12 Best Legume Free Dog Food (Without Legumes, Peas, & Potatoes) in 2022

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

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Quick Picks

Best Dog Food without Legumes OverallHolistic Select Dry Dog Food
If you have a sensitive pup with a history of heart issues, this dog food is a safe and delicious choice for him. It excludes legumes and potatoes while maintaining low calorie content, moderate protein levels, and a great range of supplements, ideal for most dog breeds.

Best Immune System BoosterHealth Extension Original Dog Food
For dogs who need an immune boost while staying away from any legumes, there’s no better option than this dog food. It has whole food ingredients with healthy fruits & vegetables loaded with antioxidants that boost the immune system.

Best Value for MoneyDiamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food
This food contains healthy grains, vegetables and fruits with good levels of fats and protein to support the growth and development of your energetic, growing puppy – all for an affordable price.

Legumes are tasty, healthy sources of essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, & K. They’re high in protein, fiber, and carbohydrates, which easily makes them an excellent ingredient to add in dog food. However, recent studies have linked legumes to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.

While further studies are yet to be conducted, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and avoid dog foods with ingredients like peas, lentils, legumes, and potatoes – especially if your dogs have a history of heart issues.

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Product Name
Best Legume Free Dog Food
Best Immune System Booster
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe, 30-Pound Bag, Model:24953
Health Extension Original Dry Dog Food - Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe
Diamond Naturals Dry Food for Adult Dog, Beef and Rice Formula, 40 Pound Bag (074198608331)
Our Rating: 91 / 100
Our Rating: 91 / 100
Our Rating: 90 / 100
Pro 1
No legumes or potatoes and contains healthy, wholesome fruits and vegetables
Contains superfood ingredients loaded with antioxidants
Avoids all legumes & potatoes and makes use of great, healthy fruits and vegetables
Pro 2
Optimum protein and fat levels ideal for most dog breeds
Moderate protein level and higher fat level to suit most dogs
Incredibly affordable and premium quality for its price
Best Legume Free Dog Food
Ranked #1
Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe, 30-Pound Bag, Model:24953
Our Rating: 91 / 100
Pro 1
No legumes or potatoes and contains healthy, wholesome fruits and vegetables
Pro 2
Optimum protein and fat levels ideal for most dog breeds
Custom Button
Best Immune System Booster
Ranked #2
Health Extension Original Dry Dog Food - Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe
Our Rating: 91 / 100
Pro 1
Contains superfood ingredients loaded with antioxidants
Pro 2
Moderate protein level and higher fat level to suit most dogs
Custom Button
Best Value For Money
Ranked #3
Diamond Naturals Dry Food for Adult Dog, Beef and Rice Formula, 40 Pound Bag (074198608331)
Our Rating: 90 / 100
Pro 1
Avoids all legumes & potatoes and makes use of great, healthy fruits and vegetables
Pro 2
Incredibly affordable and premium quality for its price
Custom Button

What Makes Legumes Bad for Our Dogs? 

First of all, don’t get a fright and assume that any dry dog food with legumes in it is terrible for your dog’s health. Some of them are quite okay for your dog to eat. But some aren’t, like broad beans (fava beans), coffee beans, and any flavored beans. 

Let’s delve into some more info about when feeding your dog legumes is bad. 

When They Outweigh Animal Protein 

If the dog food has legumes as the first ingredient on the list, it’s a no-no! Although legumes are packed with protein, they should never be the primary protein source in your dog’s food. 

Animal protein should always make up most of the protein count. There’s nothing wrong with having some beans in there to supplement it, but they should really only be extras. 

When They’re Raw 

Most raw beans contain a substance called phytohaemagglutinin, which is considered to be a toxin to dogs. When cooked, those levels reduce drastically, although a small amount remains. It goes without saying, then, that it’s best to avoid any dog foods containing raw beans. 

In some cases, it’s hard to tell if the legumes in a dog food have been cooked. They don’t exactly mention it on the dog food formula label, although they’re not likely to be raw. If you’re worried, rather avoid them entirely! 

When They’re Processed 

Canned beans, peas, lentils, legumes and potatoes that have been refried, or otherwise processed should be avoided. These contain preservatives that can cause harm to your dog’s body. 

The Best Alternatives to Peas in Dog Food 

There’s a variety of food ingredients you may find in dog foods without peas. The bonus of having so many alternatives is that there’s sure to be something your dog’s stomach can handle! 


Beans and pea ingredients are the biggest culprits when it comes to legumes getting a bad name. But lentils and chickpeas are also legumes, and they’re slightly healthier than peas and beans. 

They’re both high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Peas, lentils legumes can be a useful source of added protein to a dog food, as well as being good for dogs who need some extra fiber in their diet. 

If you’re making your dog fresh food every day, you can definitely add some lentils or chickpeas to their bowl, as long as they’re cooked. Don’t add spices when cooking them, though, not even salt or pepper 

Also, avoid feeding them legumes that come out of a can. These are usually preserved with chemical ingredients that aren’t too healthy for your pooch. 


Starches are a good, healthy alternative to legumes in dog food. You may need to test before you buy/make, though. Potatoes are one of the more common allergens in dog foods, so you’ll need to be sure your dog can digest them comfortably. 

Sweet potatoes are a great choice. They don’t induce allergies the same way white or russet potatoes do, and they provide long-lasting, slow-release energy throughout the day. They also tend to add a good bit of flavor to the dog, more so than traditional potatoes or tapioca. 

Tapioca is a starch that comes from the cassava root. It’s free from gluten, lectin, and it’s non-toxic. There’s some controversy over it, due to the poisonous nature of cassava root, but properly processed tapioca flour isn’t dangerous at all. 

It isn’t as vitamin-rich as the others, but it does supply a good lot of iron and calcium. It’s a good alternative to peas, legumes, and potatoes if your dog struggles with many ingredient allergies. 


As grains go, brown rice is a fantastic legume substitute. Others that are perfectly acceptable include oatmeal, millet, sorghum, and quinoa. The reason these grains are acceptable and corn, wheat, and soy aren’t, is because these don’t contain gluten. 

Gluten can cause digestive upset. Some dogs can deal with it quite well, but others can’t digest it well at all. It’s also not very nutrition-dense, so it’s basically a place-holder in your dog’s food. Some pet food manufacturers add it to bulk up the dog food, as it’s an affordable option for them. 

If you have to choose, go for white or brown rice. They’re high in fiber, which will help your dog’s digestive system along the way. They also contain vitamins and minerals. 

Don’t be afraid of grains in dry dog food. You don’t need to go “grain-free” for the kibble to be healthy! As long as they avoid corn, wheat, and soy, your dog’s stomach should be okay with it! 


Pumpkin and squash are similar to potato and sweet potato in that they’re slow-releasing vegetables that provide energy for your dog throughout the day. 

Like most vegetables, they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. They also add a good bit of texture to the dog food, as well as natural taste. 

These two vegetables are particularly good to feed dogs who have sensitive stomachs. They’re both loaded with fiber, so if your dog is suffering from diarrhea, feeding him or her some pumpkin or other squash can ease it up. 

Other squashes include acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and butternut squash. Take note that feeding your dog raw squash won’t have the same effects. Cooking releases vitamins, and of course it softens it up a little so it’s easier for your dog to digest. 

Also, if you’re going to be cooking it for your dog, remove the seeds and the skin. These can be an obstruction, but they also have little nutritional value. 

What Are the Best Dog Foods Without Peas, Lentils, Legumes, and Potatoes?

  1. Best Dog Food without Legume Overall: Holistic Select Dry Dog Food
  2. Best Immune System Booster: Health Extension Original Dog Food
  3. Best Value For Money: Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food
  4. Best Food without Legumes for Seniors: Diamond Naturals Senior Formula
  5. Best Food without Legumes for Puppies: Diamond Naturals Puppy Food
  6. Best Raw Option: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties
  7. Best Limited Ingredient: Purina Simply 9 Limited Ingredient Diet
  8. Best Without Chicken: Holistic Select Adult Recipe
  9. Best For Active Dogs: Dr Tim’s Highly Athletic Momentum Formula
  10. Best Wet/Canned Food: Merrick Grain-Free Wet Dog Food
  11. Best Non-GMO Option: Nutro Ultra Adult Formula
  12. Best for Dogs with Digestive Problems: Farmina N&D Ancestral Grains

1. Holistic Select Dry Dog Food

Best Dog Food without Legumes Overall: Healthy choice for dogs of all sizes, shapes, ages, or activity levels


  • No legumes or potatoes and contains healthy, wholesome fruits and vegetables 
  • Moderate protein and fat levels, making this great for most dogs 
  • Contains a good level of glucosamine for the joints
  • High Omega fatty acid counts  for healthy skin and coat


  • Contains only chicken meal, no real meat 

Holistic Select Dry Dog Food is a premium dog food with a high-quality ingredient list, great protein and fat levels, legume and potato-free carb content, and no artificial ingredients added. 

It contains all-natural, real dry dog food ingredients that provide easy-to-metabolise energy, usable vitamins and minerals, great levels of Omega fatty acids, probiotics, and joint supplements. 

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Supports Digestive Health 

You’ll find probiotics, prebiotics, live yoghurt cultures, digestive enzymes, and natural fiber in this dog food – all of which support the digestive process. 

This food specifically contains protease to help with protein digestion, cellulase to help break down cellulose, and alpha-amylase to assist in breaking down starches. 

Nutritional Value For Adult Dogs  

With 25% protein and 15% fat, this dry dog food is ideal for a very wide variety of dogs of all ages, activity levels and sizes. Fat is the quickest, most-easily accessible energy source for dogs, and the fat content in this food is a safe amount for dogs who don’t do excessive exercise.

2. Health Extension Original Dog Food

Best Immune System Booster: Packed with premium quality organic ingredients


  • Moderate protein level and higher fat level to suit most dogs 
  • High quality, organic ingredients 
  • Contains superfood ingredients such as ginger, apple cider vinegar, & astragalus 
  • Contains nice Omegas and glucosamine & chondroitin sulfate (although these aren’t reflected on the guarantee analysis list) 


  • Not suitable for pups who are sensitive to poultry 

Health Extension Original Dog Food contains protein (24%) and fat (18%) which is a great combination for dogs who get regular exercise. The ingredients are organic, high quality, and contains absolutely no legumes, so you can rest assured that your dog will not only get healthy, premium quality food but avoid problem ingredients as well.  

Real meat, meat meal, real fruits and vegetables make this easily digestible and super good for your pooch. 

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Superfood Ingredients 

There are some amazing superfood ingredients in this dog food, such as coconut oil (a lovely source of Omega fatty acids), organic apple cider vinegar (which contributes a little to flavour and quite a bit to health), green tea extract, and dehydrated kelp. 

There is also an ingredient called bovine colostrum. Colostrum is a mother’s first milk, and contains nutrients that help build a healthy, strong immune system especially for growing pups. 

3. Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food

Best Value For Money: Contains premium quality ingredients for a low-end price

Diamond Naturals Dry Food for Adult Dog, Beef and Rice Formula, 40 Pound Bag (074198608331)
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  • Incredibly affordable and premium quality for its price 
  • Avoids all legumes & potatoes and makes use of great, healthy fruits and vegetables 
  • Contains supplements like glucosamine and Omega fatty acids 
  • Fairly low in calories and moderate in protein and fat, making it suitable for a very wide variety of dogs 


  • Contains (good) grains, which could be a problem for some dogs who are sensitive 
  • Contains only meat meal, not real meat 

At less than a dollar per pound, Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food is an incredibly affordable legume free food that contains more than the daily requirements of an adult dog.

It does not contain legume or potato but it’s loaded with good grains, healthy veggies, and antioxidant-rich fruits, as well as beef meal. It is even suitable for dogs who are sensitive to poultry (it contains chicken fat, but fat doesn’t contain the allergy-inducing components). 

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Premium Quality Ingredients 

Beef meal is the first ingredient on the list, which is the single protein source making up the 25% count. The fat count is great at 15%, which should be suitable for most adult dogs of a moderate to high activity level. 

The carbohydrate content of this dog food comes from sorghum, rice, quinoa, and barley, which are easily digestible, healthy grains. It also contains fantastic vegetables such as kale, pumpkin, and carrots. Blueberries, oranges, and coconut bring the vitamins and minerals, not to mention high levels of antioxidants.

Omegas & Added Supplements  

There’s also a good amount of Omega fatty acids in this food which keeps your pup’s skin and coat happy and healthy, and reduces allergy-related itchiness. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which is usually only available in dog foods at a higher price point.

4. Diamond Naturals Senior Formula

Best Legume Free For Seniors: Lower-fat and loaded with health-promoting supplements for older dogs


  • Very affordable for such a high-quality dog food 
  • Whole food ingredients and healthy vegetables and fruits 
  • Lower in fat for less active seniors 
  • Contains glucosamine & L-carnitine, great for older dogs 


  • Not suitable for seniors sensitive to chicken 

Diamond Naturals Senior Formula packs a nutrient-dense dog food filled with vegetables and fruits, healthy, digestible grains, real chicken and chicken meal that keeps them strong, active, and as healthy as possible as they age. 

For senior dogs who still get plenty of exercise going out on walks or jogs with you, this dog food retains great protein and fat levels to give them sufficient energy and enough muscle support.

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High Quality For A Low Price 

This food is loaded with superior quality ingredients and doesn’t make use of low-quality fillers (no corn, wheat, or soy in this recipe). You also won’t find artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives, which can be harmful for your little pooch.

This formula contains real chicken, easily digestible grains like rice, quinoa, & oatmeal, and nutrient-dense fruits & veggies such as kale, chia seeds, pumpkin, papaya, blueberries, and dried kelp. All of these ingredients make it a complete meal that’s packed with goodness in every single bite. 

Supplements For Seniors 

The calcium/phosphorus ratio of this food and the added glucosamine and chondroitin supports his bones and joints as they grow old. They will retain their healthy and shiny skin and coat as well from the Omega fatty acids they will be getting from this food.

The added dose of vitamin A, E, and L-carnitine, helps the metabolism and energy regulation of your pup, keeping him energized all day long. 

5. Diamond Naturals Puppy Food 

Best Legume Free For Puppies: A puppy-specific recipe without legumes, peas, and potatoes


  • Great protein and fat levels for puppies 
  • Contains DHA and good Omegas 
  • High-quality carb sources, including healthy grains and fruits & veggies 
  • Suitable for pups who are sensitive to poultry (chicken fat doesn’t induce allergies) 


  • Doesn’t contain glucosamine 

Diamond Naturals Puppy Food is specifically a puppy formula that avoids legumes and potatoes but still contains the primary nutrients that your growing puppy requires. Diamond Naturals specifically removed legumes and potato products from the original formula to make this food safer for all puppies, regardless of allergies or sensitivities. 

There’s a good amount of DHA in this food which is a supplemental fatty acid that supports eye and brain development. The added L-carnitine improves metabolism and energy regulation so you can rest assured that your puppy will have sufficient energy throughout the day.

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High Quality For Lower Price 

This formula is made of ingredients like lamb, brown & white rice, barley, salmon oil, pumpkin, blueberries, quinoa, dried kelp, and papaya – all of which are considered superfoods packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

The calcium/phosphorus ratio is also ideal to make sure your little one’s bones grow properly and strong enough to support the muscles. There are also some chelated minerals to make digestion easier. 

6. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties 

Best Raw Option: Flavorful, minimally processed patties that your dog will enjoy


  • Various flavours available, all of which are free from legumes and potatoes 
  • Minimally processed to retain as much nutrition as possible 
  • High in protein and fat, but low in calories, making it best for active dogs 
  • Contains organic fruits and vegetables for extra vitamins and antioxidants 


  • Doesn’t contain supplements such as glucosamine or L-carnitine 
  • Not the most affordable (but not unusual for raw dog foods) 

These patties from Stella & Chewy are a tasty introduction to the world of raw feeding. You can’t find a better option for getting your dog used to the taste and texture of raw food. It’s loaded with amazing ingredients that have high nutritional value. Only premium quality protein is used in this food, paired with a variety of vegetables and fruits that provide fiber, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. 

They’re available in many flavors and are really easy to prepare – excellent for dogs who are picky eaters.

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Ingredients & Flavors 

The protein you’ll find in these patties comes from lean meat, liver, kidney, heart, tripe, and bone. They are minimally processed protein sources which means they retain not just the flavor of raw meat but the quality of added ingredients that go into it.

The available flavors are beef, chicken, lamb, red meat, salmon & beef, venison, duck, rabbit, turkey, venison & lamb, and pork. They also have beef & salmon and chicken & salmon options for puppies who need an extra dose of DHA and L-carnitine for proper development. 

7. Purina Simply 9 Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Best Limited Ingredient: Extra safe for dogs who are prone to allergies


  • Free from peas, lentils, legumes, and potatoes 
  • No corn, wheat, or soy 
  • Tasty chicken and lamb flavors 
  • Good protein and fat levels for just about all dogs 


  • May not be suitable for dogs with a grain allergy (although the grains are the good ones) 
  • Lamb flavour contains chicken, so no suitable for some dogs   

For dogs who need a limited ingredient diet due to allergies, Purina Simply 9 Limited Ingredient Diet will help them avoid problem ingredients while getting a well-rounded, healthy meal. 

There’s only a main protein ingredient and two sources of healthy grains in this food, which removes a lot of ingredients that could cause allergies. The grains are easily digestible so even dogs with sensitive stomachs can enjoy it.

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Legume & Potato-Free 

Many limited ingredient dog foods still contain legumes or potato. This one, however, does not contain any lentils, peas, legumes, and potatoes but still reach the required daily nutrition that an average adult dog needs. It also has glucosamine which helps your dog’s joints stay healthy as they mature.

8. Holistic Select Adult Recipe

Best Without Chicken: Reduces the chance of allergies even more by avoiding chicken


  • Contains no chicken, legumes, or potato 
  • Good Omega fatty acid levels 
  • Added glucosamine 
  • Contains antioxidant-rich superfoods 


  • May have a strong smell 

Chicken is an ingredient that is very common in dry dog food, but it’s also the protein that is most often responsible for allergies. And while it’s hard to find a dog food that is free from legumes, potatoes, and chicken, this recipe avoids all that while making sure your dog gets all the essential nutrients he needs to thrive.

You won’t find chicken in any form. There’s also no legumes, in whole, powdered protein, or starch form in this food. What it contains, though, is high-quality protein in the form of anchovy & sardine meal and salmon meal (which is great for Omegas), and whole fruits and vegetables that do wonders by providing high levels of vitamins and minerals. 

If your pup suffers from allergies, we can recommend this dog food as a high-quality, nutrient-dense, healthy option for just about every dog breed out there. 

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Nutritional Value 

25% protein and 13% fat content is well within the range of that’s recommended for the general doggy population. The Omega levels are extremely high for a dog food at this price point.  You’ll also see a few things on the guaranteed analysis list that help with digestion – protease to help with protein digestion, cellulase for digesting cellulose, and alpha-amylase for starchy ingredients.

9. Dr Tim’s Highly Athletic Momentum Formula

Best For Active Dogs: Meat meal recipe with a high fat count for active dogs

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  • High protein and fat levels for active dogs 
  • Very high Omegas, great for keeping skin & coats healthy 
  • Contain DHA and EPA, which offer various benefits 
  • High in calories for dogs who have high daily calorie needs 


  • No real meat, only meat meal (which contributes to the high protein count) 
  • Doesn’t contain glucosamine, which active dogs may need 

Highly active dogs need higher-than-average protein and fat levels. Dr Tim’s Highly Athletic Momentum Formula has 35% protein and 25% fat to fuel your energetic pooch. Aside from the main nutrients that your dog can get from this food, it also contains supplements like DHA and EPA, which promote proper eye and brain development.

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High-Quality Dog Food 

Its protein content comes from high quality meat meal and it’s loaded with probiotics, prebiotics and natural antioxidants that offer proper nourishment, immune system boost, and easy digestion.

Chicken fat and Menhaden fish oil provide a fantastic fat count for your pooch and provide him the energy he needs for the day. The carbs consist of just one grain – brown rice, which is easy to digest, wholesome, and healthy.

10. Merrick Grain Free Wet Dog Food

Best Wet/Canned Food: Made from real meat, with a healthy dose of DHA


  • Doesn’t contain carrageenan, which is a common low-quality thickener 
  • Real meat is the first ingredient 
  • Contains added DHA 
  • No artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives  


  • Doesn’t contain any real vegetables

For the occasional tasty addition, calorie-increasing snack or treat, a can of wet food is great. Merrick Grain Free Wet Dog Food is one of the few that doesn’t contain legumes or potatoes, and also doesn’t contain carrageenan, which is a very common low-quality ingredient. 

There are 4 different flavors to choose from, each contains real meat, plenty of moisture, and a little dose of DHA. 

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Flavour Variety 

Your pet will have the choice of real beef & lamb & buffalo, real chicken, real duck, and real Texas beef. The nutritional value is consistent throughout the flavor range and contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. 

11. Nutro Ultra Adult Formula

Best Non-GMO Option: Contains only farm-raised chicken, fresh salmon, and pasture-fed lamb


  • Manufactured with lean animal protein
  • Made without artificial ingredients
  • Antioxidant-rich and containing natural fruits and vegetables
  • Only 341 calories in a single cup


  • Doesn’t contain any real vegetables

Nutro Ultra Adult Formula is a non-GMO, legume-free dog food that provides a trio of high-quality proteins. Its lean meat content is rich in nutrients and a variety of omega fatty acids that keep your adult dog in excellent shape. 

Its pea and legume-free recipes enhance your pet’s immunity, allowing for more extended periods of play and bursts of energy. 

This “superfood” is ideal for larger dogs who require lower caloric intake.

12. Farmina N&D Ancestral Grains

Best for Dogs with Digestive Problems: Pea-free recipe with low fiber content that’s ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs


  • Proteins are from authentic animal sources
  • Does not contain any harmful byproducts
  • Made with real fish and organic oats
  • Contains limited carbohydrates


  • Doesn’t contain any real vegetables

If your dog suffers from allergies, intolerance, or irritable bowel movements, it will benefit from a daily bowl of Farmina N&D Ancestral Grains This limited-ingredient and legume-free dog food contains only a single protein source—cod. 

This low-glycemic recipe is also low in carbohydrates, which is ideal for dogs on a controlled diet. In place of legumes, it contains whole spelt and fresh oats.  

Farmina is available for dogs of all sizes and life stages.

FDA Warnings 

The worry over legumes and grain-free dog food products isn’t without basis. The FDA has been investigating the link between grain-free foods—or more specifically, dog food containing legumes—and a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). 

There’s significant data to show that their investigation may have some merit to it. But that doesn’t mean you need to avoid legumes entirely, or choose a dog food with grains! There’s more that goes into it. 

Here’s the details and FDA warnings about grain-free dog food, or any food products containing legumes. 

DCM in Dogs  

Dilated cardiomyopathy refers to a condition in which the muscle in the heart degenerates and becomes thinner. When the muscular wall of the heart thins, the pressure of the blood inside it can cause it to “swell”, resulting in a larger-than-usual heart. 

The constant added pressure on the walls of the heart can lead to congestive heart failure. It can be hard to diagnose early, as it only displays signs and symptoms later. These include an increased breathing rate while asleep, finding it harder to breathe, a dry cough, weakness, decreased appetite, restlessness at night, and a swollen or distended abdomen. 

Dog breeds that are prone to the condition include Boxers, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards, and Doberman Pinschers. On occasion, Spaniels and Portuguese Water Dogs also develop it. 

How Legumes Play a Role 

In 2018, the FDA alerted the dog world that they were investigating the link between DCM and dog foods containing peas, lentils, other legumes, and potatoes. 

This came about after a spate of DCM cases in dogs that were not predisposed to it. After initial research found that 90% of the ailing dogs had been eating a grain-free diet that contained peas, lentils, legumes – the FDA put out a cursory warning to pet parents feeding their pets dog foods with legumes. 

As of yet, there’s been no specific conclusion to this research. The FDA has stated that they believe the link is there, but it’s not clear as to whether the  DCM is caused by legumes and potatoes, or if it’s caused by other “exotic” ingredients in many grain-free diets, like unusual protein sources, or exotic vegetables and fruits. 

There’s no reason to worry yet. We suggest you choose common proteins over exotic ones, and make sure the ingredients are all-natural and healthy.

What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy and How to Prevent It

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart condition that is characterised by an enlarged heart that struggles to pump blood properly. 

The word “dilated” means wider or more open, and that’s exactly what happens to the chambers of the heart when a pup suffers from this disease. When these chambers widen, their blood-pumping action isn’t as effective, meaning your pup’s body doesn’t get supplied with oxygen as effectively as it usually would. It can also cause fluid to accumulate in tissues, which leads to various complications. 

Symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Symptoms usually only show up quite late in the progression of the disease and include:

  • weakness and lethargy
  • laboured breathing or panting for no apparent reason
  • unexplained coughing
  • and distension of the abdomen

The fact is, any dog can develop any disease at any time. It’s impossible to prevent diseases and disorders through diet, no matter how hard you try to avoid potentially problematic ingredients in their dog food. Diet isn’t the only thing that contributes to health, and sometimes things develop despite our best efforts to keep our pups eating only good stuff. 

If your dog has noticeable, debilitating signs and symptoms of a food allergy or intolerance, it’s natural to find them a dry dog food that doesn’t have the same effects. If they have a pre-diagnosed condition that can be helped by eating certain dog foods (such as hypothyroidism), it may be worth it to change their diet. DCM, though, is something that may or may not happen, and it’s still up in the air as to whether diet is a deciding factor in that. 

Questions & Answers

Q: What exactly are legumes? 

A: Legumes (also known as pulses) are plants (or the fruit or seeds of said plants) of a specific family that has a long Latin name. It can be complicated when you start looking into what legumes really are, but simply put, they are plants whose fruit grows in pods. 

It’s easier to go into what plants and fruits fall under the legume umbrella (especially those that are commonly found in dog food). They include alfalfa, beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and soybeans, which are often seen on dry dog food ingredient lists. 

Q: Why choose a legume free food for your dog?

A: Legumes are not entirely bad for your dog, but recent FDA investigation linked legumes with increased risk of developing Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

Although research has suggested that DCM is more likely caused by “boutique” dog foods that contain exotic ingredients, not just grain-free dog foods, it can be a worry for pet parents whose dogs have to eat grain-free dog foods for health reasons. 

If you have a dog breed that is predisposed to DCM, it may be helpful (even if just for your peace of mind) to feed them a dog food that avoids these ingredients. 

Even apart from DCM, certain breeds are just more predisposed to food allergies, which can leave them feeling uncomfortable and miserable. If you have a Bulldog, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Spaniel, Pug, Yorkie, or Pitbull, you may want to consider putting them on a legume-free dog food from the start.

Q: What should I look for when choosing the best dog food without legumes? 

A: You should be looking for a premium quality ingredient list that contains wholesome, real dog food ingredients. A high quality animal protein (or more than one) should be the first ingredient on the list. 

Carbs don’t necessarily need to include grains, unless you (or your pup) prefer it that way. Good grains include rice, oats and oatmeal, barley, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, and quinoa are perfectly healthy and should be easy on your dog’s tummy. 

Whether or not there are grains, the addition of fruits and vegetables is always a good thing. Non-legume veggies (that aren’t potatoes) include sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, and spinach. Fruits are super as well and add a dash of vitamins, so look for apples, blueberries, cranberries, papaya, and oranges. 

There should be a nice level of Omega fatty acids and added supplements such as glucosamine & chondroitin, L-carnitine, and DHA and EPA. The necessity of these will depend on your pooch, but they’re great to see in a dry dog food. 

Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of a grain free dog food (whether or not it contains legumes)? 

Quality grain-free dog foods are free from grains that are considered to be indigestible to dogs, like wheat, soy, and corn. They also avoid gluten-free grains, such as barley, oats, rice, and so on.

Their carbohydrates are usually made up of veggies and fruits, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and of course, legumes (peas, chickpeas, lentils). 

Disadvantages are the obvious link to DCM that’s been mentioned throughout this article (although nothing has been conclusively proven), the fact that a grain-free diet is a little more pricey than those containing grains, and the potential for weight gain due to the density of the food. 

Q: If I’m looking for a potato free dog food, can I still use one with sweet potato? 

A: We’ve avoided dog foods with potatoes on this list, because of their link to DCM, as well as being a common allergen for dogs. Sweet potatoes, though, are slightly nutritionally different to white potatoes, and are still appropriate for a pup who may have to avoid white potatoes due to allergies. 

White potatoes are a common ingredient in dog food as they’re cheaper than sweet potatoes. They have a higher glycemic index than sweet potatoes, which means they contain more natural sugar, so they could be a problem for pups with diabetes. 

They’re dense carbohydrates but actually offer less nutritional value than sweet potatoes. There have also been worries about certain carcinogens that are produced when white potatoes are cooked, making them a little less stable as an ingredient in dog foods without peas.

Sweet potatoes are more nutrient-dense than their white counterparts and contain less sugar but more vitamins and antioxidants. They are high in starch, so too much of them can contribute to weight gain, but that’s just as true for white potatoes!

All in all, if your pup needs to avoid white potatoes, then you should be able to go with sweet potatoes no problem. They are highly nutritious and don’t produce the same allergies as white potatoes do.

Q: Does legume-free dog food help prevent heart disease? 

A: Legume-free dog food products can definitely reduce the risk of heart diseases in dogs. Conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy occur in larger dogs and can be effectively prevented by eliminating ingredients such as legumes. 

To further prevent heart disease, consider putting your dog on a diet rich in legume-like alternatives. These ingredients might include pumpkin, which contains high levels of micronutrients that are beneficial to your dog’s overall development and digestive system. 

Q: What are ten dog breeds most prone to DCM? 

A: The top ten dog breeds most prone to developing dilated cardiomyopathy include the following: 

  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • Boxer
  • Dalmatian
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • English Bulldog
  • Golden Retriever
  • Great Dane
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Saint Bernard

While DCM most typically occurs in larger breeds, some smaller breeds might also be genetically predisposed to the disease. DCM is also more present in male dogs than their female counterparts. 

Mike Powell

Mike is an avid dog lover and writer. He’s based in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up in a household surrounded by pets. He’s been a dog owner all his life and he uses this extensive experience of having dogs as part of his family to share valuable, practical tips to improve other people’s dog parenting experience.