As people seem to take better care of themselves in the past couple of years and have started choosing carefully what to eat, the same stands for their pets.
Namely, many dog owners these days are keen to provide their pets with high-quality, nutritional meals and spare no expense in order to get them.
One of the newest fads on the dog food market is the limited ingredient dog food formula that was at first developed with sick dogs in mind - the ones that have food related issues. However, these days, this food is offered to the healthy dog population as well.
On the other hand, the issues that dog owners have when presented with this kind of choice is not knowing how to distinguish the “real deal” from the products that are only advertised as limited ingredient.
In this article, we are going to give you the answers to questions you might have and remove any doubts and uncertainties when it comes to the limited ingredient dog food formula.
Overview of the Top Products
Contains one (1) 4-lb bag of BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Grain Free Turkey & Potato Dry Dog Food
Always features real deboned Turkey, a single-animal protein source, not commonly used in dog food
Contains 1 - 26 pound bag of dry dog food
Grain free, limited ingredient dog food
No Corn, Wheat, Soy or Gluten
No Poultry By-Product Meal or Fillers
Purposefully SIMPLE ingredient list for pets with food sensitivities - ONE ANIMAL PROTEIN and ONE VEGETABLE
Made with GRASS-FED LAMB - a nutrient rich, easily digestible protein that provides all the essential amino acids
REDUCES PAW LICKING: Our low glycemic dog allergy food prevents the growth of yeast on your dogs paws, which is the leading cause of paw licking and biting in dogs today
SOLVES SKIN ITCHING, REDNESS, BUMPS AND FOUL ODOR: Our limited ingredient formula contains human-grade New Zealand Lamb and other essential hypoallergenic ingredients; which will relieve your dogs skin problems
One (1) 22 Pound Bag: AvoDerm Natural Revolving Menu Grain Free Duck Recipe Dry Dog Food
LIMITED INGREDIENT DIET RECIPE: Developed for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Our LID recipes allow you to switch among rotational recipes without stomach upset
QUALITY PLEDGE: Natural ingredients carefully sourced from our trusted network of farmers and suppliers; Made with Non-GMO ingredients†. †Trace amounts of genetically modified material may be present due to potential cross contact during manufacturing
CATER TO THEIR SENSITIVITIES: Recipes crafted to deliver the nutrition pets need, avoiding ingredients that commonly cause food sensitivities; nourishes sensitive skin with soft shiny coat guaranteed*. *Complete satisfaction guaranteed or your money back
LIMITED INGREDIENT DIET: Formulated to be easily digestible with fewer ingredients for dogs with food sensitivities, allergies or ingredient intolerances.
SINGLE PROTEIN: Starts with a single source protein from real, high quality turkey and mixes in easily digestible carbohydrates for complete, balanced nutrition.
SELECT AN AMOUNT: Bags are available in small 4 pound, medium 10 pound, and large 22 pound sizes
PICK A FORMULA: Our turkey and salmon recipes are sourced with a single protein for pure flavor
Start with real deboned meat as the first ingredient for a single source of animal protein that provides important amino acids, vitamins & minerals
Contain none of the grains, corn or soy or gluten ingredients dogs can be sensitive to
Although containing only a few essential ingredients, Blue Basics’ Adult dry food does not compromise when it comes to flavor or texture.
In every package, expect to find real delicious ingredients like deboned Turkey, nutritious pumpkin and carbs that are easy on the stomach packed with energy.
You’ll never find ingredients like chicken, beef, eggs, soy, dairy, corn or wheat in this food, which makes it a safe option for allergy-prone dogs that are on a strict diet.
- · It’s grain-free and easy on the stomach
- · Great value for money
- · Fortified with vitamins and minerals
- · Contains real ingredients
- · Great taste and texture
- · The food comes in a non-resealable container
- · There is no version for puppies available
With Natural Balance’s L.I.D foods, you’ll never be confused about what’s going into your dog’s body. Moreover, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re not feeding it any questionable or unhealthy ingredients like artificial flavorings, colorants, grains, or preservatives.
All you get is optimum nutrition from a combination of only the best in real, natural ingredients, which contain just the right balance of protein and carbohydrates.
- · Free from grains, preservatives, artificial colors and flavorings
- · Made from a combination of premium ingredients
- · The ingredient list is simple and straightforward
- · Promotes healthy-looking skin and coat
- · Good for your dog’s digestive health
- · The protein content may not be sufficient for some dogs
With lamb meal as the primary ingredient, this sumptuous dog food is naturally balanced with brown rice and beet pulp as a source of carbohydrates and fiber, respectively.
Moreover, chelated minerals and vitamins are added to provide your dog with extra energy and is gentle on most tummies.
The best part is that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each package of this dog food goes to the Rachael Ray Foundation, which runs Rachel’s Rescue.
This is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing much-needed nutrition and medical treatment to dogs in need.
- · Has been found to help tremendously in managing skin and coat ailments
- · A portion of the proceeds goes to dogs in need
- · The taste and texture seem to be very agreeable to most dogs
- · Contains high-quality, natural ingredients
- · It helps with stomach problems
- · Very easy on digestion
- · It’s a bit pricey
- · You’ll have to break the pieces into smaller rations to make them easier to chew for smaller dogs
This kibble from Instinct is made with a simple recipe that contains just one animal protein and one vegetable, making it easy to digest and highly nutritious.
In addition, there are no grains, eggs, dairy, artificial colorants, wheat, soy, fish, chicken, or beef to confuse your dog’s digestive processes.
You’ll also be glad to know that the animal protein used is always free range and grass fed. Moreover, it is freeze dried while raw to preserve all the nutrition and flavor for your dog to savor.
- · Made with a one-animal protein and one-vegetable formula
- · No complicated ingredients
- · The natural ingredients are freeze dried while raw to preserve their nutrients and taste
- · High in quality protein
- · Great for allergy prone dogs
- · It’s quite expensive and doesn’t feature enough of a ‘wow’ factor to justify the price
- · The recipe is a bit too simple in taste for some dogs
Made with a Limited Ingredient formula, you’ll get more for much less with this delicious dog food from PS. Not only does it rank low in the hypoglycemic index, but it also contains human grade lamb with ingredients that are gently air-dried to retain their natural flavor and nutrition.
It’s free from fillers, grains, artificial preservatives and chicken products. In fact, many dog owners have noticed and reported a reduction in paw licking, itching, skin problems and foul odors after giving their pups this food.
- · Free from known allergens such as grains, filler, chicken and others
- · Helps to reduce paw licking, itchiness, skin problems and foul odors
- · Comes with a money back guarantee
- · High in protein
- · Air-dried to retain flavor and optimum nutrition
- · The bag is really small so it doesn’t last long for large breeds
- · It’s on the expensive side
If you’re looking for something new and exciting to add to your dog’s menu without worrying about the effect it’ll have on its tummy, then look no further than AvoDerm’s grain-free formula.
Made from unique ingredients like duck protein, avocados, avocado oil as well as Garbanzo beans and peas, it contains all the essential elements of a nutrient-rich diet.
Moreover, it includes healthy fats for a healthy coat, gluten-free carbohydrates and a light source of animal protein that will give your dog a boost of energy.
- · Contains a unique and premium source of animal protein - duck meat
- · Comes with gluten-free carbs
- · Free from grains, soy, corn, preservatives, artificial colorants and flavorings
- · Features Omega-3 fatty acids derived from avocados and avocado oil
- · Helps to reduce licking, scratching and skin problems
- · In some cases, this dog food has even helped to alleviate and even eliminate ear, eye and skin infections for some dogs
- · Great alternative for allergy-prone pups
- · No complaints here!
Mix it up while keeping things simple with this premium dog food from Nutro, which always contains 10 or less ingredients, such as premium salmon protein and energizing lentils for carbohydrates.
The ingredients are non-GMO and free from artificial preservatives, colors and flavors, with added vitamins and minerals to promote a vibrant immune system as well as a shiny coat.
- · Made with 10 ingredients or less
- · Gentle on the tummy
- · Comes with premium salmon protein and high-quality carbohydrates
- · Added vitamins and minerals promote a healthy immune system, strong bones and shiny coat
- · Ideal for allergy-prone dogs
- · Helps with skin issues
- · The packaging could use some improvement
Embrace the limited ingredient diet with these delicious kibbles from Wellness, which combine high-quality turkey protein, carbohydrates that are gentle on sensitive tummies and flaxseed oil to keep your dog’s mane healthy and shiny.
You will be able to feed your dog with peace of mind, knowing that their kibbles are free from nasties like preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, wheat, eggs, dairy, fillers, soy and grains.
Plus, Wellness offers a great subscription service that allows you to save 5% on your purchase each month. On top of that, their dog food products are backed by the Wellness guarantee, which says a lot about the quality of this food.
- · Made with carbohydrates that are easy to digest
- · Great for dogs with allergies, food sensitivities and intolerances to certain ingredients
- · Contains high-quality turkey protein
- · Free from grains, soy, fillers, preservatives, dairy, colors and wheat
- · You are able to get 5% off your purchase when you subscribe
- · Contains flaxseed oil to keep your dog’s mane shiny and healthy
- · Some breeds do find it hard to keep these down after some time
With this Limited Ingredient dog food from Nulo, you are able to choose between one of two high-quality protein sources, namely salmon and turkey.
Moreover, both recipes are low in carbohydrates and contain the GanedenBC30 probiotic, which is known for limiting the effects of allergies on dogs, while boosting their immune system and enabling them to better absorb the nutrients in their food.
It’s available in 4lb, 10lb and 22lb packs and is free from wheat, eggs, chicken, white potato, soy, tapioca and corn.
- · Available in different sizes
- · Free from allergy-causing ingredients like wheat, corn, soy, chicken, eggs, etc.
- · Contains a beneficial antibiotic that aids in digestion and enables better absorption of nutrients
- · Available in two different high-quality protein sources: salmon and turkey
- · Low in carbohydrates
- · Great for dogs that are prone to allergies
- · It’s a bit on the pricey side
Improve your dog’s digestion while tickling their taste buds with this wholesome combination of real deboned meat, some dried peas and flaxseed. Combined with fortified vitamins and minerals, these simple ingredients aid in healthy digestion, while promoting hip and joint health.
The best part is that it doesn’t contain any corn, grains, soy, or any artificial ingredients.
- · Free from grains, soy, corn and artificial additives
- · Made from real deboned meat, dried peas and flaxseed
- · Promotes optimal joint and hip health
- · Ideal for dogs with serious allergy issues
- · You can’t beat the price
- · The packaging could use some improvement, as the cans often come with dents
What is Limited Ingredient Dog Food?
Let us start by saying that “limited ingredient dog food” is a very versatile term and can mean more than just one thing. For example, veterinarians define this type of food as one that has only one protein and only one carbohydrate source in its formula.
This is due to the fact that they traditionally recommend those types of dog food if your canine has experienced some food related issues, such as digestive problems and skin irritations.
That way, by limiting the number of ingredients in your dog’s diet, the symptoms will eventually disappear and the veterinarian is more likely to determine which ingredients are causing health problems.
Moreover, the most common allergens, such as commercially-bred chicken and grains, are also excluded from some types of dog food formulas. Thus, making them ideal for your dog’s sensitive digestive system and earning the label of a limited ingredient dog food.
On top of that, some of the formulas that contain less ingredients than the traditional dog foods, whether in wet or in form of kibble, may also be called limited ingredient dog food. Namely, they usually contain up to 9 different ingredients declared on the label of the product.
Furthermore, some companies make their limited ingredient dog food formulas in such a way that they contain up to two different protein sources - such as rabbit, venison or salmon - and one or two carbohydrate sources - such as peas or sweet potatoes.
Generally speaking, limited ingredient dog food formulas are rich in nutrients and are made from high-quality ingredients, such as real meat, fish, egg and vegetables.
In addition to that, as a rule, they are usually free of poultry by-products, corn, wheat, soy and don’t contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Common Signs of Food Sensitivity
Food sensitivity and food allergies have virtually the same symptoms, but they are two separate conditions and need to be diagnosed by a veterinarian, as they require different approaches in treatment.
Namely, it is estimated that less than 1% of dogs suffer from a food allergy, which is a biological reaction to a specific protein contained in food.
Therefore, the treatment includes finding a limited ingredient dog food that has only one source of protein, preferably a real meat source, except for chicken. That way, the protein intake is limited, the allergy symptoms subside and the suspected allergen is singled out easier.
On the other hand, food sensitivity means having a reaction to any of the ingredients found in the dog food, not only the protein source. Therefore, the treatment for this includes using a limited ingredient dog food formula that contains only few protein, carbohydrate and fiber sources.
On top of that, it needs to be free of the most common fillers known to cause food sensitivity symptoms. That said, the common symptoms of food allergy and sensitivity to certain ingredients are as follows:
Digestive problems, such as diarrhea, which can become chronic
Skin irritations and inflammations, which can cause dry skin that itches and flakes
- Hair loss
- Runny eyes
- Ear infections
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Low energy levels
- Anal gland issues
Because the symptoms are so numerous and different, when you start noticing some of them in your pet, you must consult with your veterinarian first to rule out the possibility of a more serious underlying condition.
The veterinarian then can make a distinction between allergy and food sensitivity and recommend the next course of action to address the issue correctly and promptly, avoiding more serious consequences.
Is This Diet Right for Your Dog?
As we have already mentioned, the definitions for limited ingredient dog food are numerous and different. On top of that, in the last few years, this kind of dog food is becoming increasingly popular, as dog owners are seeking high-quality options for their precious pets.
Therefore, manufacturers and different dog food brands are adapting to the new demand and have started to produce limited ingredient dog food themselves.
However, some of them use only a few ingredients, while some use more, but they all avoid adding artificial colors, aromas and preservatives to the mix.
So, you might wonder:
How are you able to tell that you need to opt for this kind of food and which limited ingredient option is good for your pet?
First of all, have in mind that these kinds of formulas, although they are called “limited ingredient,” are actually highly nutritional combinations of carefully selected ingredients, ensuring the optimal ratio of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fibers.
On top of that, they contain vitamins and minerals essential for your dog’s health, adjusted to support its growth through the different stages of development.
If you wish to switch to this type of dog food, have in mind that as mentioned, it is recommended to dogs that have problems digesting some of the ingredients from the traditional commercial dog foods in the first place.
Moreover, some of the experts agree that if your dog is not a picky eater and doesn’t experience food sensitivity problems, there is no real need to switch over to this specialized formula with fewer ingredients.
And, as always, before you make a decision to change your dog’s dietary habits, consult a veterinarian first. He or she will inform you about the pros and cons of such action, based on the unique nutritional needs of your pet.
Plus, he or she will even be able to recommend the right brand and blend to support your dog’s size and stage of development.
What to Look for
As you already know by now, some manufacturers are prepared to advertise some of their products as something else, just to attract the customers and maximize their profit.
Therefore, it is very important to read the labels and know what to look out for when searching to purchase the right limited ingredient dog food formula.
Namely, some manufacturers list only a few of the ingredients on the front of the package, while reading the label on the back, you will find out the formula contains a lot of ingredients which should not have been found in this type of food.
Therefore, the most important thing you need to look for are the words “complete” and “balanced” formula, approved by the Association of American Feed Control Office (AAFCO).
This guarantees the dog food’s quality and that the formula has all of the necessary ingredients to sustain your pet in its every life stage.
Is a Limited Ingredient Diet Necessary?
As we already said, if your dog has no medical issues regarding allergies and food sensitivity, then there is no need for you to switch over to a limited ingredient dog food formula.
On the other hand, if you think your pet suffers from allergies and food-related sensitivity issues and your veterinarian has ruled out more serious conditions, you should try and seek a suitable dietary solution.
However, before you entirely switch to a limited ingredient formula, there are some tests that your vet is able to conduct to try and pinpoint the ingredients causing issues with your pet’s digestive system, skin, eyes and ears.
Namely, there is a procedure named “elimination trial,” which means certain foods are eliminated from your dog’s diet and a special hypoallergenic formula is introduced.
The elimination trial usually lasts up to 12 weeks, as that is the amount of time your dog’s digestive system needs to eliminate the harmful substances and heal from allergy or food sensitivity symptoms.
During that time, it is very important to be consistent and not to offer your pet with any treats, foods and medications other than the prescribed ones. This is very difficult to achieve, but be patient and strong-willed, as this is for the best.
When the symptoms are mild, a veterinarian may be able to determine the culprit by simply analyzing your dog’s feces. In every other case, you will need to go through the elimination trial process.
When the 12 weeks have passed, the ingredients are re-introduced in the diet slowly, one by one, to determine the one causing issues with your dog’s health.
We must emphasize it is very important to cooperate with the expert during this trial – a veterinarian or a certified pet nutritionist - in order to go smoothly through the whole process and get the conclusive results.
Another option is for you to try and make a “mini trial” at your own home, using the limited ingredient dog food you think will suit your dog’s dietary needs best, especially blends that contain only one protein and one carbohydrate source.
Of course, it is always better to consult the experts, but if you are determined to do it yourself, make a plan and then take the following course of action:
Write down everything that your dog is eating
Select different limited ingredient dog foods in a way where you rotate the particular potential allergens - choosing raw, wet or dry pet food
Concentrate on the major ingredients first – all ingredients that are listed before salt in the ingredients list
Stay true to your method and determine the culprit
This method also requires a lot of patience and perseverance, as the signs of improvement usually appear only within 4 to 8 weeks from the beginning, especially with skin conditions.
Try and stick with one food for at least 6 weeks until you are able to conclude whether your dog feels better because of it. On the other hand, if your dog starts feeling worse, abandon that particular formula immediately.
To sum up, the limited ingredient dog food is exactly what its name says it is – a food manufactured for dogs that contains fewer ingredients than other commercial dog foods on the market.
However, the number and the type of ingredients may vary from one manufacturer to another and that is why it is of utmost importance to read the labels.
Moreover, you have to remember to look for words such as “complete” and “balanced” when looking for limited ingredient dog food, as it means that it is of good quality and has substantial nutrients to support your dog’s dietary needs.
If your dog starts showing symptoms of food-related issues, such as allergies or food sensitivity, consult with a veterinarian to rule out more serious illnesses and to take the right course of action.
Furthermore, you are able to discuss a unique test called the “elimination trial” with your vet, to figure out the ingredients causing the problems such as bad digestion, skin conditions, common eye and ear inflammations.
On the other hand, you are able to try and make your own trial, using different limited ingredient blends to find the culprit. Either way, you must be patient, as the whole process takes months to be done.
However, if you are sure that your pet needs this diet, then try out any of the dog food products we have suggested here. That said, if you have any questions regarding this subject, please feel free to write in the comment section below this article.