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If your furry friend is suffering from chronic skin or digestive issues, limited-ingredient dog food may help resolve your pup’s symptoms. In some cases, veterinarians recommend trying limited-ingredient diet (LID) for food allergy symptoms. But if you can’t afford a vet visit, you may want to consider commercial LID dog foods on your own.
Our team has researched hundreds of different dog foods for all kinds of diets and health concerns, and we’ve determined that The Farmer’s Dog, Ollie, and Zignature are among the best limited-ingredient dog foods. However, we give you even more options to suit other dietary needs.
At A Glance: Best Dog Food With Limited Ingredients
|The Farmer’s Dog
|View on Chewy
|View on Chewy
Why Switch To Limited-Ingredient Dog Food?
Like humans, dogs can be particularly sensitive or even allergic to certain ingredients in their diet. And unfortunately, our furry friends can develop intolerances to food ingredients at any point in their lifetime. In these cases, veterinarians may recommend a diet change to a commercial dog food containing limited ingredients.
“These diets are rightly or wrongly thought to be of better quality, and they’re often used in pets who have skin allergies or digestive issues,” says Dr. Rebecca MacMillan, BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS, a companion animal veterinarian in Gloucester, United Kingdom. “I usually suggest that an owner try a limited-ingredient dog food (LID) as part of a dietary trial to help diagnose food-related skin allergies.”
“If the dog’s itchiness resolves after a period on this new diet, I would then recommend challenging it to see if their itchiness reoccurs when they eat chicken or beef again,” explains Dr. MacMillan. “First of all, this proves that there is an allergy but also confirms what the dog flares up to. In my experience though, many owners skip this step in the process and just choose to continue feeding their pet its new limited-ingredient diet long term if they are doing well on it. I have several patients that have responded well to their change in diet, where other treatments have failed.”
Common Dog Food Allergens
The most common culprits include beef, chicken, dairy products, and wheat. Many dogs also don’t tolerate soy, corn, eggs, and various preservatives. But every dog is different, so there’s a long list of ingredients that could be causing problems. Don’t forget to take into account any treats or table scraps your pup may be eating regularly, as these could be the source of allergies.
“Many limited ingredient diets contain novel proteins,” shares Dr. MacMillan. “These are protein sources that aren’t commonly found in other pet foods, such as venison, duck, or salmon. This is because most dogs with allergies react to ingredients like chicken, beef, and pork, which they would encounter frequently in pet foods and treats. Care needs to be taken to read the ingredients when selecting one of these diets to ensure there is nothing ‘hidden’ in this list that might contribute to your dog’s suspected allergies.”
If you’re unsure which ingredients are causing your dog’s symptoms, you can also give your pup an at-home dog allergy test. These kits test for sensitivity or intolerance to many foods (and environmental allergens) that develop over time. You send a saliva or hair sample to the company’s lab and get results within a few weeks. You can then share these results with your vet to help further narrow down possible causes.
Best Limited-Ingredient Dog Food
We’ve chosen our top picks based on the overall quality of ingredients, special ingredients for skin allergies or digestive issues, customer feedback, pricing, and other factors.
Note: All of the companies we review here use all-natural ingredients with no fillers, artificial preservatives, corn, wheat, or soy and meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requirements for a complete and balanced diet. They’re also all made in the USA.
Best Grain-Free Limited-Ingredient Dog Food: The Farmer’s Dog Review
The Farmer’s Dog is our favorite brand that offers fresh, human-grade dog food delivered right to your door. Every recipe features whole-food USDA animal protein, vegetables, and fruits, all fortified with an ideal blend of vitamins and minerals and personalized for your pup’s life stage, size, breed, activity level, and specific needs.
All of The Farmer’s Dog recipes contain limited ingredients and are grain-free, so they’re an excellent option if your pup suffers from grain sensitivities. For dogs with protein allergies, we recommend their turkey formula (your other options are beef, chicken, and pork). All recipes are developed by board-certified American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) nutritionists and flash-frozen to preserve nutrients and freshness. They even pre-portion your dog’s personalized meals for convenient feeding.
Food Ingredients In The Farmer’s Dog Turkey Recipe
- Starting at $2/day
Best Limited-Ingredient Dog Food With Grain: Ollie Review
Another of our favorite fresh-frozen dog food delivery services, Ollie is similar to The Farmer’s Dog in that it uses only human-grade, whole-food ingredients carefully chosen by animal nutritionists for optimal health in all life stages. Ollie also personalizes your pup’s food based on his profile (age, gender, breed, weight, body shape, activity level, allergies, and other health issues).
For dogs with allergies, we recommend Ollie’s lamb recipe, particularly if their other protein options (chicken, beef, turkey, and pork) don’t sit well with your pup. All recipes but beef include easy-to-digest grains. The limited ingredients and fresh whole foods in all their recipes could be the answer to your furry friend’s allergy problems.
Food Ingredients In Ollie’s Lamb Dish Recipe
- Full Fresh plans start at $3.14/day
- Half Fresh plans start at $1/meal
Our readers can get 50% off their first box. Use this link to take advantage of this offer (no discount code needed).
Best Limited-Ingredient Dry Dog Food: Zignature Limited Ingredient Review
Gluten and grain-free, Zignature’s limited ingredient formulas feature an excellent selection of novel proteins for pups who are allergic to common pet food proteins. This whitefish formula gets the best customer reviews for dogs with skin allergies. Whitefish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce skin inflammation and boost your pup’s immune system.
In addition to whitefish, Zignature offers duck, goat, kangaroo, venison, and several other formulas that each feature single novel proteins. All recipes are also fortified with probiotics for gut health and allergy support and taurine for heart health. Although this brand is pricey for commercial kibble, we think it’s worth the cost for such a high-quality dog food with ideal ingredients for allergies.
Food Ingredients In Zignature’s Whitefish Formula
- Starting at (4-lb bag)
Best Limited-Ingredient Wet Dog Food: Natural Balance Reserve Review
Natural Balance carries a wide variety of limited-ingredient dog chow, including kibble, shreds, and wet (canned) food. We recommend this grain and pea-free formula that features bison as the only animal protein ingredient. It also includes fiber-rich sweet potatoes to help with digestive health, fish oil and flaxseed for skin allergy relief, and taurine for heart health.
This Natural Balance Reserve limited-ingredient, single-animal-protein line is also available in fish, duck, venison, and chicken formulas. They make excellent stand-alone meals or as a food topper that you can pair with Natural Balance’s Reserve LID kibble.
Food Ingredients In Natural Balance Reserve Bison Wet Recipe
- Starting at (13-oz can, case of 12)
Best With A Novel Protein: JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash Review
One of the first fresh dog food companies, JustFoodForDogs (JFFD) offers 11 fresh-frozen recipes (and several variety packs) that contain whole, human-grade foods and locally sourced produce. Their grain and gluten-free venison and squash formula is an ideal choice if your pup has sensitivities to the usual animal protein suspects. But JFFD also has fish, lamb, turkey, and tofu options (as well as beef and chicken).
JFFD delivers right to your door and has a feeding calculator (similar to a profile on other sites) to help you figure out how much food to order. It asks you about your dog’s breed, age, weight, body shape, and activity level. However, JFFD doesn’t personalize the food for your dog’s life stage or specific health concerns (unless you pay a hefty $250 formulation fee). You can make a one-time purchase or sign up for auto-shipping and save 5%.
Food Ingredients In JFFD’s Venison & Squash Recipe
- Plans start at $1.36/day
- Free shipping for auto-shipping
Looking for a JustFoodForDogs promo code? Click here for the best deal we could find.
What About Canidae Pure, Wellness Simple & Ziwi Peak?
Although the following products didn’t make our top picks, they’re popular, high-quality options you may want to consider if your pup needs dog food with limited ingredients.
Canidae Pure Goodness Salmon & Sweet Potato Review
Another good choice to find a novel protein in a LID is Canidae’s Pure Goodness Limited Ingredient line of recipes. You can choose from duck, bison, wild boar, lamb, goat & venison, and more. However, we recommend this salmon formula because it doesn’t contain any other animal products, like chicken fat or turkey meal (many of the other recipes do). Each formula is grain-free with no corn, wheat, soy, or fillers and contains only 7-10 whole-food ingredients.
They also include an excellent blend of probiotics, antioxidants, and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health and taurine for heart health. Canidae Pure also comes in grain-inclusive kibble and wet dog food. It’s more affordable than many other premium dog chow and is made in the USA.
Food Ingredients In Canidae Pure Salmon Recipe
- Starting at (4-lb bag)
Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Review
Another reasonably priced premium kibble, Wellness Simple is a fantastic choice if you’re wary of grain-free dog food. This LID formula comes in a single-source protein (either duck or lamb) that’s balanced with easily digestible grains. These two recipes also feature natural probiotics, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and taurine. We love the Wellness brand, which formulates all of its pet food with carefully chosen nutrients to support whole-body health, including digestive function and skin and coat health, which are so important for dogs with allergies.
Food Ingredients In Wellness Simple Duck Formula
- Starting at (26-lb bag)
Ziwi Peak Grain-Free Air-Dried Review
Ziwi Peak’s grain-free, air-dried formulas pack a high-protein punch with limited but nutrient-dense ingredients. At first glance, the food ingredient list for the venison formula looks much longer than other brands we review here, but you’ll see that the majority of ingredients are meat, organs, and bones — all from a single-source animal protein. If venison isn’t your thing, they also offer lamb, mackerel and lamb, beef, and chicken recipes.
In addition to natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, this formula also includes New Zealand green mussels, organic kelp, vitamins, and minerals to promote mobility, vitality, and overall well-being. All of Ziwi Peak’s formulas contain free-range meats or wild-caught fish, which are ethically and sustainably sourced without added hormones or antibiotics.
Food Ingredients In Ziwi Peak’s Venison Recipe
- Starting at (2.2-lb bag)
What Do Elimination Diets Involve? (Video)
In this brief video by JustFoodForDogs, Dr. Laura Wilson, DVM, DACVD, discusses food elimination diets for dogs with food allergies. For a $250 formulation fee, you can have JustFoodForDogs’ vet specialists personalize your pup’s food for allergies or other health problems.
Has Your Vet Recommended Allergy Medicine?
Finding the right dog food isn’t always enough to relieve allergy symptoms in some cases, especially if your dog has severe allergies. If this is the case, your vet may recommend giving your dog allergy medication or administering allergy shots to help reduce symptoms.Tagged With: Allergies, Comparison, Food Delivery