Dog Food Without Peas

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  1. Most, if not all, of the foods on this list have some type of legume in them. I stopped checking after the 5th food in a row had Alfalfa meal listed. Alfalfa is a legume.

    1. Hi John,

      It’s hard to find dog foods today that are completely free of every ingredient that might be objectionable. The foods I recommended in this article are almost entirely foods that have been doing well with dogs that have been tested for dilated cardiomyopathy. I tried to find some foods that would appeal to people who like so-called “better” ingredients. There are also foods that would be recommended by veterinary cardiologists. Yes, alfalfa is a legume but it’s not one of the ingredients that the FDA has specifically mentioned in its warnings and it’s not used in large amounts in dog foods the way peas, chickpeas, and soybean products are. Dr. Josh Stern, who is leading the research on this subject at the University of California-Davis, has recommended focusing on the first five ingredients in the food to make sure they don’t include the suspect ingredients.


      1. Take a look at First Mate. While they don’t have peas or legumes, they do have some potato. So hard to find anything without either of these two ingredients. I have been searching for pea and legume free for about two years now and it is really hard to find. The few brands that I have found seemed to be geared towards performance type nutrition. Good luck and thanks for bringing attention to this need in the marketplace.

        1. Instanct turkey limited ingredients is by far the best food without potatoes, peas, corn, wheat and so on and number 1 ingredient is deboned turkey

  2. Dear Carlotta,
    I appreciate the time you have undertaken to list the food that don’t have peas,lentils, legumes, in them. I knew that plant foods such as peas are a protein, but usually they are considered an incomplete protein. I didn’t realize that dog food mfg. were considering them as the total protein count in their dog foods. I thought the peas were just replacing the grains.

  3. Thank you for doing this research! It was overwhelming to try to figure this out by reading online labels. Now I just have to choose from your list. Much appreciated!

  4. Thank you very much for providing some suggestions on dog food. It seems there is a lot written about don’ts, but then offers no suggestion. I have been struggling to find a decent dog food for a long time, and thought I had found it, avoiding corn and soy, especially as the first ingredient. Our dog did have skin issues, and craved starches, so thinking it might have something to do with nutrition, explored many foods. We ended up with grain free type, and just this Christmas morning lost her to DCM…she was a Doberman, so we thought it was genetic…but then I found out about grain free and DCM… Question now is, did genetics kill her, or did I, trying to “get it right”…Dog food quality and nutrition sure is a tragedy, and any help is much appreciated. Thank you for all you do. I will be looking for more of your work.

  5. I found your article after reading that one of my labs might be gassy due to the peas in his food.

    I lost one of my labs to DCM in April of 2015. Most of his life I had fed him nutro natural choice large breed. My memory is failing me now but I don’t believe I switched my other lab to a grain free until after he passed. I wanted to give her “better” and since I was now only feeding one I could justify the cost. So interesting that this might not have been the better choice after all.

  6. While I appreciate your concern about DCM, as my pup (2 1/2 years old) was diagnosed with this disease, most of these foods do not meet WASVA guidelines, do not have full time board certified nutritionists in house & do not do feeding trials (controlled).
    I’m curious, I did not see that your creditials list you as a board certified veternarian nutritionists.
    I trust my pup’s cardiologist who does not recommend most of these foods.
    Do you collect a fee for foods that are purchased due to your recommendations?

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry about your dog’s diagnosis. No, I do not collect a fee for any foods that are purchased on my recommendation. Nor do I get kickbacks, free dog food, or any other incentives for recommending any foods. I’ve been writing about dog food and reviewing them for over 20 years. I’ve written several books about dogs and about feeding your dog. I’ve also written for several dog food companies in the past as a freelancer. I have five dogs of my own and I became interested in DCM because a friend lost a dog to the dietary form of the illness a few months before the FDA began investigating. Purina Pro Plan, Royal Canin, Hill’s, and Eukanuba are most commonly recommended by veterinary nutritionists and veterinary cardiologists. I think you would agree that these companies do meet WSAVA guidelines. For this article I was asked to come up with nine dog foods without peas, lentils, legumes, and potatoes so I had to search to find a few other foods. This article was written several months ago and I would still stand by Farmina and Sport Dog Food. Farmina appears to meet testing requirements in Italy as well as AAFCO guidelines and works with the University of Naples. Dogs eating these foods that have been tested for DCM have had good results. As far as I know, there have not been any cases of DCM reported in dogs eating canned foods so the Merrick canned food would also still be a good choice. I’m sure you understand that we are still learning about the dietary form of DCM so recommendations may change over time. If you are not aware of it, there is a very good group on Facebook that provides excellent information about the dietary form of DCM:

      Carlotta Cooper

      1. Carlotta, unfortunately I have a greyhound that cannot tolerate any “hot” foods such as beef or chicken, so eats only duck and rabbit. This is due to his Liver Qi Stagnation. Suggestions?

  7. Thank you for your research and it is good to hear that you focused your story on some of the core ingredients that may be the highest sources of concern, which are legumes (especially lentils), garbanzo beans, pea fiber/ pea protein concentrate (not the same as whole peas), potatoes (mostly white potatoes and starches (potato starch, tapioca). In my practice, I am seeing about 5 new cases a week (that come my way) and these are dogs that are young or unusual breeds for DCM (I have two chihuahuas and about 4 small terriers that are currently under my care). And this new outbreak of nutritional cardiomyopathies is different than in the 90’s, early 2000’s when lamb was introduced to dog food. Then, it appeared that lamb was a much lower taurine than other meats and it wasn’t clear if brown rice affected absorption. This was remedied with increase in supplemental taurine. With the new pandemic, it seems to be associated with added bizarre ingredients that might be somehow affecting absorption or utilization of nutrients no matter how much extra taurine is tossed into the food. More-over, not all cases are due to taurine deficiencies. There are so many nutritional components that we cannot evaluate (such as mitochondrial carnitine, without getting cardiac muscle biopsies) or we do not have the tests for them… or we do not realize how important they are and we are not even looking at them (this is why the cardiology groups are saying this is still being researched). What is even more bizarre is that not all dogs are affected and that we also do not know why (unless they are, but there is a spectrum that we have not discovered).
    Here are some of my own pearls for pet owners such as myself:
    1. No nutritionalists has ever said AAFCO tested (not just “meets AAFCO standards”… big difference) foods were bad.
    2. Grains are not bad for dogs. I watch my own dog eat our timothy and oat grass and seeds like a rabbit and still doing well… She also eats our rabbits’ poop and everything else outside, so she may not be the best example. But, if you want to know what is truly natural for ‘wild dogs’, yes, they scrounge for everything: nuts, grains, berries, flowers, poop, and they also eat the grain contents in the stomachs/offal of their prey and likely not cultivating lentils or hunting bison. Ironically, your own dog’s “ancestral line’ most likely was fed KalKan or Purina Dog Chow.
    3. There are serum anti-body tests available that will say your pet is ‘allergic’ to every food product under the sun and I think this is where the whole ‘grains are bad’ came from. A serum antigenic response is not an allergy. 99% of allergies are environmental or flea/insect bite, The other 1% of severely allergic dogs may have a food allergy and these are usually chicken (most common) or corn (2nd). There are people who are allergic to tree nuts… it does not mean almonds are bad for you.
    4. If we loved ourselves like we loved our dogs, pizza and hot dogs would be a thing of the past.
    5. I was told by conspiracy theorists that there is arsenic in rice. My answer: east asian population would be wiped out. There is also arsenic in apples and other organic produce as it is a natural mineral in soil. We must extract it and concentrate it to make it into a hazardous chemical (fun fact- arsenic was used for treated wood for homes until it was banned in 2004 and used in poultry and swine feed until 2009.)
    6. None of us are given kick backs from the big food companies, but those boutique diet companies are out their trying to get as many veterinary endorsements as they can and are offering financial support…. so the opposite may be happening.
    6. Relax, enjoy your fur baby. Spend that $80/ month you’ll save on toys, travel, and vet visits. And eat pizza.
    A boarded veterinary cardiologist

  8. Hi, I see you are a member of the Taurine-Deficient DCM facebook group, I’m curious if you ran your list of recommended foods by them before writing the article. I think their emphasis has been, as far as I know, to stick with the big three manufacturers, Purina, Royal Canin and Science Diet, until more data is available because those companies have a longer history of food trials, research and meet wasava guidelines. Just finding food without legumes might not be the only part of the puzzle. Here’s the group where both Dr. Joshua Stern and other researchers as well as vets post and keep up with the latest info. Lots of detailed files for people looking for more on nutritionally mediated DCM in dogs.

  9. You should really add Muenster Milling Perfect Balance to this list of foods it beats Victor by a long shot who now adds blood meal to its food. This food is sourced in Texas has no Chinese ingredients in it plus has no soy, wheat, eggs, potatoes or gluten, they also have Freeze Dried Patties available that are nothing but good carbs for your fur babies. You’re able to customize your food with Salmon Oil or add Elk Topper to the bag off kibble. They’ve now come out with a variety of meal toppers that are outstanding plus the treats they offer are equally as good. This food is reasonably priced per pound for the quality of the kibble you’re getting. It’s one of the best foods I’ve fed and I guarantee I’ve fed them all from boutique brands to raw.

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