Eating legumes and pea protein is essential, but too much can cause enlargement of your dog’s heart and other health problems.

If you own a dog, you are likely concerned about its diet. Dogs need proper protein, vitamins, fiber, and carbohydrates like humans. Pea protein and legumes are great for providing nutrients that a dog needs.

But in August 2021, Tufts University researchers studied grain-free dog food containing peas, beans, lentils, potatoes, and other legume seeds that may enlarge a dog’s heart and reduce heart pumping function. This heart condition is called DCM or dilated cardiomyopathy. Though the FDA does not yet ban certain types of food or change any recipe, many legume-free dog foods are available.

This article will discuss whether dogs should avoid legumes and pea protein, how they can harm a dog’s health, and whether pea protein and legumes safely be added to dog food.

Are peas and legumes bad for your dog’s health?

Pea protein and other pet food ingredients like beans, lentils, and legume seeds can increase the size of your dog’s heart. Some dogs may also be allergic to peas.

Also, peas are not suitable for dogs that have kidney problems. Because peas consist of purines and purines, they generate uric acid, and too much uric acid can damage the kidneys.

Legume seeds like beans may cause excessive gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in dogs.

Pea protein and dog food

Dog’s bodies need protein. Pea protein provides amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But studies show peas can cause an unusual heart condition called DCM. You also can’t feed peas and lentils to dogs with kidney diseases.

Peas and lentils are fillers in various pet foods. Occasionally, you can give your dog green peas, snow peas, chickpeas,  garden peas, English peas, and sugar snap peas. Fresh and frozen peas are suitable for your dog, but you must avoid canned peas with added sodium.

Pea protein and legumes can cause heart disease

You may have heard about the link between grain-free dog food, legumes, and DCM. Dr. Josh Stern at U.C. Davis researched that an abnormal heart condition may develop from a high legume and pea diet. It is called dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM. He analyzed dog patients with dilated cardiomyopathy and found that most ate grain-free pet food that contained high amounts of pea protein and legumes.

The Food And Drug Administration is investigating whether pea protein and legumes are responsible for DCM or not. Because dilated cardiomyopathy is a prevalent disease in dogs, parents pass DCM to their children. But dog food also can cause this problem.

Peas may cause allergies in dogs

Food allergies are a common problem in dogs. Peas protein can cause allergies in dogs. If you find your dog has food allergies to peas, you must avoid peas from the dog’s diet. Add toxic-free ingredients to your dog’s diet.

How much pea protein can dogs eat?

High pea protein in dog food can be dangerous for dogs’ health. You can use a small quantity of pea protein for your dog’s food. Generally, adult dog food should consist of about 18% of pea protein, and a puppy’s diet should contain around 22% to 35% pea protein with other essential macronutrients.

Your puppy needs more protein than adult dogs because protein helps develop their muscles and overall growth.

Why are legumes harmful to dogs?

While some legumes are safe for your dog, others can threaten your dog. Pet food containing peas, beans, lentils, and other legume seeds as the main ingredients, can cause dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.

Legumes are rich in protein and fiber. So, they can act as an indigestible grain. Dogs that have digestive problems should avoid legume seeds in their diet. Legumes’ protein can also limit a body’s ability to absorb other nutrients.

Which legumes should dogs avoid?

Illustration of healthy ingredients to feed your dog. Dog-safe beans include black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, butter beans, green beans and lima beans.
Dog-safe beans include black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, butter beans, green beans, and lima beans.

To keep your dog healthy, avoid some beans. 

Fava or broad beans

These beans can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in dogs.

Refried beans

These beans are not suitable for puppies because they contain preservatives, salt, garlic, and chili powder.

Canned beans

Canned beans contain a lot of chemical preservatives and sodium, which are very harmful to a dog’s health.

Baked beans

Baked beans contain garlic, onion, and tomatoes which can be dangerous for dogs. Also, they are high in sugar.

Coffee beans

Coffee beans can cause neurological damage in dogs.

Raw or kidney beans

These kinds of beans contain high toxin levels and are dangerous for dogs’ health.

Which legumes are safe for dogs to eat?

There are a lot of beans you can add to your dog’s food, and they are safe for your dog’s health. While shopping for your pet food, always remember that not all beans are safe for your pet.

Here are some dog-safe beans: 

  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Butter beans
  • Green beans
  • Lima beans

If you choose to feed your dog beans, avoid seasoning them and cook them properly before feeding them to your dog.

Add legumes safely to your dog’s food

Legumes are a good source of protein, fiber, and macronutrients. But you must follow some guidelines before you add legumes to your pet’s diet.

Never use raw beans or canned beans. Raw beans are problematic for your dog to digest, and canned beans are loaded with preservatives that can harm your dog’s system. Always add healthy legumes to your dog’s diet.

You can start with dried beans. Soak them overnight and then cook them without seasoning.

A little pea protein is OK

Legumes and pea protein are essential for a dog’s health. But too much pea protein and legumes can cause enlargement of your dog’s heart and other health problems.

Add a small amount of these ingredients to your dog’s food as a filler but not as the main ingredient.

Always choose healthy ingredients for your dog.

Richard Thomas has been a freelance writer for animal and pet care for over a decade. He also is a volunteer dedicated to animal rescue and welfare, working for different organizations. He lives with two adopted cats and a rescue dog.

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Journalist specialized in online marketing as Social Media Manager. I help professionals and companies to become more Internet and online reputation, which allows to give life to the Social Media Strategies defined for the Company, and thus immortalize brands, products and services. I have participated as an exhibitor in various forums nationally and internationally, I am the author of several articles in digital magazines and Blogs.


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