I just had an 8 lb bag of red lentils delivered to my house. One of the reasons I bought them is so my wife and I can make some lovely dals – we love Indian food – but I also got them for my dogs, hence the large quantity.
Lentils are non-toxic to dogs, and can provide many health benefits when prepared correctly, such as extra vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Continue reading to learn more…
Black, Red, Brown, and Green Lentils
Black lentils have the highest amount of antioxidants, which reduce inflammation, as well as the most iron. They have a flavor and texture similar to black beans, and take about 25 minutes to cook.
Red lentils, while full of nutrients, have the least amount of fiber because the husk has been removed. In fact, red lentils are just hulled brown lentils. However, for this same reason, they break down into a mush when cooked, which makes them the easiest to digest.
Brown lentils contain the most fiber. They also take a bit longer to cook than black and red lentils – 35 to 45 minutes.
Green lentils are the most common variety you’ll find at typical grocery stores. Nutritionally, they sit somewhere in the middle of the other varieties – not really the best or worse in any category. They have the chewiest texture and take the longest to cook – 45 minutes – though can still be cooked down to an easily digestible paste if cooked long enough.
Health Benefits of Lentils for Dogs
I’m starting with fiber since most dogs don’t get enough. Lentils, with or without their husk, and an excellent source of fiber. Fiber can improve your dog’s digestion by feeding the good bacteria that lives in their gut. It also improves their bowel movements.
Vitamins and Minerals
Lentils are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are particularly high in B vitamins and iron.
Lentils contain a lot of antioxidants – a phytonutrient you won’t find much of in your dog’s ordinary dog food. Antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties and may prevent certain types of cancers by fighting free radicals – chaotic molecules that damage cells.
In a previous article, I talked about how dogs don’t need as much protein as most people assume, so I wouldn’t suggest using lentils to add more protein to your dog’s diet, but rather substitute it from other sources. One cup of cooked lentils contains about 18g of protein, which is exactly the amount you’ll typically get from 2 cups of dry dog food.
How to Prepare Lentils for Dogs
Whenever you’re cooking food for your dogs, it’s best to keep it fairly bland. A little bit of beneficial herbs and spices are okay, but you definitely want to hold off on the added salt, as well as garlic, onion, and spicy peppers. If you’re making one pot for you and your dogs to enjoy together, salt and spice your own serving after you’ve cooked the lentils.
Things You’ll Need
- 2 cups dried lentils
- 6 cups water
- Heavy bottom pot with a lid
- 1 tsp turmeric (optional)
- 1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
- 1 tsp dried basil (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottom pot.
Cover and then bring to a boil.
Let simmer until the lentils are soft – the softer the better.
Check frequently to make sure the pot doesn’t run out of water. If so, simply add more water.
Remove from heat and let cool until room temperature before serving.