Last Updated on April 21, 2023
Many people are avoiding dog food with grains, but manufacturers are turning to peas and pea products to replace those grains. But what if you want to avoid peas in your dog’s diet?
In this guide, we’ll show you the best dog food without peas, whether you have a puppy, a senior, or something in between.
- 1 Top 5 Picks for Best Pea-Free Dog Food
- 2 Best Dog Food Without Peas by Life Stage
- 3 Do Dogs Need Pea-Free diets?
- 4 When are Pea-Free Diets a Good Idea?
- 5 Best Pea-Free Dog Food Buyer’s Guide
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 7 Keep Your Pup Healthy with Pea-Free Food
- 8 Transition: Before You Switch to a Pea-Free Dog Food
- 9 Reference
Top 5 Picks for Best Pea-Free Dog Food
|Dog Food Recipes||Our Rating|
Best Overall Pea-Free Dog Food
|Health Extension Original (Chicken & Brown Rice)
|Best Budget Pea-Free Dog Food||VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food
Best Pea-Free Puppy Food
|Natural Balance Grain-Free (Salmon & Sweet Potato)
Best Pea-Free Adult Dog Food
|Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties Dog Food
|Best Pea-Free Senior Dog Food||Nutro Ultra Grain-Free Pate with Chicken, Lamb, and Whitefish
Best Dog Food Without Peas by Life Stage
No matter why you decide to go pea-free for your pooch, any of these foods are a good choice. Let’s start our list of the top food choices without peas in the market.
Best Pea-Free Puppy Food
1. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited-Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes
Your puppy needs a healthy diet to get the best start in life.
The Natural Balance Limited-Ingredient Diet Recipe is packed with healthy foods like salmon and sweet potato, perfect for pups with allergies or just those who want to feed their dog a healthy balance of carbs and protein.
- Real salmon is the first ingredient
- The chicken-free formula produced in the US by vets and nutritionists
- Has no soy, wheat, corn, legumes, lentils, pea protein, and peas
- A dog owner said their dog wouldn’t stop scratching after eating this recipe for eight days
- Contains cassava flour, which isn’t very nutritious
Best Pea-Free Adult Dog Food
2. Farmina N&D Ancestral Grains Medium & Maxi Adult Dry Dog Food
Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Cod, Dehydrated Cod, Herring Oil
This recipe from Farmina N&D is an extremely high-quality kibble containing cod, chicken, duck, and lamb. It’s made of minerals, vitamins, fruits, veggies, organic oats, and spelt, minus by-products, meals, legumes, and peas.
- Suitable for all breed sizes
- It’s a formula that won’t spike the blood sugar of doggos because it’s low glycemic
- Made with low fiber and limited carbohydrates
- Some owners said their dogs experienced digestive problems while others lost weight and hair
3. Holistic Select Adult Health Recipe
Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Rice
The Holistic Select Adult Health Chicken Meal & Brown Rice recipe is made without by-products or artificial ingredients while containing high protein ingredients like chicken meal, chicken fat, and pork meal.
Crafted with multiple ingredients that are easily digestible to keep canines of all breed sizes feeling great.
- Lots of real fruits like papaya, blueberries, and pomegranates
- Formulated with Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy coat and skin
- Has taurine, probiotics, glucosamine, and antioxidants that all promote a healthy heart
- Not suitable for all dogs with stomach problems
- One owner said the kibble has lots of sharp pieces, like scratchy hay
4. Ziwi Peak Beef Air-Dried Dog Food
Our Rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Kidney
If you want pet food for your dog that is high in protein with tons of real meat, then the Ziwi Peak Beef Air-Dried recipe is a good choice.
Its first eight ingredients are all meat-based, including green mussels, beef, and beef bones. Because it lacks carbohydrates, you’ll likely want to feed this in addition to kibble or fresh veggies.
- No fillers, meat meals, or additives
- All meat is ethically raised in New Zealand
- No carbohydrates
5. VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food
Our Rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat
Sourced and made in the USA, Victor Hi-Pro Plus Formula is a high-protein dog food featuring premium-quality beef, pork, chicken, and fish meals while still managing to be affordable.
It also contains high-quality ingredients without peas, corn, wheat, soy, or gluten.
- Affordable because it’s made in bulk
- Made with lots of named meat meals
- Probiotics for healthy digestion
- Grain Sorghum is the second ingredient
6. Merrick Grain-Free Real Chicken Canned Food
Our Rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver
This limited ingredient wet food from Merrick contains all the things your dog needs to be healthy and happy without any corn, peas, potatoes, wheat, or soy.
- Real, deboned chicken is the first ingredient
- No common allergens
- No preservatives
- Contains guar gum and locust bean gum
7. Health Extension Original (Chicken & Brown Rice) Dog Food
Our Rating: 5
Top Ingredients: Organic Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice
If buying from a family-owned company based in the US is important to you, the Health Extension Original Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe is a good food option.
They are very open about where they source their food and they make their recipe without any peas.
- Contains “superfoods” like algae, ginger, and ginkgo biloba.
- No soy, wheat, corn, or soy
- Free-range chicken are the first two ingredients
- Contains fillers like dried beet pulp and oatmeal
8. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties Dog Food
Our Rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken With Ground Bone, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard
Whether you feed this as an addition to your dog’s regular food or as their entire diet, you can’t beat this freeze-dried food from Stella & Chewy for healthy ingredients.
It contains animal protein from chicken, along with calcium, real organic fruits and veggies, and omega fatty acids.
- No fillers or artificial ingredients
- Real fruits and veggies along with real meat
- Organic and made in the USA
- With very high protein
9. American Natural Premium Original Recipe
Our Rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, White Rice
With healthy whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal, this food is made to provide your dog with all the nutrition it needs to thrive. It also contains probiotics for a healthy digestive system.
- Formulated with amino acids and probiotics added after cooking
- Contains real chicken, pork, and fish
- Cooked at low temperatures to preserve nutrients
- Contains beet pulp
10. Earthborn Holistic Venture (Alaska Pollock Meal & Pumpkin)
Our Rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Alaska Pollock Meal, Pumpkin, Tapioca
This dry dog food from Earthborn Holistic has absolutely no peas or any legumes, which is rare and hard to find. It also contains squid and pollock, which are highly nutritious.
As a limited ingredient food, it doesn’t have a lot of things in it that might upset sensitive stomachs.
- Pumpkin is the main source of carbohydrates
- Sunflower oil is a superior source of fat
- Contains probiotics
- Tapioca is the second carbohydrate source
Best Pea-Free Senior Dog Food
11. Purina Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages (Chicken & Rice)
Our Rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice
Purina is one of those dog food brands that have a reputation for working with vets to create healthy recipes.
This food was made to support dogs of all life stages with glucosamine for healthy joints and the right balance of fat, carbs, and protein for energy.
- Protein from real animal sources
- Glucosamine and probiotics for health
- More affordable than many recipes
- With a high level of corn gluten meal, corn germ meal, and corn
- Contains poultry by-products
- Includes ingredients that cause food allergies like chicken, corn, and eggs
12. Nutro Ultra Grain-Free Pate with Chicken, Lamb, and Whitefish
Our Rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth
As dogs get older, sometimes they need soft food to help them chew. If that’s the case with your dog, you can’t beat Nutro’s Grain-Free Pate Recipe, which is packed with veggies, fruits, and real meat products.
- Real blueberries, apples, carrots, yams, and pumpkin
- Meat from chicken, lamb, and whitefish
- Grain-free and made to support aging pups
- Contains xanthan gum and guar gum which can upset a dog’s stomach
Do Dogs Need Pea-Free diets?
Peas are legumes, along with beans, and lentils. Some people assume that because wolves in the wild don’t eat legumes that they’re bad for dogs. That’s not the case. Legumes can be a healthy source of protein and carbohydrates.
Dogs are perfectly able to digest pea protein.
That said, some manufacturers use peas as a cheap filler to bulk up their food. In that case, the peas aren’t adding much nutrition. Also, some dogs are allergic to peas or other legumes.
There is also some evidence that peas in dog food can contribute to DCM. So let’s break down the reasons you might want to avoid peas.
There are a few reasons that you might want to avoid peas. First, some dogs have sensitivities to peas or legumes in general.
If that’s the case for your pooch, it’s difficult, but you should do your best to avoid any and all legumes in their diet.
There has also been some evidence that peas and other legumes could be linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease in dogs that can cause heart failure.
The FDA cautions, however, that while there have been reports of pets eating diets based on legumes contracting this deadly disease, there hasn’t been a definitive link determined.
Still, owners who want to err on the side of caution may want to avoid these ingredients.
This video talks more about this devastating disease:
There is also some evidence that lack of taurine may play a role in contributing to DCM. Other studies suggest that perhaps exotic ingredients that were never used in dog food before might be contributing to the problem.
Some people like to avoid peas in dog food because they can be used as a cheap filler. Dog food manufacturers switched from using fillers like wheat, soy, or corn and started using things like pea flour.
Pea flour isn’t nutritious and doesn’t contribute much to your dog’s diet except empty calories.
Some manufacturers may also use peas to artificially boost the protein content in dog food when what you want is more animal protein sources.
Peas a cheaper than real meat, so dog food makers use them instead of adding more meat.
While feeding your dog raw peas is totally fine as a treat, you might want to consider whether you want them to be a part of their daily diet.
When are Pea-Free Diets a Good Idea?
How do you know if your dog can eat peas?
If you notice that your pup seems to have signs of a food allergy, such as diarrhea, itchy or flaky skin, or itchy paws, you might want to start by removing some of the most common allergens, like chicken, beef, eggs, or dairy.
Then, if that doesn’t help, try removing any pea products from your dog’s diet. If their symptoms go away, you can be pretty sure they have a pea allergy.
People who want to avoid fillers or want to give their dogs a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet may also want to avoid peas. Finding legume-free dog food isn’t always easy, but there are lots of good options.
Best Pea-Free Dog Food Buyer’s Guide
If you decide to go pea-free, how do you pick the right food? First of all, don’t assume that you need to go with a big-name brand. There are lots of smaller operations out there making excellent foods.
What about cost? When it comes to dog food, the old adage that you get what you pay for is usually correct.
Look at the ingredients list and read reviews of the food. More often than not, to get really healthy food, you’ll have to shell out more cash.
Specific benefits of pea-free food options for your dog
Puppies, adults, and seniors can all eat peas if they aren’t allergic.
Some people like to avoid giving puppies peas because of their potential link to DCM or because they want to provide their pup with a more nutrient-dense form of protein and carbs.
Manufacturers make pea-free food for small breeds and large breeds, as well as standard food.
How to choose pea-free food?
Brands like Blue Buffalo, Taste of the Wild, Nutro, Merrick, and others are all generally reliable. Then, look at the source of protein.
It should be meat-based, and while most use beef, chicken, or fish, you’ll often see recipes that contain venison, buffalo, turkey, lamb meal, or other alternatives.
Most dog food formulas contain some sort of filler to keep costs down, whether that is a legume, beet pulp, grain, or a brown rice recipe.
Just make sure that whatever filler is used that it’s something you feel comfortable feeding your dog.
Then, look at the food ingredients list again. The main ingredients will be the ones that make up the most of the food.
These should be meat and veggies, along with some grains, if it is a recipe that uses grains. Grains include oats, brown rice, and millet.
If you aren’t avoiding legumes altogether, you can choose a food that contains alternatives to peas like lentils or chickpeas.
Chickpeas are a completely different species of plant from peas, even though they both have “pea” in the name.
Other sources of healthy carbs can include pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and tapioca. Keep in mind that tapioca is generally considered to be a less nutritious form of carbs.
Make sure that the food is balanced in terms of fats, carbs, and protein. Adult dogs need about 70 percent of their protein for meat. They need about 20-35% protein, 10-25% fat, and 45-75% carbohydrates.
Fat and carbs should come from a healthy source. Avoid canola or soybean oil, white rice, corn, wheat, or soy.
Look for a stamp of veterinarian approval or evidence that it was developed by a vet and/or nutritionist. It should also contain beneficial supplements to create a healthy immune system, joints, bones, and organs.
Probiotics, chondroitin, glucosamine, antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and a range of vitamins and minerals are all important.
Some dog foods include taurine in their food, which has shown evidence to help prevent DCM, though the evidence is far from complete.
Of course, all of this costs money, so keep the price in mind while you’re shopping.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is wet pea-free food good for dogs?
There’s always a debate between wet and dry food. Some argue that dry food is better for your dog’s teeth, while others say that wet food helps dogs stay hydrated and is tastier.
Ultimately, either is just as healthy so long as the ingredients are top-notch, so the preference is up to you. Dry food is cheaper and more convenient, but dogs tend to like wet food better.
Some dog owners want to know if they can or should feed their dogs grain. Again, it’s a matter of preference.
There is some evidence that a lack of grains in their diets can contribute to DCM, but again, there is still more research needed.
The main reason to avoid grains is if your dog is allergic or because you want to avoid cheap fillers by avoiding all grains (even though some grains are healthy additions to a dog’s diet).
Grain-free diets have their benefits and their drawbacks, just like any diet.
Some manufacturers are taking advantage of the trend in human food to avoid grains. That’s one of the reasons you’ll see so many grain-free dog foods out there (and why they tend to cost more).
Can you give homemade pea-free food to your dog?
Of course, you can always make your own food if you want to avoid peas.
A mix of 1 cup cooked ground beef, a cup of cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup of cooked, diced carrots, and a tablespoon of olive oil is a nutritious meal or kibble topper.
Add some fresh yogurt and maybe some fruit and your dog will be in heaven.
Should you also give pea-free dog treats to your dog?
As long as your dog doesn’t have a pea allergy, it’s perfectly fine to give them treats that contain peas.
Keep Your Pup Healthy with Pea-Free Food
Whether you have a high-energy Retriever or a sleepy little Pekingese, providing your dog with the right food will make all the difference for their health. Some dogs do just fine with a diet that includes peas and grains.
But for other dogs, avoiding things like peas or grains can help improve their skin, coat, energy level, and general health. Only you and your vet can know for sure.
If you decide to switch, you can’t go wrong with any of the options above.
We think Health Extension’s pea-free recipe is particularly exceptional because it contains high-quality ingredients, doesn’t cost a fortune, and dogs seem to love it.
Transition: Before You Switch to a Pea-Free Dog Food
Before you make the switch, let’s break it all down. Pea-free food is often better because it contains fewer cheap fillers. Pea flour isn’t very healthy for your dog. It’s also ideal for dogs with allergies, and it might help prevent DCM.
On the downside, some recipes just replace the peas with other cheap ingredients, and some sellers charge more because of the lack of legumes.
Cess is the Head of Content Writing at K9 Web and a passionate dog care expert with over 5 years of experience in the Pet Industry. With a background in animal science, dog training, and behavior consulting, her hands-on experience and extensive knowledge make her a trusted source for dog owners.
When not writing or leading the K9 Web content team, Cess can be found volunteering at local shelters and participating in dog-related events.