Edamame has been an important part of Asian cuisine and culture for centuries. However, in the United States, this dish has just recently soared in terms of popularity.
Many pet owners who have discovered this delicious side dish are often wondering if it is safe to share with their dogs.
They say that curiosity killed the cat, but often dogs are just as curious as their feline counterparts. This is definitely the case when it comes to food.
Dogs love to eat, and they really love to eat what their humans are eating.
During veterinary visits in my office, I am often asked if various human foods are safe to give to pets. Lately, the safety of feeding edamame has become a popular question amongst dog owners.
Dogs can eat edamame. Edamame is made of soybeans. Though edamame is not toxic to your dog, there are some things to be cautious of before feeding it.
You must ensure that your dog does not have an allergy to soy, you should always pre-shell the peas, and smaller dogs should be watched carefully as the peas can be a choking hazard, and they should always be fed in moderation.
Is Edamame Safe To Feed To A Dog?
Though the name may sound fancy, edamame is simply soybeans. The beans that are used for edamame are harvested early, before they are fully ripened, to allow for a softer texture.
Now that you know that edamame is soybeans, the first question to answer before feeding it to your dog is whether or not your dog has an allergy to soybeans.
Soy has the potential to be allergenic for both dogs and humans, but it is not a very common allergen for dogs. In fact, true food allergies in dogs are actually relatively rare and not nearly as common as some belief.
Beef and dairy are the most common food allergens in dogs. However, dogs can be allergic to soy, and if there is a documented soy allergy in a dog, they should never be fed edamame.
Soy is already included in many commercial dog foods and treats as a good source of protein. It is highly likely that your dog has already been exposed to soy.
However, as with any new addition to a dog’s diet, I recommend adding soy slowly and in small amounts.
If any reaction is seen, including hives, itching, red skin, or gastrointestinal upset, please contact your dog’s veterinarian right away.
Is Edamame Healthy For Dogs To Eat?
Edamame is not likely to be fed as a staple in your dog’s diet but instead will likely be a small snack or treat. But studies have shown that soy is actually a healthy protein for dogs.
Dr. Cailin Heinze from Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and professor. In an article written for “Your Dog,” Dr. Heinze says,
“Some people think soy is being used in diets as a cheap, inferior replacement for meat, but that’s not the case. It’s not inferior. Soy is the best quality of the plant proteins […] While some animal proteins are more digestible and usable by dogs, other animal proteins aren’t as good as soy. So having soy protein in a diet doesn’t mean the protein quality is bad, and having meat or other animal protein in a diet doesn’t mean that the protein quality is good.”
Beyond being a quality source of protein for dogs, soy has other health benefits as well. Soy is high in isoflavone content, and these compounds act as antioxidants in the body.
Antioxidants aid in removing free radicals from the body and can help prevent cancer.
Soy-containing foods are also packed with essential nutrients such as B vitamins, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and high-quality protein.
This nutrition profile makes edamame a healthy choice for small snacks or treats for your dog.
How Should I Feed Edamame To My Dog?
Now that we know that edamame is both safe and nutritious for dogs, how should it be fed?
Because dogs are classified as omnivores and therefore need both meat and grains, they require a varied and balanced diet.
Edamame should not be the sole food fed to your dog nor the only source of protein, as this will result in nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. If fed to a dog, edamame should be used as a treat or snack.
When feeding edamame to your dog, choose forms of the bean that are meant for human consumption to ensure that what you are feeding is safe.
However, there are some preparations of edamame for humans that you will want to avoid.
Edamame that has been fried in oil, such as the crispy variety found in bags like potato chips, should be avoided in dogs as they are not healthy.
Edamame that has been soaked in salt or soy sauce should also be avoided due to its high sodium content. Dogs, on average, are much smaller than humans and are prone to sodium toxicity (salt poisoning) if they eat too much salt.
Sodium toxicity, if left untreated by a veterinarian, can be life-threatening. Milder forms of sodium toxicity can still result in vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, and damage to the dog’s kidneys.
It is also crucial to avoid feeding or allowing your dog to eat the outside pod of the edamame bean. This outer covering is very tough and fibrous.
Not only will this pod be a choking hazard, but if ingested, it may lead to gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting and diarrhea, due to its high fiber content.
The safest form of edamame to share with your furry friend is simply shelled fresh or frozen edamame without added oil, salt, or other flavorings.
Can A Dog Eat Too Much Edamame?
Yes, it is definitely possible to feed your dog too much of this healthy snack. How much edamame is appropriate for your individual dog will depend on many factors, including the dog’s size, age, and digestion.
Because dogs need to eat a balanced diet, it is best to offer edamame only as a small snack or treat. This would be a few of the shelled peas fed individually to avoid choking.
If a dog is allowed to eat a large amount of edamame, it may be too full and not hungry for its regular diet. If this happens frequently, the dog will likely suffer from nutritional imbalances and deficiencies.
Additionally, though overall a healthy snack, edamame is fairly high in calories. Dogs are smaller than humans and therefore require fewer calories.
Overfeeding your dog with calorically dense treats or snacks may lead to obesity, which is a major concern for your dog’s health. Obesity can lead to joint issues, back pain, diabetes, and other serious health issues.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Edamame Without Your Permission?
If you are reading this article because your dog got into the trash or stole some edamame off of your dinner plate, be assured that edamame is not toxic to dogs.
However, depending on how much edamame the dog consumed, it may show signs of gastrointestinal distress such as stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If these issues become severe or do not go away quickly, please take your dog to their veterinarian as soon as possible.
If your dog ate edamame that was heavily salted or soaked in soy sauce, you should contact your dog’s veterinarian right away. Try to determine how much the dog ate and how much sodium the edamame contained.
Final Thoughts On Dogs And Edamame
Edamame can be a tasty and healthy snack for dogs. However, edamame should be shelled, unsalted, and not fried or baked with butter, oil, or other seasonings when offered to a dog.
Edamame is high in vitamins, antioxidants, protein, and fiber. This makes edamame a healthy choice for a snack or treat, but it should always be offered to dogs in small amounts.
Edamame should never be given to dogs with a documented allergy to soy.
If your dog eats edamame and has any issues, such as allergic signs or gastrointestinal distress, please contact your dog’s veterinarian right away.
If you have any concerns about adding edamame as a snack or treat, your veterinarian is a wonderful resource for answers.
Can dogs eat edamame skin/pods?
No, the outer covering of edamame peas is very tough and fibrous. Though it is not toxic, this outer covering can be dangerous for dogs to consume.
If a dog eats the outer pod covering of edamame, they risk choking and experiencing gastrointestinal distress such as vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Can dogs eat raw edamame/soybeans?
Yes, dogs can eat edamame or soybeans raw. They are not toxic. In fact, offering edamame raw, whether it be fresh or frozen, is a good and healthy way to feed it.
You want to avoid salt, preservatives, or other flavorings on edamame that you offer to your dog, so raw and unprocessed is a great choice!
Dr. Jamie Whittenburg is a vet with 15 years of clinical experience. She graduated from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. Her area of expertise is small animal general practice, equine practice, surgery, and academia.
Dr. Whittenburg operates her own hospital in Lubbock, TX, named Kingsgate Animal Hospital. Medically, she’s most interested in practicing general surgery and feline medicine. When not at work, Dr. Whittenburg enjoys outdoor activities, reading, and spending time with her family.