The search to find the latest and greatest ingredient or superfood for dogs is continuously evolving. Factors such as the level of protein the ingredient contains, and it’s lack of saturated fats or salt are often pushed as important. Other factors such as the wide array of vitamins and minerals the ingredient contains are also often brought up and explained as vital for bodily functions and health.
One such ingredient that has been becoming increasingly popular and heavily promoted is Chickpeas, otherwise known as Garbanzo Beans. Supporters of Chickpeas say they offer a great balance of protein and fiber while being low in fat and abundant in vitamins and minerals. Sounds like a no-brainer right? However, there are some that have concerns with Chickpeas and other Legumes in pet food and there is some evidence to support this.
Chickpeas for Dogs?
Yes, Chickpeas are a viable ingredient for dogs and are being more commonly used by dog food manufacturers across the globe as an ingredient in their formulas. Indeed, for the past decade or so, there has been a substantial movement into grain-free pet food, giving rise to the use of alternative carbohydrate providing ingredients such as Garbanzo Beans, Peas, and Sweet Potatoes.
For example, in the dry dog food market, according to pet-ingredients.com, Chickpeas were present in roughly 11.5 percent of the dog food recipes analyzed and roughly 8.4 percent of dry cat food recipes.
While it’s clear that the ratio of Chickpeas present in dog and cat food isn’t as high as some other vegetable ingredients, like Rice, it is still significant and appears to be growing at a rapid pace. But when you take a closer look at the nutrition that Chickpeas can offer dogs then it is clear to see why their use has grown.
Chickpeas – Nutrition
Let’s break down the nutritional value that Chickpeas can provide for dogs starting with levels of the base nutrients.
One cup of cooked Chickpeas provides the following nutrition:
- 45 g of Carbohydrates
- 15 g of Protein
- 13 g of Dietary Fiber
- 4 g of Fat
Based on the above, some will say the keynotes are a high portion of protein, fiber, and low portion of fat. Now, let’s explore further what our Chickpeas are really made of.
When compared to most other plant or vegetable ingredients, Chickpeas are a particularly dense source of protein. Protein is crucial in a dog and cats diet as it is used to repair, maintain, and grow a dog or cats muscles and cells.
However, protein has other important roles for dogs and cats such as the immune system.
It is very important to note that protein from vegetable or plant ingredients, such as Chickpeas, are considered somewhat inferior to protein from animal or fish sources. This is as the protein lacks certain amino acids and is less bioavailable which means it is harder to digest and absorb in the digestive system. The best use of protein from plants and vegetables would be as a supplement to already satisfactory protein levels.
While Chickpeas are very low in fat they contain a certain fatty acid known as Lecithin. If you’ve never heard of this you are not alone as Lecithin is not commonly known. It is an essential part of cell production and can also help lower cholesterol, aid digestion, and improve heart health.
Chickpeas are well known for providing a very high of dietary fiber for pets and humans. The fiber found in Chickpeas is mostly insoluble fiber (roughly 75 percent). Insoluble fiber will remain undigested until it reaches the final section of the large intestine, otherwise known as the colon.
Here comes the science; the insoluble fiber is then metabolized by the bacteria found in the colon. These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These little beauties are what feed the cells that line the wall of the intestine and thus keeps your dog’s gut in good health. The result of a healthy colon can reduce the risk of colon related problems, including cancer.
Vitamin & Mineral Content
Potassium is one of a number of minerals that Chickpeas can provide. Potassium can help maintain and improve heart, muscle nerve, and kidney function as well as maintain healthy blood pressure.
Magnesium is also present, which again is crucial for a dog’s cells, especially the bones. It can also help prevent Diabetes.
Another mineral is copper which aids with production and storage of iron which is crucial for the production of red blood cells.
Folate is the first vitamin worth mentioning. It is imperative for DNA production as well as other bodily responsibilities.
Garbanzo Beans contain vitamin A which is an important nutrient for sustaining healthy eyes.
Many of the B-complex vitamins are present which are the foundation of providing multiple functions throughout the body.
Then the C vitamins can provide antioxidants, which may prevent, or delay, cell damage.
Overall, Chickpeas can provide a large range of minerals and vitamins. However, the levels of these aren’t enormous and many other similar ingredients can provide these same vitamins and minerals so one shouldn’t get carried away.
Are Chickpeas Safe?
To ensure that they are safe to consume you need to make sure that the Chickpeas are cooked plainly and do not, under any conditions, contain onion or garlic.
Onion and garlic are commonly found in preprepared Chickpeas or Chickpea products. These ingredients can be toxic or harmful to dogs and need to be avoided.
In addition, avoid feeding your dog processed foods made from Chickpeas such as hummus as they contain other additional ingredients that aren’t beneficial to dogs and can even be toxic.
However, you can be confident that Chickpeas that are contained with any commercial pet foods have been cooked appropriately and do not contain any additional toxic ingredients.
Chickpeas – A Cause of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)?
This is a delicate and complex issue. Many of you will be unfamiliar with Dilated Cardiomyopathy but it has recently been pushed into the spotlight. Without going into too much detail, Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a disease that effects the heart of dogs. Some breeds are effected more than others and in some cases, it can be fatal.
Some studies and evidence have shown that certain ingredients in commercial dog food can cause or increase the risk of the disease. This includes common legumes like Peas, Chickpeas, and Lentils, as well as White Potatoes, Tapioca, and exotic meat ingredients like Venison.
This came to a head when the FDA (Food And Drug Administration) reported these findings in July 2018. Since then some dog owners have chosen to transition their dogs away from dog foods that contain Chickpeas and other problem ingredients as a precaution.
However, at this time, the link between Dilated Cardiomyopathy and legumes like Chickpeas is not clear and not fully substantiated. We do not recommend changing your dog’s diet based solely on limited studies. Instead, we recommend you visit and discuss this, with your vet.
For more information on Dilated Cardiomyopathy and dog food recipes that do not contain any problem ingredients, check out our article Best Dog Foods Without Peas.
Chickpeas – Summary
To summarise, Chickpeas are a nutritious ingredient and have a very satisfactory nutritional profile with a number of beneficial minerals and vitamins.
Chickpeas are likely to be increasingly used as many dog food brands shift away from grains and other low-quality fillers.
However, there needs to be more study into the effects of legumes like Chickpeas on conditions such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy to ensure that they are not causing serious health issues or harm to any animals.
What Dog Food’s Contain Chickpeas?
A vast number of dog food brands utilize Chickpeas as a source of high-quality carbohydrates. This long list of brands includes many of the premium and luxury pet food brands such as Orijen, Acana, Merrick, Fromm, Nature’s Variety, Canidae, Weruva, and Zignature.
Below are a few dog food formulas that we have rated very highly because they provide great nutrition from high-quality ingredients. Both of these recipes contain Chickpeas.
What Dog Food’s Do Not Contain Chickpeas?
Just because Chickpeas are a favorite ingredient and are used by many of the mainstream brands does not mean that is in all dog food. Some brands have recipes without chickpeas. These include Nature’s Variety Instinct, Merrick, Nature’s Logic, Victor, Earthborn Holistic, and Taste of the Wild.
Below are some of our favorite Chickpea-free recipes. These recipes make use of other high-quality carbohydrate ingredients like Peas, Lentils and Sweet Potatoes.
As we mentioned earlier, if you are looking for recipes that are completely free of Chickpeas and other legumes like Peas and Lentils then check out our article Best Dog Foods Without Peas.