We are loving guardians to our dogs, so when it comes to feeding them healthy foods, dogs have no choice but to trust that we are making the best possible decisions for them. When it comes to protein, you may choose to feed your dog a balanced, all vegetarian diet or maybe you just want to add more plant-based protein to your dog’s existing food.
There are many great protein alternatives to meat that are sourced from plants while also low in fat, yet still provides the right amount of protein to give your dog the energy and daily nutrition he or she needs. Animal nutritionists recommend that at least a third to a half of your dog’s vegetarian meal should consist of a quality protein source like beans. You can also include vegetables that are healthy for dogs like broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus, which are packed with protein that’s excellent for vegetarian diets and for incorporating into an existing dog’s diet.
Beans are a great alternative to animal-based protein. Dogs can enjoy all types of tasty beans! Pinto beans, kidney beans, and black beans are such beans that provide a good source of plant-based protein for dogs. Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, are great when ground or blended for easier consumption; make a hummus as a treat for your dog.
Dried or canned? It is a good idea to purchase dried beans for several reasons. First, they are cheaper than buying beans by the can, and if you have more than one dog to make food for like I do, then getting dried beans is a big money saver. Buying dried beans from the bulk section of your grocery store will mean you can get a large amount of beans at a better price, and they are easy to store using an airtight container. Don’t forget to buy some extra for you! Finally, there are additives to consider when it comes to dried beans versus canned beans. Canned beans tend to contain a greater amount of unnecessary sodium, even if the company states on their cans a saying like “50 percent less sodium,” but it’s not a bad idea to have a few cans on hand for when you don’t have the time to soak dried beans for cooking. Just open the can and rinse it well of any excess sodium.
When preparing beans from their dried form, it is best to soak in cold water over night. Drain the soaking water before cooking, rinse a couple times, then replace with fresh cold water. Do not add salt to your dog’s beans. These steps plus cooking the beans thoroughly will help to prevent doggie gas issues…dog gas is the worst! Whether you use canned or soaked then cooked, make sure to mash beans before feeding to your dog. If you don’t, you could be picking up dog poo with whole beans in it! Dogs tend to not chew well and mashing the beans will help in digestion and your dog will get a greater nutritional value.
Vitamins and minerals. Beans are a delicious and simple plant-based protein source that can be consumed on a regular basis as a part of any healthy dog diet. Aside from being packed with protein, beans also offer B vitamins, fiber, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, and phytonutrients.
Please note that it is important to do your own further research when deciding to change your dog over to a meat-less diet or consult a veterinarian and animal nutritionist who specializes in different types of dog diets.
Image Source: cookbookman17/Flickr
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