10 Best Legume Free Dog Foods in 2021

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This is our review of the best legume free dog food in 2021.

Legumes have recently gained popularity as an alternative source of carbohydrates in grain-free dog food formulas. Common legumes used as dog food ingredients include peas, lentils, and beans.

But some research suggests that these ingredients may contribute to the development of heart problems.

I’m a vet tech who frequently recommends eliminating legumes from dogs’ diets at higher risk for health disease. So I researched the best legume free dog foods. And I found that Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food is the overall best legume free dog food.

But your dog may have additional special needs that require dietary support. So I also reviewed the best legume free dog food in every category to help you make the best decision.

Let’s get started!

Our Best Legume Free Dog Food

  1. Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food (Best Overall Legume Free Dog Food)
  2. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe (Best Legume Free Dog Food for Puppies)
  3. Bil-Jac Senior Select Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe (Best Legume Free Dog Food For Seniors)
  4. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Limited Ingredient Dog Food (Best Budget Legume Free Dog Food)
  5. Nature’s Logic Canine Venison Meal Dog Food (Best Premium Legume Free Dog Food)
  6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Beef & Chicken Canned Dog Food (Best Legume Free Wet Dog Food)
  7. Purina Beneful Small Breed IncrediBites Dog Food (Best Legume Free Dog Food for Small Breeds)
  8. Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Dog Food (Best Legume Free Dog Food for Large Breeds)
  9. Purina Pro Plan Adult Weight Management Dog Food (Best Legume Free Dog Food for Weight Control)
  10. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon Formula (Best Legume Free Dog Food for Sensitive Dogs)

10 Best Legume Free Dog Foods Reviewed

All dog foods included on this list meet the recommended AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for dogs. Always consult with your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet.

Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Adult
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran
  • Key Feature: Grain-inclusive dog food suitable for most dogs
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 341 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Pea-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Overall

This grain-inclusive dog food formula is ideal for dogs who do not need to replace grains with legumes due to gluten sensitivities. The moderate 25% crude protein content is acceptable for most dogs of any breed or age.

Chicken is the first ingredient and primary source of protein. This lean meat provides the amino acids all dogs need without extra calories from fat. 

The moderate 14% fat content comes from healthy fat sources like sunflower oil. This oil has high concentrations of linoleic acid, which helps promote healthy skin and coat. [1] And omega-3 fatty acids from salmon meals support brain and heart health.

Added taurine also supports a healthy heart in dogs who can’t eat legumes due to cardiovascular risks. These ingredients help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. [2]

Most recipes that use legumes are grain-free. This legume-free dog food contains grain-based ingredients like brown rice. This whole grain is an excellent source of energy. Whole grains also have high levels of vitamins and minerals.

Reviews share noticeable improvements in the overall health of dogs on this diet. While the moderate protein and fat contents are enough for most dogs, more active pups may need a higher calorie formula.


Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal
  • Key Feature: Legume-free puppy food with concentrated nutrition
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 11% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 406 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Pea-Free, High-Protein
  • Life Stage: Growth
  • Best For: Puppies

Young dogs need specialized nutrition and high protein levels to support growth. The first ingredient in this puppy food is deboned chicken, which provides a 28% crude protein content.

Higher protein diets are vital for ensuring that puppies consume enough amino acids.

Chicken meal is the second ingredient. This meat meal contains cartilage that offers a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. These chondroprotective ingredients help reduce the incidence of joint conditions in young dogs.

Fish oil contributes concentrated omega fatty acids and DHA for healthy brain development. [3] Other omega-6 fatty acids from sunflower oil promote a shiny coat.

Whole food ingredients like apples, barley, and carrots have balanced vitamins and minerals critical for growing puppies. Diets that are deficient in essential minerals like calcium and phosphorus can result in chronic skeletal conditions.

In addition to excluding legumes, this grain-inclusive puppy food also excludes potatoes.

Potatoes also have research that suggests a potential link to heart problems in dogs. Instead, the formula uses ancient grains like quinoa for extra fiber to support young digestive systems.

Reviews recommend this dog food as a flavorful recipe for the pickiest pups. But, some puppies may experience diarrhea as they transition to this formula.


 Bil-Jac Senior Select Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe

Bil-Jac Senior Select Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken By-Products, Corn Meal, Chicken, Oatmeal, Dried Beet Pulp
  • Key Feature: Leguma-free advanced nutritional support for senior joints and digestion
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 20% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 368 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Pea-Free
  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Best For: Seniors

This senior dogs food features a lower protein content suitable for the reduced protein requirements of aging dogs. Higher protein diets can result in unwanted weight gain in elderly pups, while low protein diets can help manage weight.

Chicken and chicken by-products provide an ideal 20% protein content in this senior dog food.

By-products are generally considered lower quality than whole meat. But the first ingredient of this recipe uses only organ sources for extra arginine, which help protect cognitive health. [4]

The low 12% crude fat content helps limit the amount of calories in this dog food. Excess calories can cause older dogs to pack on the pounds quickly. This extra weight can put additional stress on aging joints.

Nutritional support for arthritic joints comes from the chondroprotective ingredients naturally found in a whole chicken’s bones. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate act as the building blocks for healthy cartilage and help manage common joint conditions.

High-fiber ingredients act as natural prebiotics to nourish the good bacteria living in your dog’s digestive system. Healthy gut bacteria can help regulate the digestive system and prevent gastric upset.

Older dogs can be incredibly picky. But most pet parents who feed this formula find the recipe appealing to even the fussiest seniors.


Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Lamb
  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Ground Rice, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat
  • Key Feature: Affordable dog food with a simple recipe that excludes legumes
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 20% Crude Protein, 13% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 321 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Limited Ingredient Diet, Gluten-Free, Pea-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Budget

Dogs who need to avoid legumes sometimes have food sensitivities to other ingredients as well. This limited ingredient diet eliminates legumes and common canine allergies using high-quality ingredients at an affordable price.

A lower 20% protein content and 321 kcal/cup caloric content may not provide enough energy for active dogs. But these nutrient percentages are adequate for most pets with more sedentary lifestyles.

While most budget formulas use chicken as an inexpensive protein, this recipe relies on lamb as the novel single protein source. Chicken is a common cause of allergies that dogs with legume sensitivities may also have adverse reactions to. [5]

Only six primary ingredients make up the base of this dog food. It does not include any fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives that may disrupt your pup’s sensitive digestive system.

Vitamin and mineral fortification ensures that this simple recipe meets daily nutritional requirements. Although this formula may not appeal to picky eaters, budget-conscious dog owners appreciate the affordable price.


Nature’s Logic Canine Venison Meal Dog Food

Nature's Logic Canine Venison Meal
  • First 5 Ingredients: Venison Meal, Pork Meal, Lamb Meal, Millet, Chicken Fat
  • Key Feature: Carnivore-based premium dog food with multiple animal proteins
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 34% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 9% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 375 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High-Protein, Gluten-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Pea-Free, Natural
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Premium Legume Free Dog Food

Most premium dog food brands offer only grain-free recipes that depend on legumes as an alternative carbohydrate source. But this legume free formula features gluten-free grains instead.

Multiple animal proteins contribute to the 34% protein content. High protein recipes are ideal for active dogs that need additional support for extra muscle mass maintenance. Venison meal, pork meal, and lamb meal combine to offer a comprehensive amino acid profile.

Some dogs depend on grain free formulas due to gluten sensitivities. This dog food uses millet to provide a grain-inclusive but gluten-free recipe. Millet is an ideal legume alternative that is high in fiber without excess sugars. [6]

This dog food also includes probiotics and digestive enzymes. These ingredients help break down your dog’s food to enhance nutrient absorption.

Whole food ingredients like kelp, spinach, and blueberries offer natural sources of vitamins and minerals.

This premium formula helps decrease digestive upset in most dogs. But it does not contain a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids like some other pet food.


Blue Buffalo Wilderness Beef & Chicken Canned Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Beef & Chicken Grill Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Potatoes
  • Key Feature: Canned dog food with a texture designed for picky pups
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 10% Crude Protein, 9% Crude Fat, 1.5% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 523 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High-Protein, Grain-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Pea-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Legume Free Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo is a pet food manufacturer that specializes in recipes based on your dog’s ancestral diet. Although the 78% moisture content creates deceptively low crude macronutrient percentages, this canned dog food is a high protein formula.

Beef, chicken, and chicken liver combine to offer a 10% protein content in this wet food. Organ meats like chicken liver are a rich source of nutrients like vitamin A. This vitamin helps protect your dog’s eye health and vision.

This grain-free recipe uses potatoes as a source of digestible carbohydrates instead of legumes. The formula may not be suitable for dogs predisposed to heart problems, as the FDA also warns against potatoes for an increased risk of canine dilated cardiomyopathy. [7]

Fruits and vegetables offer natural sources of vitamins and minerals. And this recipe also excludes potential harmful additives, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

Dogs generally prefer the taste and texture of wet foods. If you are struggling to find an appropriate diet that your pup enjoys, this canned dog food might be the right choice for you.


Purina Beneful Small Breed IncrediBites Dog Food

Purina Beneful Small Breed IncrediBites Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Barley, Whole Grain Wheat
  • Key Feature: Small kibble offers concentrated nutrition for tiny dogs
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 13.5% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 14% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 368 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High-Protein, Pea-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Small Breeds

Some small breeds have difficulty eating generic dog food designed for average-sized pups. And it can be challenging to find a dry dog food that meets the unique nutritional needs of toy dogs without using legumes.

The high protein content of this recipe is ideal for the fast metabolisms of little dogs. Chicken is the first ingredient, contributing to the 26% protein content.

But, the ingredient list also includes common allergens like corn, wheat, and soy. So this formula may not be suitable for sensitive toy dogs with allergies.

The inclusion of whole grains in this recipe is beneficial for toy breeds. Small dogs cannot store enough glycogen in their muscles. So they need a consistent source of digestible carbohydrates from their diet to prevent hypoglycemia. [8]

Uniquely textured small kibble pieces encourage chewing and reduce choking hazards in tiny mouths. Sweet potato and spinach accents add variety and offer an appealing taste for fussy eaters.

The affordable price is appealing to many tiny pet owners. But small pups with coat health concerns may benefit from a formula with a higher concentration of healthy fats.


Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Dog Food

Holistic Select Giant Breed Adult Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Rice, Oatmeal, Oats, Chicken Fat
  • Key Feature: Legume free formula designed for the unique needs of giant breeds
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 453 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Sensitive Digestion, Pea-Free, Gluten Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Large Breeds

Just like toy breeds, big dogs need dry dog food specifically designed for their unique needs. Large breeds often have greater risks of heart health problems, so many owners of gentle giants consider legume free diets for their furry friends.

Although larger, giant breeds often have slower metabolisms than their tiny relatives. A moderate 24% protein content helps maintain larger muscle mass without encouraging weight gain.

Chicken meal is the first ingredient. This animal product includes natural sources of glucosamine, which is critical for protecting stressed joints in big pups. Preventing obesity in giant breeds is also critical for easing discomfort in larger joints.

Added taurine helps promote a healthy heart in this legume free recipe. Oatmeal acts as an alternative carbohydrate source that is also high in dietary fiber.

Giant breeds can also suffer from digestive conditions like bloat. The probiotics in this formula help reduce the risk of bloat by regulating your pup’s gastrointestinal system. [9]

Owners who feed this recipe often report improvement in the overall health of their large-breed dogs. But the kibble of this dry dog food is on the smaller side for giant breed formulas.


Purina Pro Plan Adult Weight Management Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Adult Weight Management Shredded Blend Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Whole Grain Corn, Poultry By-Product Meal, Corn Germ Meal
  • Key Feature: Controlled calorie formula compatible with a weight control diet
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 9% Crude Fat, 5.5% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 373 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Weight Control, Pea-Free, High-Protein
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Weight Control

The best dog foods without peas, legumes, or potatoes are often high-calorie formulas that can cause weight gain in predisposed pups.

This dog food formula from Purina Pro Plan offers an alternative with a controlled calorie and fat content for furry friends on a diet.

Chicken is an ideal first ingredient for dogs who need help controlling their weight. It is high in protein but low in fat and does not have excess calories.

The 27% protein to 9% fat content ratio of this dog food helps maintain lean muscle mass and reduce fat deposits. And high levels of prebiotic fiber keep your pup feeling full after eating a smaller serving. [11]

The unique texture of meaty shreds mixed with hard kibble help make this dry dog food appealing. But, this recipe does contain common allergens like corn and soy.

Most dog owners witness significant weight loss in their dogs when consistently fed this diet.


Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon Formula 

Natural Balance L.I.D Small Breed Bites Salmon
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Cassava Flour, Sunflower Oil
  • Key Feature: Limited ingredient diet for sensitive dogs that excludes legumes
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 373 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Limited Ingredient Diet, Sensitive Digestion, No Corn, No Soy, No Wheat, Grain-Free, Pea-Free, Chicken-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Sensitive Dogs

This limited ingredient formula offers a legume free recipe optimized for pups who suffer from sensitive stomachs.

In addition to heart health concerns, some owners may eliminate legumes from their dogs’ diet due to sensitivities or allergies.

The single protein source, salmon, is ideal for dogs with allergies. It is a healthy alternative to chicken, a common allergen. And salmon is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate inflammatory responses. [10]

Salmon contributes to the moderate 24% crude protein content of this formula. The fat content is still relatively low. But high amounts of DHA and other healthy omega fatty acids help support eye, skin, and coat health.

The ingredient list does contain potatoes. But the recipe eliminates common allergens like corn, wheat, and soy. These ingredients often cause adverse reactions in more sensitive dogs.

Reviews of this dog food without legumes share success stories managing itchy skin conditions that result from food sensitivities.

But, if he is allergic to any other ingredient in this dog food formula he may still experience an adverse reaction.


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Legume Free Dog Food Buying Guide

There are several factors to consider when shopping for legume free pet foods. If your dog has cardiovascular concerns, he needs comprehensive nutritional support beyond simply avoiding legumes.

Legumes in Dog Food

Legumes are a common type of ingredient frequently found in grain-free dog foods. This group of ingredients includes peas, lentils, and beans. They are a popular alternative to grains due to their high levels of digestible carbohydrates.

There is a misconception that pet food manufacturers only use legumes as fillers in dog kibble. But these ingredients are also excellent sources of high-quality plant proteins and fiber.

Legumes are also rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium. These minerals are especially vital for bone growth and health. 

The concerns associated with using legumes in adult dry dog food come from FDA research linking the large amounts of legumes in grain-free dog foods with heart problems. [12]

So, owners of dogs with heart health concerns may want to feed them a legume free diet.

Are Legumes Bad for Dogs?

Legumes are generally safe for canine consumption. They can contribute valuable nutritional content to dog foods but can not replace animal protein.

However, raw and canned beans may contain toxins or preservatives that tax your dog’s digestive system.

You should also avoid recipes that have large quantities of legumes. The FDA warns against a potential link between legume consumption and dilated cardiomyopathy.

What to Consider When Buying Legume Free Dog Food?

The best dog foods without legumes will have an ingredient list that contains high-quality alternative sources of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates.

Real animal protein should be the first ingredient. This ensures that your omnivorous pup consumes enough essential amino acids from a bioavailable source.

When considering legume free dog foods due to heart health concerns, you should generally try to avoid grain-free recipes with large amounts of potatoes as well. This ingredient is also associated with the development of CDM.

If your dog does not have a grain sensitivity, opt for formulas that include whole-grain ingredients as a digestible carbohydrates source. Unlike refined alternatives, whole grains are also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Non-legume vegetables and fruits can also boost the content of bioavailable vitamins and minerals to improve overall health.

You should also look for other beneficial ingredients like omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and L-carnitine. These additives can help support healthy skin, joints, and muscles in your pup.

dog eating

Alternative Ingredients

Dog foods that exclude legumes often use these alternative ingredients to offer similar nutritional benefits without the risks.

Pumpkin

Squash like pumpkin are some of the best non-legume vegetables to use in pet foods. Like legumes, they are a great source of dietary fiber.

They are also a good source of vitamins A, and C. Select a diet that uses acorn squash, butternut squash, or pumpkin instead of potatoes.

Whole Grains

Some dogs may have gluten sensitivities or other common allergies that make it necessary to avoid grains.

But most dogs can thrive on a grain inclusive diet. The healthiest sources of digestible carbohydrates are whole grains like millet, whole oats, or brown rice.

Tapioca

Although rare, tapioca can be an ideal alternative to legumes in dog food. This ingredient has high levels of complex carbohydrates in addition to full nutrient content.

Opt for recipes that use whole tapioca and not by-products.

Our Verdict

Legumes can be a nutritional component of a healthy canine diet. But if you have a dog with cardiovascular health concerns, avoiding legumes can help manage his heart disease risk.

These ingredients gained popularity as an alternative source of carbohydrates in grain-free dog foods. Yet, recent research suggests that large amounts of legumes or potatoes can contribute to the development of canine dilated cardiomyopathy.

I found that Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food is the best dog food without legumes overall.

You can’t have a happy pup without a healthy heart. Talk to your veterinarian today to determine if eliminating legumes from your dog’s diet is the best option for your furry best friend.

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AUTHOR
Caroline Cochran is a former veterinary technician who is passionate about helping fellow dog lovers learn about canine nutrition. Her best friend is a rescued Great Pyrenees named Syrah, who is also very enthusiastic about dog food.

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