How Does Soy Affect Your Dog? Can Dogs Eat Tofu?

can dogs eat soy

How does Soy affect your dog?  What kind of effect does it have on them in both the long and short term?  Should dogs be eating these kinds of plants in general?  I’ve gotten this question and others like it from many different dog owners.  They see soy additives in certain foods and they want to know if it’s ok for their dogs to ingest them.

Hi my name is Mike and I work with dogs.  This website came about because I was getting various questions from pet owners and I wanted to be able to answer them in a wider format.  Today we will be discussing Tofu and Soy.  We will be looking to answer the specific question, “How Does Soy Affect Your Dog?’.  Lets take a look.

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How Does Soy Affect Your Dog?

So how does Soy affect your dog?  Can dogs eat Soy to begin with?  The short answer is yes but it’s not an ideal food for them to consume.  A better question would be, “Should dogs eat Soy?”.  In my opinion and based upon conversations with several Veterinarians, I would strongly urge you to limit your dog’s consumption of Tofu and other Soy based products.  There can be a varied list of negative health side effects in both the short term and the long term depending on the amounts consumed and the overall tolerance level of your dog in general.

Short Term Side Effects Of Tofu And Soy Consumption In Dogs

Lets take a look at some of the short term effects that could indicate that your dog is having a problem tolerating or digesting Soy and or Tofu.

  1.  Dehydration:  Soy has been known to dehydrate dogs and give them some issues in maintaining overall hydration.  If you notice your dog licking a lot or acting lethargic, it could be because they are eating too much Soy or Tofu.
  2.  Stomach Discomfort:  Some dogs may get indigestion when consuming these types of products as well.  This is something that can be harder to spot unless there are additional symptoms like Diarrhea or loss of appetite.
  3.  Bloating:  This can go hand in hand with stomach discomfort and can be easier to spot because it will usually lead to gas or other stomach symptoms.
  4.  Diarrhea:  These last few items all fall into the same general category but can also happen exclusively of one another.  If you see any of these symptoms it’s usually worth it to stop giving them the suspected Soy or Tofu product.
  5.  Lethargy:  If your dog seems tired or listless after eating a Soy or Tofu product it’s probably a good idea to discontinue giving it to them.  It could just be a minor food intolerance or develop into something else in the long term.

As you can see, most of these side effects can start of pretty minor and go completely unnoticed or could be passed off as other issues.  Many dog foods contain Soy products because it is cheap and easy to manufacture.  Because of this, it is used as a filling agent in many cheaper dog foods.  More on this later.  Lets take a look at some of the long term side effects as well.

long term effects of soy consumption

Long Term Side Effects Of Tofu And Soy Consumption In Dogs

Long term side effects of dogs eating Tofu or Soy can often go misdiagnosed because there can be many root causes for similar behavior.  If your dog is having any of the issues described below and you are having trouble finding the cause, it may be worth it to mention to your vet and see if you can make sense of the issue.  Lets look at some common problems.

  1.  Frequent Ear Infections:  This one surprised me.  I had no idea that consumption of Soy products could develop into ear issues for my dog.  Apparently some vets have seen a lot of this and been able to narrow down the culprit to a shaky diet full of Soy byproducts.
  2.  Hypothyroidism:  Soy can interfere with the proper functioning of your pet’s thyroid gland over the long term.  This can cause hormone imbalances and lead to greater issues if not addressed and resolved.
  3.  Stunted Growth:  Feeding your dog Soy or Tofu for a prolonged period from a young age has been shown to stunt growth in test animals.
  4.  Seizures:  Dogs can develop seizures for many different reasons and it turns out that one of them can be the overconsumption or long term use of soy products in their diets.
  5.  Malabsorption:  I’m referring specifically to your dog not being able to absorb key nutrients in their foods because there is too much soy present.  Soy blocks the absorption of key nutrients and can cause problems in the long term.

As you can see, not all of these causes will be immediately linked with Soy or Tofu consumption.  Your vet will likely look at other issues first depending on your dog’s medical history.  A great thing to do if your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms would be to check your foods and see if Soy could be an active contributor to any of these problems.  Working with your vet is always key but having the right information to give them is very helpful as well.

Why Is Soy Bad For Dogs?

When trying to answer the question, “How does soy affect your dog?”, its important that we take a look at it’s key ingredient.  Soy or the Soy bean is derived from the Pea family of plants and can be had in many different varieties.  Tofu is a paste that can be made and formed into various different molds from the beans that originate in these Soy bean pods.

Why is it bad for dogs though?  The reasons are quite varied but lets go over some of the more common ones.

Soy Is GMO

Many foods are genetically modified and all of them can have one effect or another on both our animals and us.  Soy is no different in this respect.  GMO foods can cause real issues with your dog’s internal workings over time and cause some of the long term side effects discussed above.  These kinds of foods can also cause allergies and food intolerances to develop as well.

Soy Contains High Amounts Of Pesticides

This crop is highly valuable in many countries because of the cheap and easy source of proteins and amino acids it provides.  Vegans and vegetarians will practically live off the stuff!  One of the issues with consuming it is the amount of pesticides and other chemicals that are sprayed on it during cultivation.  These high levels of pesticides don’t get completely wiped out during harvest and processing so your pet ends up taking a lot of that in when they consume a Soy or Tofu product.  Prolonged consumption of these harmful pesticides have been shown to cause health issues in both humans and pets long term.

Soy Produces Antinutrients

What is an antinutrient you may ask?  It’s basically a fancy way of saying that a plant with this trait can block crucial nutrient absorption when digested.  These antinutrients won’t just block the nutrition in Soy either. They can block out all nutrient absorption for a short period of time after consumption.

In short, consuming Soy products can overtime lead to your pet becoming malnourished which can then in turn lead to a multitude of other issues.

what should my dog eat then

What Should My Dog Eat Then?

This is a question I get a lot from the people I work with.  “If Soy is so bad but it’s in a lot of dog foods, What do I do?”.  First thing I would do is schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable vet in your area and have them assess your dog.  They can steer you down the right path when it comes to nutrition and help you avoid some of the major pitfalls that can lead to a lesser quality or quantity of life for your dog.

I would then look into a local dog nutritionist.  Your vet will probably know of a few in the area and be able to steer you in the right direction.  If not, remember that google is your friend here.  A pet nutritionist that specializes in dogs can be a great supplement to your vets knowledge and can help to educate you on the path to a proper diet for your furry buddy!

How Does Soy Affect Your Dog Concluded

So there we have it.  I would not recommend Soy or Tofu products for your dog.  If they get a bit here and there it shouldn’t cause any major issues but prolonged consumption can cause all types of problems down the line.  It’s important to understand that dogs process many foods much differently than we as humans do.  Because of this, they will have issues with some things where we will have none.  Keep that in mind if you decide to give them a bite of your food one night.  They may not be equipped to handle what you are feeding them.

Another key thing to remember is that your local vet is an invaluable resource.  Working with them to manage and maintain the health of your dog is very important.  A dog nutritionist can also be key when building a solid wellness plan for your pup.  Try and factor these in if you’re able to and your dog will hopefully enjoy many happy and healthy years to come!

 

References

https://www.petmd.com/dog/centers/nutrition

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_food

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