You may be surprised to know that a large number of grain-free dog foods contain legumes, peas, and lentils in their ingredients. The reason for the inclusion of these ingredients is mainly fiber, as the lack of grains requires another source of soluble fiber, most commonly peas. Legumes, peas, and lentils are also sources of energy and protein, leading them to frequently be added to grain-free foods.
There is currently an investigation being led by the FDA to confirm a possible link between heart disease and grain-free dog foods that contain peas, legumes, potatoes, and lentils.1 This is what is leading many dog owners away from feeding their dog food that contains these ingredients.
We’ve put together this list of in-depth reviews of dog foods that are free from peas, legumes, and lentils, along with a detailed buyer’s guide to help you choose the best dog food possible for your beloved pooch. Here are pea-free dog food options your pup will love:
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022:
The 10 Best Dog Foods Without Legumes, Peas & Lentils:
1. VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food — Best Overall
Our top pick for dog food without legumes, peas, and lentils is the Hi-Pro Plus Formula dry dog food from VICTOR. The food is made with high-quality beef, chicken, and pork meals and is composed of 88% meat-based protein to give your pooch a premium quality protein source that aids in muscle development and maintenance. It is ideal for all life stages, including puppies and lactating females, and is formulated for high-energy dogs to give them the sustained energy they need. All the included grains like sorghum and millet are gluten-free, and the food is fortified with vitamins E and D3, minerals including manganese and calcium, and essential fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
Bear in mind that this food has a fairly high crude fat content, of around 20%, which can cause stomach issues in some dogs, including gas and bloat. The food also has a pungent smell that can result in bad breath.
2. Iams ProActive Health Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food — Best Value
The best food without legumes, peas, and lentils for the money is the ProActive Adult dry dog food from Iams. The food contains real farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient and will provide the quality meat-based protein your dog needs to thrive, with a total crude protein content of 27%. It is formulated with potent antioxidants for optimum immune support and omega-6 fatty acids from the included flaxseeds for healthy skin and coat. The food also contains vitamins E, A, and D3, as well as calcium (1.1%) and phosphorus (0.85%).
This food is formulated specially for small adult breeds, so the kibble size may be too small for larger breeds. Some customers report that the food gave their dogs gas, bloating, and loose stools, keeping this food from the top position.
3. American Natural Premium Puppy Dry Dog Food — Best for Puppies
If you are looking for a premium quality food that is free from lentils, legumes, and peas for your puppy, look no further than American Natural Premium dry dog food. The food is formulated for the optimum nutrient absorption that growing puppies need, with a crude protein content of 27% coming largely from the high-quality deboned chicken and chicken meal. The included fish meal and fish oils will give your growing pups the essential omega fatty acids that they need, and the DHA will aid in brain development and vision. The food contains calcium and phosphorus for healthy bone development, probiotics for digestive health and immune support, and added vitamins and minerals for overall well-being. It is also free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Picky eaters will likely turn their nose up at this food due to the pungent fish aroma. Other than that, we couldn’t really fault this food, and the high price is what keeps it from the top two positions.
4. Nature’s Logic Canine All Life Stages Dry Dog Food
Nature’s Logic Canine All Life Stages Dry Dog Food contains chicken meal as the first ingredient, with a total protein content of 36% to make sure your dog gets all the protein that they need to build and maintain muscle mass. Probiotics and digestive enzymes are added after cooking in order to maintain their effectiveness in aiding your dog’s digestive health, and the kibble is coated with these enzymes to ensure proper absorption. The food contains minimally processed foods such as blueberries and dried kelp packed with beneficial antioxidants, spinach loaded with beneficial vitamins A and C, minerals like iron and manganese, and cranberries for increased immune function. Plus, the kibble is free from corn, wheat, rice, or soy.
The high protein content may cause loose stool or even diarrhea in some dogs, so be sure to introduce it to them gradually. Several customers report the food giving their dogs gas and bloating too, and the food is comparatively expensive.
5. Merrick Grain-Free Wet Dog Food
This grain-free wet dog food from Merrick is made from 96% meat, mostly coming from USDA-inspected deboned chicken. The food contains salmon oil and flaxseed to ensure your dog gets the essential omega fatty acids that they need for healthy skin and coat and essential minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc for bone and dental health. The ingredients are all high-quality and sourced from trusted farmers, and the food is suitable for growing puppies, adults, and seniors. Plus, this wet food is free from artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and by-products.
This food has undergone a recent recipe change, and several customers report the texture to be watery and almost soup-like. The wetness of this food also can cause loose stools and runny tummies, so you may need to combine it with dry kibble.
6. Ziwi Peak Beef Air-Dried Dog Food
Ziwi Peak Beef Air-Dried Dog Food is made from 96% fresh meat, including organs, bones, and 100% single-sourced, free-range, and grass-fed beef. The food also includes New Zealand green mussels, which are a great source of chondroitin and glucosamine that support your dog’s joint health. It also contains high levels of taurine, which is highly beneficial for overall cardiovascular health. Ziwi Peak uses a gentle twin-stage drying process that naturally preserves the ingredients while also eliminating potentially harmful bacteria. The food is high in protein (38%) and is 95% digestible, packing in more healthy calories so you’ll need to feed your dog less than traditional dry foods that often contain “filler” ingredients. Plus, the air-drying method negates the need for preservatives, sugars, fillers, and grains.
Several customers report that this food is dry and contains chunks that will not rehydrate. The food is also reported to mold easily, so you’ll need to store it in an airtight container. This food is also comparatively expensive.
7. Farmina N&D Ancestral Adult Dry Dog Food
This N&D Ancestral dry dog food from Farmina contains chicken as the first ingredient to give your pooch the high-quality protein that they need to thrive. The food is made from 60% animal ingredients, with a 30% crude protein content, 20% organic spelt and organic oats, and 20% fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. It has a low glycemic formula that won’t give your dog sugar spikes, and the natural omega fatty acids will give your pooch healthy skin and a shiny coat. The added blueberries and pomegranates are a great source of antioxidants that help fight free radicals, and the food is free from animal meals and by-products.
Several customers reported that this food gave their dogs diarrhea and that the food has a pungent smell that picky eaters refused to eat. Some also reported their dogs gaining extra weight on this food, and the kibble is too large for small breeds.
8. Canine Caviar Limited Ingredient Diet All Life Stages Dry Dog Food
This limited ingredient dry food from Canine Caviar is made for all your dog’s life stages — from puppyhood to senior. The food contains real, dehydrated chicken as the first ingredient, with a total crude protein content of 27%. The chicken is the only protein source and is free from hormones and antibiotics, and the millet is the only carbohydrate source and is free from harmful pesticides. The food contains probiotics, prebiotics, papaya, and yucca to aid in digestive and intestinal health, and it is free from chemical preservatives, by-products, GMO ingredients, and glutens.
This food was reported by several customers to cause diarrhea in their dogs, and some picky eaters did not enjoy the taste. The kibble is also fairly small, and larger dogs may eat it too quickly.
9. Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food contains the perfect mix of lean proteins, coming from farm-raised chicken, salmon, and pasture-fed lamb, and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, including blueberries and spinach. It also contains naturally sourced glucosamine and chondroitin to maintain healthy joints, and salmon and flaxseed to provide essential fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, including taurine for optimum cardiovascular health. Plus, it is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Although the food is made for large breeds, the kibble chunks are small and may cause fast eating or choking in larger breeds. Several customers report the food causing vomiting and loose stools in their dogs, and the food molds easily. It is also comparatively expensive.
10. Holistic Select Adult Health Dry Dog Food
The Holistic Select Adult Dry Dog food is made with chicken meal, healthy brown rice, and oatmeal and contains 25% crude protein. The food is formulated with a unique digestive health support system that includes active probiotics, healthy fiber, and digestive enzymes to aid in optimum digestive health for your pooch. The included healthy whole grains will provide your dog with an extra energy boost, and the natural fiber will aid in digestion. The food contains natural sources of antioxidants, including blueberries and pomegranates for cellular health, and it contains live microorganisms for a healthy digestive biome.
Several customers report that this food gave their dog painful bloat and gas and that picky eaters wouldn’t eat it. The kibble also has sharp edges that may hurt your dog, and the kibble size is too big for smaller breeds.
Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Pea-Free Dog Food
There has been a large movement toward grain-free foods in recent years for dog owners, and there is a ton of controversy surrounding the subject. Grain-free foods can benefit dogs in many ways, especially those with weight issues, food sensitivities, and digestive issues. The main reason for the move toward grain-free foods is carbohydrate content. While your dog needs some carbohydrates for energy, too much can cause issues like obesity, stomach problems, and even a lack of energy. Meat-based proteins and fats should provide the main sources of energy for your pooch, and these foods provide almost twice the energy of carbohydrates. Of course, grain-free does not necessarily mean carbohydrate-free, and this is where ingredients like peas, legumes, and lentils come in.
Why avoid legumes, peas, and lentils?
Grain-free foods need a replacement form of energy and fiber, and legumes, peas, lentils, and potatoes are often the go-to choice. Peas are a great source of soluble fiber and will help keep your dog’s digestive system functioning well. These carbohydrates are also a decent source of protein and other key vitamins and minerals that can be potentially beneficial to your dog.
The main problem with these carbohydrates is the recent link found between legumes, peas, and lentils and a condition called canine dilated cardiomyopathy (CDM). The condition is characterized by an enlarging of the heart and a reduction in the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood. Researchers believe that there may be a connection between your dog’s diet and the onset of the disease. While there is still no definitive link and CDM also has genetic factors in its origins, there is strong evidence that diet may be a likely cause.
The reason researchers think this may be happening is that legumes, peas, and lentils contain a compound that blocks your dog’s ability to process taurine. The findings indicate that there has been a recent increase of CDM in dogs that do not typically suffer from the disease, leading researchers to believe that diet may be the culprit. Commercial foods with these ingredients may typically show adequate protein content, but this protein often comes from plant-based sources. Animal-sourced protein is essential for dogs to get adequate taurine, and the issue may be in the lessening of animal proteins in favor of plant-based protein.
Why do dogs need taurine?
Taurine is a unique type of amino acid that is found in meat and fish, and it helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Dogs do usually obtain adequate taurine from endogenous processes, meaning that their bodies can make it, but of course, if their food is blocking the processing of this nutrient, problems like CDM can begin to occur.
Diets that contain a sufficient amount of animal-based protein should give your dog an adequate taurine intake, but the foods need to be cooked as little as possible and should preferably be raw or air-dried. Cooking animal proteins too much can cause the breakdown of taurine, making it more difficult to absorb, and this heat damage will reduce the availability of the essential nutrient.
Animal-based proteins are essential
While some dog owners claim to have healthy dogs on vegetarian diets, the simple fact is that while dogs are essentially omnivores, they require the essential amino acids provided by animal sources. This includes red meat, organ meat, bones, poultry, and fish, but protein can also come from eggs. Of course, too much protein can also be a bad thing and can swiftly cause obesity, among other issues, and balance is always best.
Some grain-free foods that contain legumes, peas, and lentils may not provide your dog with the essential animal proteins that they need to thrive and may even be the cause of issues like CDM. While this is not yet proven, it may be a good idea to be safe rather than sorry for now, especially considering the new evidence that certain grains in dog foods are not the harmful ingredient that they were once thought to be.
The best dog food without legumes, peas, and lentils according to our tests is the Hi-Pro Plus Formula dry dog food from VICTOR. Made with high-quality beef, chicken, and pork meals and composed of 88% meat-based protein, you can be sure your pooch is getting a premium quality protein source to aid in muscle development and maintenance and overall health. Plus, it is ideal for all life stages, and the included grains are gluten-free.
The best food without legumes, peas, and lentils for the money is the ProActive Adult dry dog food from Iams. With real farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient and a total crude protein content of 27%, you can be sure your pooch is getting the animal-based protein that they need for a highly affordable price.
With so many foods these days containing legumes, peas, and lentils, it can be difficult to sift through the myriad options available. Hopefully, our in-depth reviews have made it somewhat easier for you, so you can give your pooch the healthy food that they deserve.
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