Can Dogs Eat Peas?

Here's how to feed peas safely to your dog

Birds eye view of dog sniffing jar of fresh shelled peas.

Mutovin / Getty Images

Yes, dogs can eat peas, and this small green legume has plenty of health benefits to boot. Peas are high in vitamins A, B, C, and K, and are a good source of protein and dietary fiber. They’re also rich in essential nutrients like folate, thiamin, and manganese. Sweet in taste, fresh or frozen green peas make an excellent treat or meal topper, and most dogs absolutely love them. Below, here's what you need to know about feeding peas to your dog, including guidelines for making sure you feed peas safely.

The Basics of Feeding Peas to Dogs

Green peas—including English or garden peas, snap peas, and snow peas—are a great addition to your dog’s diet. While unlike us dog’s don’t need vegetables and legumes for balanced nutrition, peas make for a quick and tasty treat, and contain an impressive variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Their small size also makes them particularly useful as training treats.

While you don’t have much to worry about in terms of feeding peas to dogs, there are still some guidelines that you should be aware of:

Don’t feed canned peas. Canned peas often contain high levels of sodium or preservatives, and you don’t want your canine companion eating that. Stick to fresh, frozen, or steamed peas instead.

Feed them plain. Peas might be even tastier with a pat of butter and some seasoning, but when it comes to giving them to your dog, it’s smart to skip added flavoring—especially butter, which can upset your pup’s stomach.

If you can eat the shell your dog can eat the shell. English peas (also called garden peas or sweet peas) must be shelled before anyone eats them, and that includes your dog. Snow pea and snap pea shells are fine for dogs to eat, but some may not like the fibrous texture.

Only feed peas in moderation. Just like with all human foods (including the nutritious ones), feeding them to your dog only in moderation is important. Eating too many peas can cause your dog to experience gas and stomach distress, so feed sparingly and don’t hand it out by the handful.

Don’t feed peas to dogs with kidney issues. Peas contain purines, which are normally harmless but can be dangerous for dogs with kidney disease. If your dog has had any kidney issues, opt for similar healthy treats that are low in purines, such as carrots or red bell pepper.

What About Peas in Grain-Free Dog Food?

In 2019, the Federal Drug Administration warned against a possible connection between grain-free dog food and canine heart disease, noting that the issue appeared to be the high level of peas, lentils, and other legumes that were driving the link. So does that mean that peas are problematic for dogs? Not exactly.

One of the reasons that too many peas can be harmful to your dog is that, like other legumes, they are thought to lower taurine levels in the body, in turn contributing to a heart disease called DCM, or dilated cardiomyopathy. This connection was called into question when a number of dogs eating a grain-free diet were diagnosed with DCM, however DCM has also presented in dogs who eat food that contains grains. Also notable, some of the dogs with DCM did not exhibit low taurine levels. However, DCM does appear to be more likely to occur in dogs eating boutique, grain-free, or exotic ingredient diets.

The safe takeaway from all of this: even good things can be harmful in high amounts. If you’re only feeding your dog peas here and there as an occasional treat, you likely don’t have to worry about making a significant impact on their taurine levels.

How to Make Green Pea Dog Treats

Feed your dog green peas in their pure state as a meal topper or treat, or get creative in the kitchen and try out this dog-friendly pea treat recipe!

Green Pea Dog Cookies

  • ¼ cup shelled garden peas
  • ¼ cup whole grain oats
  • 1 banana
  • ½ tsp honey
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pulse together all ingredients in a food processor. Roll into cookie dough balls and place on a baking sheet lined with a silicon baking mat. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly brown on the bottom. Remove from oven and leave on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes to cool. Store cookies in the refrigerator for up to three days. 

Article Sources
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  1. What Treats Can I Give My Dog With Kidney Disease? Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University

  2. Questions & Answers: FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Investigation into a Possible Connection Between Diet and Canine Heart Disease (updated June 27, 2019). US Food & Drug Administration

  3. A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients. Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University