Imagine preparing a delicious stir-fry for dinner. It has plenty of fresh vegetables and an excellent source of protein—tofu. It’s certainly a healthy meal for you and family, but can you give a taste to your dog? Is it safe?
The short answer is that it depends. Let’s delve into what tips the scale either way.
Why Is Tofu an Option?
Dogs, like many of their canine counterparts, are omnivores. That means they eat a variety of foods, including meats, vegetables, and even fruits. Wild relatives like coyotes often have seasonal patterns to their diet based on what’s available.
The Case for Protein
Why would you consider feeding your dog tofu? Protein. Adult pets need at least 2.62 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to stay healthy with the nutrients they need to survive. It is the basis for building new tissues, metabolism, and many other vital processes.
Tofu ticks off a lot of boxes for providing dogs what they need.
Amino acids are the ingredients making up the different proteins. There are 20 amino acids found in nature, and, consequently, in the foods that we and our pets eat. Of those 20, 10 are crucial for your dog’s diet. Canines can produce the other 10 in their bodies. The remaining ones must come from their food. Tofu contains all of those essential amino acids.
What Else Does Tofu Offer?
Tofu has other nutrients that make it a good option for your dog. It contains some carbohydrates and a bit of fat. It’s also high in several vitamins and minerals, including calcium. And it has no cholesterol.
We probably have you thinking about eating more tofu! Does that mean it’s better than what you’re giving your pet now?
Tofu vs. Commercial Dog Food
The Association of American Feed Control Officials oversees the nutritional content of commercial pet foods to make sure they meet minimum requirements and ingredient standards. The organization helps to ensure that it’s safe for them.
How does tofu compare to the stuff you get at the store?
A study analyzing the content of eight commercial dog foods found that they are within the nutritional guidelines for protein. Fat, on the other hand, was a bit higher than the recommended ranges. The figures were in line for puppies who need more but not adults. Does that mean tofu is a better choice for your dog?
The Other Side of the Coin
We started our article with the answer that it depends. Let’s discuss what those caveats are exactly and how the pros and cons balance each other.
Overall Nutritional Value
First, there is the elephant in the room… Protein source.
Soy is a plant-based source of this nutrient. While it’s a complete protein in terms of amino acids, it also lacks other vital vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D. It’s even hard for people to get adequate amounts of it since it isn’t found in a lot of foods. Sun exposure is our best bet.
But, wait. Unfortunately, there’s more. Tofu is also a poor source of vitamins A, E, and B12. It is also deficient in iron and zinc to meet your dog’s basic nutritional requirements.
As a sole protein substitute, tofu doesn’t take the prize despite its other dietary benefits.
The Health Question
Allergies are the bane of many pet owners. A sensitivity to beef, for example, means a special diet that comes at a special price. You may think that soy is a possible solution.
Again, it depends. Some dogs can’t tolerate soy, either. Therefore, tofu is off the list for these pets. However, it’s also a gray issue with health. Some research suggests that they can eat it if it’s processed in a certain way. That’s going to involve some homework on your part to find a brand that meets this criterion.
On the other side of the coin, soy might be beneficial for your dog. Hepatic encephalopathy is a life-threatening liver disease that reduces the normal function of this vital organ. Scientists have found some evidence that a soy-based diet can help manage this condition.
Obviously, the health end of the spectrum is complicated. There is a definite need for more research before we can say definitively that tofu and soy are good for your dog. These are questions that you need to discuss with your pet’s veterinarian.
There’s one more concern about feeding tofu to your dog that we must address…
What Are You Serving with That Tofu?
For a normal, healthy dog, our research points toward tofu being safe for your pet, albeit, not as their only protein source. They will need other foods in their diet to meet their nutritional needs for other vitamins and minerals.
But is that the end of the story? As much as we love tofu, there’s one thing about it that anyone who has eaten it knows full well. It’s bland. It needs spices or sauces to get it on its hind feet. The texture is agreeable. It acts like a big sponge to absorb flavors. You might find that you like to cook with it, too.
However, the proof is in the pudding. It’s not just the tofu that you need to consider but also what you’re serving with it.
You probably know that dogs can’t eat chocolate. Somehow chocolate and tofu don’t sound that appetizing to us, anyway. There are several other foods that dogs—and cats—shouldn’t get. They include:
Other foods like citrus aren’t necessarily poisonous, but they can irritate your dog’s GI tract. Bear in mind it’s not just the cut-up veggies in your stir-fry. It is also the sauces that you add. That teriyaki sauce will likely contain some garlic in it.
Tips for Giving Your Dog Tofu
There’s always a concern when giving your dog something new. You might not find that it doesn’t agree with him until it’s too late. While all plants are edible once, there is a better way to test the waters.
We’d suggest only giving your dog a little taste the first time he tries it. Then, wait. Make sure there are no issues before you get it to him again. Sometimes, it may take some time for his body to react. Remember that some allergies manifest themselves in unexpected ways, such as itchy skin or dermatitis.
Final Thoughts About Feeding Tofu to Your Dog
As you can see, there are several other factors to consider before giving your dog some tofu.
As an occasional treat, it’s probably okay as long as there aren’t any other ingredients that could cause problems, or he isn’t allergic to it. We’d also urge you to check with your dog’s veterinarian when making any diet changes, just to play it safe, especially if it’s the first time he’s going to eat it.
We’ll also leave you with this final thought. If your dog ends up liking tofu a lot, you’re on the hook for always sharing some with him whenever you prepare it. Just saying.
Featured Image: ally j from Pixabay
- Why Is Tofu an Option?
- The Case for Protein
- What Else Does Tofu Offer?
- Tofu vs. Commercial Dog Food
- The Other Side of the Coin
- What Are You Serving with That Tofu?
- Tips for Giving Your Dog Tofu
- Final Thoughts About Feeding Tofu to Your Dog