10 Best Pea Free Dog Foods in 2021

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peas closeup

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

Peas are a common alternative source of digestible carbohydrates in grain-free dog food. But this ingredient is sometimes connected to the development of canine heart problems.

As a veterinary technician, I often encourage dog owners with heart health concerns to eliminate peas from their pup’s diet.

I researched the best pea free dog food, so you don’t have to. And I found that Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food is the best overall choice for dog foods without peas.

But the best diet for your four-legged friend will vary depending on their unique needs. So I put together a comprehensive list of pea-free recommendations for every canine.

Let’s get started!

Our Best Pea Free Dog Food

10 Best Pea Free Dog Foods Reviewed

All dog foods included on this list meet the standard 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 recipe suitable for a wide range of 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 dog food is ideal for pups who thrive on grain-inclusive diets that exclude peas. The first ingredient is real chicken, which provides a moderate 25% protein content.

This protein content is suitable for both large and small dogs of nearly any age.

A 14% fat content is also suitable for a wide range of canine companions. Healthy fat sources include sunflower oil. This ingredient is rich in linoleic acid, which is essential for a healthy skin and coat. [1]

Additional omega fatty acids come from salmon meal. Omega 3 fatty acids work with antioxidants to promote a healthy heart and brain.

Taurine contributes to heart health support, making this formula ideal for dogs who cannot eat peas due to cardiovascular concerns. This amino acid helps manage blood pressure and cholesterol. [2]

Unlike many recipes that use peas, this formula includes grain-based ingredients. Whole grains like brown rice are an excellent source of energy for dogs. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals.

Dog owners who feed this diet have noticed improvements in skin, weight, and overall health in pups who eat this dog food.




Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal
  • Key Feature: Nutrient-dense pea-free formula for growing puppies
  • 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

This high-protein recipe features nutrient levels explicitly tailored to growing dogs.

A 28% crude protein content comes from deboned chicken, the first ingredient. High protein content ensures that puppies consume adequate amounts of amino acids.

The second ingredient is chicken meal. This meal acts as a natural source of glucosamine to help limit the risks of abnormal joint conditions in young dogs.

DHA and other omega fatty acids from fish oil support healthy brain development. [3] Omega-6 fatty acids from sunflower oil also help keep your puppy shiny.

Balanced vitamins and minerals from whole-food ingredients like barley, carrots, and apples are essential for growing puppies. Insufficient calcium or phosphorus could cause chronic skeletal conditions.

This grain-inclusive puppy food provides a balanced diet while excluding potatoes, peas, and lentils. Instead, ancient grains like quinoa help regulate young digestive systems.

Reviews frequently share that puppies of different breeds all enjoy the taste of this recipe. However, some puppies experienced diarrhea when first switching to this brand.




 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: Pea-free formula with nutritional support for aging joints and digestive systems
  • 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

Older dogs do not maintain the same protein requirements as they age. Lower-protein formulas can help manage the weight of sedentary seniors. 

This formula features an ideal 20% protein content from chicken and chicken by-products.

By-products are generally considered lower quality ingredients than whole meat. But the first ingredient in this senior recipe uses only organs as a source of arginine. Arginine is an essential amino acid that helps protect cognitive health in older pups. [4]

A low 12% fat level helps control caloric content. Elderly dogs who consume too many calories can quickly pack on the pounds. And extra weight can put excess stress on aging joints.

Ground bones from the whole chicken used in this recipe provide natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

These chondroprotective ingredients offer the building blocks for healthy cartilage and can help manage joint conditions like arthritis.

Beet pulp is high in fiber, a natural prebiotic. High-fiber diets nourish the good bacteria that live in your dog’s gut to help regulate the digestive system and prevent gastric upset.

Your senior friend may grow picky in old age, but most pet parents recommend this formula for 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: Budget-friendly formula 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 Pea-Free Dog Food

This limited ingredient diet eliminates ingredients that cause common canine allergies in addition to peas.

The lower 20% protein content and 321 kcal/cup caloric content may not be suitable for active dogs. But this budget formula offers high-quality ingredients for a low price.

Most budget formulas use chicken as an inexpensive source of animal protein. But this simple recipe uses lamb as a novel single protein source.

Chicken is a common allergen, and dogs with pea sensitivities may react negatively to other ingredients as well. [5]

There are only six primary ingredients in this dog food. No fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives can upset your dog’s sensitive digestive system.

To ensure that this basic formula meets your pup’s nutritional needs, it features fortification with added vitamins and minerals.

Budget-conscious dog owners appreciate this dog food’s affordable price. But some struggle when feeding this formula to picky eaters.




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: Meat-based dog food with premium ingredients
  • 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 Pea-Free Dog Food

Many premium dog food brands offer grain-free formulas that use peas as a source of carbohydrates. This gluten-free dog food uses premium ingredients instead of peas, lentils, or other legumes.

A 34% protein content from multiple animal proteins is ideal for active dogs that need high protein diets to maintain muscle mass. Premium meat ingredients include venison meal, pork meal, and lamb meal.

Some dogs have gluten sensitivities that require grain-free diets. This dog food uses millet to provide a grain-inclusive but gluten-free recipe. Millet is an ideal replacement for peas that is high in fiber without excess sugars. [6]

Probiotics and digestive enzymes highlight this dog food. These ingredients help break down your dog’s food to enhance nutrient absorption. Whole food ingredients like kelp, spinach, and blueberries act as concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals.

Most dogs experience less digestive upset on this diet. But this premium formula 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 an appealing texture for picky eaters
  • 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: Pea-Free Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo is a pet food manufacturer that creates formulas based on your pup’s wild ancestors’ natural diets. Although the 78% moisture content makes deceptively low macronutrient percentages, this canned dog food is a high protein formula.

Beef, Chicken, and Chicken liver contribute to the 10% protein content in this wet formula. Organ meats in wet dog food are a rich source of vitamin A and other nutrients. Vitamin A helps protect your dog’s eye health and vision.

Potatoes replace peas as a source of digestible carbohydrates in this grain-free recipe.

This formula may not be suitable for dogs predisposed to heart problems, as the FDA also connected potatoes to an increased risk of canine dilated cardiomyopathy. [7]

Fruits and vegetables provide additional sources of vitamins and minerals. And this recipe does not include potential harmful additives, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

Dogs generally prefer the taste and texture of wet foods. If you are struggling to find a pea-free 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: Concentrated nutrition in a small kibble for tiny dog breeds
  • 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: Pea-Free Dog Food for Small Breeds

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

This recipe features a high protein content suitable for the fast metabolisms of little dogs. The 26% crude protein comes from real chicken, the first ingredient. 

But, the ingredient list also includes common allergens like corn, wheat, and soy. So this formula may not be suitable for your tiny sensitive friend.

The inclusion of whole grains in this recipe is ideal for toy breeds. Small dogs cannot store adequate amounts of glycogen. So they need a consistent source of digestible carbohydrates from their diet. [8]

A small kibble size and unique texture encourage chewing and reduce choking hazards in tiny mouths. Sweet potato and spinach accents add variety and offer an appealing taste for fussy eaters.

Parents of tiny pets appreciate the affordable price. 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: Specialized nutrition for giant breeds who need diets without peas or legumes
  • 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: Pea-Free Dog Food for Large Breeds

Just like toy breeds need smaller kibble, big dogs need dry dog food specifically designed for their unique needs.

Large breeds are also often predisposed to heart health problems, so many owners of gentle giants consider pea-free diets for their four-legged friends.

Although larger, giant breeds often have slower metabolisms. A 24% protein content is ideal for maintaining larger muscle mass without promoting excessive weight gain.

The first ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal includes natural sources of glucosamine, which is critical for protecting stressed joints in big pups. Preventing obesity in giant breeds is also vital for easing joint discomfort in larger friends.

Added taurine helps promote a healthy heart in this pea-free recipe. Oatmeal and beet pulp act as alternative carbohydrate sources that are high in beneficial fibers.

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

Owners 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.




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 dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs
  • 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: Pea-Free Dog Food for Sensitivities

This dry dog food is a limited ingredient formula optimized for pups who suffer from sensitive stomachs.

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

Salmon is a novel single meat protein source that 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]

This single protein source contributes to the moderate 24% crude protein content of this formula. The fat content is relatively low, at 10%. 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 this legume-free dog food excludes peas, pea proteins, and lentils.

This diet also eliminates corn, wheat, and soy. These ingredients often cause adverse reactions in dogs.

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

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




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: Reduced calorie pea-free formula for dogs on a weight management 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: Pea-Free Dog Food for Weight Management

The best dog foods without peas, legumes, or potatoes are often high-calorie formulas unsuitable for obese 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 the first ingredient. This meat protein is an ideal option for dogs who need help controlling their weight. It is high in protein but low in fat and does not contain excess calories.

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

Softer, meaty shreds mixed with hard kibble help make the texture of 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.




dog licking closeup

Pea Free Dog Food Buying Guide

If you want to switch your dog to a pea-free diet, you will need to consider several factors. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian first before planning any changes to your pup’s diet.

Pea Ingredients in Dog Food

Peas can show up in dog food in several different forms. Keep an eye out for these ingredients and avoid them when shopping for new dog food brands.

Whole Peas

Whole peas are generally considered the highest quality form of pea-based ingredients found in dog food. The following components result from different ways of processing whole peas.

Pea Protein

This ingredient is a by-product of concentrated plant protein derived from whole peas. Small amounts of pea protein can help increase the crude protein percentages of dog food. But dogs cannot digest plant protein as effectively as meat products.

Pea Flour

This ingredient is similar to pea protein, but it also contains a significant amount of carbohydrates. Pea flour resembles whole peas that do not hold any moisture. It is a frequent, inexpensive filler in dog food.

Pea Fiber

Pea fiber is high in insoluble dietary fiber. Insoluble fiber has little nutritional value but can help nourish healthy gut bacteria as a prebiotic in modest portions.

Pea Starch

This refined white powder is extracted from whole peas to provide nutritional benefits similar to potatoes. It is also a binding agent in dry dog food kibble, thanks to its gelling properties.

dog eating

Why Choose Pea Free Dog Food?

Whole peas provide an alternative fiber and carbohydrate source in grain-free dog foods. They also offer small amounts of nutrients like vitamin K.

But, there are several reasons why you may choose pet foods without peas.

DCM

Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy is the most severe health condition associated with canine diets that contain peas.

Reported DCM cases are low, but the FDA has investigated a link between this heart disease and grain-free dog food formulas in the past. [12]

The FDA investigation demonstrated a correlation between Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy and diets with high amounts of lentils, peas, and legumes.

These ingredients may prevent your dog’s body from processing taurine, an essential amino acid for cardiovascular function.

Protein Content

Pet food that contains peas may have artificially boosted protein content. Peas and legumes can increase overall crude protein content without adding more meat to the recipe, often misleading dog owners.

Dogs need high amounts of protein in their diet to thrive. But your loyal pup descended from carnivorous wolves and digests animal protein more effectively than plant protein.

So if his diet is high in peas, your dog may not be getting enough amino acids from his food.

Dietary Needs

Some dogs have unique dietary needs that need to be accounted for when making any decisions about selecting new pet food. 

Pets with pea sensitivities or allergies should not eat diets that contain this ingredient. But pups with other health conditions may require pea-free food too.

Legumes like peas are high in potassium. Dogs with poor kidney function often have difficulty processing excess amounts of this mineral. So you should also remove peas from the diets of pups with kidney problems.

I once had to help treat a dog suffering from toxicity after eating peas. He had a pre-existing kidney condition.

Alternative Ingredients

Several alternative dog food ingredients can provide the same benefits of peas without the risks.

Lentils and Chickpeas

If your pup is sensitive only to peas, you may be able to consider alternative legumes like lentils or chickpeas.

As members of the same family, these ingredients are very similar to peas. They are also high in both amino acids and dietary fiber.

Chickpeas have the added benefit of concentrated manganese and copper. And lentils are high in folate and iron.

But, watch out for pet food manufacturers that use a mix of legumes from multiple sources. This technique, known as splitting, hides ingredients further down the label.

The best way to ensure your dog’s diet contains no peas is to feed him completely legume-free dog food.

Squash and Pumpkins

You may not expect to find pumpkin and other squashes in your pet’s dinner bowl. But dog foods frequently feature these ingredients as alternative sources of carbohydrates.

These vegetables are great alternatives to grains and peas. They are high in fiber and provide high levels of beta-carotene.

Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

These starchy ingredients are another common alternative source of carbohydrates and fiber. They have similar nutrient profiles to pumpkins, but dogs should only eat potatoes in moderation due to their dense carbohydrate content.

The FDA has also linked DCM to dog foods with high amounts of potatoes. So if you are avoiding peas on the FDA’s recommendation, consider feeding a potato free diet as well.

Grains

Peas are most common in grain-free dog foods. Grains are primary sources of digestible carbohydrates. And whole grains like oats, brown rice, or millet can also provide high fiber and nutrient concentrations.

Unless your dog has a grain food allergy or gluten sensitivity, most pups can safely eat these ingredients.

Our Verdict

Despite popularity as an alternative source of digestible carbohydrates in grain-free formulas, peas can be problematic for dogs.

Peas may contribute to an increased risk of heart problems in some dogs. And other pups may suffer from allergic reactions or digestive sensitivities to these legumes.

I recommend Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food as the best overall diet for pups who need to avoid eating peas.

Selecting the best dog food without legumes, peas, or lentils can help your sensitive furry friend live his best life. Talk to your veterinarian today if you are concerned about your dog’s heart health or potential food sensitivities.

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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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