Lots of pet parents are changing their dogs’ diet to one that is more natural. Some are feeding a raw diet, while other pet parents are cooking meals specifically for Fido. When pet parents change over to a more natural diet for their dogs rather than using commercial dog food, we are obligated to prepare a diet that offers plenty of vitamins, fiber, meat, and other vital minerals.
Dog owners often wonder exactly what traditionally human foods our furry pals can eat. There are certain human food—including certain fruits and vegetables—that our canines should never eat. Some human foods are toxic to dogs; other human foods may present a choking hazard. Some foods, such as grapes and raisins, can actually lead to kidney failure in dogs. Therefore, it benefits both pets and their human parents to research what types of foods are best to give Fido on a natural or raw pet foods and how to prepare them properly—and safely.
So, can dogs eat lentils?
Yes, dogs can, in fact, eat lentils. However, it is recommended that these foods be cooked without spices. Plus, if you’re purchasing dry lentils (you’ll often find lentils dried and bagged), you’ll need to make sure these have been thoroughly soaked so that they are no longer hard.
Lentils can provide extra protein as well as other nutrients to your dog. However, lentils should not be a large part of your dog’s diet.
Is it a good idea to give my dog lentils?
Lentils provide a great deal of both fiber and protein. In fact, just one cup of lentils gives your dog approximately eighteen grams of protein and sixteen grams of fiber. One cup of lentils provides about 230 calories, too. When it comes to minerals, lentils can provide iron, manganese, copper, folate, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Lentils have been proven to lower cholesterol as well as reduce the risk of heart disease. Lentils may promote weight loss as well as reduce one’s blood pressure.
Lentils include B1, B6, B5, and B3 vitamins.
However, some dogs will experience some adverse effects of eating lentils. A study utilizing thirty-six dogs tested six different sources of starches in the diet, which included lentils. Ironically, for all the benefits that lentils can provide, dogs had “the lowest rate of digestibility” of all six starches—corn, brewer’s rice, sorghum, and cassava in addition to lentils and peas.
Another study found that dogs who eat a lot of lentils will see a slowing down of the digestion process. In addition, the more lentils a dog eats, the more her digestive process will slow down. When dogs in the study were followed, scientists observed that dogs experience both diarrhea and constipation from eating too many lentils.
Yet another issue that these studies uncovered lies in one of the natural properties of the lentil. Lentils contain lectins, which is a glycoprotein. The job of a lectin is to induce intestinal absorption. However, lectins can also cause bacteria to grow in the GI tract, which could lead to toxic effects in the dog. However, this ONLY happens when people feed their dog large amounts of RAW lentils. Therefore, lentils that have been properly prepared—that means soaked until the dryness is completely gone and cooked thoroughly. As long as you feed your dog a small number of cooked lentils once or twice a week, then you won’t have to worry about this adverse effect of your dog eating lentils.
So how do I properly prepare the lentils to ensure that my dog doesn’t get lectins in her system?
Remember, the lentils MUST be soaked properly and then cooked thoroughly to ensure that lectins do not inhibit proper digestion and possibly lead to bacterial growth in your dog’s intestinal tract.
The easiest recipe for cooking lentils is as follows:
- 3 parts water
- one part dry lentils
- (If you are preparing one cup of lentils, then use three cups of water for this recipe.)
- You’ll need to rinse the dry lentils. Put them in a colander and use cool water to wash away any possible debris and dirt on the lentils.
- Cook lentils by placing the rinsed legumes into a large pan (I would recommend a larger boiler for this) and cover them with three cups of water. Bring the water and lentils to a boil.
- Once you observe the lentils and water in a rolling boil, then reduce to a low temperature and cover the boiler. You should keep the boiler covered for ten to thirty minutes. However, make sure they are SOFT before you serve them. You may have to allow them to sit, covered for up to an hour. The time that it takes the lentils to become soft will depend on the variety of the lentil.
Pro-tip: Always follow directions on the bag for preparing the lentils. If the directions on the bag instruct you to boil them for thirty minutes then cover for an hour, do so.
What are the benefits of feeding my dog cooked lentils?
1. Feeding a dog with diabetes  lentils can actually help to get her blood sugar levels under control. Lentils naturally contain a low amount of sugar. Experts say they are a “perfect food to add to a diabetic dog’s diet.”
Not only is the lentil nutritionally good for Fido, but the protein and fiber are great for Fido’s overall health. The protein helps Fido build and maintain strong muscles; the fiber helps to move food and waste through his digestive tract. Plus, lentils help a dog to feel less hungry.
Experts do recommend that you ask your vet what the best amount of lentils for your diabetic dog’s diet should be.
2. Lentils provide lots of energy for Fido.
Lentils are a wonderful source of iron and protein. Iron helps to give your dog energy to get and remain active. Protein helps to build and maintain muscles. Iron helps to produce blood; it is integral to hemoglobin in the blood, and it helps to move oxygen from the cells of the body to the lungs. Iron also promotes proper metabolism functioning.
3. Lentils are a “superfood.”
Like blueberries, lentils can actually provide several health benefits to promote not only good overall health but possibly extend the life of your dog!
Lentils contain high levels of fiber. This is an extremely important nutrient for dogs, and it is an integral part of a dog’s daily diet. Lentils and their possession of fiber are important for another reason, however. This dietary fiber is known to help lower bad cholesterol, but it also helps to lower blood pressure to healthy levels.
Once a meal has been consumed, lentils can help to keep blood sugars level. This is great for diabetic dogs, but it is also important for dogs that do not have diabetes. In addition, lentils help to make our dogs feel fuller faster. They may lose weight while consuming lentils, but, because this food contains so many vitamins and essential nutrients, they won’t be missing out on food that is crucial to promoting their health.
Next, lentils are loaded with elements that help dogs to feel full when eating, but they are actually low on calories and fat. The fats in lentils are considered “healthy” fats, to boot!
Finally, lentils help to prevent certain diseases due to the presence of antioxidants in the food. The most important mineral found in lentils is selenium. What can selenium do for dogs? Well, it prevents inflammation for one thing. If your dog deals with arthritis, the selenium in lentils can help to lessen the painful inflammation of joint pain—like a natural joint supplement for dogs. Selenium also improves the dog’s immune system response. Lastly, but most importantly, selenium is known to reduce the growth of tumors.
What other considerations should I ponder before feeding my dog lentils?
Usually, as long as lentils are prepared properly, they are a great source of iron, fiber, and protein for dogs. They are great for dogs with diabetes, but they have benefits for healthy dogs too!
At the same time, even when properly prepared, there are a few other things to consider when contemplating adding lentils to your dog’s diet.
First, some lentils can cause dogs to become gassy. Yes, some dogs are already prone to flatulence, but lentils can cause an uncomfortable amount of gas that can leave Fido feeling miserable.
Some dogs are simply not built to eat lentils. This is an issue because there’s no specific breed that should or shouldn’t eat lentils. You simply can’t know if eating lentils will make your dog respond positively or if she will experience uncomfortable gassy outbreaks.
Then, there are dogs that will have more of a reaction; they will not only experience this bloated, gassy feeling but they will also have an upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. It is best to introduce lentils into the dog food very slowly so you can monitor Fido’s individual reaction to eating properly prepared lentils.
Be careful when buying lentils. Some will have added spices and perhaps salt as a preservative. You want to steer clear of this and get lentils that are natural. Read the ingredient label and look for chemical-sounding names. If they are on the ingredient list, avoid that product!
Do not feed lentils to your dog that are a part of canned soups. Lentil soup has garlic or onion in the ingredients, and these are toxic to your dog.
1. Why are lentils bad for dogs?
Lentils are actually good for dogs when prepared correctly. However, lentils that have not been cleaned and cooked thoroughly have the potential to cause serious digestive issues in a dog. Lentils that aren’t cooked properly can cause bacterial growth in the digestive tract; this can be detrimental to a dog’s health.
2. Are lentils good for dogs to eat?
Yes, lentils are very good for your dog, if they are cooked thoroughly. Lentils—prior to being cooked completely—contain lectins. Lectins can remain in the GI tract, and they can cause bacteria to grow in the intestinal tract. However, lentils are considered a “superfood” that has so many benefits for dogs. Lentils can help to promote healthy blood sugar numbers, prevent heart disease, and promote digestive health. The key to lentils is preparing them properly.
3. How many lentils can a dog eat?
While there is no hard and fast recommendation, most recipes call for no more than one cup per meal where lentils are concerned. Lentils may not be healthy for dogs to eat on a daily basis. However, talk with your vet to get an idea of how many lentils and how often you can serve your dog lentils for a natural and healthy diet.
4. Do lentils make dogs sick?
When not prepared properly, lentils can make dogs sick. However, if prepared properly—this means cooking the lentil properly until it is soft—then lentils can actually be quite healthy for dogs. Again, check with your vet as to how much your dog should eat and how often she should eat lentils.