Caring for your dog is by no means a walk in the park! Knowing which foods your dog can and can’t eat is one of the most important things about being a dog owner.
Dogs are naturally curious about different foods and will often eat first and think later—usually without you even noticing. It’s also possible for a dog owner to unknowingly feed their precious companion a particular food that they think is okay, but it turns out to be a big mistake.
There are lots of foods out there that harbor nutritional benefits for both humans and dogs—some of which you can even share together! Many dog owners are surprised to learn just how varied their dog’s diet can be when they add in fruits, vegetables, and other ‘people’ foods.
The trick is to know what’s good and what isn’t.
One food that regularly causes a lot of confusion is peas. Peas are technically a legume, not a vegetable, so they belong to the same family as lentils, chickpeas, beans and peanuts. Unlike these legumes, though, peas grow in pods on a vine. They’re a great source of vitamins and minerals—but can dogs eat peas?
Can dogs eat peas?
Yes! Your dog can eat peas. These tiny green legumes make fun, tasty treats that can be used as healthy alternatives to commercial dog treats during training sessions. They’re also packed with nutritional benefits that you and your pooch can enjoy together.
The best types of peas to feed your dog are green peas, including garden peas and English peas. Sugarsnap peas and snow peas are also just fine.
The benefits and risks of giving your dog peas
Peas are rich in antioxidants. The unique phytonutrients in green peas provide key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Some of these phytonutrients are the newly-discovered pisum saponins, which are almost exclusive to peas. These phytonutrients are named for the scientific word for peas (pisum). They work alongside the other nutrients in peas such as phenolic acids and flavanols (catechin and epicatechin) help fight free radicals and oxidative damage.
Peas contain many vitamins and minerals. Peas are a powerhouse of vitamins A, B, C, and K, which play a major role in your dog’s overall health. Vitamin C is important for his immune system function and also the health of joints and coat. Vitamin K is crucial for proper bone development and blood clotting, while vitamin A is, of course, very important for healthy vision. They’re also rich in essential nutrients like folate, thiamin, and manganese.
Peas are a good source of fiber. One of the best-known health properties of peas is their fiber content—both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is ‘food’ for the healthy gut microbiota in your dog’s gut, while insoluble fiber is the ‘roughage’ that helps move food through his digestive system. This is important for keeping your dog regular!
- Peas support blood sugar levels. Green peas are great for keeping your dog’s blood sugar under control. This is particularly important for older dogs with diabetes, but it’s also beneficial for the average active dog. A balanced blood sugar level helps to keep your dog’s energy constant, while also keeping inflammation at bay. Green peas have a low glycemic index, so your dog’s blood sugar won’t spike dramatically after eating them.
The additional fiber and protein in peas also helps to keep blood sugar levels steady.
Can peas be bad for dogs?
There are a few things you need to know about peas before feeding them to your best friend.
Don’t give him canned peas
Canned peas tend to contain high amounts of sodium and/or preservatives, neither of which are good for dogs. Feed him only fresh, frozen, or steamed peas.
Stick to moderation
As with any food, moderation is best. Peas are high in fiber, and too many can lead to your dog experiencing severe gas and a tummy ache. Feed peas sparingly—don’t be tempted to give him handfuls!
Shell the peas first!
You wouldn’t eat the shell of garden peas or sweet peas, and the same applies to your dog. The shells of snow peas and snap peas are okay for him to eat, but they can be quite fibrous and tough.
Don’t add flavors
Plain peas are best. We humans might like to add butter or salt to our peas, but neither of these are very good for your doggo.
Beware of the purines
If your dog has kidney issues, peas won’t be a good choice. 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.
How to prepare peas for dogs
As mentioned, the best way to give you dog peas is to shell them first. Serve fresh or steamed and use them as a nutritious meal topper. Frozen peas are fine as well. In fact, frozen peas can be great as a cooling treat in summer!
As always, check with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet.
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