For many, green beans (AKA string beans or snap beans) are a dinnertime staple. In fact, if you open up my freezer right now, you’ll find bags of them. Plus, my pantry is stocked with several cans. What can I say, I love serving them as a light side dish! Not only are they tasty, but they’re packed with key nutrients. While it’s clear they’re great for us, today the question is: Can dogs eat green beans?
Short answer: Yes!
A Look At The Nutritional Value
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 cup (about 100 grams) of raw green beans are packed with:
- Protein – 1.83g
- Fat – 0.22g
- Carbohydrate – 6.97g
- Fiber – 2.7g
- Calcium – 37mg
- Iron – 1.03mg
- Magnesium – 25mg
- Phosphorus – 38mg
- Potassium – 211mg
- Sodium – 6mg
- Zinc – 0.24mg
- Manganese – 0.216mg
- Folate – 33µg
- Carotene, beta – 379µg
- Vitamin A – 35µg
- Vitamin B-6 – 0.141mg
- Vitamin C – 12.2mg
- Vitamin E – 0.41mg
- Vitamin K – 43µg
Top Health Benefits Of Green Beans
- Can Help Aid Weight Loss – More than half of dogs in America are deemed overweight or obese. Whether your pooch falls into this category or not, green beans are a great nutrient-rich, low-calorie, and low-fat snack. Plus, they’re high-fiber, which will help your dog feel full for longer.
- Supports Strong Immune System – With a healthy dose of vitamin C and other immune-boosting nutrients, green beans are a great snack to support a strong immune system.
- Great Addition To An Anti-Cancer Diet – Green beans are packed with antioxidants, which help fight against free-radicals in the body (AKA unstable molecules that can damage cells). If there are too many free radicals in the body, it can lead to chronic disease. Experts link free radicals to various illnesses, including cancer.
- Supports a Healthy Digestive System – The high fiber content supports healthy digestion. It can help keep bowel movements soft and regular.
- Heart Health – Green beans reportedly pack high levels of flavonoids, which are linked to reducing the risk of heart disease. Plus, fiber also offers up heart health benefits.
- Bone Health – Green beans are rich in vitamin K, which can help your dog’s body build and maintain strong bones.
- Eye Health – Green beans offer up a good dose of vitamin A, which is linked to eye health.
What The Heck Is The “Green Bean Diet”?
Before we move into feeding tips, there’s some buzz around something called the “green bean diet” for dogs. What the heck is it? Well, PetMD describes it like this:
“Owners supplement 10 percent of the volume of their pets’ regular canned or dry meal with canned green beans. The green bean content of the meal is increased in 10 percent increments every 2-3 days until all meals consist of 50 percent regular food and 50 percent green beans. This final mixture is fed until the pet’s target weight is reached. The pet is then slowly weaned from the beans and back to all regular food.”
The science and mindset behind this diet is to restrict calories and add fiber in an attempt to help overweight dogs lose weight. While the general idea of replacing heavily processed, carb-heavy kibble with a fresh ingredient sounds good on the surface, I would do a little digging and consult with your vet before ever attempting a diet like this.
The problem? Replacing up to 50 percent of your dog’s main meals with just green beans can lead to nutritional imbalance and deficiencies. After a while, nutritional deficiencies can lead to health issues.
Instead, if you have an overweight dog, we recommend:
- Eliminate fatty and/or carbohydrate-based table scraps
- Keep an eye on how many treats you’re feeding. We often want to reward our dogs for being such good girls and boys, but we must be mindful of how many snacks they’re eating each day.
- Replace some heavier treats with lighter ones, like a green bean
- When it comes to mealtime, if you can afford it, get off kibble and switch to a fresh diet — one that’s mainly fresh meats with some veggies and other nutritional additions to keep the meal properly balanced. (This is the food I use and trust)
- If you do feed kibble, and you free-feed, consider switching to scheduled mealtimes with properly portioned out dishes.
- Examine your dog’s lifestyle: Go for more walks, play more games of fetch, and get your dog active!
While I’m not a huge fan of the trendy green bean diet, they still make a great addition to your dog’s food bowl. Plus, they’re a wonderful snack.
The most important thing when serving green beans to your pooch: Make sure they’re plain. If you make them as a side for your dinner — and jazz them up with butter, salt, onion, garlic, and other seasonings — don’t share them with your pooch. Plus, those holiday green bean casseroles are a no-go, as they’re usually coated in butter, cream, mushroom soup, and onions (foods your dog should stay away from).
In moderation, dogs can have plain green beans either raw, frozen, steamed, boiled, canned, or dehydrated. With that said, raw is the hardest for them to digest, so it’s better to cook them first!
- Raw – If giving your pooch a raw green bean treat, wash and chop into bite-size pieces first to avoid a choking risk.
- Frozen – Some dogs love to gnaw on frozen green beans, especially during the summer months!
- Boiled / Steamed – These are perhaps the easiest ways for dogs to snack on them since they’re in a softened state.
- Canned – Busting open a can is perhaps most convenient for many of us. Plus, the tasty bites are already in a softened state. But, if feeding canned, make sure to check the ingredient label first. Avoid cans that have added salt, sugar, and flavors. You just want plain. To be on the safe side, you may even want to pop your canned beans into a strainer and give them a quick rinse.
- Dehydrated – A little green bean crisp makes for a fun treat. Confession: I’ve tried dehydrating them in the oven several times and they never come out good for me. Rather than crispy, they’ve always come out hard. If you have a dehydrator then you may want to give it a try!
Talk To Your Vet
As with any food, when first introducing a new ingredient into your dog’s diet, do so slowly to see how he tolerates it. If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s unique health needs, consult with your veterinarian.
Get More Doggy Food Facts
This feature is part of a weekly web series called Food Facts Friday. Every Friday, we share foods that are great for our canine companions. Check out other foods highlighted in this series HERE!