Commercial pet food manufacturers are increasingly adding peas or pea fiber to dog and cat food. Several reasons exist for this uptick.
1. Peas are considered a “better-for-you” replacement for consumers demanding soy-free and grain-free pet foods.
2. Peas are used instead of white potatoes which rank high on the glycemic index and prevalent sensitivities.
3. Pea and pea fiber have a binding quality similar to potatoes that is necessary for kibble.
Cross-Reactivity of Peas
Peas are legumes and a part of the Fabaceae (Leguminosae) family and which includes soy, peanuts chick peas, and lentils. The allergens contained in peas are closely related to, or found in, other legumes. Several clinical studies have been conducted around the world to find out if humans known to have a sensitivity to one legume will have a similar sensitivity to another. While my immunology peers debate the significance, it has been proven that some people will have cross-reactivity – not everyone but a decent percentage.
NutriScan, my pet food sensitivity and intolerance test, measures a dog or cat’s saliva for IgA and IgM reactions to lentils, peanuts and soy. So, it is my advice that if the results suggest that you avoid one of these three, it would be best to avoid peas as well.
It may appear a stretch to apply human results to dogs, but remember that the University of Chicago and other international institutions found that humans and domestic dogs share an extensive parallel genomic evolution, particularly in genes associated with digestion and metabolism, neurological processes and diseases such as cancer. According to the researchers, these genes have likely evolved in parallel due to the close living environment shared by humans and dogs over many thousands of years, including possibly scavenging for food together.
Unfortunately, pet food manufacturers recognize sensitivity reactions to meat-proteins, grains, and potatoes but do not realize the similar impact of other ingredients. So, they will use peas as a standardized product in limited ingredient foods. While I applaud the introduction of limited ingredient foods, I wish they would expand their product options. This is a significant reason why I prefer home-cooked meals for pets.