Should dogs eat legumes? Why do they get so much flack.

Should dogs eat legumes? Why do they get so much flack.

The topic of feeding legumes to dogs has sparked debates among pet owners, veterinarians, and researchers. Legumes, such as peas, lentils, and chickpeas, have often been portrayed as villains in the world of canine nutrition. However, the truth is more complex. This blog will explore whether dogs should eat legumes and why these ingredients have been villainized. 

The Rise of Grain-Free Diets

In recent years, grain-free dog diets have gained popularity, often featuring legumes as an alternative source of carbohydrates. This trend was driven by the belief that grain-free diets were healthier for dogs, especially those with allergies or sensitivities [1]. Unfortunately, the emphasis on legumes led to concerns about their nutritional adequacy and potential health risks.

Nutritional Benefits of Legumes

Legumes can provide valuable nutrients for dogs. They are rich in fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals [2]. Additionally, legumes can be a good option for dogs with grain allergies. When used in moderation and combined with other ingredients, legumes can contribute to a complete and balanced diet [3]. Dog’s do no have a minimum carbohydrate requirement so there is some controversy related to feeding dogs legumes for this reason too.

The Taurine Dilemma

One reason legumes have been criticized is their potential role in taurine deficiency, which is linked to a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in some dogs [4]. Some grain-free diets high in legumes have been associated with DCM cases. To be more specific, there has was one study done on 24 golden retrievers that were all on high-legume, grain-free diets that were all experience taurine deficiencies. This study is the largest of its kind, and considering only 24 dogs were analyzed of a breed that commonly suffers from taurine deficiencies. It's crucial to note that not all dogs on grain-free diets develop DCM, and the exact relationship between legumes, taurine, and DCM remains unclear [5].

Moderation is Key

The key to incorporating legumes into your dog's diet is moderation and balance. It's essential to consult with a veterinarian to determine the right dietary choices for your pet. A qualified veterinarian can help you select a diet that meets your dog's individual needs, including any allergies or sensitivities [6].

Wrap it Up

Legumes have gotten a lot of flack in the context of canine nutrition due to their association with certain health concerns. However, when used in moderation and as part of a balanced diet, legumes can be a nutritious addition to your dog's meals. The critical factor is to consult with a veterinarian to make informed decisions about your pet's diet, ensuring they receive the right nutrients for their individual needs. Remember, a balanced diet is the key to a healthy and happy canine companion.


[1] Freeman, L. M., Stern, J. A., Fries, R., & Adin, D. B. (2018). Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs: what do we know?. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 253(11), 1390-1394.

[2] National Research Council (US) Committee on Animal Nutrition. (2006). Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press.

[3] Heinze, C. R., Gomez, F. C., Freeman, L. M., & Freeman, L. M. (2012). Assessment of commercial diets and recipes for home-prepared diets recommended for dogs with cancer. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 241(11), 1453-1460.

[4] Freeman, L. M., Rush, J. E., & Brown, D. J. (2007). Relationship between circulating and dietary taurine concentrations in dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy. Veterinary Therapeutics, 8(3), 214-223.

[5] Kaplan, J. L., Stern, J. A., Fascetti, A. J., Larsen, J. A., & Skolnik, H. (2018). Taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in golden retrievers fed commercial diets. PLoS One, 13(12), e0209112.

[6] American Veterinary Medical Association. (2021). Selecting the Right Pet Food. Retrieved from

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