Yes, dogs can eat peas, and this small green legume has plenty of health benefits to boot. Peas contain 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. Unlike us, dogs have less need for vegetables and legumes for balanced nutrition, especially if they eat a commercial dog food as their primary source of nutrients. 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 applies to your dog too. 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 possibly diarrhea, so feed sparingly and don’t hand it out by the handful.
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 related to the large amounts of peas, lentils, potatoes and sweet potatoes used in these diets. So does that mean that peas are problematic for dogs? Not exactly.
One of the reasons that these diets may be harmful is that they may lead to a taurine deficiency. taurine is an essential amino acid that has many important roles in the body, including in normal heart function. Some dogs that ate these diets developed a specific heart disease called DCM, or dilated cardiomyopathy and also had taurine deficiencies. The exact connection between these diets and DCM is still being investigated. Some of the dogs with DCM did not have measurably low taurine levels so there is still more to learn. The current thinking is that DCM developed as a result of a combination of factors associated with the large amounts of legumes in these diets used in place of other ingredients.
The safe takeaway from all of this: even good things can be harmful in large amounts. If you’re only feeding your dog peas here and there as an occasional treat, you don’t have to worry about making a significant impact on their taurine levels and overall nutritional profile.
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.
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A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients. Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University