Spring is the season for fresh peas, straight from the garden or farmer’s market. Keeping in mind that fruits and vegetables are not necessary to a dog’s diet and should be thought of as an occasional treat, peas are not toxic or poisonous to dogs. Peas are often included as an ingredient in commercial dog food, though there is ongoing research about the role they may or may not play in contributing to heart disease in dogs.
We’re talking about green peas, specifically: snow peas, sugar snap peas, and garden or English peas. You can feed your dog fresh, frozen, or thawed peas, but do not give your dog canned peas. Like many canned vegetables, canned peas typically have a lot of added sodium, which is harmful to dogs (and humans).
As far as pea pods go, as a rule of thumb, if humans can eat the pod, so can your dog. Garden peas, of course, must always be shelled. But be cautious with pods, because they can get stuck in your dog’s throat and cause choking. And as with any new food, watch for adverse reactions, such as diarrhea or vomiting.
Peas are a source of vitamins, including A, K, and the B vitamins. They’re packed with minerals like iron, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. They’re also rich in protein (which is why they are often included in commercial dog food) and high in fiber. Peas contain lutein, an anti-oxidant good for skin, heart, and eye health. Of course, as with any human food, peas can have drawbacks. Don’t give them to dogs that have kidney problems. Peas contain purines, a naturally occurring chemical compound, also found in some food and drinks. Purines produce uric acid that’s filtered through the kidneys. Too much uric acid can lead to kidney stones and other kidney conditions.
Dogs don’t need fruits and vegetables in their diet the way humans do. They’re carnivorous in the wild, eating vegetation when meat sources are scarce. But as an occasional snack or treat for your dog, peas are a low-calorie option. So, both you and your canine pal can enjoy them while they’re fresh and abundant.