Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Peas

The next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is peas. Peas are typically a staple in the American consumers diet, but should they be used in your pet’s diet?What are peas?

A pea is a small cylindrical seed found in the pod of Pisum sativum. Botanically, the pea is classified a fruit since it is a seed found in the ovary of the pea flower. Peas are typically green, but may also be yellow and infrequently, purple. They grow on vines and on average each pod contains 6-7 peas.

They are also considered legumes which are plants that produce pods with seeds inside. Lentils, chickpeas, beans and peanuts are also legumes.


Why are peas in pet food?
Peas and in particular pea fiber has gained in popularity recently as replacement for grain type fillers in grain-free pet foods. It is used mainly as a binder for wet ingredients or a thickener.

Pea and pea fiber contain vegetable protein, not animal protein which is the kind of protein your pets need, so although it can help to increase the protein levels in pet foods, it is not the optimal type of protein for a pet’s body. It does contain high concentrations of lysine and some level of tryptophan.

Natural whole peas, not processed pea fiber, can be found in some pet foods and certainly tossed on top of your pet’s food to add some flavor and fiber. These do pack a great amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in their natural form.Are there any risks to feeding your pet peas?

Peas have become a commonly used alternative to grains in pet food given the trend toward grain free pet diets. Recently there have been reports of an increased occurrence of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (heart disease) associated with grain-free pet foods. The level of concern prompted the FDA to begin a study into the [https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/newsevents/cvmupdates/ucm613305.htm] correlation of a grain-free diet and heart disease.

We wrote about this announcement last fall after the study was announced.  While there are no final results from this study, this warning is something to be aware of and factored into your decision when choosing your pet’s food.

Pea Factoids:
  • The earliest archaeological finds of peas date from the late neolithic era of current Greece, Syria, Turkey and Jordan.
  • The majority of pea species have in-edible pods that need to be removed before consumption.
  • Peas were first frozen in the 1920s by Clarence Birdseye.

Pet foods that contain peas:
(Dog) Evanger's™ Hi Bio  Beef SuperFood

(Dog) Acana™ Heritage Meats

(Cat) Acana™ Regionals PacificaSources:

https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/05/16/pea-fiber-on-pet-food.aspx

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/green-peas-are-healthy

https://www.petcurean.com/blog/why-are-peas-so-popular-in-pet-food/