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10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For 2023

best limited ingredient dog food

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 pooches.

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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 best 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.

OUR TOP 3 PICKS FOR LIMITED INGREDIENT DOG FOODS

10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 2
  • Mouthwatering flavor
  • Made from premium ingredients
  • Uses carefully selected proteins
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10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 4
  • Backed by delicious science
  • So tasty that your pooch will go bonkers
  • 60% off First Order
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10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 2
  • Single source animal protein
  • Contains easily digstible carbs
  • Ideal kibble for highly sensitive pups
VIEW LATEST PRICE →See Customer Reviews →

I’ve used this type of formula before and I can tell you that it works wonders for dogs with sensitive stomachs. I’ve found that these recipes are easier to digest and cause far less tummy upsets in my sensitive pups than non-limited ingredient dog foods.

A limited ingredient diet certainly isn't for everyone, so I will be pointing out the pros and cons of each recipe throughout this list.

By doing this, I will help you to make an informed purchase decision as well as navigate a rather cluttered dog food market. With that said, here are the best limited ingredient dog food products I’ve researched for you.

Overall Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

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10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 7
Ollie Fresh Pet Food Beef Recipe
  • Backed by delicious science
  • So tasty that your pooch will go bonkers
  • Meals are designed according to your pet's unique needs
Check Price Here!
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 8
Natural Balance L.I.D. Sweet Potato & Fish Formula
  • Mouthwatering flavor
  • Made from premium ingredients
  • Uses carefully selected proteins
Check Price on ChewyCheck Price on Amazon
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 9
American Journey L.I.D. Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Single source animal protein
  • Contains easily digstible carbs
  • Ideal kibble for highly sensitive pups
Check Price on Chewy
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 10
Blue Buffalo Basics L.I.D. Turkey & Potato Puppy Recipe
  • Precise blend of antioxidants
  • Made to support the immune system
  • Promotes eye and brain development
Check Price on ChewyCheck Price on Amazon
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 11
Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice
  • Uses only 6 key ingredients
  • Crafted with the finest ingredients
  • 100% free from fillers and preservatives
Check Price on ChewyCheck Price on Amazon
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 12
CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Crafted using 8 real ingredients
  • Fortified with Canidae’s HealthPLUS blend
  • Overflowing with essential minerals and vitamins
Check Price on ChewyCheck Price on Amazon
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 13
Wellness Simple L.I.D. Salmon & Potato Formula
  • Uses only 5 carefully chosen key ingredients
  • Features natural probiotics and antioxidants
  • Contains healthy fats, taurine and glucosamine
Check Price on ChewyCheck Price on Amazon
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 14
Nutro L.I.D. Adult Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Zero allergy-causing ingredients
  • Ideal for pets with food sensitivities
  • Featuring 10 main ingredients
Check Price on ChewyCheck Price on Amazon
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 15
Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula
  • Low glycemic formula
  • Rich in riboflavin, phosphorus and selenium
  • Crafted with farm-raised Turkey from the American Midwest
Check Price on ChewyCheck Price on Amazon
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 16
Merrick L.I.D. Real Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Drool-worthy formula
  • Gluten and grain free kibble
  • Made with just 10 ingredients
Check Price on ChewyCheck Price on Amazon

What is the Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food?

  1. Ollie Fresh Pet Food Beef Recipe
  2. Natural Balance L.I.D. Sweet Potato & Fish Formula
  3. American Journey L.I.D. Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
  4. Blue Buffalo Basics L.I.D. Turkey & Potato Puppy Recipe
  5. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice
  6. CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
  7. Wellness Simple L.I.D. Salmon & Potato Formula
  8. Nutro L.I.D. Adult Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe
  9. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula
  10. Merrick L.I.D. Real Lamb & Chickpeas Recipe
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1. Ollie Beef Dish with Sweet Potatoes

First 5 ingredients: Beef, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Carrots

Rating:  5/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 17
Their recipes are crafted by veterinarians using whole, high-quality ingredients to ensure your dog will gain all the nutrients his body needs to have a full life.

Ollie allows you to design a custom meal plan on the brand’s website and will optimize it by knowing your dog's breed, sex, activity level and weight. Once you've picked a meal plan, you will begin to receive frozen meals direct to your door every two weeks.

The brand has four fresh recipes currently, but let’s focus on their beef dish for now. Since this is freshly made dog food, you will be able to see all core ingredients and they are recognizable. 

Like many limited ingredient diets, this recipe is also grain-free. Ground beef is the main animal protein, although it is helped along by eggs for a better protein profile. 

The potatoes provide the carbohydrate to help your pup feel full longer and give him fuel to burn whenever he needs quick energy. Aside from carbs, potatoes also contain fiber which is highly important for dogs with sensitivities. Fiber helps bulk up your pup’s stool so that it’s easier to move. 

Carrots and peas are low-calorie ingredients that are quite high on fiber too. Together, the carrots, peas and potatoes ensure that your dog does not suffer from diarrhea brought on by food intolerance.

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Fiber is not the only thing these three ingredients have in common. These contain plenty of minerals and vitamins that your pup needs for overall health. What I like about these ingredients is that they help lessen the amount of supplemental vitamins added to your pet’s food because your dogs can get much of their nutrition direct from the source.

Key Takeaways:

Although by-far the priciest option on this list, Ollie's fresh pet food contains quality that cannot be beaten. I mean, ingredients that are also edible to humans? How awesome is that? 

I can also vouch for this brand and its products since I feed this to my pups. Other dog food options may be cheaper, but Ollie has got my vote when it comes to ingredient selection, nutritional content, and most of all, results. 

When it comes to dog food allergies, it is tops. The four recipes have relatively similar nutritional content so it’s just a matter of picking which recipe contains ingredients your food sensitive dogs can tolerate. I can personally attest to how several of the pups with food intolerances that I foster became much more active and overall healthier on this diet.

Despite being a limited ingredient food, this contains levels of protein and fat that are higher than its competitors. That means more energy and better muscle development. As the food is also more hydrated, it has a much more attractive aroma to dogs and I personally like that the food relies on its natural flavors rather than on artificial ones.

Ollie is therefore perfect for even the pickiest of dogs. We believe it to be the best limited ingredient dog food on the market. It’s just a shame that the price will be a barrier to a lot of pet owners.

Best for: All dogs of all ages with or without food allergies

What I like:

  • Great taste will appeal to most dogs
  • Limited ingredients but packed with nutrients
  • High in protein and fat
  • Customized to each pup

What I don’t like:

  • Expensive
  • Needs refrigeration

2. Natural Balance L.I.D. Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula

First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Tapioca Starch, Potatoes

Rating:  4/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 18
Providing essential nutrients with Salmon as its main protein source, this limited ingredient formula is a balanced meal suited for all breeds even for dogs who have allergies/sensitivities.

This limited ingredient diet by Natural Balance provides dogs who exhibit adverse reactions to many types of meat protein a way to eat healthily. The main proteins are derived from fish which, for many dogs, is a novel protein. 

The use of fish also means that this dog food is packed with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which are necessary for your dog's brain development. These 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.

Because this dry dog food is grain-free, your dog has to get his fiber and carbs elsewhere. The sweet potatoes, tapioca starch, and potatoes provide these. 

Carbs, protein, and fat all provide fuel to your pup but carbs are burned by dogs faster. So for those short but intense plays that your dog gets into, carbs are ideal as sources of quick energy. 

But sweet potatoes and potatoes offer far more than carbs and fiber. These two are also rich in vitamin C — a major antioxidant — and a number of vitamins and minerals that can only be good for your pet. 

Now let’s get to the fat source. There are two fat providers in this Natural Balance LID dog food. These are canola oil and menhaden fish oil. Menhaden is rich in EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health. Canola, meanwhile, is loaded with linoleic acid that is essential in strengthening the immune system and maintaining the overall health of skin and coat.

The recipe uses only natural flavor and there is nothing artificial in it that might trigger adverse food reactions.

Key Takeaways:

Crafted with limited ingredients to aid digestion, this LID dog food by Natural Balance is a formula that contains a lower than expected amount of protein (24%) and fat (10%). This is fine for promoting bone and muscle growth. In fact, it is over the AAFCO minimum requirements for adult maintenance dry dog food.  However, we would have liked to have seen a greater level of protein.

There is also the issue of canola oil. While this oil is not toxic for dogs and in fact contains lots of nutrition, it is, however, a very processed type of oil that uses chemicals for the extraction process. There are many and far healthier alternatives rather than this oil which is extracted by using hexane solvent. 

But aside from the oil and the average protein content, there is a lot to like about this Natural Balance dog food recipe. It is affordable, uses mostly high-quality ingredients, and delivers great results for pups with food allergies.

Best for: Adult dogs who need a little more skin and coat care

What I like:

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

What I don’t like:

  • Uses canola oil

3. American Journey L.I.D. Salmon & Sweet Potato

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes

Rating:  4/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 19
Using a single protein source, this carefully crafted kibble delivers a protein-rich formula with highly digestible carbohydrates so that nutrients can be absorbed by the body easily.

American Journey Limited Ingredient 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.

But while Natural Balance’s LID offering is crafted especially for adult dogs, this one is designed to meet the requirements of 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.

As the formula is grain-free, it contains higher levels of vegetables to make up for lost carbohydrates. This is fine and makes the formula more easily digestible.

Peas, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes provide the carbohydrates and the vitamins and minerals. Aside from the mentioned nutrients, peas and chickpeas also contain protein. Since the deboned salmon isn’t that high in the said nutrient, the inclusion of these two are perfect for boosting the protein levels. 

In case you’re looking at the label and wondering why there is dried plain beet pulp in it, well, plain beet pulp is often used as an alternative to fiber-rich foods like grains. Because this dry dog food is grain-free, it has to source its fiber content elsewhere.

Fiber is important to a dog’s digestive system because it breaks down into short-chain fatty acids in the dog’s stomach. And soluble fiber, the fiber that dried plain beet pulp provides, creates a gel as it dissolves that may improve your pup’s digestion in many ways. It also reduces blood cholesterol and sugar.

As for fat, which is one of the main nutritional considerations in dog foods, it is supplied by three sources: fish oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil. Fish oil and sunflower oil are excellent sources of fat. On the other hand, canola oil is an oil that, while non-toxic, is something I cannot get behind.

You see, unless it’s labeled as organic, canola oil is chemically processed using hexane solvent to extract the oil from the crushed seeds. Heat is also often applied during the process which can destroy the omega-3s in it. It’s not a pretty process, and I would prefer my dog’s food to be without it.

Key Takeaways:

American Journey’s salmon offering is one of the best dogs foods you can offer your pup with extreme food allergies. The LID dog food has only one animal protein source. And since one of the most common food allergies is to chicken, there is fortunately no trace of poultry in the recipe. Not even in the form of an egg.

The protein is about average and enough to maintain a playful pooch, while the fat content is, thankfully, on the higher end of average. But while the fat content is high, the calorie content is not. At 327 kcal per cup, your pup won’t be putting on excess pounds.

What I don’t like about this food, however, is that it contains canola oil. Canola oil is heavily processed, and the extraction process uses chemicals. While it’s not toxic to dogs, it’s not the best source of fat either. 

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

Best for: Multi-pet households because it’s for all life stages

What I like:

  • Inexpensive
  • Single animal protein source
  • Rich in omega fatty acids

What I don’t like:

  • Has canola oil

4. Blue Buffalo Basics L.I.D. Turkey & Potato Puppy Recipe

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Oatmeal, Peas, Brown Rice

Rating:  4/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 20
A tasty meal for puppies that is made from carefully selected ingredients. This contains tons of minerals, vitamins, DHA, antioxidants and ARA to support your pet's systems from his early years.

Blue Buffalo Basics has produced a limited ingredient turkey & potato recipe that has been specifically formulated to minimize reactions from food allergies while at the same time provide puppies with maximum nutritional value. The food is easily digestible as potato is its main carbohydrate source. 

When food intolerance issues first come up — some during puppy stage — it is important that dogs are fed with limited ingredient dog foods using a single animal protein source. This makes it easier to winnow out problem ingredients to find out which is/are causing the food allergy reactions.
And this is where this LID puppy food comes in.

Deboned turkey and turkey meal are the only meat protein sources. But since turkey is high in protein just like chicken, the crude protein comes out to a nice 26%. 

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 in your little fur friend. The ample levels of fat, which should be plenty to support the growth of the average puppy, are supplied by the presence of flaxseed, fish oil, and canola oil.

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This is not a grain-free food, but that’s just fine. Brown rice is perfectly healthy and nutritious. If your pup does not have a food allergy to grains, brown rice is an excellent source of carbohydrates and fiber. Since brown rice is a whole grain unlike white rice, it contains significantly more vitamins and minerals than the white variety.

Oatmeal also provides a significant contribution to this recipe. It’s one of those human foods that’s quite healthy for dogs. With a rich fiber content, oatmeal can help regulate bowel movements and the blood sugar of our canine friends.

Key Takeaways:

I find this limited ingredient diet by Blue Buffalo to be gentle on little stomachs. The single meat protein source is perfect for puppies who suffer from food intolerance issues (because one of the most common food allergens are specific animal proteins).

There’s a good amount of calories to sustain active little bodies. The crude protein level is fine too, although it could do with a little more.  As for fat, there’s an ample supply to help fuel your pup’s movements. And there’s a good helping of DHA to help developing brains. 

Now most of the ingredients in this dry dog food are excellent. (I particularly like the deboned turkey.) I do have to single out one thing, and that is the canola oil. There are so many more healthier sources of fat, like sunflower oil, coconut oil, or even turkey liver. It’s just disappointing that the brand chose to go with a heavily processed one like canola.

Best for: Puppies with food allergies

What I like:

  • Cheap
  • Designed specifically for puppies
  • High in DHA, Omega-3 and 6
  • Single meat protein source

What I don’t like:

  • Contains chemically processed canola oil
  • Comparatively low levels of fat and protein
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5. Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe 

First 5 ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat (preserved With Mixed Tocopherols)

Rating:  4.5/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 21
Made free from artificial flavors, fillers, colors or any preservatives, this formula is made with added taurine, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients making it a good option to consider.

Rachael Ray Nutrish is a very simple dry dog food that contains only five main 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.

This dry dog food uses lamb meal as its only animal protein source. If your pup isn’t sensitive to lamb, this could be the ideal food for him. 

As mentioned before, there are only a few ingredients in this dry food. The brown rice and brewers rice provide most of the carbohydrate content while the beet pulp supplies plenty of fiber. But what’s great about these is that the brand specifically chose ingredients that also contain loads of vitamins and minerals. 

The fat comes from chicken fat. In case you’re worried about it, chciken fat contains absolutely no protein and should not trigger a reaction from a pet who is allergic to chicken. 

I always prefer animal fat over vegetable fat when feeding my pups because 1) animal fat makes the food extra palatable to most dogs — this is especially helpful if you’ve got a picky eater, and 2) animal fat is more biologically appropriate. 

Chicken fat is also noted for high linoleic acid content, which is helpful for dogs who need to improve the condition of their skin and coat. 

Key Takeaways:

This formula provides a below-average amount of protein at just 20%. Although the AAFCO requirements for adult dog maintenance is 18% and the protein level here is more than that, 20% is still kind of low unless your dog has a medical condition that requires minimal protein content.

What I do like about it is that it simple as possible while providing all of your pup’s daily nutritional requirements. There are no extra ingredients, nothing unnecessary. Just natural flavors and premium products. It’s a true limited ingredient diet for pups with extreme sensitivities. 

I also like the inclusion of chondoritin and glucosamine in this dry food.  Dogs who are prone to joint pain will be amply supported by these two ingredients and may even be aided to become more mobile.

This formula would be great for any dog who is severely impacted by allergies and needs a very limited ingredient diet. 

Best For: Adult dogs of all breeds with extreme sensitivities

What I like:

  • Simple recipe that’s gentle on the tummy
  • Lamb meal is the only protein source
  • Low in calories
  • Just 5 main ingredients

What I don’t like:

  • Protein level is low

6. CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lentils, Sweet Potatoes

Rating:  4.25/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 22
Made with only 8 real, ingredients with salmon at the top of the list. This recipe is free from grains making it very ideal for pets with food sensitivities.

CANIDAE has a reputation for providing high-quality dog food, and this is no exception.

Using 8 simple ingredients, this grain-free formula is guaranteed to give your dog all the nutrition he needs to live a long and healthy life. 

The formula contains 32% protein and 18% fat. This is an above-average percentage that will help your dog develop and maintain his muscle fibers. Actually, the protein and fat content is high enough to maintain even highly active doggos and their desire for constant movement.

If your pet is highly sensitive to most animal proteins, limited ingredient diets using fish may be a good alternative. This recipe sticks to salmon and menhaden fish meal to provide most of the protein. (It does use pea protein, though.) 

Usually when fish is used as the main or only animal meat in a recipe, the protein content won’t come out high. But these are why lentils, peas, sweet potatoes, and garbanzos were selected for this recipe. Not only are these excellent grain-free alternatives for fiber and carbs,  they also contain plenty of protein as well as other nutrients. 

Flaxseed and canola oil supply the fat that is so necessary in keeping your dog’s body working properly. You might be familiar with flaxseed because it’s a common ingredient in many dog foods. 

The reason why flaxseed is so popular is because it not only supplies fat but is also a nutrient booster. It contains magnesium (for bone health), choline (brain and liver function), manganese (nutrient absorption), thiamine (nerve function), and phosphorus (tissue and bone maintenance). It’s like a multivitamin tablet for dogs. 

Key Takeaways:

It is rare for a limited ingredient formula to be able to provide an above-average level of protein and fat, but this grain-free dry dog food goes the extra mile. Yes, it does use pea protein but majority of the protein comes from an animal source and the legumes (and sweet potatoes) only act as boosters.

I am loving the protein content a lot. I’ve got dogs who need a tremendous amount of energy, and it’s a little hard to look for recipes that not only offer a high protein content but are also crafted with sensitive pups in mind.

And since the fat content is on the high side too, there’s bound to be higher guaranteed levels of omega fatty acids. Dogs who suffer from a food allergy are also more likely to suffer from dull coats and itchy, inflamed skin. This grain-free dry dog food takes care of that. I’ve seen the results myself when this was fed to some of the dogs I work with. 

This would be an almost perfect recipe if it weren’t for the inclusion of canola oil. Reading through this article, you would already know my stand on it. 

Best for: Highly active dogs with food allergies

What I like:

  • High protein content
  • Poultry-free
  • High levels of omega fatty acids

What I don’t like:

  • Uses canola oil as a fat source

7. Wellness Simple L.I.D. Salmon & Potato Formula

First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes

Rating: 4/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 23
Carefully crafted using only 5 main ingredients, it boasts a single protein source with easy to digest carbohydrates which promotes overall well-being.

Wellness is a staple of the premium pet food market and has a holistic approach to dog nourishment. The brand aims to use only the finest quality ingredients and avoid additives/filler. It's no surprise then that this Wellness recipe is one of the best limited ingredient dog foods available.

The dry dog food recipe contains only 8 whole ingredients (with natural flavor and added vitamins and minerals). Aside from the mentioned ingredients above, the only other ingredients are tomato pomace, ground flaxseed, and canola oil.

Salmon is considered a fatty fish because it is high in fat. But in case you’re worried, most of the fat is healthy unsaturated fat. It’s possibly one of the healthiest types of fish to feed your pup because it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, magnesium, selenium, and vitamins B12, B6, and D. 

Other meats, like chicken, may contain more protein than fish, but the protein level in this dry dog food is more than adequate. At 25%, it’s enough to sustain the needs of your playful pooch. This is partly thanks to the inclusion of peas into the mix, which lends a bit of vegetable protein boost.

We’re all familiar with potatoes, but not everyone is aware of what tomato pomace is, which is an ingfredient in this food. Tomato pomace is a byproduct of human food production. It’s composed of the skin, pulp, and seeds that are left over after ketchup, tomato paste, and more are manufactured.

Is tomato pomace safe? Yes. It is also extremely beneficial to dogs since it has both soluble and insoluble fibers. These fibers regulate your dog’s digestion and helps maintain your pup’s steady blood sugar levels.

Key Takeaways:

Wellness’s dry dog food recipe is a well-thought one with ingredients I approve of (most, anyway). It has the right amount of protein, loads of omega fatty acids, and a good helping of probiotics and prebiotics to aid in your dog’s digestion and keep his tummy safe from upsets.

This is expensive dry dog food, though, but its nutritional value provides a strong case for spending the extra money. It does have a less than perfect formulation courtesy of the oil it uses: canola. I’m not going into it again, but you should be aware of it.

It also has a higher calorie content than most dog foods featured here. If your pup is not the active type, he might gain excess poundage he does not need.

Best for: Active dogs or pups who need to gain weight

What I like:

  • Features natural probiotics and omega fatty acids
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Single animal protein source

What I don’t like:

  • Caloric content is high
  • Oil from canola seeds

8. Nutro L.I.D. Large Breed Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Dried Potatoes, Dried Sweet Potato

Rating: 4/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 24
Nutro is well known for its clean recipes and this is no exception. Made from 10 key ingredients, this formula is made without the most common allergy-causing foods making it a top pick for sensitive dogs.

Nutro has produced a lamb and sweet potato-based limited ingredient dog food that is specially crafted for sensitive dogs. Aside from the listed first five ingredients, the rest of the main ingredients are made up only of: lentils, sunflower oil, canola oil, potato protein, and dried plain beet pulp. 

You’re probably familiar with several of the listed ingredients, so let’s talk about the other not-so-commonly-talked-about ingredients here, such as the sunflower oil and potato protein.

First, the sunflower oil. While fat from animals are more biologically appropriate (and they make food more palatable), fat sourced from vegetables offers loads of benefits too. 

Sunflower oil, for instance, is lower in saturated fat than animal fat. It’s a great source of omega-6, which preserves normal organ function, keeps the immune system functioning properly, and maintains a healthy sheen for coats.

Potato protein boosts the protein content of any dog food. While potato is low on protein, its quality is considered high for a plant-based ingredient. I’m not really for or against this food product. My stand is that vegetable protein is fine as long as it just acts as a protein booster and the recipe gets most of its protein content from an animal source. 

Key Takeaways:

It’s an excellent formula made with non-GMO ingredients. If you’re a fan of Nutro’s clean philosophy, that alone should be enough to persuade you to try this for your pup. 

The list of ingredients is not as short as what other LID formulas offer, but there are no unnecessary food products included. I also like the inclusion of sunflower oil because it’s a fine source of three omega fatty acids: 3, 6, and 9. 

What I am disappointed in is, again, the use of canola. I’m not sure why a lot of LID formulas use this oil instead of other healthier and less processed alternatives.

Nutro’s is also more expensive than other limited ingredient formulas. It’s not an option for people on a tight budget.

Best for: Adult pooches who love lamb; Pets who are poultry-sensitive

What I like:

  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • Single animal protein source
  • No chicken ingredient

What I don’t like:

  • The presence of canola
  • Quite expensive

9. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula

First 5 ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Sunflower Oil

Rating: 5/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 25
This is a premium dry dog food made from farm-raised turkey locally sourced from the American Midwest. It is a grain free meal that is also low glycemic making it ideal for diabetic pets.

Zignature is a great premium grain-free option for anyone looking to buy a turkey-based limited ingredient dog food. The brand has 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.)

There aren’t veggies or fruits here apart from chickpeas and peas, but the food is balanced and complete. 

Key Takeaways:

There are only six main ingredients, making it a really clean formula that’s perfect for any pup who’s experiencing severe reactions to food. All the ingredients are premium, the protein content is way up, and I’m having a difficult time looking for anything negative about the product. 

There is nothing to dislike, except probably for its higher than average price.

Best for: Adult dogs with extreme food sensitivities

What I like:

  • Very clean formula
  • High protein content
  • Single animal protein source

What I don’t like:

  • A little more expensive than other LID formulas

10. Merrick L.I.D. Real Lamb & Chickpeas Recipe

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas

Rating: 4/5

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 26
Made with just 8 whole ingredients – real, deboned lamb leading the list. This grain free formula is guaranteed to deliver tasty goodness every mealtime.

This is a great all-rounder formula from Merrick that makes for a nice alternative option in limited ingredient dog food. When Merrick says limited ingredients, the brand isn’t lying. 

This formula contains only 9 key ingredients (that are infused with vitamins and minerals). 

The only meat source is lamb, while the carb and fiber are supplied by the sweet potatoes, potatoes, and peas. You won’t find anything objectionable here. 

Key Takeaways:

This dog food gets the thumbs up from me for its premium formulation. From the meat to the fat, I can tell that all the ingredients have been thoughtfully and carefully selected. 

I’m just a little disappointed that there is less protein here than I would like to see in my pup’s food. At just 23%, that is below the average percentage you’d normally see in dog foods. I do have to point out that 23% is still above the minimum required by the AAFCO for dry adult food.

Overall, however, this is a good choice. If you are willing to spend a bit extra on limited ingredient dog food, this would be a brilliant choice.

Best for: Adult dogs of all breeds

What I like:

  • Single animal protein source
  • Gentle on tummies
  • No chicken ingredient

What I don’t like:

  • Low protein content
Limited Ingredient Dog Food

6 Key Considerations When Looking For A Limited Ingredient Dog Food

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? What are the ingredients used? Make sure that the recipe only uses natural ingredients and as much as possible, these should be sourced domestically. In particular, try to ensure the animal protein used within the food had not been fed antibiotics.

Don’t fall for gimmicks or “marketing words.” Dog foods for pups with sensitivities should be free from anything artificial. Natural flavors and colors are a must. 

Additives and filler – Check to see what additives are being placed within the dog food. While 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 Limited Ingredient Diet

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.

10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 27

Diagnosing Food Allergies

Dogs can get allergic to just about anything and everything in food. Allergens can range from meat proteins to something as innocuous as green beans. And it can be hard to diagnose a food allergy because dogs would need to go through a lengthy elimination trial to get the most accurate diagnosis. 

Fortunately, true food allergy is rare. What a lot of people consider as allergies are really food intolerance cases. Food intolerance occurs when a pup has difficulty digesting a certain food. This usually shows up as skin or gastrointestinal problems. However, true food allergy triggers an auto-immune response.

Diagnosing Allergies

The first step in determining allergies is to feed your pup a special diet that contains none of the ingredients he may have eaten in the past. This also means no treats or other types of dog foods can be fed to him during the trial for it to work properly.

This elimination trial will be lengthy and last as long as eight to 12 weeks. If food sensitivity symptoms resolve during this time, the next step will now be reintroducing his old food. If the symptoms return immediately (within a week of old diet reintroduction), then your dog definitely has a food allergy.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for food allergies. The only way to resolve it is to avoid the offending ingredient/ingredients altogether. 

To determine what the offending ingredient or ingredients are, your vet may prescribe allergy testing.

Common Food Allergens/Intolerances

 1. Beef and Chicken – Feeding dogs an ingredient over and over for years can lead to an intolerance to it. Since beef and chicken are two of the most common ingredients in dog foods, it also follows that they are the most common food allergens.

2.  Dairy – Many pups have trouble digesting lactose and this can show up as diarrhea, vomiting, or gas.

3. Wheat – Many LID foods are grain-free because wheat is another common allergen for dogs.

4. Egg – A dog food may feature a non-poultry meat protein as its main ingredient but include egg. Make sure to properly check the labels if your pup is allergic to chicken or any type of poultry.

5. Lamb – Lamb and lamb meal are commonly used as alternatives to beef in cases of allergies. However, because it became a popular food ingredient, several dogs have also shown an increase in lamb allergies.

6. Soy – Soy and its products like soybean oil, soybean meal, and more are also common allergens. In some studies, soy is also shown as causing various health issues beyond allergies. If you’ve noticed, expensive brands of dog foods don’t feature any soy ingredient.

FAQs

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 first before looking for dog foods 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.

While dogs are not necessarily allergic to them, plant-based proteins can make it difficult for some dogs to digest their meal. If this is the case with your pup, try to find a limited ingredient dog food that does not use pea protein as an ingredient.

10 Healthiest & Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For [year] 28

Conclusion

If you believe your dog is suffering from an allergy, we would strongly recommend that you consider ditching previously fed dog foods and switching to a LID recipe.

It can be more expensive to switch to a high-quality limited ingredient dog food, but we believe it to be well worth it. However, we also know that not everyone has the same buying capacity so we also featured inexpensive but quality options for people on a tight budget.

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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Farmers Dog
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