
- Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index: these carbohydrates take longer to digest, so they lead to a more gradual increase in blood glucose levels and allow better control of postprandial insulin release. For this reason, they may be helpful for dogs with diabetes mellitus.
- Low in fat: despite being known as butter beans, lima beans contain barely any fat. This means they can be included in diets for obese dogs while still allowing them to have energy to exercise.
- High in fiber: although it is a nutrient that dogs cannot digest, fiber is essential in their diet. This is because it regulates food intake, improves intestinal transit and contributes to the maintenance of the intestinal microbiota.
- Good source of minerals: such as calcium, selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.
- Good source of B vitamins: such as vitamin B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin) and B6 (pyridoxine).
Find out whether dogs can eat other types of legumes with our article on whether dogs can eat peanuts.
How to give lima beans to a dog
Although dogs can eat beans, it is important to know they need to be eaten in moderation. Only then will lima beans be considered safe for dogs. For this reason, we explain how to include lima beans in a dog's diet:
- Commercial dog food: if your dog regularly consumes commercial feed, you can choose to introduce beans into his diet by offering them as a prize or treat. If you are looking for an alternative to typical commercial treats, dog beans may be a good option. However, we should not mix lima beans with their commercial feed.
- Homemade dog food: if your dog usually consumes homemade food, you can choose to include lima beans. In this case, you must combine the lima beans with other ingredients that are a good source of animal protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Learn more by looking at our related article on what is the best diet for dogs.
We can include lima beans in a dog's diet, but they need to be prepared quickly. We discover the requirements of this preparatiom.
How to prepare lima beans for dogs
The first thing we need to know is that we cannot give raw lima beans to dogs. This is because uncooked lima beans contain phytohaemagglutinin, a compound which is destroyed through cooking the butter beans for at least 10 minutes. Raw lima beans also contain antinutrients which can prevent the absorption of certain nutrients. This can result in severe renal failure in dogs.
If you are cooking lima bean pulses, it is best of they are soaked overnight before cooking. Canned lima beans can be eaten since they are cooked as part of the preservation method. However, we should not give canned lima beans or lima beans in jars to dogs. This is because they contain other ingredients such as salt, sugar, garlic, spices and other additives which are not good for a dog's health.
Dosage of lima beans for dogs
It is important to know that dogs do not need lima beans in their diet, but they can be used to help bolster their nutrition or to simply be given a treat every once in a while. This means we should give lima beans to dogs no more than once a week. The amount will depend on the size of your dog and other considerations. For a rough guide, we can say that dogs can eat the following portions according to size:
- Small dogs: 3-5 beans.
- Medium dogs: 5-8 beans.
- Large dogs: 8-10 beans.
If you are going to include lima beans in a dog's daily ration, you should consult your veterinarian. This is because their nutritional requirements will need to be met, something which can differ according to the individual dog. Factors such as age, daily activity and overall health with need to be considered.
Side effects of lima beans for dogs
The main negative effect associated with the consumption of beans is the production of flatulence or excess gas in the intestine. This can be exacerbated if dog already has problems with flatulence. Otherwise, cooked lima beans with no additives should not cause any health problems. This is as long as they are offered to the dog in an appropriate way.
Contraindications of lima beans for dogs
Although lima beans are a suitable food for dogs in moderation, there are certain situations in which their contribution can be counterproductive:
- Dogs with allergies or food intolerances
- Dogs with a digestive system that is especially sensitive to dietary changes
Now that you know dogs can eat lime beans and how to provide them as part of their diet, you may be interested in our related video below where we explain what foods are toxic to dogs and need to be avoided:
If you want to read similar articles to Can Dogs Eat Lima Beans?, we recommend you visit our Homemade diets category.
- Ologhobo, A. D., Apata, D. F., Oyejide, A., & Akinpelu, O. (1993). Toxicity of raw limabeans (Phaseolus lunatus L.) and limabean fractions for growing chicks. British poultry science, 34(3), 505–522. https://doi.org/10.1080/00071669308417606
- Forster, G. M., Hill, D., Gregory, G., Weishaar, K. M., Lana, S., Bauer, J. E., & Ryan, E. P. (2012). Effects of cooked navy bean powder on apparent total tract nutrient digestibility and safety in healthy adult dogs. Journal of animal science, 90(8), 2631–2638.