I turned to tofu a short time ago as I began to consider healthier options for my daily meals. While I know it’s safe for me to eat it, I had to wonder about my dog every time I put her food bowl down. You might have considered this question as well, but before you give any to your dog, let’s make sure it’s safe.
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What is Tofu?
Well, it is basically made from coagulating soy milk, then pressing the curd into small white blocks. Also known as bean curd, it’s very similar to the way we make cheese, and with no meat, is considered a great food substitute for both vegans and vegetarians.
Many people who are against eating bean curd or feeding it to their pets say that these genetically modified foods are very controversial. Well scientifically, no studies have found anything negative. There’s no real research that says whether it’s good or bad, but if you’re really concerned, there are non-GMO brands you can buy too.
Can Canines Eat Tofu?
In short, the answer is yes. Bean curd is not toxic to canines, and won’t harm them in any discernable way, but you do need to be careful not to give your pooch too much. Too much will cause side effects rather than benefits, since even though canines can go vegan, it’s definitely not the same as it is with humans.
There are some great benefits for dogs, since it is both high in protein and contains tons of useful nutrients. When added to your pet’s diet, manganese, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron, and zinc can all really make a difference. Small servings are also low in calories, meaning that it is both nutrient dense and a great treat for your pup, but there are a few other reasons you may want to consider it as well.
Some canines who develop food allergies have trouble eating commercial dog food brands due to the processed meat proteins. In this case, tofu could be a great substitute since it can go through the digestive system without causing a reaction. Unfortunately though, it still cannot be a substitute for every meal. In this case, your vet may be able to suggest a brand just for sensitive stomachs.
Liver (And Kidney) Friendly
Canines who have liver issues do need a significant dietary change, which generally means removing animal proteins. If there are severe liver problems, or if your pet has renal disease, bean curd may be a better substitute. This is because the canine liver handles soy proteins better than meat proteins, but once again, your pet’s meals cannot be exclusively bean curd.
Good for Bladder Stones
If your pooch has kidney problems and is prone to developing bladder stones, protein with a low number of purines can help them the most. That’s why there are already lots of foods that decrease protein in your pet’s diet.
Soy is a preferred substitute too though, since it has a lower number of purines than animal proteins. With this in mind, it can give your canine lots of amino acids from protein without irritating their kidneys.
A Word of Caution
Remember that while canines are omnivores and can have both meat and veggies, they are designed to consume meat. This means that soybean-based bean curd is not ideal, and feeding it for every meal will not give them the health benefits you’re looking for. If you’re looking to give your pet tofu, the occasional treat will give them all the benefits without all of the side effects.
Potential Side Effects
Ultimately, tofu cannot however provide your pet with the same vitamin and mineral benefits that they would get from meat. That’s because they cannot digest and absorb soy nutrients very efficiently, and may cause more problems in the future.
Not Enough Protein
Tofu may have some protein, but doesn’t provide the amount or quality of protein that canines need to live healthily. Without enough protein, you can see side effects like poor appetite, fatigue, weight loss, stunted growth, poor coat, and even a compromised immune system.
Risk of Bloat
Canine bloat can be a very dangerous health condition, which is why you have to be very aware when you feed dogs tofu. This is because tofu is made from soybeans. Soybeans cause gas, leading to a higher chance of possible bloat.
Bean curd is said to help with kidney stones, but there’s actually a higher chance of developing stones as well. With high levels of silicate, it’s more likely for canines to develop stones, although these studies are somewhat contradictory.
Both those soybeans and indigestible sugars can cause diarrhea and gas, which may cause them a lot of discomfort in the long run. This is especially true if you give them lots.
Yes, it can have pesticides in it since it’s a GMO food. You can try non-GMO bean curd in this case however if you’re determined to give your pet just a little.
If your pet is allergic to soy milk or soybeans, giving them bean curd can actually put their life in danger. They can end up with a severe allergic reaction, including itchiness, chewing at feet, scratching or rubbing the face, and red, itchy ears.
Should I Give My Pet Tofu?
In the end, most people agree that the answer is no. It might be a good treat here and there, but in the long run it may have more side effects than benefits. Unfortunately, tofu isn’t what dogs would normally eat in the wild and while there isn’t any evidence it’s poisonous to canines, it might also disrupt its digestive system if you try to give it to them on a regular basis.
That being said, you can give your canine small pieces here and there, since it really shouldn’t have any adverse side effects besides some slight stomach troubles. The only issue is if you give your dog too much, try to make it their main source of protein, or if your canine is allergic.
I’ve always wondered whether it was okay to give my canine tofu, but as it turns out, there may be more harm than good. It’s fine to have a little bit in moderation, although the possible problems may outweigh the benefits. It’s up to you however to decide what’s best for your pup so you can keep them healthy for many years to come.