Falafels are a tasty treat for us humans, but can they also be a treat to share with your four-legged best friend?
The answer is a little complicated because while chickpeas themselves are not harmful to dogs, other ingredients in a falafel patty that make it tasty for you can be deadly for them.
Before diving into what makes a falafel harmful for dogs, here is a refresher on what exactly is a falafel and what goes into it.
What Is a Falafel?
Falafel is a dish that originated from the Middle-Eastern countries and then gained popularity in America initially because of its delicious flavor and how easy it is to eat on the go. It is also popular since it is usually vegetarian and can be made vegan as well.
Traditionally a falafel is a patty made from chickpeas or fava beans that have been ground up into a paste. This patty is then flavored with spices like cumin and coriander along with salt before being deep-fried and served sandwiched in a pita pocket or between pita slices.
This sandwich can be further topped by leafy green salads, pickled vegetables like beetroot, with condiments like hot sauce or tahini sauce. These are also sometimes garnished with tomatoes, lettuce or cucumbers.
Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Octopus?
What Falafel Ingredients Are Harmful to Dogs?
So you must be thinking that everything in a falafel is really bad for dogs but this is where the complicated part comes into play.
Chickpeas on their own are not harmful but other ingredients in a falafel are, so take a look at some of the common falafel ingredients and how they affect your dog.
One of the commonly used beans in falafel recipes, these beans are used with chickpeas to make the falafel patty and are not suitable at all for dogs.
The fava beans have a compound called PHA (phytohemagglutinin) which is toxic to dogs. This usually causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain in dogs when consumed in larger quantities.
Falafel patties usually call for a fair amount of garlic, a typical recipe uses about three to five cloves. However any garlic, no matter how small the amount, is highly toxic to dogs.
In a smaller amount, it will cause some diarrhea but in larger amounts like the amount in the falafel recipe will give the dog a very upset stomach with vomiting and constant diarrhea.
Garlic consumption in dogs also causes irreparable damage to their red blood cells and causes them to become anemic.
Onion or Onion Powder
Falafel patties contain onions and onion powder in the recipe traditionally. Now because onions are from the same family of plants as garlic which are called alliums, they are also toxic for dogs.
While onions are about five times less potent than garlic when it comes to toxicity they are used heavily in falafel. Onion powder is made from onions and typically contains further additives that are very harmful to dogs in large batches.
Especially when the onion or onion powder is ingested along with garlic, as is the case in falafels.
Salt while not typically harmful to dogs is toxic in larger quantities as in the case with falafel and other human foods like chips and fries. That is also why vets recommend not feeding dogs scraps from the dinner table because human food usually contains a large amount of salt.
In a single falafel patty, there can be as much as 300 milligrams of sodium from salt. That is almost twice the recommended dietary intake for an adult dog that weighs around 33 pounds.
Pepper or Cayenne or Other Chilli Peppers
Spices like pepper, cayenne, or other spicy peppers contain a compound called capsaicin which gives them their spicy flavor. This compound is a natural irritant for humans and dogs, however, in the case of humans, it is mild and enjoyable but for dogs, it is very toxic.
The capsaicin irritates their stomach and stomach lining causing vomiting, while small amounts won’t cause this reaction every dog has a different tolerance level and it is best to avoid giving any food with these spices in them altogether.
As mentioned before, a falafel patty is a deep-fried food and all fried foods are bad for dogs because they contain fat from oil. Fatty foods with oil in them can cause pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas when eaten by dogs.
The maximum recommended daily intake for an adult dog weighing 33 pounds is 14 grams and a single falafel patty contains more than 17 grams of fat alone.
Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Spoiled Meat?
Can There Be Dog-Friendly Falafels?
If you are feeling a bit distraught about being unable to share falafel night with your pet pooch, do not despair because with a little extra effort and planning they can have their own version of falafels to join in on the family fun.
Plain chickpeas as mentioned before are actually good for dogs, as they have many nutrients that are good for dogs. Take a look at how chickpeas help dogs below.
One of the best sources of plant-based protein is chickpeas. A single cup of boiled chickpeas contains more than 14 grams of protein and is an excellent alternative source of protein for dogs with food allergies or dietary restrictions, and for humans too, come to think of it.
Chickpeas are amazing for your dog’s intestinal health. They have a high amount of insoluble fiber which helps your dog poop better and healthier. The fiber in chickpeas is also good for promoting your dog’s intestinal flora, the bacteria in their gut that produce the healthy fatty acids for good gut health.
Having a healthy gut system helps lower the chances of your dog developing colon cancer and other intestinal diseases.
Vitamins and Minerals
Rich in several vitamins and minerals that are good for dogs, chickpeas contain magnesium, lecithin, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and B-complex vitamins. All of these are necessary for your dog’s good health overall.
Another advantage chickpeas have as alternative dog food is that they have little to no fat in them and there is no chance at all that you will be going over your dog’s daily recommended fat intake. Even if you fill up the bowl to the brim!
Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Tamales?
So all you need to do while cooking up a batch of falafels is keep aside the mashed chickpeas or chickpea batter to make a set of separate patties for your dog. Make sure that they are completely cooked as raw or undercooked chickpeas can be hard for your dog to digest.
Bonus tip, add some nutritional yeast or a bit of organic tahini sauce to your dog’s falafel to make it tastier!