Aussie Shepherd not too keen on peas.

Can Dogs Eat Peas? Fact Checked By Our Vet 

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th January 2024

Most grain-free dog food brands feature peas high up on their list. But can dogs eat peas? Should you feed legumes to your dog? Here’s what science has to say about it.


Are Peas Dangerous To Dogs?

The short answer is no.

On their own, peas don’t have any compounds that could be dangerous to dogs. However, since 2018 some owners are wary of peas and other legumes.

At the time, many dog owners reported a spike in non-hereditary heart disease among dogs, and researchers found a correlation with feeding grain-free dog food. Since grain-free dog food is usually high in legumes, it was thought that peas could be partly at fault. However, as of the writing of this article, the FDA considers peas as a safe dog food [3].

On the other hand, peas could be a choking hazard if given raw or as entire pods [1]. Since most dogs will only have access to cooked peas, this isn’t generally an issue.


Peas, Legumes & Heart Disease: Are Legumes Dangerous To Dogs?

If you like to know about what goes into your dog’s bowl, you’ve probably heard about the 2019 investigation on legumes in dog food. This spurred some controversy, and many owners are confused by what experts say. Here’s what happened:

A research group at Tufts University found a correlation between eating a processed grain-free diet and increased heart disease in dogs [4]. In 2019, the FDA released a warning about it, suggesting that the higher legume concentration in dog food could be the root cause [3].

Nevertheless, further studies have resulted in contradicting results. Some vets have hypothesized that the correlation might be linked to taurine deficiency caused by excessive consumption of legumes [2].

However, studies remain inconclusive. In fact, after more than 2 years of research, the FDA has not requested recalls of any dog food [3]. As of the writing of this article, legumes (including peas) are considered safe in dog food. Here at Gentle Dog Trainers we consider peas a safe addition, as long as they are given in moderation.

PRO TIP: If you’re unsure about your dog eating peas due to a higher risk of heart disease, talk to your vet. They’ll be able to assess your dog’s specific medical history and give you tailored advice.


Possible Benefits Of Peas For Dogs

Peas can be healthy for dogs, and many great dog foods have peas in their ingredient list. Here are some of the benefits of peas for dogs:

  • Protein-rich: One of the best features of peas (and all legumes) is their high protein content. 100 grams of peas have 5 grams of protein, which is relatively higher than most vegetables. It’s one of the reasons why peas are often an ingredient in dog food. If your dog’s diet needs a protein boost, peas can be a good extra.
  • Low in fat: Unlike animal protein sources, peas are very low in fat. If your dog is obese, peas can be a good option to complement their protein intake without increasing their lipid intake.
  • Good source of fibre: Like other legumes, peas are a good source of dietary fibre which improves digestion, feeds your dog’s gut microbiome and prevents constipation.
  • Antioxidant-rich: Peas are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that have been linked with improved eye health [4]. These antioxidants can help protect your dog’s eyes as they age, particularly from macular degeneration.
  • Heart-healthy compounds: Peas are rich in vitamin K, which is relatively scarce in most foods. Vitamin K plays an important role in keeping muscle cells healthy, particularly those in the heart. Paired with the high fibre content, it can help lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

PRO TIP: If you suspect your dog has developed a chronic condition, contact your vet ASAP. Don’t try to treat them at home without veterinarian advice!


How To Give Peas To Your Dog

If your dog likes peas, great! You can add them as a treat or a topper to their food. Here are a few basic guidelines for giving peas to dogs:

  • Keep it simple: While peas on their own are healthy, prepared peas for humans can be too heavy in sugar, salt and oils. Never give your dog leftover peas from your meal unless they have no other ingredients. If you want to give peas to your pup, prepare them plain without any additives.
  • Moderation is key: Although legumes are healthy for dogs, they should be consumed in moderation. If your dog’s regular food already has peas, it’s not necessary to give them as treats.
  • Canned or frozen? Both canned and frozen peas can be healthy for dogs. If using canned, thoroughly rinse the peas before giving them to your pup, and make sure to choose low-sodium cans.
  • Always cooked: Raw peas are hard to digest and could cause vomiting if your dog is sensitive. It’s best to only give your dog cooked peas.
  • Don’t go overboard: Peas should be considered an occasional treat, particularly if your dog’s food already has them. Offering peas once or twice a week is more than enough for most pups.

FAQ

Is dog food with peas bad quality?

It depends.

Peas are healthy for dogs, but issues arise when they are used to boost protein content at the expense of adding actual animal-based ingredients. As a rule of thumb, pay attention to the ingredient list. High-quality dog food features animal protein as the first ingredient, and legumes should be placed in fourth place or below.

References

  1. AZ animals. 4 reasons why dogs can (and should) eat peas. https://a-z-animals.com/blog/reason-dogs-can-and-should-eat-peas/
  2. Pezzali et al. Effects of different carbohydrate sources on taurine status in healthy Beagle dogs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7007769/
  3. FDA. Questions & Answers: FDA’s Work on Potential Causes of Non-Hereditary DCM in Dogs. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/questions-answers-fdas-work-potential-causes-non-hereditary-dcm-dogs  
  4. Vet-nutrition at Tufts. Diet-associated DCM. https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2021/09/diet-associated-dcm-research-update/

Eloisa Thomas


Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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