Food sensitivities can make shopping for dog food difficult, especially if your dog is allergic to common ingredients like legumes. While there are benefits to adding legumes to your dog’s diet, there are several reasons that you might prefer to steer clear. Allergies and the risk of heart disease — which is still being investigated1 — are the biggest factors to consider when searching for legume-free dog food.
You might assume that avoiding legumes is as simple as not getting grain-free formulas, but legumes are common ingredients in grain-inclusive recipes too. To help make your search easier and point you in the right direction for legume-free dog food, here are 11 of the best choices. We hope that these reviews can help you determine which brand is the right for your dog.
A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2022 Update)
The 11 Best Legume-Free Dog Foods
1. ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Dry Food — Best Overall
|Main ingredients:||Deboned duck, duck meal, oat groats, whole sorghum|
Our best overall legume-free dog food is the ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food. As a limited-ingredient recipe, it contains a single animal protein source — either duck or lamb — to avoid common food allergies, making it a good choice if your dog is sensitive to certain ingredients. It’s also packaged in a resealable bag to maintain freshness for longer.
The recipe relies on real, nutritional ingredients without any artificial additives to make it a healthier, high-quality option for your dog. Along with the protein content, ACANA includes fiber from butternut squash and pumpkin to promote healthy digestion.
While this formula comes in 4- or 22.5-pound bags, both options are on the expensive side due to the focus on natural ingredients and healthy nutrition.
2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Dry Food — Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Lamb meal, brown rice, brewers rice, dried beet pulp|
Finding healthy, budget-friendly, high-quality dog food can be an exercise in futility, especially if you want a natural formula and to avoid undesirable ingredients. The Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food is crafted with six ingredients, along with a careful blend of vitamins and minerals to boost your dog’s health.
It uses real lamb as the first ingredient, avoiding common meat protein allergies, and is crafted in the U.S.A. to ensure that you receive a quality product. With three bag sizes available, it’s suitable for multi-dog houses and is the best legume-free dog food for the money.
A few dog owners have found this dog food to have a strong, unpleasant smell.
3. Zignature Select Cuts Dry Dog Food — Premium Choice
|Main ingredients:||Trout, salmon meal, oats, millet|
Dog food formulas using fish-based protein are one way of avoiding common food sensitivities and the Zignature Select Cuts Dry Dog Food uses wild-caught salmon and trout in the recipe. Although it’s one of the more expensive dog foods on this list, the formula focuses on natural, locally sourced, GMO-free ingredients. Each recipe is made in the U.S.A. to make sure the cooking process passes regulated health and safety standards.
Zignature Select Cuts relies primarily on real fish but also includes grains to provide natural fiber to support your dog’s digestive health. The blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals keeps your dog healthy too.
While there aren’t many ingredients in this recipe, some dogs have been known to suffer from digestive upset while eating this product. Some picky eaters might also dislike the fishy taste.
4. ORIJEN Amazing Grains Puppy LargeDry Food — Best for Puppies
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, whole herring, whole mackerel, chicken liver|
Dedicated to supporting the nutritional requirements of large breed puppies, ORIJEN Amazing Grains Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food uses nutrient-rich ingredients to support your new puppy’s health. The recipe contains natural DHA and EPA, along with prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber to support immunity, digestion, eye development, cognitive function, and skin and coat health. Animal protein makes up the first five ingredients to ensure that plenty of high-quality protein is included in the formula.
High-quality dog food is always on the expensive side, and this option isn’t the friendliest on the wallet. However, if you don’t have a budget or don’t mind spending more to ensure that your new puppy gets quality nutrition, ORIJEN is a good choice. It does smell strongly of fish due to the ingredients, and some picky dogs might dislike the flavor.
5. Nom Nom Tasty Turkey Fare Recipe — Vet’s Choice
|Main ingredients:||Ground turkey, brown rice, eggs, carrots|
Kibble has its benefits, but it also doesn’t always contain the same nutritional benefits as fresh dog food. It’s not always easy to find time to make our own dog food, though, which is where Nom Nom comes in with its Turkey Fare recipe. Formulated by veterinary nutritionists and our vet’s choice option, the pre-portioned meals use real meat and vegetables to ensure a healthy diet for your dog.
Nom Nom offers three other recipes alongside the turkey formula so you can ensure that your dog doesn’t get bored. You can also customize the meals that your dog receives according to their age, breed, and health.
While the meal is shipped straight to your door, taking away the stress of grocery shopping, the fresh dog food needs to be kept frozen to retain freshness. Nom Nom also requires a subscription through the website and isn’t available at other retailers.
6. CANIDAE PURE With Wholesome Grains Dry Food
|Main ingredients:||Salmon, salmon meal, menhaden fish meal, barley|
Formulated with nine ingredients, along with vitamins and minerals, the CANIDAE PURE With Wholesome Grains Dry Dog Food is a good option for dogs with food sensitivities. It uses fish to avoid allergies to chicken or beef and supplies omega fatty acids to support skin and coat health.
The other ingredients also work to promote your dog’s overall welfare. Antioxidants protect the immune system, while probiotics help maintain a healthy gut. The additional glucosamine and chondroitin boost the health of your dog’s joints to keep them active for longer.
Although the 4-pound bags are affordable, their small size won’t last long in multi-dog homes or for larger breeds. This recipe also includes canola oil, which can make some dog owners wary about using the product.
7. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley|
Available in four bag sizes and formulated for all dog breeds, the Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food is suitable for households with several dogs. The recipe contains a blend of omega oils, glucosamine, and chondroitin to support your dog’s joints, skin, and coat health. It’s made with real chicken along with fibrous vegetables and grains to promote healthy digestion.
Although Merrick is fortified with vitamins and minerals to support your dog’s overall health, some dogs are allergic to chicken, and their immune system may overreact to the main ingredient. Some owners have found that their dogs suffered from diarrhea after eating this product, while fussier dogs refused to eat it due to the strong smell.
8. Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red
|Main ingredients:||Beef, pork, pork meal, barely|
Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Raw Blend Kibble Wholesome Grains Red Meat Recipe uses natural ingredients to provide dogs with beneficial nutrition. Using whole prey ingredients, which include muscles, organs, and cartilage, the formula provides a high-protein diet for adult dogs.
Real vegetables like pumpkin, broccoli, carrots, and spinach are used to boost the number of natural nutrients in the recipe. The added fiber also helps promote gut health.
This formula also contains freeze-dried, raw chunks of meat for extra flavor, but some bags may have more chunks than others. Some pet owners find the smell of this dog food unpleasant, and others noticed that their dogs suffered from diarrhea while on this diet.
9. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Beef meal, grain sorghum, chicken fat, pork meal|
Highly active dogs need a meal plan that can keep up with their energy requirements. The VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food is formulated for active breeds of all ages to give them the nutrients that they need to keep doing their jobs. It contains protein from real meat and nutrient-rich vegetables to provide a healthy, balanced diet. The specialized VPRO Blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants promotes immune and digestive health.
Several owners have mentioned that the smell of this product is unpleasant and that their dogs refuse to eat it. This formula also has many different meat-protein sources that may set off allergic reactions in dogs that are sensitive to certain ingredients.
10. Taste of the Wild Ancient Stream Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Salmon, salmon meal, ocean fish meal, grain sorghum|
Taste of the Wild Ancient Stream Dry Dog Food is formulated to be high in protein to support bones, joints, and muscle mass. With salmon as the first ingredient, the recipe contains natural omega-fatty acids that promote skin and coat health, and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables boost immune health. The formula also uses K9 Strain Proprietary Probiotics to ensure a healthy gut biome and aid digestion.
Although this recipe doesn’t use artificial ingredients, it does include canola oil, which is an ingredient that many dog owners prefer not to feed to their dogs. The high protein content has been known to cause digestive upset in dogs that aren’t used to the diet, and some bags arrive ripped.
11. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, salmon broth, whitefish, chicken liver|
Made with natural ingredients, the Wellness CORE Grain-Free Canned Dog Food is produced in the U.S.A. to ensure that it meets high standards for health and safety. It’s designed for adult dogs and puppies and can be used as a lone meal or mixed with kibble.
Along with the real meat and fish ingredients, Wellness CORE contains fruits and vegetables to promote lean muscle mass, immune health, and skin and coat health.
The label is misleading; while the recipe does contain fish, chicken is listed as the first ingredient, making this option unsuitable for dogs with sensitivities to chicken. Open cans need to be kept in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. This product has also caused diarrhea in some dogs.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Legume-Free Dog Food
Why Are Legumes Used in Dog Food?
Many dog foods use legumes in the ingredients to provide fiber and carbohydrates without upping the cost of production or the final product. Some recipes also use pea protein to supplement the animal protein in the formula or use legumes as thickening agents.
The multiple benefits are what make legumes a popular part of the ingredient list. Most commonly, you’ll find legumes in grain-free diets that don’t have the fiber and carbohydrates from grains. However, legumes are added to many grain-inclusive formulas too.
Risks of Legumes
Despite the multiple benefits, legumes do have a few risks associated with them that make many dog owners wary about purchasing dog foods that use them. Some dogs can have sensitivities to certain ingredients — like legumes — and eating them frequently can cause skin issues and digestive upset.
The biggest issues, however, come in the form of grain-free diets. During the FDA investigation into the link between grain-free dog food and dilated cardiomyopathy, the American Veterinary Medical Association found that the dogs most affected were eating grain-free food with a high legume content.
However, nobody knows whether it’s the legumes that are at fault or whether dogs are missing out on some other important nutrients in legume-heavy, grain-free diets. Heart disease also hasn’t affected all the dogs that eat grain-free food.
Are Legume-Free Diets the Best for Your Dog?
Knowing whether avoiding legumes is the best choice depends on you and your dog. In moderation and as a supplement to a balanced diet, legumes do have many health benefits for dogs. However, in the case of food sensitivities, it’s best to avoid the ingredient to keep your dog healthy.
Personal preference comes into your decision too. If you’re uncomfortable feeding your dog with legume-inclusive formulas — especially grain-free recipes — there are plenty of alternative ingredients that you can look for that have similar benefits.
Natural nutrients from fruits and vegetables, alongside protein from real meat, are ideal to consider when searching for dog food. Pumpkin, for example, is well-loved for being easy to digest, particularly for sensitive stomachs, and an excellent fiber source.
How to Choose the Right Dog Food
Legume free or not, choosing the right dog food can be an interesting challenge. There are a few ways to make sure your dog gets the nutrition that they need even if you prefer to skip ingredients like legumes or certain animal proteins.
One of the biggest things to consider when choosing a dog food is whether it supports certain health issues that your dog might suffer from. Prescriptions, weight-watching, or sensitive-digestion formulas are all worth considering if your dog suffers from specific health concerns.
Food sensitivities are important to consider too. Choosing a legume-free dog food is a good choice in theory, but if your dog is sensitive to the chicken in the new formula, they will still have issues with the food. Consider all the ingredients contained in the recipe before settling on your final choice.
Most dog food is generic and designed for all ages and breeds. This is great if you have several dogs at home that are all at different life stages. However, these generic formulas have the downside of not being focused on one specific type of dog. Puppies, for example, benefit significantly from the nutrients in puppy-oriented formulas.
With a formula that’s designed for your dog’s age and breed, they’ll be receiving the right amount of nutrients to stay healthy.
When in doubt, don’t be afraid to discuss options with your veterinarian. They’ll be able to help you diagnose food sensitivities and point you toward the dog food brands that are reliable and safe for your dog. While you should still do your own research, seeking advice from your vet or their personal opinion on a food that you’ve chosen can help ease your mind when it comes to feeding your dog.
In these reviews, we looked at the best legume-free dog foods, including ACANA, which uses natural ingredients to provide a balanced diet. The budget-friendly Rachael Ray Nutrish is best for owners who desire value for money, while the premium Zignature Select Cuts is an option if you don’t mind stretching your budget.
For more specialized diets, ORIJEN Amazing Grains is formulated to support the development of large breed puppies. Finally, our vet’s choice for healthy nutrition and a balanced diet is Nom Nom’s Turkey Fare.
Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock