Beans, Legumes and Pulses, Understanding the Difference and What’s Bad for Your Dog and Cat

Beans, Legumes and Pulses, Understanding the Difference and What's Bad for your Dog and Cat

★ 4.5 min read


In this Article:


.1 Beans, Legumes and Pulses

  1. Understanding the difference: beans vs legumes vs pulses

.2 What's Bad for your Dog and Cat

  1. The Don’t Use List

.3 Why Most Beans, Pulses and Legumes are bad for your dog and cat

  1. Aflatoxins
  2. Lectins
  3. Phytates
  4. Glyphosate

.4 Appropriate Legumes for Dogs and Cats

  1. Green Beans, whats good, whats not, cautions, benefits and how much
  2. Beneficial herbal and medicinal legumes

.5 Appropriate leafy greens, vegetables and fruit for your dog’s health


.1 Understanding the Difference: Beans vs, Legumes, vs Pulses


Legumes are plants in the Fabaceae or Leguminosae plant family. The family includes trees, shrubs and flowering plants.


Plants in the legume family are grown or wild-harvested for many reasons, including:    

As a source of food

For medicinal purposes

As an ornamental flower, shrub, tree or vine


Not all legumes are pulses or beans.


Pulses are the dried fruit (seeds) of legume plants. 


Beans are a type of pulse (dried seed) of a legume plant.



.2 What’s Bad for Your Dog and Cat


The Don’t Use List


These beans, legumes and pulses are bad for your dog and cat:



  • Edamame (young soy beans)
  • Lentils (Dal), black, blue-green, brown, green, red
  • Peanuts (peanut and peanut butter)
  • Peas, fresh (green peas, snap peas, snow peas)
  • Soybeans


Beans (pulses)

  • Adzuki bean
  • Anasazi bean
  • Black-eyed pea
  • Black turtle bean (Black bean, Preto)
  • Broad beans (Fava bean)
  • Cannellini beans
  • Chickpea (Garbanzo)
  • Cranberry beans (Ramano, Speckled sugar)
  • Edamame (young soy beans)
  • Flageolet beans
  • Great Northern bean
  • Kidney bean (white, light red, dark red)
  • Lima bean
  • Mung bean
  • Mungo bean (Urad bean)
  • Navy bean (Haricot beans, White pea bean)
  • Otebo bean
  • Peanut
  • Peas (English peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, etc.)
  • Pinto beans (Carioca bean)
  • Red beans (Mexican red bean, small red bean)
  • Scarlet runner bean
  • Soybean (Soya bean)
  • Split peas
  • Yellow bean


The legumes and beans listed above are bad for your dog and cat’s health, regardless if:

  • Organically grown
  • Sustainably grown
  • Wild harvested
  • Cooked
  • Dry
  • Fresh
  • Sprouted


Pet food, treat and supplement companies often market beans and pulses as ‘better’ than grains for dogs and cats. The truth is grains, beans and pulses are equally harmful to a dog and cat’s health.


Let’s talk about why the beans, and legumes on the “Don’t Use” list are bad for your dog and cat.



.3 Why Most Beans, Pulses and Legumes are Bad for Your Dog and Cat


The beans, pulses and legumes on the “Don’t Use” list contribute to and cause inflammatory issues and chronic disease in dogs and cats.


How do these beans pulses and legumes harm your dog and cat’s health? Let’s take a look.



Aflatoxins are naturally occurring toxic fungi. Bean and pulse crops are highly susceptible to aflatoxin contamination. Other crops including grains (barley, bulgur, oatmeal, rice, etc.) are vulnerable to aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxin contamination on beans and pulses can occur:

  • On the plant when it’s growing
  • During harvesting
  • During processing of the harvested bean or pulse
  • After you buy the product


Aflatoxins are toxic to dogs, cats, humans and other animals. Aflatoxins are also toxic to humans and classified as a carcinogen by the WHO (World Health Organization).


Aflatoxins are NOT destroyed by cooking or other heat treatments.


Consuming food contaminated with aflatoxins can cause acute severe aflatoxicosis.


Immediate side effects of acute aflatoxicosis include:

  • Hemorrhage
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Death when not treated in time


Long term side effects of aflatoxicosis include:

  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney disease


I’ve treated client dogs for aflatoxicosis. It’s a complicated condition to treat. Aflatoxicosis can have long-lasting consequences to health.



Lectins are present in a wide range of foods including:

  • Beans
  • Fish and other harvested animal proteins
  • Fruit
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Pulses
  • Vegetables


But not all lectins cause harm.


Lectins in the beans and legumes (on the “Don’t Use” list) are harmful to dogs and cats as they cause and contribute to:

  • Autoimmune disorders including arthritis, leaky gut and food allergies
  • Disruption of the gut and intestines
  • Immune system issues
  • Inflammation in the body
  • Interfere with the absorption of nutrients


The lectins present in beans and legumes (on the Don’t Use list) aren’t degraded or destroyed by heat. Baking, cooking, boiling and otherwise heating these beans and legumes doesn’t reduce the harmful effects on your companion animal's health.


Phytic Acid

Phytic acid is a naturally occurring substance in plants. The amount of phytic acid varies per plant and parts of plants.


The items on the Don’t Use list are high in phytic acid content.


Phytic acid interferes with the absorption of:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc


Consuming foods with a high phytate content, can cause mineral deficiencies. The extent of the adverse effect depends on the individual dog’s personal situation. Inherited predisposition plus acquired circumstances. Sensitivities, vulnerabilities and specifics of the overall dietary protocol.



Glyphosate (also known as RoundUp) is the most common herbicide used in the world. In 2015 the WHO’s IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen. You can read IARC’s findings here.


Since 2015 many high profile law suits have been filed against the manufacturer (Bayer – Monsanto) of glyphosate. Monsanto recently lost a lawsuit covering an estimated 95,000 cases. As a result, Monsanto-Bayer must pay $10 billion to settle the suits. There are more cases waiting to be hear in-court.


Before planting a legume crop, glyphosate may be used to kill weeds in the field. Before harvesting the crop, glyphosate may also be applied to plants to speed-up dessication of the crop. This is a common practice used in harvesting bean crops. Glyphoste is applied during the growing and harvesting of GMO and conventional soy bean crops.


All beans and legumes on the Don’t Use list pose a real health threat to your dog and cat.



.5 Appropriate Legumes for Dogs and Cats

Not all plants from the legume family are bad for dogs and cats.  Some legume plants can help support your dog and cat's health. This is discussed in the sections below.



Fresh Green Beans

Whats Good, Whats Not, How Much and Benefits

Fresh green beans have beneficial health properties for dogs. Green beans are not  appropriate for cats.


Appropriate Green Beans:

  • Common green beans
  • French green beans



Non-organic green bean crops are heavily treated with synthetic chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides and pesticides. Choose homegrown organic greens beans or commercially grown organic green beans.

The amount of green beans used should not exceed more than 1% of your dog’s diet.

To ensure proper absorption of nutrients, green beans should be pureed, or lightly steamed.

Do NOT use canned green beans.


Organic Green Beans Are Rich In:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Folic acid
  • Minerals – calcium, copper, iron, manganese, potassium, silicon
  • Antioxidants – beta carotene, catechin, epicatechin, kaempferol, lutein, and quercetin


Organic Green Beans Can Help Support Your Dog's:

  • Bone health
  • Digestive function
  • Eye health
  • Heart health 
  • Immune system function

Beneficial Herbal and Medicinal Legumes

Some legume family plants are valued for their medicinal properties. A few examples of cat and dog *safe legume plants include:


 *Safe for dogs and cats when used appropriately


Given the opportunity, your cat and dog may self-select appropriate herbs to suit her individual, personal needs. Go here to learn more about self-selection (zoopharmacognosy) and how to support your dog and cat's ability to communicate their needs to you.

.6 Appropriate Leafy Greens, Vegetables and Fruit for Your Dog’s Health


If you're currently including inappropriate beans and legumes in your dog's diet replace them with appropriate leafy greens and vegetables.

Dogs can benefit from a small amount of appropriate fresh leafy greens, fresh and gently cooked vegetables, and fruit in the diet.


Species appropriate plant material provides an important source of health supporting:

  • Antioxidants to support overall health
  • Essential minerals and vitamins
  • Gut-health supporting fiber


Go to this article for:

  • A list of appropriate leafy greens, vegetables and fruit for dogs
  • Preparation and serving recommendations
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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld


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