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Tofu is not only yummy and delectable. It’s also an excellent source of plant proteins and many other phytonutrients. This is probably the reason many tofu-loving dog owners never think twice about sharing this delicious treat with their canine friends.
But can dogs eat tofu?
The short answer is yes, dogs can eat tofu. Tofu doesn’t contain any toxic compounds known to be harmful to dogs. Besides, the food is loaded with nutrients that could benefit your pooch in some way.
However, there are potential issues with feeding tofu to dogs.
For instance, tofu is high in estrogen compounds that could throw your dog’s endocrine system out of balance. It’s also important to note that tofu is not a core ingredient in dog kibble. So, if you must share this food with your dog, it’s best to do so in moderation to minimize the risks of adverse effects.
Read on for more insights into the possible effects of tofu on dogs.
More About Tofu
Tofu, also known as bean curd, refers to food prepared by pressing the curds resulting from the coagulation of soya milk into solid white blocks of varying consistency. Soya milk, also called soy milk or soymilk, is plant-derived milk produced by soaking and grinding soybeans, then boiling the resultant mixture and filtering out remaining solid particles.
Soymilk is often contrasted from regular dairy milk in terms of its composition and nutritional profile. The product mainly comprises water, oil, and plant protein suspended in a stable emulsion, whereas dairy milk comprises animal protein and fats, with a considerable amount of carbohydrates.
After preparation, tofu can be flavored using a variety of natural or artificial sweeteners. The food is traditionally seasoned or marinated, depending on the dish it’s served with.
Tofu has been part of Chinese cuisine for more than two millennia. But over the years, the food has become popular even among non-Chinese cultures, mainly due to its abundance in useful minerals and vitamins.
How Might Tofu Benefit Your Dog?
Tofu is high in plant protein. Protein is the most important nutrient required by all animals, including dogs. The nutrient helps in forming the building blocks for your dog’s muscles, tissues, bones, and even hair.
Tofu may also encourage weight loss. That’s because it’s high in dietary fiber and low in calories. Fiber is especially noted for its role in fighting unhealthy weight gain by promoting the sensations of fullness for longer after meals.
You might also consider substituting dairy milk with tofu if your dog is lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is a gastrointestinal condition caused by the absence of lactase. Lactase is the enzyme that digests lactose – the simple sugar common in dairy products. Although dogs are born with the ability to secrete lactase, that ability diminishes as they age. That explains why most adult dogs are lactose intolerant and tend to react adversely to lactose-containing compounds like dairy milk.
The following are other potential ways tofu might benefit your pooch, based on the additional nutrients in this food:
• Vitamin A – May support your dog’s vision by guarding against age-related macular degeneration.
• Vitamin D – Is great for your dog’s skin.
• Calcium – May promote the healthy development of your dog’s bones and teeth.
• Magnesium – Plays a vital role in regulating cardiac rhythms.
• Omega -3 fatty acids – Can support your dog’s skin while also counteracting neurodegenerative diseases.
• Isoflavones – Contain antioxidant properties which may cushion your dog from chronic diseases.
How Might Tofu Harm Your Dog?
Dogs may be considered omnivores. But their ideal diet should comprise over 80% animal products and only 20% plant products. The fact that tofu is inherently a plant-derived substance makes it potentially harmful to a dog’s digestive system, especially if consumed excessively.
Common adverse effects of tofu in dogs include:
• Appetite loss
• Flatulence or bloating
• Abdominal discomfort
Tofu is also considerably high in carbohydrates and fats. This is especially true for processed tofu. Exposure to either compound could harm your dog in the long run. The combination of high-carb and fat-laden diets may trigger canine obesity and diabetes. Excess carbohydrates could also mess up your dog’s cardiovascular system, while too much fat can worsen the symptoms of certain chronic diseases in dogs like pancreatitis.
There’s also a decent chance that your dog could become allergic to tofu if the animal is already hypersensitive to soy products. Common symptoms of tofu allergy in dogs include:
• Eyelid inflammation
• Runny eyes and/or nose
• Labored breathing
• Skin itchiness and rashes
• Respiratory symptoms like coughing, sneezing and wheezing
Last but not least, tofu contains the isoflavones phytoestrogens. Isoflavones primarily act as antioxidants, helping to minimize the risks of disease. However, phytoestrogens may trigger hormonal imbalance in your pooch. Without urgent interventions, the resultant endocrine imbalance may cause skin and coat problems, thyroid issues, and behavioral problems.
Tofu is non-toxic to dogs. The food also boasts several minerals and vitamins that dogs require in their diets.
However, tofu should only be fed to dogs in moderation. Excess consumption of this soy-based food could leave your canine friend battling numerous adverse effects.