Pea Protein, Pea Fiber, Pea Flour and Pea Starch in Dog Food? WHY????

Take a look at your dog’s food and treats.  Do you see pea protein, pea fiber, pea flour or pea starch listed as an ingredient?  Chances are very high that it’s listed near the top of the ingredient list especially if the food or treats are “grain-free”.

WHAT is it and WHY is it in there?
First of all, we’re not talking about sweet green peas.  We’re referring to field peas similar to split peas.  Pea protein, starch yellow field peasand fiber are all concentrated derivatives of the whole peas.  Pea flour is a meal made from dried whole peas

A disappointing trend in the pet food industry is the use of pea flour, pea fiber and pea protein.  Consumers have become more savvy and informed about ingredients in pet food, and many are refusing to buy products with ingredients like meat meal, animal by-products and cheap fillers.  At the same time, grain-free pet food has grown significantly in popularity.

Pet food makers have been looking for less expensive protein sources to reduce the use of meat meal in their recipes because of consumer protests.  They have also been looking for ways to replace the cheap fillers that consumers have identified as undesirable.  They can take out the cheap grain fillers and replace it with pea protein/pea fiber.  So the manufacturer could be trying to boost the protein content in a cheap way to make up for a lack of meat-based protein.  yellow field peas on spoon

In addition, many dog food manufacturers do what is called “ingredient splitting” which is breaking down one lower quality item into its various components, with each listed separately on the pet food label.  The result is that a smaller quantity of “meat” now appears higher on the list even though there is actually less of it in the dog food.  If you put all the smaller quantities of peas together, they would actually weigh more than the “meat”.  Sneaky, right?

The practice of “ingredient splitting” is supposed to keep consumers from noticing how much of the food, especially protein, comes from peas and not meat.  Don’t be fooled by this dirty little trick.

dog food labelBut pea protein is a starchy filler.  It is high in insoluble fiber.  Pea fiber is a vegetable protein, not animal protein that your pet’s body requires.  Is it a filler to artificially “inflate” the protein count in grain-free foods?  That means that your dog won’t be able to use all of the protein within the peas.  Neither fillers or high fiber ingredients are part of a balanced, species appropriate diet for dogs.  Dogs have no biological requirement for grains.

A few sweet green peas in a dog’s diet is not a concern.  But when manufacturers are replacing meat protein with concentrated high levels of peas or pea protein, that’s a definite concern.  High placement of pea protein on the ingredient list could indicate concentrated levels.

If pea protein is listed within the first 7 ingredients, avoid this food.  Dogs can survive eating these foods, but they do not thrive on diets that contain biologically inappropriate ingredients.  Symptoms can appear quickly for some animals while others endure damage silently until a severe condition is discovered.

“You won’t find pea fiber in high quality commercially available pet foods, nor will you find it in healthy recipes for homemade pet meals.  Where you will find it is in very affordable, highly processed, low-quality pet food,” said Dr. Karen Becker, DVM and contributor at

There are some very good dog foods on the market.  It does take some time to read the labels and keep informed about trends in the dog industry.  Often times the smaller, independently-owned pet stores carry the better dog foods and have employees who are very familiar with what you should be looking for when selecting a healthy product for your food


Eli & Jojo’s Bakery Bites are grain-free dog treats made with 100% organic ingredients sourced in the USA.  We never use artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, no wheat, corn, soy or gluten, no salt or sugar.  Just whole simple foods.  Wholesome Ingredients.  Healthy Benefits.

Comments?  Questions?  We’d love to hear from you


13 thoughts on “Pea Protein, Pea Fiber, Pea Flour and Pea Starch in Dog Food? WHY????

  • February 18, 2018 at 4:43 am

    Thanks so much for this article about pea protein and pea flour etc. I was researching why my dog is growing so many fatty tumors in the last few years since switching to what I thought was a high quality dog food but there is peas, pea flour, pea protein, within the ist 7 ingredients. First being lamb then lamb meal. Chick peas are 4th. Don’t know about those.The shame is this is not a cheap food. I can’t blame the food but I will definitely be looking for something else for him. He does well for allergies with this food but still gained weight even though it was supposed to be better than the last food which had sweet potatoes. Any recommendations, don’t have time to do the homemade at the moment, Joe

    • February 18, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      I make my own food for my dogs, but have a look at Orijen Original. That brand is excellent.

  • March 20, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    I have been using Fromms thinking i was doing something great for my cat. It has Pea Fiber, Pea Protein and Pea Flour in the ingredients. I can’t tell you how insane this now makes me. I really thought i was feeding a really good food. Than You for writing this.

    • May 31, 2018 at 9:21 pm

      Hi Bridget,
      This really is unfortunate. I highly recommend Nature’s Select Pet Food. They started the grain free movement 24 years ago to avoid corn, wheat and soy. They have healthy food options with easy to digest grains like oatmeal, whole brown rice if you are trying to avoid peas. Free shipping too!

  • May 30, 2018 at 5:20 am

    My dog has many food sensitivities which is frustrating to say the least
    I have to very carefully introduce different meat proteins and vegetables to him and im not so sure he won’t show sensitivities down the road
    We almost lost him to severe diarrhea when he was 5 months old
    Strange thing is he can tolerate corn and corn meal which I call crap fillers but the dry kibble works
    Add origen with pea fiber and he gets sick
    So he gets crap kibble and vegetables and cooked bird poultry duck turkey mixed in
    Makes me think im giving him fast food
    But im at a loss
    Top kibbles all seem to have pea fiber and oh ya he can’t tolerate beef products gets a red chin and groin chews on his paws etc
    Anyone else have these types of issues
    I was told to go raw but I cant afford it hes 11 mnths mastiff mix and weighs 140 lbs and still growing
    Any ideas I would appreciate

    • May 31, 2018 at 9:49 pm

      I would think about staying away from grain-free kibble. They tend to be high in protein, and I think you need to stay away from high protein foods. I’m not really a fan of any of the kibble and I make home cooked food for both of my dogs. However, I realize this is not an option for everyone. So you might want to search for a food like Fromm Adult Classic Chicken and Brown rice. This particular one might work for you. Read the ingredients online and see what you think. Notice that I’m not recommending all Fromm products, just this one that is NOT grain free.

    • December 14, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      Give sport dog food elite series a try. There food is free of pea and pea fillers pea protein starches and artificial preservatives and all that other crap that’s in regular dog food. Check chewy. This might be your answer. Hope this helps your pooch.

    • December 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      Good luck hunting. Literally all of commercial dog food now has pea protein in it because it is a cheap filler. My English Bulldog started vomiting and developed skin lesions. Came across a research article which stated that pea protein will damage the stomach lining and in some cases cause a heart defect. Right now my dog is on canned fish Beyond and is thriving, however oh, it is $2 a can and he needs three cans a day. I am substituting a big bowl of oatmeal and milk for one of the cans. He loves oatmeal and it doesn’t seem to affect his allergies.

  • September 4, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Yes. I have an elderly English bulldog who started vomiting a few weeks ago every time I fed him the kibble. Then I report came out about how damaging pea protein is to their stomach. He had also broken out with eczema and was listless because of being sick. Lost 10 pounds before I figured out what was going on. He also can’t have grains so in searching for a dog food, I couldn’t find a single one without one of the other and they all have pea protein. The manufacturer’s jumped on that for a cheap boost to their profit. I am now making the bulldog and my little dog their food. And it’s not much more expensive then buying dog food and a much better quality.

  • October 21, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Hi, I have recently realized that my dogs food is not as good as i thought. They are healthy, shiny, energetic with clear eyes and in good weight. stools are solid as well. My problem is that we have not been able to produce a litter in 4 1/2 years. I spayed one and figured she may have a hormonal imbalance. When I found the same issues with my other one who is not related to the first one in any way, I started to question it. My vet recommended a fertility specialist. I started making inquiries and surfing the net. i found that the peas used in the dog food has plant based phytoestrogens in them. I have read about other breeders having the same issue. Changing the food was all it took for the dogs to become fertile. That was an expensive lesson. I feel a bit angry that my dogs food was may as well have been birth control.

    • October 21, 2018 at 11:08 pm

      Good for you in searching for answers. Pet owners are being duped by this pea protein ingredient.

  • July 9, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    I completely agree. I am now making my own dog food for my dogs.


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