Can I Give My Dog Peas?
When it comes to protein sources that also provide a whole bunch of important micro-nutrients, it’s hard to beat peas. From raw sugar snap peas to canned or frozen green peas, many of us rely on this tasty, nutritious snack from time to time. Whether you use them as a main course, side dish, or an ingredient in a bigger recipe, there’s a good chance that peas might wind up sitting in your dog’s food bowl sooner or later. For more cautious pet owners, this poses an important question: can dogs have peas? Is it okay to drop leftover steamed green peas into your furry friend’s dish, or will doing so cause health problems down the road?
Is it a good idea to give your dog peas? Yes, absolutely! Assuming they are fresh, uncontaminated, and free from any high fat, high salt, or high sugar flavorings, peas make a fabulous addition to your dog’s diet. Unlike a lot of people foods, you can feel justified in feeding your dog peas fairly regularly—peas are not just a treat, but a healthy, high-nutrient food that your dog will love. Peas are a near perfect food for dogs. In fact, many higher-quality, healthier commercial dog food brands rely on peas instead of corn. This is because peas, like corn, are high-energy and generally well-suited for the doggy digestive system. But, unlike corn, peas are far higher in important nutrients.
Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Peas
So, what are some of the benefits of feeding your dog peas? First off, they are full of energy, vitamins and minerals, which will fuel active dogs, boost the immune system, and lower their chances of developing everything from the common cold to more severe illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.
Peas are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, too. The anti-inflammatory chemicals found in peas may help with muscle pain, injuries, and joint pain associated with inflammatory illnesses like arthritis. The antioxidants, on the other hand, play a critical role in protecting full-body health and preventing cancer: antioxidants destroy particles called free radicals, which are responsible for the cell damage that leads to many chronic and terminal illnesses. Antioxidants also protect red blood cells from damage, which makes for stronger, healthier capillaries and a healthier cardiovascular system. This may be especially important for senior dogs, overweight dogs, or dogs who are at a higher than normal risk of heart disease.
Peas’ other main superpower is their high fiber content, which makes them a great food for digestive health and weight loss. For dogs who are undergoing calorie restriction, peas can be a cheap, healthy way to fill up their stomachs while consuming fewer calories—since peas are often higher in fiber and lower in calories than commercial dog food brands, substituting part of their dog food with frozen or steamed peas can increase the portion size while cutting back on the calories. The fiber fills up their stomach faster and keeps them fuller for longer, which keeps them satiated and happy even on a calorie restricted diet. Peas can be a great way to make your pup’s weight loss virtually painless. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, however, make sure to cook the peas thoroughly before serving—while raw peas are perfectly healthy, they are a little difficult to digest.
Things to Keep in Mind
As with most human foods, moderation is important. While your dog can eat peas fairly regularly, it is important to make sure that the majority of their diet is made up of foods specifically formulated to meet canine nutritional needs; if your dog is eating too many peas and not enough of other foods, they may wind up deficient in some vitamins. When feeding your dog peas, also make sure to opt for unsalted varieties; dogs cannot tolerate salt as well as we can. A dog who eats too much salt may struggle with dehydration, stomach upset, or high blood pressure—which, over time, can lead to blood sugar problems.
Another important consideration: be aware of the foods you use for flavor when you cook peas! If you normally prepare your peas with garlic or onions, set a small portion aside beforehand to feed your dog. Garlic and onions are both extremely toxic to our canine friends, even when used as flavorings, so it is best to avoid them altogether. Your dog will like peas just fine without any seasoning. If you feed your dog a variety of peas that can be eaten inside the pod, make sure they don’t choke! Small dogs in particular may benefit from having pea pods cut into smaller pieces.
Assuming there are no underlying health issues that limit your dog’s diet, you should feel free to feed your dog peas in moderation. They are full of fiber, protein, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds that boost your dog’s immune system, protect heart health, and prevent cancer. Just remember to watch the seasonings and other foods you may use to add flavor, because some of them are dangerous to dogs.