When you’re in the kitchen preparing a meal, often your dog will be there getting in-between your legs, begging for any leftovers or scraps. Whilst most of the time it’s okay to drop a little harmless food on the floor, some human foods should be avoided.
Hummus is a great case in point; as a healthy and nutritious snack you would think that dogs can safely eat hummus, but this might not actually be the case as I am going to explain now…
Can dogs eat hummus? A small amount of plain hummus is probably safe for dogs to eat. However, hummus that contains lemon and garlic should be avoided. Garlic in particular is toxic to dogs, making most hummus recipes not recommended for canines to eat.
The concise answer is no. Dogs shouldn’t really be eating hummus. It has certain ingredients that can be bad for a dog’s health so it’s not something that I advise you feed them, even in small quantities.
Luckily, you have some other alternatives that you can feed your dog that don’t have any negative effects on their health.
In this article I am going to delve deeper into this question and related questions. These include the ingredients of hummus, how the calories can count, what their effect on dogs are and the other options you have.
What happens if a dog eats hummus?
If your dog does manage to eat hummus with garlic and other toxic ingredients in it, then there is the chance of sickness. However, whilst the offending ingredients in hummus are harmful to dogs, it would need to be consumed in large amounts.
Is there an exact amount of hummus that’s toxic to dogs?
No, but bear in mind that some dogs might be more sensitive than others. This is why if someone asks me can small dogs eat hummus, I would always no – don’t ever let them have it.
If your dog has eaten some hummus by mistake, and in large quantities, keep an eye on them. Signs of sickness and a toxic reaction include symptoms like obvious abdominal pain, diarrhea, drooling, vomiting, and fatigue after eating hummus.
The bottom line is this; there are plenty of other things you could feed your dog, so just cut the hummus out then you don’t have to worry about the risks.
The harmful ingredients in hummus
And now for the crux of matter on why hummus can be harmful to the dog; the ingredients.
Hummus is a savory dish, dip or spread that is popular in Middle Eastern cuisine around the world. It is made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Some recipes may even add other custom ingredients.
Whilst hummus is an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin B6 and manganese, the core ingredients can make dogs ill. For example, garlic is one of the most toxic food types for dogs, and it’s commonly found in hummus dishes.
So, if it is so healthy and nutritious for us, how can hummus be bad for dogs? To answer that question, let’s look at the separate ingredients in more detail.
1. Chickpeas (not harmful)
Chickpeas, a key ingredient in hummus, is a nutrient dense food that is part of the legume family. Apart from being an ingredient in hummus, we can eat them in a variety of ways. We can have them on their own or we can also use them in salads, soups and stews. They are not only healthy for us, but they can also be healthy for your dog.
As a whole, chickpeas offer many benefits. They are a rich source of fibre, which will make your dog feel fuller for longer.
In the long run, this can help with weight control. They are also protein rich, and they offer various other nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and folate. These nutrients are essential for cell recovery and good health.
Chickpeas also offer extra benefits to your dog. Thanks to Vitamin A, they support eye health. Vitamins B and C strengthen your dog’s immune system. They also help to regulate blood sugar.
On their own, chickpeas seem to be a healthy snack for your dog. We can serve them blended or whole, with animal protein and other vegetables or on their own.
If it’s just the chickpeas alone you are feeding to your dog, then you would have no concerns, providing they are cooked and don’t contain seasoning, onion, or garlic.
2. Tahini (not harmful)
Tahini is a condiment made from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds. You can use it as a dip or as an ingredient in many other dishes.
Although it is a delicious snack for humans, can dogs eat tahini? Yes, they can as tahini is not toxic to dogs.
Tahini, in moderation, can even be healthy for dogs. It provides an ample amount of protein and healthy fatty acids. It is a source of calcium, manganese, potassium, zinc and phosphorus.
These all promote better health in dogs.
It also contains sesamin and sesamolin, which help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Tahini thus provides several nutrients which can be beneficial for dogs.
In excess, however, your dog might have a problem digesting the tahini. This is because canines, as mainly carnivores, have difficulty digesting seeds.
3. Lemon juice (can be harmful)
Lemons are a rich source of vitamin C which plays an integral part in our immune system. Lemon juice also contains other nutrients which make them beneficial to human health. Health professionals even tout lemon juice to help with weight loss, support heart health, reduce cancer risk and improve digestive health.
The distinctive sour taste of lemon juice makes it a key ingredient in many popular drinks and snacks. These include lemonade and lemon meringue pie. Who can forget the lemonade you always made as a child?
Even though lemon juice can be healthy for humans, they are a definite no-no in dogs. Although it is not toxic to your dog, it offers little to no nutritional benefits. The lemons themselves can be toxic though; the psoralen compounds and aromatic oils are toxic to dogs, many times leading to an upset stomach.
For example, being extremely acidic, lemon juice can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, weakness and diarrhea. It can also disrupt your dog’s acid base balance.
There might be some beneficial phytonutrients in lemon juice, but they are difficult to deliver without sugar or dilution. This causes other health problems. The negative effects thus outweigh any potential benefits there might be.
4. Garlic (can be toxic)
And finally, the key ingredient of hummus that makes it potential bad for dogs to eat.
Garlic is part of the allium family with the onion, shallot and leek as close relatives. It is a popular food, and we have used garlic for centuries as a food flavouring and traditional medicine.
Can dogs eat garlic hummus?
Although we humans love garlic, you should never feed garlic to your dog.
This is because, as stated before, dogs metabolize certain foods differently than we do. One of these elements which dogs metabolize differently is thiosulfate. All members of the allium family contain it and it is toxic to dogs.
Thiosulfate causes damage to red blood cells in dogs. This results in hemolytic anemia. Symptoms of hemolytic anemia include:
- Dark-coloured urine.
- Jaundice (yellowing).
- Lethargy and weakness.
- Pale mucous membranes.
- Rapid breathing.
Garlic toxicity can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression and dehydration. Studies have shown that it takes about 15 to 30 grams per kilogram of bodyweight to have a negative impact on the health of a dog.
In contrast, the average clove of garlic weighs about 3 to 7 grams. If we take this into account, your dog would have to eat a lot of garlic to get really sick.
Keep in mind that some dogs are more sensitive to toxicity than others and this is only a general rule.
Garlic can thus have a severe impact on the health of your dog. For this reason, you should not feed your dog hummus… but they still would need eat a large amount to get sick, I think.
Dog-friendly and safe non-toxic hummus alternatives
If you want to share hummus with your dog, you could buy or make a lemon and garlic-free version. Just as the name suggests, you make the hummus without adding lemon or garlic. This is then a healthy snack without the negative health effects.
Can dogs eat plain hummus?
Dogs can eat plain hummus, providing there is no garlic or lemon in it. However, then then I would err on the side of caution. Its creamy nature might not completely agree with your dog’s digestive system.
Then there’s the 90/10 rule I always abide by when feeding my dog. This means I only let him eat 10% of his food each day as a snack, with the remaining 90% being his vet-approved food.
Delving into this more, how much plain hummus is ok? I decided to look at the calorie levels in branded versions and seeing how that impacted by the size of the dog.
If we take two of the most popular breeds of dog, Labradors and French Bulldogs here’s what you find:
- Dogs should only eat 25 calories for each pound they weigh each day.
- Dogs should only have treats as 10% of their total daily food intake (the 90/10 rule).
When you then take the average adult weight of each of the dog’s I researched, here’s how many calories they should have a day:
- Average French Bulldog is 25 pounds: Should eat no more than 625 calories daily.
- Average Labrador is 70 pounds: Should eat no more than 1,750 calories daily.
Each dog is at the opposite side of the weight range, so should give you an idea on what your own dog’s daily calories should be… particularly when considering hummus.
Below are 4 of the best-selling plain hummus varieties and how many calories is in a serving.
- Sabra classic humus (70 calories in a serving):2% French Bulldog / 4% Labrador daily intake.
- Ziyad plain humus (35 calories in a serving):6% French Bulldog / 2% Labrador daily intake.
Can dogs eat Sabra hummus?
I would not let my dog eat Sabra hummus. The brand ingredients are listed as:
Sabra Hummus ingredients: Cooked chickpeas, water, tahini (ground sesame), non-GMO soybean oil, garlic, salt, non-GMO citric acid, potassium sorbate.
Two things on this ingredients list scream out at me; the garlic and salt – neither are good for dogs to eat.
Can dogs eat hummus chips?
The majority of hummus chips on the market don’t have garlic as an ingredient, but they do have onion which is toxic to dogs. A few hummus chips will not poison your dog, but I would still avoid them – salty snacks are never a good choice for a dog’s diet (e.g. who lets their dog eat takis!).
Hummus chips ingredients: Chickpea flour, rice, potato starch, vegetable oil (rapeseed), corn flour, creamy dill seasoning (dried glucose syrup, rice flour, salt, dextrose, onion powder, yeast extract powder, natural flavourings, citric acid, herbs (including dill).
We all want to share our favourite foods or snacks with our faithful dog companions. This is more so when food is healthy and nutritious for humans. If it is good for us, it must be good for them, right?
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and hummus is a classic example.
We often make the mistake of thinking if something is good for us it will be for our dogs. We have to keep in mind that dogs metabolize certain foods differently to humans. Thus, something good for you is not necessarily good for your dog.
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The kitchen can be fraught with dangers, so it pays to know what your dog can and can’t eat safely. Here are some other guides relating to popular foods:
- Can dogs eat McDonald’s food safely?
- Can dogs eat chicken skin?
- Can dogs eat pork rinds and scratchings?
Disclaimer: I am not a vet and all the views in this guide are my own and a result of online research. You should always consult with your vet with any questions on your dog’s diet, plus concerns over what they have eaten.