What is the Green Bean Diet for Dogs? Does it work?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – have you ever heard of the green bean diet for dogs? My dog is a 120-pound lab in about an 80-pound frame. My vet recommended the "green bean diet" for dogs. Do you know what it is and if it works?


Molly D. Imperial, Missouri


Hi – thanks for your email. I have heard of the "Green Bean Diet" to help dogs loose weight. This is basically how it works.

You cut back on your dogs food and substitute a portion of their food with green beans. It should be started and stopped gradually. When used, it is recommended that you decrease the food quantity by 10% and replace with an equal amount of green beans. After 2 to 3 days, decrease the food quantity of dog food by another 10%, again replacing the dog food for the same quantity of green beans. You do this until you are feeding about 50% of their regular good quantity and 50% green beans. The green beans are to help the dog feel full while supplying few calories. Once the dog reaches its ideal weight, you can begin cutting out the green beans and returning them to a maintenance amount of food.

I've heard other vets do it by gradually decreasing the food intake by 50% and substituting it with 1 can of green beans per day.

This will really vary with the size of the dog. It seems most dogs prefer French cut green beans. I've been told this really works but generally I don't recommend it to my clients.

There are several ways to encourage your dog to loose weight. This includes eliminating or minimizing table scraps or replacing their higher calorie treats with low calorie treats such as substituting the treats with pieces of a treat (rather than the whole treat each time), unbuttered air-popped popcorn as a treat or small pieces of fresh vegetables.

I generally recommend decreasing the quantity of food, feeding a premium quality lower calorie food (less active or lite formula) in combination with some exercise. Check with your veterinarian to determine which combination might be best based on your dogs health, weight and any underlying medical conditions.

An article that might be helpful to you is Obesity in Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

P.S. Has anyone had experience with the green bean diet? If so, email me so I can share your story with our users!

Click here to see the full list of Ask Dr. Debra Questions and Answers!