Let’s face it. Most of our dogs could stand to cut back on the treats just a little bit, but for many of us, treats are an important part of our daily interaction with our canines. This leaves us looking for healthier alternatives to reward our dogs for their good behavior.
Green beans may just be the perfect low-calorie treat substitute we've been waiting for.
Are Green Beans Safe for Dogs?
Chopped, steamed, raw, or canned — all types of green beans are safe for dogs to eat, as long as they are plain. Green beans themselves are not only safe for dogs, veterinarians also recommend them as a healthy treat. Best of all, dogs seem to love them.
Sometimes, green beans are prepared with other ingredients. This can make them not only less healthy and even dangerous. Here are some green bean hazards to avoid:
- Canned beans with added salt
- Green beans cooked with oils and spices
- Green beans cooked with harmful vegetables, such as garlic and onions
- Feeding large, whole green beans to dogs, which can be a choking hazard
Are Green Beans Healthy for Dogs?
Green beans are full of important vitamins and minerals, such as protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K. Green beans are also full of fiber and are low in calories, which can help dogs and humans feel full when they are dieting.
Your dog does not necessarily need these extra nutrients, if he is already eating a complete and balanced commercial diet, but it is nice to know that green beans offer a nutritional alternative to dog biscuits — and can make us feel less guilty about cutting out unhealthy treats and scraps from our dogs' diets.
Can Green Beans Help Dogs Lose Weight?
More than one-half of American dogs are overweight. Many owners don’t even realize that their plump pups are on the heavy side, but this oversight comes at a cost to our canines.
Obesity leads to a long list of health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, orthopedic problems, heart disease, kidney disease, and some cancers. To make things worse, carrying those extra pounds around can decrease your dog’s life expectancy up to 2 years. Since we get so little time with our dogs to begin with, losing 2 years is a big deal.
Most owners would much rather have their dogs lose weight.
Giving green beans as a treat in place of conventional biscuits can help your dog lose weight, as long as you are also taking action to increase his exercise and moderate his regular diet. Feeding green beans will not help your dog lose weight if he is not getting enough exercise and is consuming inappropriate calories for his age, breed, and lifestyle.
What Is the Green Bean Diet?
You may have heard someone mention the “green bean diet” as a way to help a dog lose weight. This diet plan gradually substitutes green beans in place of a percentage of a dog’s food. For example, an owner starts out by supplementing 10 percent of the volume of her dog’s regular meal with green beans, and increases the percentage over time up to 50 percent, until the dog reaches its target weight. Then the owner gradually reintroduces the regular food back into the dog’s diet.
While the green bean diet sounds like a good idea in theory, veterinarian Ken Tudor, writing for PetMD, explains the risks of attempting the green bean diet without veterinary guidance.
To begin with, dogs that gain weight suddenly or have difficulty losing weight despite exercise and diet restrictions could have a serious health condition, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease.
Even if your dog’s extra weight stems from a few too many kibbles and scraps, according to Dr. Tudor, “Regular food is inappropriate for weight-loss patients. Although weight-loss patients are fed the calories appropriate for their ideal target weight, they still need amino acids, fats, vitamins, and minerals for their present weight.”
This can lead to nutritional imbalances and deficiencies, and dogs on the green bean diet may regain the weight they lost as a result of metabolic changes.
Tudor concludes by saying that green beans can be an effective part of a weight-loss diet, as long as you consult with your veterinarian about the best dog food and overall wellness plan to help your dog lose weight.
The Perfect Healthy Treat
If, however, you are just looking for a healthy, low-calorie treat to feed Fido, green beans are an excellent option. As with any treat, try not to exceed 10 percent of your dog's daily diet, and watch for any signs of stomach upset or allergic reactions.
Check out these other fruits and vegetables to find out which are safe for dogs to eat and which are not.