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10 Best (Healthiest) Limited Ingredient Dogs Foods in 2019

More and more dog food brands are bringing limited ingredient formulas to the market and it’s easy to see why. Dog owners are becoming far more aware of the effect that food is having on their pooch. Much like humans, dogs are susceptible to numerous food-related allergies but it can be difficult to identify what ingredient is causing the allergic reaction. Enter limited ingredient dog food. These special dog food formulas limit the number of ingredients used to make it far easier to diagnose what is making your dog’s skin itch. The ingredients that these formulas use also make it far easier for your dog to digest its meals, making the dog food ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Limited ingredient dog food certainly isn’t for everyone, so we will be pointing out the pros and cons throughout this list. By doing this, we will help you to make an informed purchase as well as navigate a rather cluttered dog food market. With that being said, here is the best limited ingredient dog food.

6 Key Considerations when looking for a Limited Ingredient Dog Food

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  • Protein and Fat content – The biggest factor in determining a quality dog food is the protein and fat percentage. The more of each, the better. Limited ingredient dog food can be lacking in this department if you are not willing to pay a premium.
  • Price – Consider what price you are willing to spend before you start your dog food search. This will help you from overspending beyond your budget’s capacity.
  • Protein source – Does the dog food get the majority of its protein from a single animal source or does it use vegetable protein?
  • Ingredients – How are the ingredients sourced? If possible, make sure the ingredients are organic and sourced domestically. In particular, try to ensure the animal protein used within the food had not been fed antibiotics.
  • Additives and filler – Check to see if what additives are being placed within the dog food. Whilst some are perfectly healthy and beneficial to your dog, others can be potentially harmful. This list should help you identify what to avoid.
  • Your dog’s preferences – It’s no use buying a salmon-based limited ingredient dog food if your pup doesn’t like the taste or smell of fish. All dogs have different tastes and preferences, so be sure to make a decision which takes this into account as well as nutritional value.

Key Benefits of Feeding a Dog Food with Limited Ingredients

  • Eliminates potential allergens – Dogs aren’t that similar to humans when it comes to food allergies. Whilst we would generally be sick or at least have an upset stomach, dogs are more prone to having itchy skin. This makes it difficult to identify when your dog is allergic to an ingredient. By going with a limited ingredient diet you can help prevent the likelihood of this occurring.
  • Helps you narrow down an allergy – If you believe your dog has an allergy, you can help to identify what ingredient is causing it by switching to a limited ingredient formula. If the allergy persists, you will know that it’s one of the few ingredients in the recipe that’s to blame. You can then take steps to remove the identified ingredient from your dog’s diet.
  • Rotating diet – Dog’s like variety, and occasionally switching to a new formula of dog food will likely improve their mood. Why not occasionally switch to a formula that can be used to isolate potential allergies?
  • Helps digestion – By removing filler ingredients, limited ingredient dog food aids digestion. These formulas are typically grain-free and use carbohydrates that dogs can more easily digest.

Overall Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

Ollie Fresh Pet Food

Key Features

  • Human-grade dog food
  • Customized to your dog’s specific needs
  • Delivered to your door fortnightly
  • High in nutritional value
  • Limited ingredients

Overall Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food – Although by-far the priciest option on this list, Ollie’s fresh pet food contains quality that cannot be beaten. Ollie recipes are designed by veterinarians and use the freshest ingredients to ensure your dog will gain all the nutrients it needs to live a long and happy life. Ollie allows you to design a custom meal plan on their website and will optimize it by knowing your dog’s breed, sex, and weight. Once you’ve picked a meal plan, you will begin to receive frozen meals direct to your door every two weeks. This ease-of-use makes it ideal for owners who don’t have the time to prepare dog food themselves but still want to give their dog a luxury experience. Meal options include Healthy Turkey Feast, Hearty Beef Eats, Chicken Goodness and Hearty Lamb Fare.

The simplicity of Ollie’s ingredients makes it a great option for dogs with sensitive stomachs. It does not include artificial flavors or filler ingredients such as soy, corn, and wheat. By keeping the formula small, there are fewer ingredients that could trigger an allergic reaction. Despite having limited ingredients, Ollie contains levels of protein and fat that are higher than its competitors. This is great for your dog’s bone, muscle, and immune system health. The food contains 60% moisture, which makes it a lot easier for dogs with sensitive stomachs to digest and helps them stay hydrated whilst eating the meal.  

Most importantly, dogs love eating Ollie. This is due to the high-quality ingredients used that allow it to be classified as human-grade food. As the food is more hydrated, it has a much more attractive aroma to dogs (although not as overpowering as canned wet dog food). Ollie is therefore perfect for even the pickiest of dogs. We believe it to be the best dog food on the market, it’s just a shame that the price will be a barrier to a lot of dog owners. You can choose to go with the ‘All Ollie’ plan that provides 100% of your dog’s food every two weeks, or the ‘Some Ollie’ plan that instead gives you 25% of your dog’s meals. If you choose to go with the best value plan, you will still be spending an average of $6 a day on dog food. Make no mistake, this is an expensive option. However, for those who can afford it, Ollie is without a doubt the best limited ingredient dog food.

Pros

  • Great taste will appeal to most dogs
  • Limited ingredients but packed with nutrients
  • Hydrating
  • No fillers, artificial flavorings, or preservatives
  • Convenient

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Needs refrigeration

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features

  • Grain-Free
  • Limited ingredients featuring a single animal protein source
  • Good source of useful carbohydrates + fiber
  • Extra digestive help

Most Popular Food with Limited Ingredients – Natural Balance is a popular dog food brand that does an adequate job of providing a nutritious meal for your dog. Crafted with limited ingredients to aid digestion, Natural Balance has produced a formula that contains a disappointing amount of protein (21%) and fat (10%). This is fine for promoting bone and muscle growth, however, we would have liked to have seen a greater level of protein. Considering that this formula contains vegetable proteins such as pea protein, we would have expected a far higher percentage in the product. Vegetable proteins are much harder for dogs to digest and so are not a great ingredient to place in dog food designed for canines with sensitive stomachs. This is a general problem for limited ingredient dog foods that only use fish, so we can’t fault Natural Balance for this. It is, however, providing significantly less protein than rival brands at the same price-point. If the protein is a deal-breaker to you, this range does offer similarly limited ingredient formulas with other single meat options such as chicken or venison. 

This formula uses quite a few ingredients despite being marketed as a limited ingredient dog food: sweet potatoes, salmon, menhaden fish meal, potato protein, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, dried potato products, salt, salmon oil, and flaxseed. The first cause for concern is the sweet potatoes that are listed above salmon as the first ingredient. It is highly unusual for a premium limited ingredient dog food to have less animal protein in it than the main source of carbohydrates. This helps to explain the lackluster protein and fat content. On a positive note, the formula is enriched with a high number of vitamins and minerals. Still, this does leave us questioning why the price of this dog food is so high.

The use of fish does, however, mean that this dog food is also packed with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which is necessary for your dog’s brain development. These chemicals are also responsible for the maintenance of healthy skin and coat. If your dog has a particularly difficult coat to groom (such as a Cocker Spaniel or Yorkshire Terrier) and needs a limited ingredient formula, we would recommend choosing this dog food. Some dogs may not like the fishy taste of salmon dog food, so make sure your dog likes the food first before ordering bags of the stuff! In all other circumstance, we would recommend choosing another limited ingredient dog food from our list. They will give your dog a higher level of quality protein, at the same price point. This just goes to show, the most popular product isn’t always the best.

Pros

  • Designed for limited ingredient diets
  • High levels of omega-3 and 6
  •  Good option for dogs with difficult to manage coats

Cons

  • Needs more protein and fat
  • Quite expensive compared to equal products
  • Uses pea protein

American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato

Most Inexpensive (Cheap) – American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato is a very similar offering to Natural Balance’s sweet potato and fish recipe. It’s a grain-free formula packed to the brim with omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, sourced from a single animal protein source. It also suffers from the same problem of providing below-average levels of fat and protein. The limited ingredient formula contains no corn, wheat, soy, or poultry by-products. It also contains no artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors. This is what we have come to expect from limited ingredient dog foods, and should be sufficient to prevent your dog from having an allergic reaction to the formula. As the formula is grain-free, it contains higher levels of vegetables to make up for lost carbohydrates. This makes the formula more easily digestible.

The omega-3 and 6 fatty acids present in the recipe will help your dog maintain healthy skin and coat. It is perfect for dogs who suffer from itchy skin. It is, however, disappointing to see this formula contain only 25% protein and 12% fat. These levels are below average for mid-priced dog food and it is something you should look into if you are considering switching to American Journey Limited ingredient formulas. This formula is suitable for all breeds and at all life stages. This is great as it means that if you start feeding your puppy with American Journey, it will not need to transition to another dog food at a later date. If you do plan on transitioning to this dog food, make sure your dog has tried a sample first. Some dogs hate the taste and smell of fish, and so this dog food would not be suitable for them.

Overall American Journey has produced a perfectly acceptable limited ingredient dog food that should be appealing to any dog owner on a budget.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • High in Omega-3 and 6
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Low levels of fat and protein

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey & Potato Recipe Puppy Dry Dog Food

Key Features

  • Single animal protein source
  • No chicken or poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, dairy or eggs
  • Special puppy-sized kibble is shaped to promote tartar removal

Best Limited Ingredient Puppy Food – Blue Buffalo Basics have produced a limited ingredient turkey & potato recipe that has been specifically formulated to minimize food sensitivities, while at the same time providing dogs with maximum nutritional value. It is easily digestible as potato is its main carbohydrate source. We recommend this specifically for puppies as the kibble is smaller than regular dog foods and is shaped to promote tartar removal. This combined with the calcium and phosphorus should ensure that your puppy develops healthy teeth and gums. It is also infused with Omega 3, 6, and DHA that should encourage a healthy skin and coat as well as cognitive learning and retinal function. Due to this being a formula designed for puppies, you will have to transition to an adult dog food once they have reached that stage of development. Whilst this transition should only last around 10 days, it is something to keep in mind.

This formula contains about 22% protein and 13% fat. These percentages are below average which is a potential cause for concern as protein and fat are crucial to building strong bones and muscles for your puppy. We do believe that the levels of protein and fat contained within the product should be plenty to support the growth of the average puppy. This lack of protein and fat is a big problem for all limited ingredient diets at this price-point and shows the influence of additives and ‘filler’ ingredients within regular dog food nutrition. The lack of chicken or poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, dairy and eggs inevitably means that protein and fat levels will fall unless there is a dramatic increase in price. Limited dog food is a necessity for some dogs who are allergic to these ingredients in regular formulas, but switching is not a decision to be made lightly.

If you believe your puppy needs a limited ingredient diet and you are on a budget that prevents you from buying a premium dog food (like Ollie), we would recommend Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey & Potato Recipe Puppy Dry Dog Food.  

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Designed specifically for puppies
  • High in DHA, Omega-3 and 6
  • Designed specifically for puppies

Cons

  • Comparatively low levels of fat and protein
  • Only for puppies

6 More Top Rated Dog Foods for Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs & Diarrhea

Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish is a very simple dry dog food that contains only six natural ingredients that have been enhanced with additional vitamins and minerals. If you have a dog with severe allergies and need to reduce their exposure to common ingredients, this is the formula for you. The recipe contains only lamb meal, brown rice, ground rice, beet pulp, chicken fat, and pork flavour. This formula provides a below-average amount of protein and fat, of which it contains 20% and 13% respectively. This isn’t great. Whilst we acknowledge that limited ingredients will reduce protein and fat levels, the other products on this list provide higher amounts. Nutrish does have the advantage of having all of its protein coming from animal sources as opposed to using a vegetable substitute such as pea protein. Animal proteins are better and more easily digestible by dogs, and so this with aid digestion and growth. At $33 for a 28 lb bag, this is a brilliant budget option. This formula would be great for any dog who is severely impacted by allergies and needs a very limited ingredient diet.

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

CANIDAE has a reputation for providing high-quality dog food, and this is no exception. Using 8 simple ingredients, this formula is guaranteed to give your dog all the nutrition it needs to live a long and healthy life. These 8 ingredients are salmon, salmon meal, menhaden fish meal, sweet potatoes, peas, canola oil, sun-cured alfalfa, potatoes. This is all enriched by vitamins, minerals, and a probiotics mix. As we have spoken about previously, it is rare for a limited ingredient formula to be able to provide an above-average level of protein and fat, but this dog food goes the extra mile. The formula contains 32% protein and 18% fat. This is an above-average percentage and will help your dog develop and maintain its muscle fibers. Unfortunately, these percentages come at a cost. At $65 for a 25 lb bag, this is expensive dry dog food and not an option for a lot of dog owners. The price is more than justified by the nutritional punch that CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food provides.

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon & Potato Formula Dry Dog Food

Wellness is a staple of the premium pet food market and has a holistic approach to dog nourishment. They aim to use only the finest quality ingredients and avoid additives/filler. It’s no surprise then that Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon & Potato Formula Dry Dog Food is one of the best limited ingredient dog foods available. The recipe contains only 8 whole ingredients (with added vitamins and minerals): salmon, salmon meal, potatoes, peas, dried ground potatoes, tomato pomace, ground flaxseed, and canola oil. If you believe your dog might have an allergy to one of these ingredients, be sure to check out the other dog foods available in the line (eg. chicken, turkey, or white fish). Whilst the formula contains only 25% protein, this is gained entirely from the salmon and salmon meal. As well as providing ample amounts of omega-3 and 6 (promoting coat and skin health), this protein will also be easily and efficiently digested. At $60 for a 24 lb bag, this is expensive dry dog food, but its nutritional value provides a strong case for spending the extra money. 

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Adult Large Breed Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nutro has produced a lamb and sweet potato-based limited ingredient dog food that is honestly a little lackluster. The formula contains 10 ingredients: deboned lamb, lamb meal, chickpeas, dried potatoes, dried sweet potato, lentils, sunflower oil, canola oil, potato protein, and dried plain beet pulp. This quite a lot of ingredients for a limited ingredient dog food.  The formula also contains 20% protein and 13% fat – a below-average amount. This would be acceptable if all this protein came from a single animal source, but Nutro has also used potato protein! This is not an optimal way for dogs to absorb protein and can cause digestion trouble. To top it off, this brand isn’t even a budget price at $58 for a 22 lb bag. Whilst the formula is also brimming with vitamins and minerals, this isn’t enough to separate it from the rest of the competition. We are not saying that this dog food will be bad for your dog, but there are just so many better options in this price bracket. It might be worth considering if you have a large breed dog who requires a lamb based dog food.

Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Zignature is a great premium option for anyone looking to buy a turkey-based limited ingredient dog food. They have packed this formula to the brim with protein and fat, making up 31% and 18% of the product respectively. This is an above-average amount, making it brilliant for bone and muscle support. It must be noted that this protein amount is supplemented by the use of pea protein. Whilst this recipe does feature more ingredients than the average limited ingredient dog food, it is free from some of the most common canine allergens such as corn, wheat, soy, dairy, and chicken. As well as including the recommended amount of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, this dog food is also filled with blueberries, carrots, and cranberries. This will allow your dog to absorb key vitamins and antioxidants from a natural source, which will help digestion. There isn’t much to dislike about this product, and the user reviews agree with us!

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Lamb & Chickpeas Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick have produced a great all-rounder formula that makes for a nice alternative option in limited ingredient dog food. When Merrick says limited ingredients, they aren’t lying. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Lamb & Chickpeas Recipe Dry Dog Food contains only 8 whole ingredients (that are infused with vitamins and minerals): deboned lamb, lamb meal, chickpeas, lentils, peas, sunflower oil, flaxseed, natural flavor. You should note the lack of any addition plant-based protein. This is notable as this formula contains 26% protein, all of which comes from the lamb content. It’s 16% fat content is also impressive for such a limited ingredient dog food. All these combined means that this dog food is brilliant at supporting healthy digestion. Merrick have also found a way to ensure that there is more than enough omega-3 and 6 to support the maintenance of healthy skin and coat. We can’t sing the praises of Merrick enough for producing such a carefully crafted dog food. If you are willing to spend a bit extra on limited ingredient dog food, this would be a brilliant choice.

FAQ

  • What is limited ingredient dog food? Limited ingredient dog food is any dog food formula that uses minimal ingredients (typically under 12). It should keep filler ingredients and additives to a minimum and use only a single meat-based protein. This can be beneficial to dogs who suffer from food allergies. Limited ingredient dog food can also be helpful for dogs that have sensitive stomachs or regularly suffer from diarrhea.
  • Does my dog need a limited ingredient diet? Does your dog suffer from food-based allergies? Do you believe that your dog might be having an allergic reaction to and ingredient in their current dog food? If you answered yes to either of these questions then your dog could benefit from a limited ingredient diet. 
  • What food is best for dogs with itchy skin? Itchy skin could be an allergic reaction to lots of different ingredients, so it is difficult to recommend a specific food to help prevent itchy skin. You should try and identify the cause and find a dog food without that ingredient. Itchy skin might not even be a food problem at all. Some dogs react poorly to environmental allergens and this could be the cause of itchy skin.
  • What is the most common food allergy in dogs?Dogs are most commonly allergic to these foods: beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish. This list is NOT exhaustive, so always be on the lookout for potential allergic reactions your dog is experiencing. 
  • What protein are dogs most allergic to? This question is difficult to answer but the answer is most likely chicken. Beef and lamb also seem to have a higher allergy rate in dogs. Whilst dogs are not necessarily allergic to them, plant-based proteins can make it difficult for dogs to digest their meal. Try to find a limited ingredient dog food that does not use pea protein as an ingredient if your dog is struggling with an upset stomach.

Conclusion

If you believe your dog is suffering from an allergy, we would strongly recommend that you consider switching to a limited ingredient dog food. Even if you switch just to establish what ingredient is causing the allergy, by finding this out you can help make your dog far happier and experience a better quality of life. It is expensive if you want to switch to an excellent quality limited ingredient dog food, but we believe it to be well worth it. If you are on a tight budget, then we would suggest a temporary switch to a cheaper brand. Food is one of the biggest contributors to your dog’s overall health, so you would be wise to make an informed dog food decision.

 

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