Are you struggling to find the best pea-free dog food for Fido? Perhaps your pup has a pea allergy? Maybe your vet explained that your pup would do better on a pea, legume and lentil-free diet? Or maybe you just think that based on your own research, pea-free is the way to go? We explore all of this in more in this comprehensive pea-free dog food comparison guide.
The recent rise in grain-free doggy diets means that alternative ingredients are relied upon to provide Fido with the energy and fiber that he needs. The most commonly used grain replacement ingredients are peas, legumes, and potatoes. Nowadays, it is a tricky task to find a dried dog kibble that does not contain peas, lentils or legumes.
There are many reasons why some dogs and some owners prefer pea, lentil and legume-free food. We will run you through the latest concerns about each, the different ingredients to look out for, and why you should or shouldn’t feed your pup kibbles containing any of the three. So, let’s jump straight in.
At a Glance: Our Favorite Pea-Free Dog Foods
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- 1 Why Choose Pea-Free Dog Food?
- 2 Different Pea Ingredients
- 3 Our Favorite Pea-Free Foods
- 4 Final Thoughts
Why Choose Pea-Free Dog Food?
There are many reasons why owners want to feed their pooch a pea-free diet. Some of them are a little more concerning than others. As a dog owner, you’ll need to make a judgment call as to what’s the best choice for your dog’s health. Here are the most popular.
Potential Link to Dilated Cardiomyopathy
The most common reason is that there are concerns that the recently popular grain-free diets are linked to a rise in canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). Before we begin, it is essential to note here that this is only a concern with DCM. There is no definitive evidence due to reported cases of DCM being very low. It is proving difficult to find a definitive link, with scientists believing that there are a multitude of factors that come into play. So, please don’t panic just yet!
DCM results in decreased heart pressure, meaning that the heart cannot pump blood around his body effectively. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) raised their concerns to the public in July 2018 following a rise in reported cases of DCM. Following an investigation, it was found that there was a small correlation between affected dogs and grain-free diets, specifically diets containing peas and lentils.
Many dog foods contain peas and legumes. It is thought that these ingredients could prevent Fido’s body from processing a vital amino acid called taurine. Taurine is essential for the healthy functioning of his cardiac system, and without it, his body cannot function as it should.
Many owners choose pea-free food for this reason, to be on the safe side. At the time of writing, the FDA’s advice is to consult with your vet and discuss your dog’s dietary advice before making changes to his grain inclusive or grain-free diet.
Peas Artificially Boost Protein Content
Some manufacturers are known to rely on pea ingredients, specifically pea protein, to make up for the lack of meat-based protein. This boosts the overall protein content, leading consumers to think that the product is meatier than it is. This is a misleading tactic used by many brands, simply because peas are cheap and meat is not.
Choosing a pea-free food allows you to see the truer meat content, and it is more likely to be full of higher-quality meat protein. With this comes a higher price tag, but this usually ensures a better quality food for Fido.
The protein content can always be found in the guaranteed analysis section, either online or on the packaging. The Association of American Food Control Officials (AAFCO) suggests that all puppies need a protein content of 22%, and all adults need a protein content of at least 18%. All of our picks below meet these criteria.
Individual Dietary Needs
Just like us humans, dogs have different dietary needs, intolerances, and preferences. Some dogs are known to be allergic to grains, and others are allergic to alternative ingredients, peas, and legumes.
Dogs that are known to suffer from kidney problems are often advised not to eat kibbles that contain peas. Poor kidney function means the excess potassium found in peas is difficult to process. This leads to toxicity and can be life-threatening.
There are other dietary reasons why some dogs shouldn’t eat peas, but these are the two most common. For the dogs that fall into this category, their diet must be 100% pea-free.
Different Pea Ingredients
The use of peas in dog kibbles is also linked to another misleading tactic, which is known as ingredient splitting. Just like before, this tactic is used to make a product seem meatier than it is. Premium brands that use peas in their ingredient list usually state ‘whole peas’ or ‘peas’. Whereas less-premium brands will split the pea ingredient into peas, pea protein, pea flour, pea fiber, and pea starch.
Ingredients are listed in order of weight, with the first ingredient being the most predominant in that recipe. Ingredient splitting means that brands can list these pea ingredients further down in the ingredients list, making it appear that they are less prevalent in a recipe.
If they were to list the pea ingredient as a whole, it would appear at the beginning of the list. Sometimes even before the meat ingredients. This tactic makes it difficult to see the real meat content, which is why many owners choose pea-free foods.
Our Favorite Pea-Free Foods
After spending many hours researching the best pea-free foods, and looking through each product’s ingredient list, here are our top picks. While choosing an option, remember that it’s always important to consider why you are choosing a pea-free diet. As well as remembering your dog’s other nutritional needs too. We have ensured that there is something for every dog and every budget, and in no particular order, here they are.
Earthborn Ancient Grains
- Features cage-free roasted rabbit.
- Uses 14 different superfoods.
- Rich in omega acids for skin and coat health.
- Taurine for heart health.
- Made in the United States.
- 370 Calories per cup.
- 23% Protein, 15% Fat, 8% Fiber.
Earthborn has created this range without using any pea, lentil, legumes, or potato ingredients. There are three other flavors in this range – smoked salmon, smoked turkey, and roasted lamb. It is an alternative recipe that is free from the most commonly used protein, which is chicken. Earthborn Unrefined Ancient Grains has the lowest protein content, which is beneficial for some dogs, but thankfully the first ingredient is rabbit.
It lists a variety of vitamins, such as blueberries and cranberries, to support his immunity. Dried eggs and salmon meal provide DHA, which is essential for a healthy brain and eye function. As well as omega fatty acids for a shiny coat and overall health.
We love that this pea-free recipe has a high fiber content. This makes it suitable for those pooches trying to lose weight or those whose digestive system needs extra support.
Farmina N&D Ancestral Grains
- Protein comes from mostly animal sources.
- Contains no meals or by-products.
- Limited carbohydrates promote leanness.
- Made with real fish.
- Made with organic oats.
- 400 Calories per cup.
- 30% Protein, 18% Fat, 2.9% Fiber.
Farmina has created this premium formula using non-GMO ingredients. The protein content comprises of 90% animal protein. This ingredient uses a single-protein source, cod, which is essential for those dogs who are allergic to a variety of other meat sources. It is a low-glycemic recipe, thanks to its limited amount of carbohydrates. It doesn’t contain legumes or potatoes, and instead uses whole spelt and oat.
A list of dried fruits, such as oranges, apples, and pomegranates, provides antioxidants for overall well being. Taurine is listed for a healthy heart, as are omega fats too. This formula contains a high glucosamine and chondroitin content, making it a good option for those with joint problems, larger dogs, or seniors. This food is also available for small breed puppies, with extra small kibble sizes.
We love that this pea-free recipe has a low fiber content, which is essential for some pooches whose digestive system cannot process too much fiber.
Natural Balance Grain-Free
- Contains no corn, wheat or soy.
- Is free of peas, lentils and legumes.
- Easily digestible carbohydrates.
- Made with real salmon.
- Made in the United States.
- 373 Calories per cup.
- 24% Protein, 10% Fat, 4% Fiber.
Salmon and menhaden fish meal are the first two ingredients on the list, which provide protein and omega fatty acids for a healthy and luxurious coat. It is a limited ingredient formula that isessential for those pooches who may be gassy due to a sensitive digestive system. This recipe is pea-free, legume-free, and grain-free. Instead, the formula lists sweet potato which provides energy, which is also known as being an easy-to-digest ingredient.
It has the lowest fat content on this list, making it a good option for those wanting to lose a few pounds, as well as an average calorie count. This formula lists a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements, and taurine is listed too. This recipe contains white potatoes.
We love that this pea-free recipe is also grain-free, which makes this a rarer option for those owners struggling to find a grain-free option that doesn’t depend on peas.
Nutro Ultra Adult Formula
- Made with lean animal protein.
- Antioxidant-rich for immune health.
- Contains real fruits and vegetables.
- Made with no artificial ingredients.
- Made specifically for adult dogs.
- 341 Calories per cup.
- 25% Protein, 14% Fat, 4% Fiber.
Nutro only uses non-GMO ingredients, and they use farm-raised chicken, pasture-fed lamb, and salmon. This combination provides a trio of proteins to ensure that Fido gets all the muscle power and the amino acids that he needs. Lean meat and meat meals also offer a variety of nutrients and omega fatty acids. This recipe is also available for large breed dogs too.
This formula is pea-free, legume-free, and potato-free. Fruits such as coconut, blueberries, apples, and prebiotic fibers such as pumpkin, as well as spinach and kale are listed. Eggs and salmon are also crucial for overall well being and his DHA needs. Taurine is also listed for his cardiac health, as well as healthy eyesight and hearing.
We love that this pea-free recipe lists a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support robust immunity. Which is why this formula is called the ‘superfood plate’.
Holistic Select Adult Formula
- Made with healthy whole grains.
- Antioxidant boost for immune health.
- Probiotics for gut health.
- Contains pumpkin for healthy digestion.
- Great for sensitive stomachs.
- 446 Calories per cup.
- 25% Protein, 15% Fat, 4% Fiber.
Holistic Select has created this legume-free dog food formula, that’s also free of peas and potatoes. Chicken meal is the first ingredient, which is full of rich protein for his muscle needs. The omega fatty acids are great for coat health. The next ingredient is brown rice, which is full of energy and an easy-to-digest grain, as well as oatmeal, which is a gentle fiber.
Exotic fruits such as papayas and pomegranate and blueberries, cranberries, and apples are used to promote strong immunity. There is a long list of added vitamins and mineral supplements too. Ingredients such as lactobacillus acidophilus and lactobacillus casei promote friendly bacteria in his gut. Which is vital for those dogs with a sensitive digestive system.
We love that this pea-free recipe focuses on digestive health. With prebiotic fibers, probiotic solutions, live yogurt cultures, and digestive enzymes, you can be sure Fido’s gut is well cared for.
Purina Pro Sport All Life Stages
- Made specifically for active dogs.
- Contains amino acids for muscle development.
- Higher protein content for lean muscle.
- DHA for brain health.
- Made in the United States.
- 475 Calories per cup.
- 30% Protein, 20% Fat, 3% Fiber.
Purina Pro is one of our favorite dog food brands, even for dog owners that are on a budget. The Pro line is a significant upgrade when compared to Purina One, even if it’s slightly pricier. Purina Pro Sport is a custom formula in the Pro line, that’s free of peas, legumes and lentils. Made for more active dogs, the Sport formula is a perfect food for the Labrador, and also a great dog food option for the Pitbull.
Purina Pro is manufactured in the United States, and like many American Journey formulas, it’s free of wheat, soy and artificial flavors. With a 30% protein count, it’s specifically formulated for breeds that have a lean muscle tone. It also has a glucosamine boost that will promote joint mobility for active breeds that may slow down in their senior years.
We love that Purina Pro Sport is not only free of peas, lentils and legumes. It’s also a great food for dog owners on a budget, and come in a 50 pound bag. This gives you more bang for your buck, and less trips to order food online.
Ziwi Peak Adult Formula
- Single sourced beef.
- Air dryed dog food.
- Contains 96% fresh meat.
- Can be used as a food topper.
- Similar health benefits to raw feeding.
- 312 Calories per scoop.
- 38% Protein, 30% Fat, 2% Fiber.
Ziwi Peak Adult formula is another one of our favorite pea and legume-free dog foods. Made in New Zealand, this air-dried dog food is made from the simplest, pure ingredients. It’s made from single-sourced beef that’s grass-fed on ethical farms in New Zealand. This dog food is 38% protein, making it one of the highest protein foods on our list.
Many dog owners say that the Ziwi Peak dog food is one of the closest dog foods that you can get to feeding your dog raw. Because it’s nutrient dense, you can feed your dog smaller quantities while still keeping them completely satiated. This food is also grain free, and contains no soy, grains, potatoes, wheat rice or fillers. This food can also be used as a topper.
We love Ziwi peak’s protein count. Ziwi is slightly more expensive than other brands. Similar to duck dog foods, Ziwi is worth considering if your budget isn’t a major concern, and your pup has a sensitive stomach.
After reading our pea-free and legume-free dog food guide, you likely understand why many dog owners choose pea-free foods. There can be several benefits of doing so. When making any nutritional decision for your pooch, it’s essential to take your pup’s individual needs into account.
Maybe Fido prefers or needs pea-free food, or it might be your decision based on the FDA’s concerns. Either way, each of the foods we’ve mentioned above should be great for your pup. All of our recommendations are high-quality and provide a well-balanced diet. And we think Fido will find them just as yummy as pea inclusive foods.