In today’s world, many health-conscious people choose to consume tofu as a healthy alternative to meat and protein in their diets. Protein is also a crucial part of your dog’s diet, so it may seem like it makes sense to give your dog tofu as a better option, right?
The answer is a little complicated, but ultimately, while dogs can eat tofu, it’s not exactly great for them. The truth is, you’re better off sticking to meat and other forms of protein for your pup instead of tofu and this article will explain why.
Tofu Isn’t Toxic for Dogs, but It’s Unnatural
In small quantities, tofu is perfectly fine for dogs. It isn’t toxic and isn’t on the “unsafe” list for dogs to eat. However, you shouldn’t use tofu to replace all of your good boy’s meat or as his only source of protein. While tofu isn’t harmful to dogs, it’s unnatural for them and can be uncomfortable for their digestive systems in large quantities or on a regular basis.
This is because of what tofu is (essentially, coagulated soy milk). Now tell me, where would dogs get this in the wild? They wouldn’t. Wolves or wild dogs wouldn’t normally seek out or eat soy products, so their digestive systems aren’t made or evolved to handle this form of protein and it can cause digestive distress.
Again, a few bites of tofu here and there aren’t going to hurt your dog, but if you’re trying to make your dog a vegan or a vegetarian or simply improve his overall health, tofu isn’t the way to go. This applies to not only tofu, but to all soy products, including soy milk, tempeh, soybeans, and more. Especially because soy is an incomplete protein for dogs, so they don’t get all the nutrients they need from it.
Problems Tofu Can Cause for Your Dog
Because it’s unnatural for dogs’ digestive systems, large quantities or regular feedings of tofu can cause gas, bloating, stomach pain, and even vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog is exhibiting signs of lethargy, continuous vomiting, or refusing to eat or drink after eating tofu, see a vet right away.
This is only likely if your dog has consumed a lot of tofu and is very sensitive to it. Most dogs may enjoy a few bites of tofu as an occasional treat without any problems.
Another factor to take into consideration when feeding your dog tofu, even in very small quantities, is allergies. Many humans are allergic to soy products, including tofu, and dogs can be allergic too. One of the most common signs of food allergies in dogs is itchy skin.
If your dog is constantly scratching at himself and fleas and ticks aren’t to blame, it’s likely a food allergy. Other signs of food allergies include “hot spots,” or areas where your dog licks, bites, or scratches his skin repeatedly so much that the skin is raw, red, and/or bleeding. Ear infections, vomiting, and diarrhea are also symptomatic of food allergies.
If you suspect your dog is allergic to tofu or any other food, stop feeding him the food immediately. If the symptomatic behavior persists, see your vet to determine the underlying problem.
Can Dogs Be Vegan/Vegetarian?
The biggest reason pet owners wonder if their dogs can eat tofu is because they want to feed their dog a vegetarian or vegan diet. After all, many humans benefit from a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle and want their dogs to enjoy the same health benefits. Others practice a vegan or vegetarian as a way of life for ethical reasons and want to extend it to all members of their households, including their pets.
Feeding dogs a vegan or vegetarian diet is a somewhat controversial topic without a clear-cut answer, but experts agree that it’s possible to feed a dog a healthy, balanced vegan or vegetarian diet. It’s just very difficult to do it properly and your dog’s health and diet have to be carefully monitored.
The biggest mistake pet owners make when starting their dogs on a vegan or vegetarian diet is assuming that dogs are similar to humans in their dietary needs and digestive systems. But as a matter of fact, canines have different nutritional requirements and digestive systems and their meals should be structured accordingly.
If you’re determined to feed your dog a vegan or vegetarian diet, be sure to consult with your vet or a pet nutritionist to come up with a dog food or meal plan that meets all of your dog’s nutritional requirements and check in with your pet care provider on a regular basis.
Wrapping Up: Can Dogs Eat Tofu?
Yes, dogs can eat tofu, but infrequently and in very small amounts. However, it’s not a good source of protein and it may not be easily digested. Look out for signs of soy allergy in your dog, such as itchy skin, ear infection, vomiting, or diarrhea. If any of these symptoms appear, don’t feed your dog tofu or any other soy products.
If the reason you want to feed your dog tofu is because you’re interested in putting him on a vegan or vegetarian diet, talk to a professional about creating a healthy meal plan for your dog that will meet all his nutritional needs. Be aware that your vet may recommend against a vegan or vegetarian diet for your dog, since dogs require a lot of protein in their diets and it can be very difficult to achieve the right nutritional balance for dogs without animal products.