Best Pea And Legume Free Dog Food : Top Puppy, Adult & Senior Recommendations for 2019

Save 30% + Free Shipping on Dog Food at Shop Now

If you’re feeding your dog a grain free dog food, you may be alarmed to find out that many grain free dog foods contain peas and legumes as a source of energy and fiber. Peas may not have caused much alarm in the past, but now that researchers may have found a link between peas, legumes, potatoes and a condition that causes an enlarged heart in dogs, you may want to be more careful.

Chewy Online Dog Supplies

30% Off at

+ Free Shipping

Save Now

We’ve got a list of our top picks for best food without these ingredients, but first, let’s explore why you may want to choose to avoid foods with these ingredients.

Top Pea-Free Dog Foods: Quick Look

What’s So Bad About Peas?

Foods that are grain free need a source of energy and fiber. Peas and legumes are often an alternative source for both of these, providing dogs with an energy alternative to wheat or barley that complement the protein in the food. Peas also provides a source of soluble fiber for dogs, keeping their digestive system moving and healthy.

Unfortunately, a recent study found a possible link between peas, legumes, potatoes and a condition called canine dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM. This condition causes heart trouble through an enlarged heart. There isn’t a definitive link yet, but here’s what researchers think may be happening.

Peas, potatoes, and legumes contain compounds that could block your dog’s ability to process something called Taurine. Usually, enlarged hearts are associated with certain types of dogs, but recently they’ve noticed an uptick in cases in dogs that don’t typically experience this condition.

Researchers believe that the inability to process taurine causes some canines to experience these symptoms. We’ve never been very concerned about taurine levels in dogs because they’re capable of creating their own supply of taurine as long as they have a good diet. Regularly feeding dogs foods with high levels of peas and legumes may contribute to a reduced ability to produce and create taurine.

Grain free foods may contain fewer grams of protein from animal sources. If dogs don’t receive enough animal-source protein, they won’t be able to assemble taurine. Foods with large amounts of peas and legumes appear to have a proper protein content, but they only have protein from plant sources, which don’t provide them with taurine.

What Should I Do?

The link isn’t definitive. Researchers suggest that because it’s hard to find foods that don’t contain one of the suspect ingredients, you should avoid foods with peas or legumes in the first three ingredients. That may be enough for your dog to get the right amount of animal-based proteins for a complete diet.

If your dog isn’t the type to be genetically predisposed to this kind of condition, that may be all you need to do. Also, supplementing your dog’s food with animal-based proteins in the form of treats or the occasional raw meal could help as well. Here are a few things to consider as well.

Foods With No Peas

If you decide to cut out peas and legumes altogether, it won’t be easy. There aren’t many foods out there right now that don’t use peas, potatoes or legumes as a fiber supplement. Grain free foods especially use these ingredients as lower cost alternatives to some genuinely exotic forms of carbohydrates and fiber. It’s not impossible to find, but you may need to consider a few things.


If your pet is suffering from allergies and genetically predisposed to an enlarged heart, it may be worth it to expand your budget. A higher budget could pay off in the long run because you may not have as many trips to the vet to treat conditions like canine DCM. It can also open your pup up to more exotic ingredients that could improve levels of protein and carbs while avoiding the most common food allergens.

Food Type

Kibbles without peas and potatoes can be hard to find but not impossible. Sweet potatoes and things like brown rice are good alternatives. You could also supplement with wet or canned foods for extra sources of animal proteins and very few of those triggering ingredients.

If you’ve got the budget, you may want to try a cooked food diet. Companies like NomNomNow provide food combinations made from human grade ingredients. The recipes are limited and use only sources of protein and fiber that a dog can safely digest without risking things like a taurine deficiency.

Vet Visits

Make sure that your dog is getting regular veterinarian visits so you can check for things like irregular heart issues. The more your vet knows about your dog and your dog’s medical history, the easier it is for your vet to give you advice for the best way to feed your dog. If your pet is susceptible to DCM, it should be getting checked by your veterinarian regularly anyway.

Our Favorite Foods Without Peas And Legumes

We’ve chosen some foods for a range of budgets and stages of life. You should be able to find suitable food for your dog and your budget.

Best Overall – Ziwi Peak Air Dried Dog Food

Our first choice for a pea free, legume free dog food is Ziwi Peak’s air-dried food. It uses proteins from animal sources that are free range and ethically sourced. It’s gently air dried to preserve the ingredients without harsh heats but still destroy dangerous pathogens.

It features 95% animal ingredients and never any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. It’s also free of conventional fillers, including soy and corn, and doesn’t use peas or potatoes. It has more dense nutrition than a raw food or kibble diet, so you can feed less food while still providing your pet plenty of nutrition.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Beef
  2. Beef Heart
  3. Beef Kidney
  4. Beef Tripe
  5. Beef Liver

About The Company

Ziwi Peak uses a unique air dried formula for processing food that helps retain more of the vital nutrients than traditional kibble. There’s no need for cold storage like raw diets, and you don’t have to feed your dogs as much of the food. The company is 100% family owned and located in New Zealand. They create foods designed to mimic ancestral diets and give pets lifelong health.

What Customers Like:

  • air dried formula
  • mostly animal protein
  • no fillers
  • easier to store than raw food
  • more nutrient dense than kibble

Common Complaints

  • portion sizes can be hard to master
  • has a high-fat content

Best Kibble – Instinct by Nature’s Variety Ultimate Protein

Instinct’s option is a kibble without allergenic ingredients. It uses a raw inspired recipe with plenty of whole chicken for a complete protein source plus flaxseed for quality fiber to keep your dog’s digestive system clear. It also has natural probiotics to help aid digestion and bolster the immune system.

It has natural omega fatty acids and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. There are no cheap fillers, such as corn or soy, and no common food allergens such as peas or potatoes. It has a bit of raw nutrition in every bite, giving your dog dense nutrition without adding extra, empty calories.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Tapioca
  3. Chicken Fat
  4. Ground Flaxseed
  5. Natural Flavor

About The Company

Instinct By Nature’s Variety specializes in raw inspired food that mimics your dog’s ancestral diet. It uses only premium ingredients for kibble and donates more than one million meals every year to animal shelters.

What Customers Like:

  • premium kibble
  • whole protein sources
  • probiotics for immune support
  • flax seed is an excellent source of both fiber and omega acids
  • no fillers

Common Complaints:

  • doesn’t satisfy picky eaters
  • the kibble size is big for small breeds

Best Premium – NomNomNow Tasty Turkey Fare

NomNomNow’s food is cooked, meaning the company prepares fresh foods for your dog using human grade ingredients. Foods are prepared and shipped immediately to your house. You refrigerate or freeze the portion sizes, so they’re ready to go whenever you need them.

The recipe uses just six ingredients for whole proteins and excellent fiber. Turkey provides animal sourced protein while things like spinach and eggs provide other vitamins and antioxidants. It’s simple to use, and you can adjust your dog’s recipe and portion size any time you need to. For many states, delivery can even happen once a week, reducing the amount you have to store.

First Five Ingredients:

  • ground turkey
  • brown rice
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Egg

About The Company

NomNomNow was created by a veterinarian who wanted to offer excellent nutrition in an easier form than completely raw. It uses human grade ingredients and provides dogs with allergen-free foods that store easily and come in easy to understand portion sizes. It’s a great alternative to store-bought kibble, especially for pickier dogs.

What Customers Like:

  • picky dogs like it
  • whole proteins
  • limited ingredients
  • cooked recipes
  • easy portion sizes

Common Complaints

  • weekly delivery not available in some areas
  • requires cold storage

Best Wet Food: Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken Canned Food

Merrick’s canned food provides picky dogs with a wet food that suits their appetites. It could also serve as a puppy food for some breeds of dogs (not large breed puppies). It’s good for dogs who are picky or those who have jaw issues that prevent them from eating kibble.

It uses whole chicken for complete protein plus plenty of vitamins and antioxidants for immune system support and better digestion. It has natural sources of omega fatty acids to support coat and skin health, and it has excellent moisture for active dogs.

First Five Ingredients:

  • Deboned Chicken
  • Water Sufficient for Processing
  • Dried Egg Product
  • Natural Flavor
  • Calcium Carbonate

About The Company

Merrick uses only the finest ingredients to produce nutrient-dense foods. All recipes are tested in the company’s kitchen before being released, and the company proudly manufactures all meals in the United States from locally sourced ingredients.

What Customers Like:

  • plenty of moisture
  • good immune support
  • pleases picky dogs
  • whole, lean proteins from chicken
  • supports coat health

Common Complaints:

  • Messy
  • has a strong smell

Best Senior Food: Nutro Ultra Senior Pate Chicken, Lamb & Salmon Entree Dog Food Trays

Our final food is a premium senior formula designed to encourage picky seniors to eat. It features dense nutrition with real chicken, lamb, and salmon for a variety of animal-based protein sources. Plenty of vitamins and antioxidants support the coat and skin. It also promotes joint and bone health.

It doesn’t use any cheap fillers such as corn or soy and has no artificial flavors or colors. It forgoes all common food allergens and should be easy for your senior dog to digest without much issue. Plus, it should encourage even the pickiest senior dog to eat despite the condition of the mouth and teeth.

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken Broth
  • Chicken
  • Chicken Liver
  • Carrots
  • Spinach

About The Company

Nutro has been in business since the 1920s and uses premium ingredients to create better, more nutritious food for your dog. They’re pet lovers themselves and want nothing more than to help your dog live a healthy, allergy-free life.

What Customers Like:

  • designed for picky eaters
  • easy to digest
  • easy to chew
  • no fillers
  • supports joints, bones, skin, and coat

Common Complaints:

  • has a strong smell
  • may not be enough for large breed dogs

Final Thoughts

Although it may not be easy, it is possible to find food that’s grain free but doesn’t contain peas, legumes, or potatoes. If your dog is the type of breed to be susceptible to an enlarged heart, avoiding these ingredients may be your best bet until we understand more about the links between the condition and those ingredients.

If you just can’t avoid those ingredients, try to avoid foods that have any in the first three ingredients in the list because they may not be present in the food enough to cause issues. Be sure to check in with your vet regularly so that you can catch any problems well before they’re serious and can begin a treatment plan to get your dog’s health back on track. The study isn’t definitive yet, but your vet can help you make the best decision for the health and well-being of your pet.

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Join over 10,000 subscribers who stay informed on the latest recalls, industry advances & new quality dog food options.

You're in! Take 30% Off your next purchase at