10 Best Dog Food Without Peas, Lentils, Legumes & Potatoes

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

Last Update:

If you have no idea what a legume is, you’re not alone. It’s a good idea to learn, though, if you’re a pet parent, because they are a common ingredient in dog foods and have been linked to worries about a particular heart disease.

In a nutshell (or a pod…), a legume is a type of plant that grows in a pod, such as beans, peas, and peanuts. 

They’re often found in grain-free dog foods, and although they’re generally healthy, you may choose to avoid them if your pup is predisposed to heart disease

Today we’ll be looking at the best legume-free dog food (that also avoids potato, as it is also a suspect in DCM, as well as the various starches and proteins derived from potatoes and legumes). 

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10 Best Dog Food Without Peas, Lentils, Legumes & Potatoes

Diamond Naturals Adult Real Meat Recipe

Best Value For Money

Overall Rating91%
Carb Source Quality95%
Quality Animal Protein85%
Helpful Supplements90%
Omega Fatty Acids90%


  • 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, and fulfilling all of our legume-free hopes, this food from Diamond Naturals is a no-brainer as our best value for money choice. 

You won’t find a legume or potato in sight on this ingredient list. What you will find is a couple of good grains, healthy veggies, and antioxidant-rich fruits, as well as beef meal. It can even be suitable for dogs who are sensitive to poultry (it contains chicken fat, but fat doesn’t contain the allergy-inducing components). 

High quality, real food ingredients with added extras, all for 90 cents a pound – you can’t get better than that. 

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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 carbs are made up of wonderful things while avoiding the legume ingredients. You’ll find sorghum, rice, quinoa, and barley, which are easily digestible, healthy grains, as well as fantastic vegetables such as kale, pumpkin, and carrots. Blueberries, oranges, and coconut bring the vitamins and minerals from fruits, as well as adding to the taste. 

Omegas & Added Supplements  

The Omegas in this food are good, coming in at 2,4% for Omega 6 and 0,4% for Omega 3. These will go a long way towards keeping your pup’s skin and coat happy and healthy, and reducing allergy-related itchiness. 

You’ll also spot nice levels of vitamin A and vitamin E on the ingredient list, which is always good to see and is highly beneficial for your pup. 

It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which is unusual but very much appreciated in a food of such an affordable price. Your pooch won’t be missing out anything if they’re eating this food, and neither will you – there’ll be no unnecessary cents spent. 

Diamond Naturals Senior Formula

Best Legume-Free Dog Food For Seniors

Overall Rating91%
Carb Source Quality90%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Helpful Supplements90%
Omega Fatty Acids90%


  • Very affordable for such a high-quality 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 

Senior dogs need slightly different nutrients to younger pups, and this one doesn’t disappoint when it comes to being filled with great stuff (and with an amazing price tag). 

There are no legumes to be found – just super dense, nutrient-packed vegetables and fruits, healthy, digestible grains, real chicken and chicken meal, and some really nice additions to will be of plenty of benefit to older dogs, keeping them strong, active, and as healthy as possible as they age. 

Senior dogs don’t need to be significantly less active than they always were, or suddenly change diet because they’re getting older. This food retains great protein and fat levels for slightly less active dogs, and contains all the good stuff needed to keep them functioning at their best. 

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High Quality For A Low Price 

For a great quality, all-natural senior dog food, you’re paying just a dot over a dollar per pound, which is just about unheard of when it comes to feeding your pooch the best quality. 

It’s 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, making this one a fantastic option for its price. 

Real chicken, chicken meal, healthy, digestible grains (rice, quinoa, and oatmeal) and nutrient-dense fruits and veggies such as kale, chia seeds, pumpkin, papaya, blueberries, and dried kelp make this a meal that’s packed with goodness in every single bite. 

Supplements For Seniors 

Your older pup’s bones and joints will be thankful for this formula, which has a perfect calcium/phosphorus ratio and a dash of glucosamine and chondroitin. These will assist in them keeping up a fairly active lifestyle, which is great as pups age to keep them strong and healthy. 

The levels of Omega 3 and 6 are decently high, keeping a sleek, youthful-looking coat and moisturised skin. There’s also a dose of vitamin A and E, as well as the always-welcome addition of L-carnitine, which plays a role in metabolism and energy regulation, helping keep your pup as energised as possible. 

Diamond Naturals Puppy Food 

Best Legume-Free Dog Food For Puppies

Overall Rating90%
Carb Source Quality90%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Helpful Supplements85%
Omega Fatty Acids90%


  • 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 

Puppies are in the all-important growing and developing stage, so you can’t just feed them any old food. A food aimed at adult dogs is not going to be sufficient for a puppy’s nutritional needs. 

This food is specifically a puppy formula and it’s one of the few that avoids legumes and potatoes but still contains necessary things for a puppy to grow. It’s great to be able to compare their old recipe and new one, and you can see that they have specifically removed legumes and potato products to make the kibble more suitable for all puppies, regardless of allergies or sensitivities. 

This one’s for large breed puppies, and they have another recipe for small breeds, so whatever breed your puppy is, there’s something for them. Another huge bonus of this food is that it has a seriously nice price! 

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High Quality For Lower Price 

Ingredients like lamb and lamb meal, brown and white rice, barley, salmon oil, pumpkin, blueberries, quinoa, dried kelp, and papaya make this an amazing quality food. Some of these ingredients count as superfoods and are packed with antioxidants and healthy benefits. 

Lamb is a super protein source and will help your puppy build strong muscles. The calcium/phosphorus ratio is also perfect to make sure your little one’s bones grow at the right pace and don’t become brittle, but are still able to support the muscles. There are also some chelated minerals to make digestion easier, which is good to see. 

Added Supplements For Puppies 

DHA is a supplemental fatty acid that should be in every puppy food, and this food does not neglect it. It’s highly helpful for eye and brain development, and will ensure your little guy or girl grows up in optimal health. 

You’ll also find L-carnitine in this food, which isn’t often seen in puppy food but is always great for assisting in metabolism and energy regulation. There’s also added beta carotene, which helps keep the immune system functioning as it should.

Holistic Select Adult Health Chicken Meal & Brown Rice

Premium Option

Overall Rating89%
Carb Source Quality95%
Quality Animal Protein85%
Helpful Supplements90%
Omega Fatty Acids90%


  • 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 
  • High Omega fatty acid counts 


  • Contains only chicken meal, no real meat 

Whatever size, shape, age, or activity level your pup comes in at, this food should suit them fairly well. It’s our premium option due to its high-quality ingredient list, great protein and fat levels, legume and potato-free carb content, and lack of artificial ingredients. 

It would be great for most adult dogs, as it contains all-natural, real food ingredients that will provide easy-to-metabolise energy, usable vitamins and minerals, great levels of Omega fatty acids, probiotics, and joint supplements. 

If you have a dog that is past puppyhood and needs a great quality kibble, you won’t go wrong feeding them this one. 

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Supports Digestive Health 

The foods that go into making this kibble are of premium quality, and are things that you might see in many a human meal. You’ll also find probiotics, prebiotics, live yoghurt cultures, digestive enzymes, and natural fiber, all of which may sound weird but are super for helping the digestive process. 

They also specifically mention the addition of certain things to help digest specific ingredients – 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 kibble is suitable for a very wide variety of dogs of all ages, activity levels and sizes. If your pup is super active, they may need more of both these nutrients, but for the average Joe of pups, this food is great. 

Fat is the quickest, most-easily accessible energy source for dogs, so a decent count is very important. 15% is right in the middle of the range, and should be just perfect for pups who don’t do excessive exercise. If your pooch loves wandering around the backyard and having the occasional run, chase, or wrestle, this should be quite all right for them. 

Health Extension Original Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Runner-Up Option

Overall Rating87%
Carb Source Quality90%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Helpful Supplements85%
Omega Fatty Acids85%


  • 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 

You’ll find all your pup needs to be healthy in this food from Health Extensions, and it’s minus the potential problem ingredients. It’s pretty average in terms of protein (24%) and fairly high in fat (18%) which is super for most dogs who get regular exercise. 

The ingredients are organic and of high quality, so you can rest assured that your dog will be getting only healthy stuff. There are some unusual ingredients that aren’t often seen and that add a really nice healthy boost to this food. 

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

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Superfood Ingredients 

Deboned chicken is a great lean meat protein, and you’ll also find chicken meal here. This means it’s not suitable for pups who are sensitive to chicken, but it’s great for those who are fine with it. 

There are some amazing superfood ingredients in this 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 a rather unusual ingredient called bovine colostrum. Colostrum is a mother’s first milk, and contains nutrients that help quite a bit to build a healthy, strong immune system. Bovine means it comes from cows, and it’s an unusual but helpful ingredient that is good to see. 

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties 

Best Raw Option

Overall Rating87%
Carb Source Quality95%
Quality Animal Protein95%
Helpful Supplements80%
Omega Fatty Acids85%


  • 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 a raw diet) 

If you’re interested in feeding your pooch raw products, which have various benefits, Stella & Chewy’s products are a fantastic, tasty introduction to the world of raw feeding. 

These dinner patties are awesome for getting your dog used to the taste and texture of raw food, and are loaded with amazing nutritional value. They’re meaty and super high in protein, but also contain a variety of vegetables and fruits which provide a dose of really good stuff. 

They’re available in many flavours and are really easy to prepare. The only thing that may be considered a thumbs down is that they don’t contain supplements such as glucosamine or L-carnitine, although you can feed these to your pooch separately.

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Ingredients & Flavours 

The protein you’ll find in these patties comes from lean meat, liver, kidney, heart, tripe, and bone. These are all perfectly normal for a raw diet, and provide a wide range of health benefits for your pet. It’s also packed with veggies such as pumpkin, broccoli, carrots, squash, and fruits like blueberries and cranberries. Tasty and healthy! 

The available flavours make it easy for your dog not to get bored with one taste. You’ll be able to choose from 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, which include a dose of DHA and L-carnitine, so you can go raw from the start if you wish. 

Purina Simply 9 Limited Ingredient Diet

Best Limited Ingredient

Overall Rating86%
Carb Source Quality90%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Helpful Supplements85%
Omega Fatty Acids80%


  • Free from peas, lentils, potatoes, and other legumes 
  • No corn, wheat, or soy 
  • Chicken and lamb flavours 
  • 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, this offering from Purina will help them avoid problem ingredients but still get a well-rounded, healthy meal. 

Real meat and two sources of healthy grains are really the only ingredients here, which removes many ingredients (or ingredient interactions) that could cause allergies. The grains are easily digestible ones and the meat is great quality, although both flavours contain chicken so it’s not great for pups who are sensitive to poultry.

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Legume & Potato-Free 

Many limited ingredient diets still contain legumes or potato as one of their few ingredients. While there’s no denying that they are generally great quality, healthy ingredients, for pups who need something without legumes or potatoes it can be super hard to find a limited ingredient food. 

This one contains high quality meat sources and healthy, easy-on-the-tummy grains, has a decent protein and fat count (24% and 14%), and also has a dose of glucosamine. 

Holistic Select Adult Health Anchovy, Sardine, & Salmon Meal Recipe

Best Without Chicken

Overall Rating86%
Carb Source Quality90%
Quality Animal Protein85%
Helpful Supplements85%
Omega Fatty Acids85%


  • 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 dog food, but it’s also the protein that is most often responsible for allergies. To find a dog food that is free from legumes, potatoes, and chicken is quite a challenge, but this food is the one. 

You won’t find chicken in any form – no meat, meal, fat, or sneaky things. You also won’t see any legumes, in whole form, powdered protein form, or starch form. What you will find 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 for the levels of vitamins and minerals contained in this food. 

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

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Nutritional Value 

25% protein and 13% fat is right in the middle of the zone for the general doggy population, so they get a thumbs up for that. The Omegas are also great, so for pups with allergies, this should help prevent itching and dry skin and fur. 

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. There’s also a nice bit of glucosamine, which is a bonus. 

Dr Tim’s Highly Athletic Momentum Formula

Best For Active Dogs

Overall Rating84%
Carb Source Quality85%
Quality Animal Protein85%
Helpful Supplements85%
Omega Fatty Acids90%


  • 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 

If you have a breed (or just a dog) that is highly active, he or she would benefit from higher-than-average protein and fat levels. This food delivers just that, with 35% protein and 25% fat to fuel your energetic pooch. 

Supplements added to this food include DHA and EPA, which are always great to see and promote great eye and brain health. It doesn’t, however, contain glucosamine, which could be a downer if your dog is a breed that needs it (although it’s simple to buy separate supplements). 

For a pup who needs a great quality food to fuel their daily activity, Dr Tim’s will give them what they need to live their best active life. 

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High-Quality Dog Food 

This food has a great mix of protein, fats, and carbs, with an emphasis on high protein and fat levels. There is no real meat in this kibble, but meat meal is far higher in protein and is just as good for your dog. 

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

Merrick Grain-Free Wet Dog Food

Best Wet/Canned Food

Overall Rating83.75%
Carb Source Quality80%
Quality Animal Protein90%
Omega Fatty Acids80%


  • 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

A wet food is a nice thing to have if your pup needs some help eating every now and then. We never recommend feeding your pet only wet food, unless they physically cannot eat dry kibble (and in that case, we recommend homemade fresh food). 

For the occasional tasty addition, calorie-increasing snack, or treat, a can of wet food is great. This one 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. 

You can choose from 4 different flavours, and 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. Each is pretty similar to the next in terms of nutrition, and contain no artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives. 

Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Criteria 1 – Carb Source Quality

Considering these legume ingredients are often added to grain-free foods, it makes sense that pet parents who are more averse to grains would be choosing these foods. 

If your pup is sensitive to grains then we understand avoiding them completely. However, most dogs are sensitive to gluten – which means grains like rice, oats, sorghum, millet, and quinoa are totally okay for them to eat, but corn, wheat, and soy are not. 

It can happen that your pooch has a problem with all grains, in which case you will be looking for fruits and veggies. In our opinion, you should be looking for fruits and vegetables even if your dog’s food contains good grains, as they add a dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

We’ve made sure that despite the avoidance of legumes (peas, beans, and sneaky alfalfa) and potatoes, these foods contain great quality carbohydrate sources that are healthy and wholesome. These may be fruits and veggies or healthy grains, or in some cases, both. 

Criteria 2 – Quality Animal Protein

Legumes often contain a good bit of protein in them, which adds to the overall protein count of the food. Protein is super important, but protein from animal sources are always preferable, even more so when there aren’t legumes included to up the protein count. 

We’ve checked these foods carefully to make sure they contain high-quality animal proteins. Some will have only one protein source (ie. turkey in various forms), while others may contain multiple proteins that add to the count. 

Even though legumes are more carbs than protein, the quality of the protein plays a huge part in how healthy the food is for your pooch, which is obviously the whole point of choosing a particular food. 

We’ve rated these foods by a mixture of the quality of their protein and the protein count, depending on what breed or age it’s aimed at. 

Criteria 3 – Helpful Supplements

A food isn’t just … Food. Just as we humans use daily vitamins and supplements separate to our food, dogs need a couple of specific things to help them live their best life. 

Most of these supplements are included in their food, which is useful as you don’t need to worry about feeding them supplements separately. 

They include things like glucosamine and chondroitin for increased joint strength and stability, DHA and EPA for eye and brain health (especially for puppies and seniors), L-carnitine which boosts metabolism and helps with energy regulation, and added vitamins (common ones are vitamin A and E). 

It’s not necessary to have all of these in every food, but their presence definitely gives the kibble a boost and will give it a higher rating. 

Criteria 4 – Omega Fatty Acids

The fat content in your dog’s kibble is what gives them the quickest, most easily accessible energy source. Carbs are helpful for longer term, sustained energy, but fats are what really get your pup through the day. 

You’ll find a crude fat count and counts for Omega 3s and Omega 6s. These are all useful for energy, and for dogs who are prone to allergies related to food (as those who can’t tolerate legumes may be), Omegas are super for keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy, sleek, and shiny. 

They’re great for reducing skin allergies and giving your pooch that healthy glow. Dogs whose parents are paying attention to their health and are interested in feeding them the best legume-free dog food will benefit from high levels of Omegas in many ways. 

Criteria 5 – Affordability

With new info coming to light all the time about the goodness and effectiveness of certain ingredients and diets, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming being a dog parent. How do you make sure your pooch is getting the best while still sticking to a budget? 

Thankfully, there are options out there that are well within a decent price range. Of course, there are those that are up near the higher end – and if you can afford these, then go for it! 

If, however, you’re looking for something a little less pricey but with all the goodness and health benefits that the top of the range ones have, you’ll definitely find some options on this list to suit you. We even have the Best Value For Money option which is our top pick when it comes to paying for quality. 

Questions & Answers

What exactly are legumes? 

Not many of us actually know what legumes are. We’ll try to keep it short and sweet – we aren’t botanists, after all. 

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 dog food ingredient lists. 

Why choose a legume-free dog food?

Although legumes are not bad for your dog, they have gained a bit of a negative reputation due to the FDA’s investigation into grain-free foods. It was thought that they contributed to the development of a disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy, which is a heart condition in dogs, and their reputation hasn’t recovered despite the studies coming to no definitive conclusion

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

What is dilated cardiomyopathy and should I be worried about 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 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 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 food that doesn’t have the same effects. If they have a pre-diagnosed condition that can be helped by eating a certain diet (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. 

If your pup eats grain-free and you want them to keep doing so but you’re worried about DCM, then a legume-free, grain-free food may be a good idea for you and your pooch. If, however, your fluff is doing great on their grain-free, including-legumes diet and you’re happy and they’re happy (and they’re not a breed predisposed to it) then the chances of it being something you need to worry about are small. 

What should I look for when choosing the best legume-free dog food? 

If you’ve decided to give a legume-free dog food a try, then there are still certain things you should be checking for to make sure you’re getting the great quality stuff. 

You should be looking for a premium quality ingredient list that contains wholesome, real 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 dog food. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a grain-free diet (whether or not it contains legumes)? 

Grain-free dog food has become more popular in recent years but is it really a good thing

Quality grain-free 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). 

Some dogs just don’t react well to grains, so a grain-free diet means their tummies are happier and they get more nutrients in as they aren’t as fussy eaters as they most likely were on a grain-containing food. In this case, a grain-free diet can visibly improve the quality of a dog’s life. 

Grain-free diets are also widely considered to be more nutrient-dense, promote better digestion, reduce allergies, increase energy levels, and provide longer-lasting, slower-burning energy. 

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

Grain-free is also not automatically healthier than those with grains. It’s important to look at everything from the protein source and quality, types of carbs, fat content, and added supplements before assuming that a grain-free food is better than one with grains. 

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

We’ve avoided 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.

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.