Limited ingredient dog foods have been the trend in recent years. We see them everywhere. And from the looks of it, this trend isn’t going to stop any time soon. Still, these foods aren’t properly understood and there are a lot of conflicting reports out there.
For the most part, limited ingredient food for dogs is preferred by pet parents whose dogs suffer from allergy. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple really. The less the number of ingredients the less the chances of an allergic reaction in a dog. However, many questions need answering. What are these foods? Why benefits do they bring? But most importantly, which one should you get for your dog? We are going to answer these and a whole lot more so stick around.
What are Limited Ingredient Dog Foods?
Limited ingredient dog foods are made for dogs with allergies. These dog foods usually avoid known allergen ingredients for dogs and use limited ingredients to keep dog allergies at bay. With that said, there is no one universal definition that exists when it comes to limited ingredient dog foods.
So, whenever you see a limited ingredient dog food, always see the nutrient information on the back. This is so because every manufacturer takes the idea of ‘limited ingredients’ differently. So, some companies mean that their dog food has only one protein source instead of many. For instance, the food might be using only chicken protein instead of a combination of chicken, salmon, and lamb.
Some companies may pack in only one type of carbohydrate instead of multiple. In short, there is no true definition except that these foods are made for dogs who have serious allergies. There are some actual benefits to using limited ingredient foods. For your dog to get these benefits, you first need to find out the ingredients that your dog is allergic to. Ask your vet to point you in the right direction. After that choose a hypoallergenic wet or dry dog food to suit your dog’s needs.
How To Choose A Limited Ingredient Dog Food?
Choosing a limited ingredient dog food requires careful consideration of your dog’s condition. You need to figure out all the variables. All the unknowns need to be known. When you have done that, only then can you start giving your dog limited ingredient dog food. So, how should you go about this whole scheme? Well, the following are some helpful pointers to take the guesswork out of this whole ordeal.
Consult a Vet
Which is better, limited ingredient dog food with grain or limited ingredient wet dog food? These types of questions can only be answered after you talk to your vet.
If you suspect that your dog may have an allergy or a GI (Gastrointestinal trac infection) taking your dog to the vet is your best bet. The vet can run a bunch of tests and can pinpoint the exact problem. Whether your dog has a genuine allergy to chicken-based protein or the problem was due to a GI, you will have all the answers you need once you go to your vet.
After the diagnosis is done, now comes the part where you ask your vet about the food. Ask the vet about the foods your dog should avoid. Foods that they should eat. No one can answer these better than your vet. All in all, when it comes to hypoallergenic dog foods your vet is your dog’s best friend.
Know your Dog's Sensitivities
A crucial step of what to choose often revolves around the things that you should avoid. So, pay close attention to the things your dog eats. The first step in monitoring your dog’s food intake is to keep an eye open for signs of intolerance and allergy. The signs of an allergic reaction to food include:
- Dematting or bald spots on the body
- Skin rashes
Keep a close watch for these signs as to when they occur. Note the ingredients in your dog food following the an allergic reaction. To be sure that your dog is allergic to a specific ingredient, try an elimination diet plan. The main concept is this:
Eliminate the ingredient that is causing or is suspected of causing an allergic reaction. More often than not, following an elimination diet, you will be able to figure out the things that your dog is allergic to. So, now stay away from dog foods that contain these ingredients.
Know the Ingredients
The next thing that you need to do is to get yourself familiar with the ingredients. Don’t just go to a store and buy the first thing you see. Read the fine print on the back of the pack. Nutrient information and the quantity of each ingredient matters a lot. Moreover, there will be things listed on the back that you won’t understand. No worries, search them on the internet. Get yourself familiar with these.
Finally, use this new-found knowledge yours along with the information about your dog’s sensitivity to certain foods and tailor a diet for your dog. If you don’t want to do this much work yourself, just go to your vet and have him figure everything out.
Follow AAFCO Regulations
The Association of American Feed Control Officials or AFFCO is an independent regulatory body that governs the pet feeds. AFFCO has local, state, and federal agencies as its members. These agencies control and regulate animal feed.
Before you purchase dog food, make sure it follows AFFCO regulations. See on the back of the package if the dog food you are about to choose follows the labeling requirements put forth by AFFCO. If it does, then you can be almost certain that the particular dog food is of good quality. Otherwise, you are better off looking somewhere else.
7 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Now that you know how to spot an allergy and the things you should look for in a limited ingredient food, it’s time to present the 7 best-limited ingredient dog foods on the market.
1. Natural Balance LID Venison Dry Dog Food
If your dog has shown signs of an allergic reaction like an ear infection, grain-free dog food may be the answer. The Natural Balance LID Venison Dry Dog Food is one such offering. Staring with the ingredients, this dog food has a novel protein source. Venison, the protein source, is a fancy term for deer meat. The key advantage of using Venison is that it is not a known allergen. That means there are extremely rare chances of it causing an allergic reaction in your dog.
In addition to venison, sweet potatoes play the role of the sole carbohydrate source in this limited ingredient dog food. This is what makes Natural Balance’s LID grain-free. Few things to point here:
- Consult your vet before using this diet as some dogs may suffer from malnourishment
- Make sure to check the expiration date as some people have complained about moldy food
All in all, it is certainly one of the best-limited ingredient dog foods.
2. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet
Next up is Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet for adult dogs. The formula for this diet is quite good, at least on paper. The main ingredient of this dog food is turkey meat. Proteins sourced from turkey meat are considered to be novel because they aren’t among major allergens. So, you can be sure that the protein source used in this won’t be the cause of allergies.
When it comes to carbohydrates, the Blue Buffalo LID uses potatoes as the main source. Moreover, it also incorporates pumpkin and peas for extra nutrition. This extra nutrition means that your dog will get the nourishment it needs.
Couple all of this, with Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource bits that, a healthy combination of essential vitamins and minerals, and you can see why it’s such a good product. As always be sure to take the advice of your vet before buying any LID. It will save you trouble later on.
3. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Dry Dog Food
The best thing about Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Dry Dog Food is that it uses salmon as a protein source. Let us tell you why that is a piece of good news:
- Fish meat is a source of novel protein
- The meat also contains essential vitamins, and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that help tremendously with skin infections
Aside from the protein source, lentils provide the carbohydrates. So, you see across the board no ingredient is a major allergen. Additionally, Nutro LID is free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. It is a good limited ingredient food for dogs. (Still, ask your vet first)
4. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe
If there is such a thing as Minimalist dog food, it would be the Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe. The company claims only one protein source and only one carbohydrate source. And to be fair, there is no reason to doubt it.
The protein source the company talks about is raw lamb. It’s grass-fed, raw lamb. If you are thinking there might be pieces of raw meat in the bag then don’t worry this is not the case.
Instinct coats their kibble with raw, freeze-dried lamb. It is safe and is pretty good for dogs with sensitive tummies. All in all, read the label first, consult your vet, and you’ll be good to go.
5. AvoDerm Natural Duck Recipe
AvoDerm is following the footsteps of instinct as it is only using one protein source and one carbohydrate source. The protein source present here is duck which is not a major allergen. So, it gets a clean pass here.
Similarly, for carbohydrates and other essential minerals, AvoDerm uses avocado. Avocado is anything but a normal fruit. From essential vitamins to essential fatty acids, avocados have everything.
In short, if your dog isn’t allergic to duck and avocadoes, there is no reason not to get this.
6. Wellness Simple Natural Grain Free Dry Limited Ingredient Dog Food
No gluten, no wheat, and certainly no chicken; that is the promise of Wellness with its Simple Nature Grain Free LID. And to be honest, the claims hold up.
Looking at the product itself, the protein source on show here is salmon. Fish protein is a pretty good choice since it also contains essential vitamins and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Similarly, the use of potato as a source of carbohydrates is also a good choice as most dogs don’t have an allergy to potatoes. Just be sure that your dog doesn’t have an allergy to potatoes. The best way to be sure is to consult the vet.
7. Diamond Naturals Grain-Free Real Meat Recipe
The last entry on this list is the Diamond Naturals Grain-Free Real Meat Recipe. And as the name suggests it is not a limited ingredient dog food but it is grain-free nonetheless.
The source of protein in Diamond Natural Dog Food is beef. While it is better than chicken when it comes to allergic reactions, it may not be for everyone. On the other hand, the carbohydrate situation looks quite good. It employs a mix of fruit and vegetable as the chief carbohydrate and minerals source and it seems like Diamond Naturals has done a good job here.
To sum it all up, if your dog is allergic only to environmental allergens or you know that these ingredients won’t cause any trouble, then there is no reason to skip this option.
Limited ingredient Dog Foods – FAQs
It is not possible to cover everything about limited ingredient dog foods in one blog post. Therefore, you may still have questions to ask. So, the following are some questions that appear on almost every dog forum.
What is the Best Dog Food for Dogs with Allergies?
The best dog food for allergies depends on the type of allergy your dog has. Food allergies in dogs are hard to identify. The symptoms for food allergies are pretty similar to indigestion which may not be the work of an allergy.
So, before you start looking for a hypoallergenic food for your dog, you need to pinpoint the source of this allergy. Of course, there are many alternative foods on the market that don’t have common allergens. But even if these allergens aren’t present on the label, although, in minute quantities, they may still be in the end product.
As a result, even if you were to give your dog hypoallergenic dog food, they may still show an allergic reaction. Therefore, the best course of action is to stop experimenting with different food brands and go pay a visit to the vet to figure everything out.
What is the Best Dog Food for Dogs with Itchy Skin?
There are a lot of great dog foods for dogs with itchy skin, but Canidae Pure’s Limited Ingredient dog food is our personal favorite. Remember that there is no one best dog food for itchy skin. Several foods can potentially solve this problem. However, we would strongly suggest that you pay a visit to the vet. Itchy skin in itself is not a problem. You need to find out the food that is causing the itchiness. With that out of the way following are the best dry foods for dry, itchy skin:
- Hydrolysed Diet contains specially prepared dog food in which the proteins present in their simplest form. The proteins are broken down by a process called hydrolysation, hence the name. This diet can only be given after a prescription by the vet
- Foods that are rich in essential vitamins, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and antioxidants
- Foods that contain novel proteins obtained from animals such as rabbits, elk, and bison
- Fish containing dog foods are also pretty great when it comes itchy skin
What is a Good Dog Food for Dogs with Skin Allergies?
Dogs with skin allergies need foods that are:
- Full of essential vitamins
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
Fish protein is a great source of all of the above. These proteins are often termed as novel protein since they are not normally found in dog food. So, look for dog foods that contain fish protein.
With that said, the Wellness Natural Limited Ingredient formula works well for most dog skin allergies.
Is a Limited Ingredient Dog Food Good for Dogs?
Limited ingredient dog food is usually good for dogs, but it depends on the case at hand. If your dog has an allergy to chicken then a limited ingredient dog food that doesn’t contain chicken is a pretty good idea.
But on the other hand, if your dog doesn’t have a food allergy, then there is no reason to give your dog a limited ingredient dog food. You have to understand that only about 5% of all allergens are food-related and that most allergy-causing agents are environmental. In such a case, giving your dog a limited ingredient diet will cause more harm than good.
If you have a pup with a sensitive stomach or severe allergies, be sure to consult your vet for advice and consider purchasing limited ingredient dog foods.