The Best Legume-Free Dog Foods: Reviewed for 2021

Updated: May 17, 2022

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#1 Overall Best Legume-Free Dog Food: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Dry Adult Dog FoodNatural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Dry Adult Dog Food
Best for Puppies: Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner PattiesStella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties
Best Wet: Inception Wet Dog FoodInception Wet Dog Food

Legumes, such as peas, lentils, and chickpeas, are found in many dog foods. They add vitamins A, C, and K to foods and help manufacturers boost the protein content without adding more expensive meats. Legumes became more common in dog foods as grain-free foods became more popular; they offer an alternative to helping provide fiber and energy to dogs.

However, some dogs may be allergic or intolerant to peas or other legumes. You may also be looking for a legume-free dog food after finding out that there appears to be a possible link between legumes and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that weakens the heart and may lead to heart failure.

Regardless of the reason behind your search for legume-free dog food, we know you only want the overall best food for your pup. We conducted some research and testing to put together this list of the best legume-free dog foods for puppies, adults, and older dogs. Whether you’re looking to splurge on your pup or looking for more of a value pick, we think you’ll find some great options below!

The Top Picks for the Best Legume-Free Dog Food: Ranked

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon & Sweet Potato | Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food | 12-lb. Bag
  • SALMON IS THE FIRST ANIMAL PROTEIN SOURCE providing essential protein and amino acids to help maintain strong muscles; Sweet Potatoes are included as a grain-free source of fiber to help support digestive health; Contains (1) 12-Pound Bag
  • LIMITED INGREDIENT DIET PHILOSOPHY Formulated with a simplified list of premium ingredients; a single animal protein source, and no grain, soy, gluten, artificial colors or flavors; We use fewer ingredients so pets, and pet parents, can live healthy lives
  • NUTRIENTS FROM OUR SALMON & SWEET POTATO RECIPE crafted with nutritious ingredients such as sweet potatoes and flaxseed; Complete and balanced with essential nutrients to help maintain your dog's healthy immune system
  • NUTRITION FOR EVERY TYPE OF DOG Any dog can enjoy our delicious recipes, not just dogs with sensitive stomachs, irritable skin or allergies; Our purposefully crafted formulas reduce the number of ingredients without sacrificing taste or nutrition
  • SAFETY & TRANSPARENCY Natural Balance's 'Feed with Confidence' program tests every batch of food from start to finish, ensuring safety with every bite; Validate bag on our site or call our Customer Care Team of Registered Veterinary Technicians

This grain-free salmon & sweet potato dog food from Natural Balance is also formulated without any legumes. The first ingredient on the list is salmon, which delivers amino acids to help dogs develop and maintain strong muscles.

Another key ingredient in this dry food is sweet potato, a healthy replacement for legumes. Sweet potato provides healthy fiber and works to support a dog’s digestive system. Natural Balance also added omega-6 fatty acid-rich sunflower oil to this recipe to improve a dog’s skin and coat.

There are no poultry by-product meals, fillers, artificial preservatives, artificial colors, or artificial flavors found in this dog food. The ingredient list is quite limited compared to many other brands, making this a good option for dogs who may be dealing with other allergies as well.

If you’re looking for the best value for the money, choose the 24-pound bag, but you can also purchase a 4-pound or 12-pound bag.

Click here to check out Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Dry Adult Dog Food on amazon.com.

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Stella & Chewy's Perfectly Puppy Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken and Salmon Dinner Patties Dog Food,14 oz. Bag
  • Help your puppy reach its optimal growth potential with Stella and Chewy's Perfectly Puppy Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties dog food! Every small batch is proudly made with responsibly sourced ingredients in Stella and Chewy’s USA-based kitchen
  • Each small batch is contains 95 percent meat, organ and bone and is formulated specifically for puppies with guaranteed DHA, L-Carnitine and Vitamin E. Perfectly Puppy Dinner Patties are a complete and balanced meal for puppies of all sizes
  • All-natural and minimally processed puppy food. Perfectly Puppy Chicken and Salmon includes added taurine and has no added hormones, antibiotics, grain, gluten or fillers
  • Includes nutrient-rich superfoods including chia seed for healthy skin and coat and overall outstanding nutrition. New Zealand green mussel is added for superior joint support
  • Supports better health for your pet with improved appetite and digestion, relief from allergies, vibrant skin and coat, healthy teeth and gums, greater stamina and vitality and a healthy immune system

All of Stella & Chewy’s foods for puppies and adults are legume-free. Puppies are sure to love these tasty freeze-dried raw dinner patties that are produced in small batches. The patties are formulated with 95% meat, organ, and bone to help ensure dogs get the essential and healthy protein they need.

This bag is formulated to meet the needs of puppies. It includes guaranteed levels of DHA, L-carnitine, and vitamin E to ensure a puppy grows and develops properly. Additionally, chia seeds promote healthy skin, and a healthy coat and other superfoods are also found in the ingredient.

Some of the other benefits associated with feeding your puppy this freeze-dried raw food diet include improved digestion, allergy relief, healthy gums and teeth, a healthy immune system, and improved stamina.

The puppy-formulated patties are available with a chicken & salmon flavor or beef & salmon flavor. 5.5-ounce and 14-ounce bags are both available, but the 14-ounce bag is the best value option.

Click here to check out Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties on amazon.com.

Inception® Wet Dog Food Chicken Recipe – Complete and Balanced Dog Food – Meat First Legume Free Wet Dog Food – 12/13oz case
  • INCEPTION IS PROTEIN FIRST – Inception is formulated with animal protein first to serve your canine companions’ needs. We understand your canine companions are carnivore first, omnivore second and thrive with good animal protein in their diets. At Inception, we ensure our first two ingredients are animal protein.
  • INCEPTION CHICKEN FORMULA - Our Inception Chicken recipe contains chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein providing high-quality, essential amino acids, and trace minerals. Chicken is a “protein-dense” ingredient, meaning that it provides a lot of protein compared to fat in a given amount of meat. This makes it an excellent source of protein that may help in weight control because fat contains more calories than protein. Chicken is high in vitamin B3, vitamin B6 and vitamin B5. It’s also a great source of selenium and phosphorus.
  • INCEPTION IS LEGUME FREE – Inception formulas are free of legumes, potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. We want to give your canine companions everything they need for a long and happy life with you.
  • LOW IN SODIUM AND HIGH IN MOISURE- All of our Inception dog can food recipes has the added benefit of no guar gum, no carrageenan gum, no xanthan gum, and no locust bean gum.
  • IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTER - To help booster the immune system, we’ve included ground flaxseed, which is an excellent source of plant omega-3 fatty acids and a great source of natural antioxidants as well.

Finally, if you’d prefer to feed your dog wet food, this legume-free option from Inception is a great choice. The food is formulated for all life stages, making it a great choice for puppies, adults, and older dogs. Four tasty flavors are also available to allow you to choose your pup’s favorite or feed them a variety. The flavors include chicken, chicken & pork, fish, and pork.

The first two ingredients on each can of wet food are animal protein to ensure your dog is getting its nutritional needs met. All Inception foods are legume-free. They also do not contain any potatoes, corn, soy, wheat, artificial colors, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives.

Additional healthy ingredients that are found in this food include essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acid-rich flaxseed, oats, and millet.

Click here to check out Inception Wet Dog Food on amazon.com.

Why Choose a Legume-Free Dog Food?

Legumes commonly used in dog foods include peas, chickpeas, lentils, fava beans, soybeans, and kidney beans. When used in the right ratios, legumes can be a good addition to dog food. They provide healthy nutrients, protein, fiber, and carbs.

However, many manufacturers overrepresent legumes, which means a larger percentage of the food’s protein comes from legumes than animal protein. High-quality animal protein is essential for dogs, so when too many legumes are used to ‘water down’ a food, they’re missing out.

This is known as ingredient splitting. You may not always be able to tell that the majority of the protein in dog food doesn’t come from animal protein, since the first ingredient may still be meat. But, when manufacturers add multiple different legumes of split the pea ingredients into categories such as pea protein, pea fiber, pea starch, and pea flour, it pushes the ingredients further down the list. However, the cumulative amount of legumes is still too high.

Another potential reason to avoid legumes in dog food is due to a possible link between peas and other legumes and heart disease. Some reports from the FDA have suggested that legumes in dog food may lead to Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This form of heart disease causes a dog’s heart to weaken and become enlarged. Eventually, it can result in heart failure. More research is still needed on this topic, as there is no conclusive evidence tying legumes to this heart disease, just the potential link.

Alternative Ingredients to Consider

If you’d like to avoid legumes, there are other ingredients you can consider whether you’re looking for food for puppies, adults, or older dogs. These ingredients may be added to both wet and dry foods as well.

Squash, Especially Pumpkin

Squash is very nutritious. They can help a dog’s digestive system and contain many vitamins and nutrients that contribute to healthy eyes and skin. Pumpkin is the most common squash found in dog food, but there are a few foods that feature other squash vegetables such as acorn squash or butternut squash. However, since pumpkin is often combined with peas in food, finding legume-free food with pumpkin isn’t always easy.

Starches

Starches are another alternative to consider. Sweet potatoes, which are particularly nutritious, are a popular choice for many dog owners looking to avoid legumes. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, iron, and calcium.

Potatoes and tapioca are other starches you may find in dog foods, but they are not as nutritious as sweet potatoes.

Whole Grains

If you’re not concerned with keeping your dog on a grain-free diet, choosing food with whole grains may be a good option. Whole grains are healthier than selecting food with highly processed grains. Some good whole grain options include whole oats, brown rice, and millet.

Last update on 2022-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Summary

Best Overall

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Dry Adult Dog Food
  • SALMON IS THE FIRST ANIMAL PROTEIN SOURCE providing essential protein and amino acids to help maintain strong muscles; Sweet Potatoes are included as a grain-free source of fiber to help support digestive health; Contains (1) 12-Pound Bag
  • LIMITED INGREDIENT DIET PHILOSOPHY Formulated with a simplified list of premium ingredients; a single animal protein source, and no grain, soy, gluten, artificial colors or flavors; We use fewer ingredients so pets, and pet parents, can live healthy lives
  • NUTRIENTS FROM OUR SALMON & SWEET POTATO RECIPE crafted with nutritious ingredients such as sweet potatoes and flaxseed; Complete and balanced with essential nutrients to help maintain your dog's healthy immune system
  • NUTRITION FOR EVERY TYPE OF DOG Any dog can enjoy our delicious recipes, not just dogs with sensitive stomachs, irritable skin or allergies; Our purposefully crafted formulas reduce the number of ingredients without sacrificing taste or nutrition
  • SAFETY & TRANSPARENCY Natural Balance's 'Feed with Confidence' program tests every batch of food from start to finish, ensuring safety with every bite; Validate bag on our site or call our Customer Care Team of Registered Veterinary Technicians
About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

The Best Legume-Free Dog Foods: Reviewed for 2021 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What dog food does not have legumes?

There are a variety of different dog foods that are made without legumes. If you are not sure whether a food has legumes, check the ingredient label. Some of the most common legumes found in dog foods include peas, lentils, kidney beans, soy beans, fava beans, and chickpeas. Our overall top pick for the best dog food without legumes was Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon and Sweet Potato. We also liked Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Dinner Patties for Puppies and Inception Wet Dog Food.

Are legumes bad in dog food?

Legumes are actually quite nutritious. They include carbohydrates, fiber, and protein and can help a dog get many of the vitamins and minerals they need. This is true when legumes are properly balanced with other ingredients that dogs need, especially high-quality meat proteins.

However, some dog food companies don’t properly balance legumes with other food. Legumes are often over-represented in a dog food, preventing dogs from getting sufficient animal protein.

Some have also suggested a link between legumes in a dog’s diet and developing Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a heart disease.

Why are legumes bad for dogs?

Overall, when added in proper ratios, legumes can be beneficial for dogs. They add fiber, carbohydrates, and protein. However, when manufacturers use legumes to take the place of more valuable animal protein, they can prevent dogs from getting what is most important to them.

Some dogs may be allergic or intolerant to legumes. As with any other allergens, if this is the case for your pup, you’ll want to avoid feeding them foods with chickpeas, peas, lentils, or other legumes.

While more research is still needed, the link between legumes in dog food and the heart disease Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy is also concerning. This disease can cause a dog’s heart to become weakened and enlarged, which can eventually lead to heart failure.

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