You can rest easy.
Dogs can eat canned peas- as well as being a low fat and healthy choice, canned peas will provide your dog with a nutrient boost of some important vitamins and minerals.
To keep your dog as safe as possible, only feed your dogs canned peas that don’t contain any added salt.
And if you really want to unlock the tremendous power of peas, you might consider feeding them frozen peas, not canned peas.
For reasons that I will delve into later.
But, first things first, how nutritious is the lowly garden pea?
What is the nutrition in peas?
Here is a simple chart that highlights the nutrition in 100g of peas.
I don’t think that there are too many surprises here for anyone that knows a little about nutrition.
Vegetables are known to be low calorie and low fat healthy choices.
One of the values that impresses me is how high peas are in dietary fiber: 5.7g is a very high value for a vegetable.
One of my favourite and little known high fiber vegetables (for use with my dogs) are sweet potatoes, which have about 4g of dietary fiber per 100g.
Mmm…maybe it is time for a rethink…
But peas are a great source of protein.
5.4g is seriously impressive and is no mean feat.
Has anyone thought of adding peas into their smoothie, I wonder?
What vitamins do peas have in them?
As we move on to take a look at the vitamins that peas provide our dogs, we can see that they contain high amounts of two vitamins in particular – B and C.
There are lots of different B vitamins and peas contain large concentrations of B1, B6 and B9.
B vitamins are great for our dogs because they are involved in lots of fundamental processes that help to maintain a healthy body.
These include helping the brain to work properly, supporting the immune system and maintaining healthy cells.
As well as B vitamins, peas contain lots of vitamin C.
But here’s the interesting thing about vitamin C as far as our dogs are concerned.
A healthy dog on a healthy diet makes their own vitamin C in their liver and doesn’t need any extra.
So are vitamin C supplements, in the form of canned peas, necessary for any dogs?
It seems as if the jury is out.
Older dogs or dogs that are more frail might benefit from extra vitamin C or they might not.
Having covered vitamins, let’s find out what minerals lay hidden within the canned pea…
What minerals do peas have in them?
Peas are a great source of three minerals: copper, manganese and phosphorus.
Copper plays a crucial role in the creation and maintenance of red blood cells.
Manganese helps to keep bones and tissues healthy and phosphorus supports healthy bones and teeth too.
So much for drinking milk to support strong bones.
Just get your dog to eat peas!
Having explored the nutrition of peas, in the next section I want to look at whether canned peas are as nutritious as fresh or frozen peas.
Do canned peas have as much nutrition as fresh or frozen peas?
If you want to give yourself or your dog the peas with the most nutrients, your best bet might be to buy frozen peas.
Which isn’t what you want to hear in an article about canned peas, is it?!
Freshly picked peas contain the most nutrients but how many of us when we buy fresh peas in the grocery store can guarantee how fresh they truly are?
As vegetables age, they lose some of their nutrients.
Carrots, if stored at room temperature, will lose 27% of their vitamin C in the first week.
The advantage of frozen food is that it is frozen within hours of being picked which locks in all of the nutrients.
A disadvantage of canned food is that part of the process involves heating it up.
This helps to kill any harmful bacteria.
Unfortunately, it also tends to reduce the amount of vitamin B and C that are present because these vitamins are water soluble.
But many other vitamins are unaffected by this process and are preserved.
However, as was noted earlier, peas are high in vitamins B and C and so your best bet might be to buy frozen peas and not canned peas.
One large potential danger of canned peas
Any canned food is incredibly convenient because of how long the food is preserved and because canned foods tend to be very cheap.
But canned foods also have their disadvantages.
And there are three that I want to mention hereThe main drawback which most people know about is that many canned peas contain huge amounts of extra salt.
As well as slightly heating a product to help preserve it, adding salt to the water is another trick to help keep the food as fresh as possible.
In the pea nutrition chart from earlier, in a 100g serving of raw peas you could expect about 5mg of sodium or salt.
In a can of peas using salt to help preserve the peas, the sodium levels in 100g can be as 250mg- fifty times the levels.
Dogs, like us, need salt in their diet.
At the proper levels it helps to maintain blood pressure and to support healthy levels of electrolytes.
But dogs don’t need to be subjected to the massive levels found in many cans of peas.
Two ways to reduce the high levels of salt in canned peas
So what are the alternatives for anyone who likes the convenience of using canned peas but who wants to reduce the levels of salt in them?
The no added salt canned peas
Your first option is to buy canned peas which don’t have any added salt.
There are many brands that offer canned peas with no added salt.
And Walmart’s own brand no added salt canned peas are the same price as their canned peas which contain lots of salt.
But supposing you can’t find these low or no salt alternatives?
Rinsing the salt off canned peas
There is another option for someone who either can’t find a no added salt can of peas for love nor money or has a cupboard full of canned peas with high levels of sodium.
And that is to rinse the peas with fresh water.
Now, you might think that I’m only suggesting this because I have run out of ideas and I’m now just stating or writing about the obvious.
On this occasion I have to say that you are wrong.
I’m suggesting it as an idea because I have found a bit of research that shows that if you rinse and drain canned foods the salt levels will be reduced- although it won’t be by much.
Researchers at Virginia Tech found that the draining and rinsing canned peas (in warm water) the levels of sodium were reduced by 11%– from 261 mg per 100g to 230 mg per 100g.
Can dogs be fed peas straight from the can?
Since I have already answered this question for cans that contain lots of salt, I will just answer it from the perspective of cans that don’t contain any added salt.
And my advice would be that you can feed your dogs peas straight from the can.
They have already been heated and so they will be partially cooked which will make them easier for your dog to digest.
How many canned peas can I feed my dog?
If I were you, I would feed a few teaspoons or tablespoons of canned peas to your dog until the can is empty.
If you have a small breed dog then should only feed them a few teaspoons of canned peas but if you have a large breed dog, you should be adding a few tablespoons of canned peas.
Now, you may ask why the portions are so small.
This is because most of our dogs are on complete diets.
The kibble or cans that we feed them with contain every nutrient our dogs need.
Any other food that we feed to our dogs should just be viewed as a bonus or a treat and be given to our dogs in limited amounts.
And yes, this rule applies to healthy and unhealthy foods.
Should I feed my dog canned peas everyday?
Even if you have just won a year’s free supply of canned peas at a church fete or at a school raffle, I would strongly suggest that you don’t feed your dogs canned peas everyday?
Why not, you might ask?
If you want to broaden your dog’s diet by adding food to it, then make sure that you give your dog a variety of healthy foods.
Dogs, like humans, will never thrive by eating one “superfood.”
They need a variety of foods which will provide a variety of nutrients- much more than would come from just eating one or two food types.
Which leads me neatly onto my next question,,,,
What are the best canned vegetables to feed your dog?
There is no right answer to this.
As long as you try to buy canned vegetables that don’t contain any added salt, you should be fine.
There are a few vegetables to steer clear of such as potatoes.
When it comes to canned vegetables just think in terms of vegetables that have bright or deep colours!
¹ Photo by Hungarian Snow on Flickr