Peas please! Why peas are healthy for dogs

April 21, 2021

In this article, we debunk myths about peas and highlight some of the nutritional benefits this little, round vegetable has to offer.

Peas have garnered some unwarranted criticism as of late. This is largely due to a 2018 FDA article warning pet owners of grain free diets. The article has since been retracted and debunked, yet people are still wary of peas in pet food. Should pet owners be worried about peas? If the rumours are true, then why do pet food companies still use peas in pet food? Find out the reason below!

Why are people seemingly scared of peas?

There is A LOT of misinformation on the internet right now. Bloggers and journalists without nutritional knowledge or training took what the FDA article stated above and ran with it. As a result, much of the information in the article was misinterpreted and portrayed in a way that is simply incorrect. Peas are neither toxic or harmful to dogs but you may find incorrect articles claiming online that they are. 

Not everyone is a nutritionist or familiar with dog nutrition and that is absolutely okay! Where the problem arises, is that most owners get their information from articles they read online or through a quick google search. When they read something like “peas are toxic!”, it can become problematic as this misinformation spreads very quickly. 

When it comes to doing research online, make sure you are gathering information from credible, scientific sources or at the very least articles that reference credible sources. It is the best way to keep harmful information from spreading and ensure that dogs are always getting the best nutrition! Click here if you would like to learn more about the implications of the FDA article and why it was retracted.

Are peas actually toxic or harmful? 

The answer is absolutely not! Peas can be found in many forms in pet food, whether that's in whole form, ground form, pea protein or pea flour. None of these pose any risk of toxicity what so over. Dogs actually even prefer the taste of peas over a lot of other plant ingredients because they are rich in protein!

Fresh frozen peas in a wooden bowl with wooden spoon

Why do pet food manufacturers use peas in pet food?

Peas have so many nutritional benefits. Most notably is that they are a great source of plant protein and fibre. Compared to grains like corn or rice, which are approximately 3% and 2.7% protein respectively, peas have upwards of 5% protein.

The additional protein and fibre take the place of sugary starches that are found in other carbohydrate ingredients. Peas are an alternative to grains because of their higher resistant starch content. As a result, peas can help to lower blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity!

Scientists support the use of peas in pet food

A study by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan explored the effects of an extruded pea or rice diet on insulin and cardiovascular responses in dogs. It was determined that “a diet containing yellow field peas reduces the postprandial insulin response after glucose challenge in dogs, indicating improved metabolic health”. These results prove that the use of peas in a canine diet may help lower blood sugar and the risk of diabetes, which is a serious problem in veterinary medicine. 

Another study by scientists Adolphe et al. (2012) supports the use of peas in pet food. The researchers were examining oxidative stress as a result of hyperglycemia due to food. They found that dogs fed a diet containing peas were less likely to have a spike in markers of oxidative stress than dogs fed a diet which included corn. Overall, the results of the study show that consuming low-glycemic-index foods like peas may protect the cardiovascular system by reducing oxidative stress.

French Bulldog with homemade birthday cake with peas as decoration

Take home message

Peas are not an ingredient to be afraid of. They are an alternative to high starch, high sugar ingredients like corn, wheat and barley. Scientists have show that peas can actually have some great benefits for your dog, including lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease.


Jennifer L. Adolphe, Murray D. Drew, Qian Huang, Tawni I. Silver, Lynn P. Weber. “Postprandial impairment of flow-mediated dilation and elevated methylglyoxal after simple but not complex carbohydrate consumption in dogs” (2012). Nutrition Research. 32:4 pg278-284. 

Adolphe, J. L., M. D. Drew, T. I. Silver, J. Fouhse, H. Childs, and L. P. Weber. "Effect of an extruded pea or rice diet on postprandial insulin and cardiovascular responses in dogs." Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 99, no. 4 (2015): 767-776.

Bosch, Guido, Adronie Verbrugghe, Myriam Hesta, Jens J. Holst, Antonius FB van der Poel, Geert PJ Janssens, and Wouter H. Hendriks. "The effects of dietary fibre type on satiety-related hormones and voluntary food intake in dogs." British Journal of Nutrition 102, no. 2 (2009): 318-325.

Teixeira, Fabio A., Daniela P. Machado, Juliana T. Jeremias, Mariana R. Queiroz, Cristiana FF Pontieri, and Marcio A. Brunetto. "Effects of pea with barley and less-processed maize on glycaemic control in diabetic dogs." British Journal of Nutrition 120, no. 7 (2018): 777-786. 

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