Most dog parents like to share a little of their food with their pets, but it is sensible to be cautious when trying something new. Some of our foods are not suitable for our pets, and a few can even be toxic when eaten in large enough quantities.
Bean sprouts are known to be a healthy snack for humans, but are they a safe choice for our dogs?
What are bean sprouts?
Bean sprouts, as the name suggests, are young bean plants. They are grown using either soybeans or mung beans and are kept in the dark to prevent them from becoming bitter, which gives them their distinctive white color. After a few days, they are picked, washed, and then packaged or canned ready to be sold.
Bean sprouts are commonly used in many dishes originating in East and Southeast Asia, including fried rice, spring rolls, dumplings, soups, and stir-frys. They are also sometimes eaten raw as part of a salad.
Can dogs eat bean sprouts?
Bean sprouts are not known to be poisonous to dogs. Both soybeans and mung beans are safe for dogs to eat, and there are no known changes that occur during sprouting that would change this.
Most bean sprouts are quite fibrous, so dogs who are missing many of their cheek teeth may find it more difficult to chew them. If large numbers were swallowed without chewing all at once, this could be a choking hazard, so be sure to supervise your dog when eating something new like this.
Dogs can be intolerant or allergic to soy, including to both the raw beans and the sprouts. If your dog has any food sensitivities, then always speak to your veterinarian before introducing any new food.
Do dogs like bean sprouts?
Raw bean sprouts are unlikely to be your dog’s favorite new food. They may be very healthy (see later), but they lack the salty, meaty, or umami flavors that dogs prefer in their snacks. Indeed, they have very little odor at all, which may make it difficult to persuade your dog to try one.
Some dogs may enjoy the crunchy texture of raw bean sprouts, as it is rather different from many other foods. If your dog enjoys chewing other raw vegetables then they may also like bean sprouts.
Bean sprouts that have been cooked as part of a dish often take on the flavors of any seasoning or sauces that have been used. Many Asian dishes use salty or umami flavors that are likely to be interesting to our dogs, even if the dish itself is vegetarian or vegan. However, spicy food is not so good for our pets and should be avoided if possible.
Are bean sprouts good for dogs?
Yes! Bean sprouts are generally a healthy food for both humans and dogs. They are high in fiber, which is important for gut health and can help to maintain regular bowel movements. They also contain little carbohydrate and no fat, meaning they are low in calories, which is useful for dogs who are prone to putting on weight.
Bean sprouts also contain high levels of antioxidants and are a good source of vitamin C. However, if your dog is on a complete and balanced food already, then there is no extra health benefit to including extra vitamins in their diet.
Some other benefits have also been suggested for humans who eat bean sprouts. These include lowering cholesterol, managing blood sugar, and reducing inflammation. However, the evidence for these benefits is weak, and there is no evidence of extra benefits in dogs.
Are bean sprouts bad for dogs?
No! Bean sprouts are generally a healthy food and can be enjoyed as a snack as part of a dog’s balanced diet.
However, as with any snack food, you should make sure that they do not make up more than ten percent of your dog’s daily food allowance, by weight. Ninety percent of your dog’s food should always be a complete and balanced diet, to make sure they get all the nutrients they need to keep them healthy.
Be sure to wash bean sprouts carefully before offering them to your dog. Raw salads can carry several different harmful bacteria, including E. Coli and Salmonella, so it is important to rinse them first. Alternatively, cooking should kill any bacteria on the surface of the sprout.
If the bean sprouts are part of a cooked meal or have a dressing on, then you need to make sure that the rest of the dish is safe. For example, some flavorings such as onions and garlic can be toxic to dogs in large quantities. Spicy heat from chili peppers is usually unpleasant for our dogs, and can also cause an upset stomach.
My dog has eaten bean sprouts and I’m concerned – what should I do?
If your dog has accidentally eaten some bean sprouts, then in general there is no reason to panic. Bean sprouts are not toxic and are very unlikely to cause any health problems unless your dog happens to be allergic to soy.
If your dog is showing any concerning symptoms, then contact your veterinarian for advice.
Bean sprouts are generally a healthy and safe snack for dogs.
Dogs with a soy allergy should avoid bean sprouts made from soya beans, and those who have difficulty chewing or swallowing many need to be supervised to make sure they do not choke.
However, for most dogs, bean sprouts are a good choice of treat to offer – provided that they like them, of course!
Ruth graduated from Cambridge in 2014 and has worked as a small animal GP vet ever since. She is particularly interested in internal medicine, as it combines her love of problem-solving and her somewhat geeky love of knowledge, and has completed her certificate in Small Animal Medicine.