In recent years, peas and legumes in dog food have attracted some negative attention, largely due to research which potentially links them to a heart condition called canine dilated cardiomyopathy. While the jury is still out on whether this is the case, it has put a focus on whether they should be included in your dog’s diet. As complex carbs, peas and legumes offer a high level of nutrition for your pet but could be problematic if used in large quantities. So, if you are wanting to move your pooch to a pea and legume free diet, is there much choice? There certainly is, as we explore in our best dog food without peas and legumes review.
With an impressive amount of protein – 30% no less – this dry dog food from Purina’s Pro Plan range is designed for energy, endurance and health support. It has also been formulated to optimize your pet’s metabolism of oxygen so ideal for on-the-go canines, including working dogs. And as it has a carefully managed ingredient list without peas, legumes or grains, this is a tasty choice for active dogs of ages. With whole chicken, brown rice and 20% good fats from animal and fish sources, your dog gets tasty hit of muscle and energy boosting amino acids as well as those essential fatty acids for eye, joint and heart health. Add in antioxidants, plus live probiotics, glucosamine and L-carnitine, you have a high performing legume-free pet food your dog will love.
Calorie content: 484 kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 30%
Minimum fat: 20%
Maximum fiber: 3%
Maximum moisture: 12%
30/20 protein and fats ratio that is ideal for active and energetic dogs of all ages
Added probiotics, antioxidants, glucosamine and L-carnitine
First five ingredients: chicken, corn gluten meal, brewer’s rice, animal fat, poultry by-product meal
Specifically designed for larger breeds, this tasty high protein kibble from the Natural Balance Limited Ingredients range will support the nutritional needs of your large dog, without irritating their system. It does have grains, but it’s in the form of fiber-rich brown rice and the whole recipe is gluten-free with no legumes or potatoes. We also like the fact that the kibble shape and size has also been created for larger canine jaws, to encourage sufficient chewing and slower eating, so ideal if your pooch is a food ‘wolfer’. With delicious lamb as the number one ingredient, you dog gets a quality amount of protein, with all the essential amino acids they need for good health. Add in essential vitamins and minerals, and this is a nicely balanced meal for your large, food-loving pooch.
Calorie content: 370 kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 23%
Minimum fat: 14%
Maximum fiber: 4%
Maximum moisture: 10%
Kibble sized for large dogs to slow their eating and encourage chewing
Pea free dog food; fiber-rich brown rice and gluten free, with added vitamins and minerals
First five ingredients: lamb, brown rice, lamb meal, brewers rice, rice bran
And now to smaller dogs, with IAMS’s Proactive Health for toy and small breeds, who still need sufficient protein for good health. This dry dog food boasts 27% protein, with whole chicken boosted by chicken meal for sustained energy and health support. The formula also has added egg as well as flaxseed for those essential omegas. It is important to highlight that this dog food does contain peas and wholegrains, although there are no other legumes in the ingredient list. Other complex carbs come from healthy fruit and veg, including carrots and apples. And there are no soy, wheat or fillers, so no pea protein. This all adds up to a tasty option for your little dog, who can tolerate grains happily.
Calorie content: 393 kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 27%
Minimum fat: 17%
Maximum fiber: 4%
Maximum moisture: 10%
Whole chicken and chicken meal, boosted by flaxseed and egg
No legumes or potatoes; soy, wheat and filler free
First five ingredients: chicken, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, dried plain beet pulp
With not one but three quality proteins – chicken, including chicken meal, lamb and salmon – you get an amino and fatty acid powerhouse with Nutro Ultra for large breeds. The high protein recipe is formulated to support your large dog’s energy needs while the 15-superfood blend supplies all the necessary vitamins and minerals as well as taurine and glucosamine. With tasty carbs such as coconut, kale and blueberries, you also get dried pumpkin instead of peas, legumes or potatoes. The recipe is also free of by-products, corn, soy or wheat so a good choice if your large dog is a bit of a sensitive soul. And the whole meal in GMO free.
Calorie content: 346 kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 23%
Minimum fat: 12%
Maximum fiber: 4%
Maximum moisture: 10%
Pea, legume and potato free dog food, fortified with vitamins and minerals
Taurine, antioxidants, glucosamine and L-carnitine
First five ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran
Our Best Value pick is the Pantry Fresh Dog Food range from JustFoodForDogs. Using only wholefood and human quality ingredients, this chicken and white rice recipe that is like a fresh meal, thanks to the seal-fresh packaging. And, as it comes in a six-serving pack, it’s a good choice if you are off on vacation with your four-legged friend. The ingredient list is not extensive; as well as chicken breast and thighs and white rice, you get quality carbs, including spinach, carrots and apples. And there are no legumes or potatoes so a good option if you are concerned about these carbs or your pup is on the sensitive side. Each fresh-packed serving also gives your dog a balanced dose of vitamins and minerals, thanks to the brand’s vet-developed nutrient blend. The ingredients are not organics but there are no additives that could upset your dog and their tum. And the delicious fresh recipe means it won’t be in their bowl for very long.
Calorie content: 34 kcal/ounce
Minimum protein: 10%
Minimum fat: 3%
Maximum fiber: 1%
Maximum moisture: 75%
Tetra Pack-sealed for freshness; no legumes, potatoes or peas
Selected fruit and vegetables boosted by vet-developed nutrient blend
First five ingredients: Chicken breast, chicken thighs, liver, long-grain white rice, spinach
Grain-free and with all-natural ingredients, ZIWI Peak also air-dry their dog food to ensure it retains a delicious, meaty and nutrient-rich flavor. This means as a limited ingredient formula, it is also good for pooches who are rather picky eaters. With New Zealand beef as the number one ingredient, ZIWI Peak also clearly state it is pea, legume and potato free on the packaging, so it is a safe ‘off the shelf’ choice for concerned pet owners. This dog food is not the cheapest you can buy but don’t be put off by the price-tag or limited ingredient recipe. Each ingredient has been carefully thought through for taste as well as health benefits. So, you get green mussels, organic kelp, beef bone and chicory for a dense nutrient hit. And, as it is concentrated due to the air drying, you don’t need to feed your dog as much, making it pretty good value for money.
Calorie content: 312 kcal/kg
Minimum protein: 38%
Minimum fat: 30%
Maximum fiber: 2%
Maximum moisture: 14%
Air-dried New Zealand beef for taste and maximum nutrients
Legume and pea free; added green mussels and kelp for essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals
First five ingredients: beef, beef liver, beef kidney, beef heart, beef tripe
If you have a young pup or a pregnant dog and want to manage their diet so it is legume free, then check out Victor’s Hi-Pro Plus which is safe for puppies as well as lactating dog-moms. With a choice of beef, pork, fish or chicken meal as the protein source, the quality is high to support the needs of pregnant pooches, puppies and young dogs. There are grains in the recipe, but they are gluten free, so the kibble is gentle on more sensitive tums. And the whole formula is fortified with all the vitamins and minerals your pet needs for growth and all-round health. it also has a quality probiotic blend for good digestion and healthy immune system. This high protein formula is also good for working or active dogs.
Calorie content: 406 kcal/kg
Minimum protein: 30%
Minimum fat: 20%
Maximum fiber: 3.8%
Maximum moisture: 9%
High protein to support growth and energy in puppies, active dogs and pregnant/lactating moms.
Gluten free and fortified with probiotics, vitamins and minerals
First five ingredients: beef meal, grain sorghum, chicken fat, pork meal, chicken meal
Our final pea and legume free dog food comes from Rachael Ray Nutrish, a brand renowned for their limited ingredient recipes. And while it is limited – to just six ingredients – there is no loss in nutrients or taste. This is a particularly good option if food sensitivities are a concern as this is a dry dog food without corn, wheat, soy, gluten or by-product chicken meal. What you do get is high quality protein, boosted by fiber-rich brown rice along with beet pulp, chicken fat and a natural pork flavor. And it will provide your dog with all the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants he needs to sustain his muscles, energy and general good health.
Calorie content: 321 kcal/kg
Minimum protein: 20%
Minimum fat: 13%
Maximum fiber: 4%
Maximum moisture:10 %
Limited to six ingredients, formulated for muscle and energy support and all-round good health
Corn, wheat, soy, gluten, by-product chicken meal, artificial colors and preservatives free
First five ingredients: lamb meal, brown rice, ground rice, dried plain beet pulp, chicken fat
While not all dogs struggle with peas and legumes in their diet, as pet owners it’s important to know the potential issues with these common ingredients.
Peas and pea protein are common sources of carbohydrates in many dog food brands and for many dogs, this is not a problem. But peas, as well as legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans, can cause or irritate allergies or intolerances in some dogs. If this is the case with your dog, or you suspect they may have an allergy then looking for a dog food that does not list these ingredients is a good idea.
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Legumes and peas, along with lentils and potato (not sweet potatoes), have recently been connected with an increase in the canine heart condition, DCM, which affects the cardiac muscle and reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body. A 2018 report in the journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association highlighted a rising number of dilated cardiomyopathy cases linked to diets containing these carbohydrates. While the link has yet to be definitely proved, it’s being investigated by the FDA, who has also noted the recent rise in grain-free diets for dogs and an increase in substitute ingredients, including peas and legumes.
One interesting point to note is that the rise in DCM has also been seen in dog breeds not genetically prone to the disease, which indicates another cause, which experts believe could be diet – and legume – related.
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A staple of many dog food recipes, it can be a bit of a challenge to find a meal for your pooch if you want it to be pea and legume free. So, you need to carefully scan the ingredient label of the dog food before you buy. But from a pet parent’s point of view, it’s not just a case of opting for a product that states it is legume free as you need to ensure you are still feeding your dog a nutritionally balanced diet. Here’s what you need to look out for:
Complex carbs: When looking at the ingredient list, look for what is included as healthy alternatives to legumes as your dog needs high quality complex carbs in a nutritionally balanced diet. Good alternatives to look for include pumpkin, squash and sweet potatoes.
Premium animal protein: Animal protein should be the number one ingredient in all dog food formulas so always look at the first five ingredients on the packaging. Whole meat is ideal while meal such as chicken meal can have a higher protein percentage. What you want is for your pooch to be getting all his essential amino acids from quality protein sources and not fillers, which can include pea protein.
Good grains: If your dog is not on a grain-free diet due to sensitivities or allergies, then look for sources of ‘good’ grains, including brown rice, oats, oatmeal, barley and buckwheat which are all kinder on your dog’s tum and digestion.
Essential vitamins and minerals: Choosing the best carb alternatives to legumes can boost your dog’s nutrient intake as many are packed with essential vitamins and minerals for their vitality and health. Carbs are also an excellent source of fiber. Other nutrients to look for include glucosamine & chondroitin, L-carnitine, and omega fatty acids, DHA and EPA.
If you are cutting out legumes from your dog’s diet, you need to ensure the carb replacements provide a balanced and healthy diet. Alternatives to peas and legumes include:
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A: While the connection to dilated cardiomyopathy has yet to be definitively confirmed, it is understandable if pet owners are more cautious when it comes to the presence of peas and legumes in their dog’s diet. And while these ingredients may an issue, they are not bad ingredients as such as it seems the problem may also be linked to how much a dog consumes.
Peas actually contain protein and both peas and legumes have good levels of dietary fiber, but there are better complex carbs you can give your dog. And you need to be cautious if your dog food has higher quantities of these ingredients or are using them as fillers.
A: Dogs who have allergies or sensitive stomachs may benefit from a grain-free diet. And if you are also wanting to remove legumes and peas from their diet then you need to go for carefully balanced formula to ensure they are getting sufficient fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. This does limit your choice but there are grain-free dog foods without peas and legumes on the market. Look for limited ingredient ranges, which include Merricks, ZIWI Peak, Victor and Rachael Ray Nutrish, to name few.
A: This also falls into the question raised by the 2018 research as to whether peas and legumes can cause DCM in dogs and definitive evidence has yet to be found. However, as some grain-free formulas add extra ‘make up’ ingredients into the recipe list, which include peas and legumes, it’s understandable why there are associated concerns over grain-free food. Always read the ingredient label and if you are concerned about your dog’s grain-free diet, speak to your veterinarian.
A: Boutique food is the term given to grain-free food that’s made without animal protein, using plant-based ingredients as well as plant protein or using more exotic or unusual meat. Dogs need a balanced diet, with good quality animal protein and complex carbs, and so the trend for boutique dog food has caused some concern, in light of the report into the possible link to DCM.
For on the go dogs of all ages, our best choice is this tasty pea and legume free formula from Purina Pro Plan. Its Sport, Energy & Vitality Support has the optimum protein and fats ratio your dog needs for their energy and all round health, with whole chicken its number one ingredient. Add in omegas, probiotics, antioxidants, glucosamine and L-carnitine plus well-balanced vitamins and minerals, you have a tasty everyday energy booster any dog will happily lap up.