US Vet: “This is the Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food in 2024”

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A limited Ingredient food can benefit your allergic dog. However, it’s crucial to ensure that your dog will get all the necessary nutrients from fewer ingredients.

I used my 12 years of Veterinary experience to review over 30 dog food products to find the best limited ingredient dog food.

After evaluating over 30 dog food recipes, I found that “Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon & Potato Formula Dry Dog Food” has the best overall combination of nutrients, and quality sources. 

But I understand that no two pups are alike, and your doggie might have a different life stage or have different needs, such as a sensitive stomach or skin allergies. That’s why I prepared a shortlist of the best limited ingredient dog foods that address these common conditions.

Before you pick the best limited ingredients dog food for Fido, it’s always important to consider whether it’s the right thing to do. That’s why I explained how to know if your dog needs to get on a LID diet.

After you decide that Limited Ingredient Dog Food is right for your doggie, you can check out these 10 limited ingredient dog foods that I shortlisted for you

If my shortlist doesn’t cover your doggie’s needs for some reason, I prepared a quick checklist that would assist you in finding the best limited ingredient dog food for her. I wrote the checklist in plain & simple English so that you can follow it easily.

Finally, I answered popular questions patients have asked me regarding limited ingredient diets.

Always remember that the recommendations in this review are not intended to replace a doctor-patient relationship. Always consult your veterinarian before making significant adjustments to your furbaby’s diet.

Let’s get started.

Is a Limited Ingredient diet safe for your dog?

part of his limited ingredient diet, dog eating a carrot

A Limited Ingredient dog food is a dog food with significantly less ingredients than the average dog food. It is extremely useful in diagnosing sensitivities to certain ingredients.

If your dog doesn’t display signs of allergies or stomach sensitivity, it would be good to pick a different diet.

Feeding a LID does not mean that you’re offering your pooch limited nutrition. If the product contains the right blend of protein, carbs, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals, you’re offering complete nutrition.

When your pup has food sensitivities requiring a tailored diet, limited ingredient dog food may be wise. These products, also known as limited antigen dog foods, rely on a minimal number of materials in the formula. This usually includes a single animal protein source and a single carbohydrate source.

Diagnosing Food Allergies by Feeding a Limited Ingredient Diet

If you suspect that your pup has a food allergy but don’t know which material is the trigger, consult with your veterinarian about using a limited ingredient diet (LID) also known as an elimination diet to identify the problem food or foods.

With an elimination diet, you transition off your dog’s current diet to a balanced recipe with a single protein and a single carbohydrate. These ingredients should be novel to your pooch so that his digestive system hasn’t built any resistance to them. Any treats you offer should have the same ingredients as those in the LID. Feed the elimination recipe until your furbaby has no allergy symptoms (eight to twelve weeks). Then you can gradually reintroduce the suspected allergens, one at a time. If no symptoms appear in two weeks, that food is likely not the culprit. Any time you see a reaction, remove the offending ingredient. 

How Many Ingredients Are There in a Limited Ingredient Dog Food?

There are currently no regulatory guidelines for the number of ingredients in limited ingredient dog food. These products tend to have fewer materials than the average dog food, but the number varies between manufacturers and recipes. Commercial limited ingredient foods usually have between four and nine ingredients and may use novel protein and carbohydrate sources.

A strictly limited ingredient recipe such as one may use in an elimination diet usually has the following features:

  • No fillers – beet pulp, corn, wheat
  • No animal by-products
  • Often grain-free
  • Usually only has one animal protein and one carbohydrate
  • No supplements

Provide all the Nutrients with Less Ingredients

owner giving his 2 dogs a limited ingredient treat

When picking the right dog food formulation, you need to ensure that your dog will receive all the required nutrients. With limited ingredient diets, it’s highly important. Since we’re going to eliminate the majority of the ingredients, we need to make sure that we won’t eliminate the important nutrients.

Not very long ago, there were only a few limited ingredient dog food options available. But now, you can choose from gluten or grain-free options, various protein sources, and many different brands. 

For your convenience, we’ve created a rule of thumb checklist to make it easier for you to choose the right LID formulation that fits best for your doggie:

  • Protein – If your pup has a food sensitivity, you should look for a diet with a single novel protein such as duck, wild game, or venison. For some dogs, protein from lamb and fish may also qualify if they’ve never had food with these ingredients. The most common food allergens for canines include the proteins beef, chicken, and pork.
  • Carbohydrates – Some pups are sensitive to grains or the gluten that’s in common cereal grains. When choosing a LID, look for a shortlist of novel carbohydrates, including garden vegetables and ancient grains.
  • Grain-Free – Most but not all LID foods are grain-free. At a minimum, look for products that are free of corn, wheat, and soy. Some ancient whole grains like millet and quinoa may be a good fit, depending on your pooch. 
  • No Supplements – Limited ingredient diets focus on easily digestible foods that are gentle on the gut. The label should have a simple list that includes no additives or supplements that could be upsetting. 
  • Less Rigorous LIDs – Some less strict versions of an elimination diet may offer one protein and two carb sources or a protein, a fat, and a carb source in their food. They will usually have a range of between four and nine total ingredients. 

In the case of commercial products, some foods may have two novel proteins or two novel carbs. They may also use different variations of a single protein source such as venison, venison meal, and venison liver. Prebiotics and probiotics are also acceptable in commercial LID products.

Once we’ve decided which ingredients we’d like to have, we need to ensure that the dog food would match the highest standards.

  • Look for Products Manufactured in a Country With Rigorous Safety Protocols – One way to minimize the risk of feeding a product that contains unidentified ingredients is to choose food that’s produced in a nation that follows strict protocols for sanitation and manufacturing. Countries such as the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia follow good manufacturing practices to help ensure safe and wholesome food production.
  • Avoid Dog Foods With Artificial Additives – It’s not just animal proteins and grains that can cause food sensitivities or allergies. Artificial ingredients such as colors, flavors, or preservatives can be irritating to the gut. And some have been linked to other health issues like cancer. Choose products with natural ingredients and preservatives such as herbs or tocopherols like vitamin C.
  • Choose Foods That List Specific Ingredients – It’s best to avoid products that use general descriptions like “poultry” particularly if your pooch has an allergy to a specific poultry species such as turkey or chicken. Look for species-specific terms like duck, pheasant, or turkey. Another term to watch out for is “blend.” Many times blends of vitamins or other ingredients can include botanicals, condiments, plants, or other materials that may trigger an allergic reaction or sensitivity.
  • Choose Food Appropriate for Your Dog’s Life Stage – When choosing LID food for your furbaby, it’s important to select a product that’s formulated for his life stage. Puppies have different nutritional needs than adults or seniors because their bodies are still growing. If you have a senior that’s less active, choose a senior formula to provide the appropriate levels of protein and energy for his needs.

Our 2024 Review For 10 Dog Foods For Limited Ingredient Dog Food

dog waiting to try a few limited ingredients based foods

We reviewed over 100 products by following the process presented above and classified the best LID dog foods. 

We considered the life stage, essential nutrients and ensured their quality.

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes
  • Key feature: limited ingredients
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein,12% Crude Fat,5% Crude Fiber, 11% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 446 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Limited Ingredient dry dog food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Best Overall
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional level established by AAFCO Dog food nutrient profile for maintenance

Featuring just five core ingredients, this product uses salmon as the single protein source. This material not only provides essential fatty acids for strong muscles but also offers omega fatty acids to promote healthy skin and hair.

With potatoes and peas for carbs, the food relies on digestible ingredients. There are no grains or soy in the formula. The formula includes a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals.

Natural sources of probiotics, prebiotic fiber, taurine, glucosamine, and chondroitin support digestion, heart, and joints. 

Some pet parents say their dogs like the food and it helps clear up sensitive skin issues.

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Oatmeal, Peas, Brown Rice
  • Key feature: limited-ingredient
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein,15% Crude Fat,5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 394 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Dry Puppy Food
  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Best for: Puppies
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional level established by AAFCO Dog food nutrient profile for growth and lactation

Made with a reduced number of ingredients, this kibble features a single protein source in the formula to minimize the risk of food sensitivities. The formula provides a rich source of essential amino acids for healthy muscles.

Canola oil and flaxseed provide natural sources of omega and other essential fatty acids to support the skin and coat. Easily digestible fruits and vegetables add antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins for whole-body health.

This all-natural kibble is free of chicken, beef, soy, wheat, corn, dairy, and eggs. There are no fillers that could trigger food sensitivities.

Some owners share that feeding their puppies this food helped clear up loose stools and skin rashes. 

Customers say their dogs love this food, and it’s gentle on sensitive stomachs.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Red Meat Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Beef, Fish Meal, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Pea Protein
  • Key feature: Grain-free
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein,12% Crude Fat, 7% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 383 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Dry Food
  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Best for: Seniors
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional needs established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for Maintenance

Starting with deboned beef and fish meal, this food provides rich sources of essential amino acids for strong muscles. The fat content includes healthy sources of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and hair. 

With no grains in the formula, the food includes potatoes and sweet potatoes for carbs. Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants as well as essential minerals and vitamins for balanced nutrition.  

There are no artificial ingredients, chicken, corn, soy, or wheat in this kibble. It includes taurine for heart health, probiotics to support the gut, and L-carnitine for a healthy metabolism.

Customers say their dogs love the flavor of this food, and it keeps seniors healthy.

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Ground Rice, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat
  • Key feature: Six ingredients
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Protein 20%; Fat 13%; Fiber 4%; Moisture 10%
  • Caloric Content: 321 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Dry dog food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Budget
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance of adult dogs

This dry kibble contains six key ingredients along with essential vitamins and minerals for balanced nutrition. With lamb meal as the sole source of protein, the food is designed to be gentle on a sensitive stomach. 

Avoiding corn, wheat, and soy, the formula includes brown rice and ground rice for carbohydrates which are less likely to contain gluten. The beet pulp provides prebiotic fiber to aid healthy digestion.

With natural sources of omega fatty acids, the product supports healthy skin, coat, and brain. There are no artificial ingredients or fillers in the kibble.

Owners report that this product helps eliminate symptoms of food allergies and sensitivities.

Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Small Breed Grain-Free Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chickpeas, Canola Oil, Sweet Potatoes
  • Key feature: Limited Ingredient, Grain-free
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 17% Crude Fat, 4.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 422 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Grain-free Dry Dog Food for Small Breeds
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Adults
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for Maintenance

Starting with turkey as the top ingredients and only protein source, this food from Nulo offers a protein-rich diet that’s made for pups with food sensitivities. Natural sources of omega and essential fatty acids provide energy and key nutrients for a healthy brain, skin, and coat.

The digestible carbohydrates are gluten and grain-free. There are no artificial ingredients, soy, potatoes, or tapioca. Specially formulated probiotics soothe and support the gut.

A balanced blend of vitamins and minerals helps to ensure whole-body health. This product is made in the USA.

Zignature Duck Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 ingredients: Duck, Duck Meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Sunflower Oil
  • Key feature: limited-ingredient, grain-free
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein,15% Crude Fat, 4.5% Crude Fiber,10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 384 cal/can
  • Type of Product: Dry Adult Dog Food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Grain-free
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional needs established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages

With a single novel protein source and limited ingredients, this food is designed for dogs with food sensitivities. The clean recipe offers essential amino acids for strong muscles. 

A handful of digestible carbs and prebiotic fiber ingredients rounds out the formula. Vitamins and minerals are included to supply balanced nutrition. 

This product includes natural sources of omega fatty acids to help keep the skin and coat healthy.  There are no artificial ingredients, soy, corn, wheat, or dairy in the kibble.

Pet parents say picky eaters like this food and it helps to clear skin rashes and ear infections.

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Bison, Lentil & Carrot Recipe Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 ingredients: Bison, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Lentils
  • Key feature: limited ingredient, grain-free
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein,14.5% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 462 kcal/can
  • Type of Product: Dry Limited Ingredient Dog Food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Sensitive Stomach
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional needs established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth, including the growth of large dogs

Using just ten ingredients and two novel animal protein sources, this food provides essential amino acids for your pooch’s muscles. The lamb meal also offers a digestible, natural source for omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support your pup’s skin and coat and to manage inflammation.

There are no grains in this formula, so the carbohydrates come from sweet potatoes and garden vegetables. With antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, this product has a healthy balance of essential nutrients. 

With at least 100 million CFU/kg of probiotics, this formula is designed to be gentle on the gut. The product has no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

Owners of dogs with food sensitivities report noticeable improvements in skin and stools when they feed this food.

AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Sensitive Support Duck Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 ingredients: Duck, Duck Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Pea Flour
  • Key feature: grain-free, limited-ingredient 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein,16% Crude Fat,7.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 446 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Grain-free Dry Dog Food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Skin Allergies
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional needs established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for Maintenance

With a novel, single animal protein in the formula, this food is made for pups with food sensitivities or allergies. The limited ingredients include rich sources of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to help promote healthy skin and coat. 

This kibble has no corn, wheat, soy, chicken, animal by-products, or artificial ingredients that could trigger skin reactions. The balanced blend of vitamins and minerals provides support for your pup’s immune system and cellular health.

The formula includes digestive enzymes and probiotics for healthy digestion. 

Owners say this food helps clear up dry, scaly skin and makes the hair smooth and shiny.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Duck & Potato Formula Grain-Free Canned Dog Food 

  • First 5 ingredients: Duck, Duck Broth, Potatoes, Dehydrated Potatoes, Potato Protein
  • Key feature: limited-ingredient, ground
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 5% Crude Protein,4% Crude Fat,2% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 420 cal/can
  • Type of Product: Wet LID adult food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Canned
  • AAFCO Statement: formulated to meet the nutritional needs established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance

Starting with real duck, this canned food has one novel protein and one carbohydrate source. There are no grains or soy in the kibble that might upset a sensitive stomach in the formula.

With a balanced blend of essential vitamins and minerals, the food supports whole-body health. The ingredients are ground for easy digestion. Use this product as a main course or tasty topper for your furbaby.

Owners of dogs with food allergies say this food works great for their pups, and it keeps them fit and trim.

PureBites Beef Liver Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats 

  • First 5 ingredients: 100% pure beef liver
  • Key feature: single ingredient
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 64% Crude Protein,5% Crude Fat,1% Crude Fiber, 5% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 5 kcal/treat
  • Type of Product: freeze-dried, raw treat
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: treats
  • AAFCO Statement: All our packaging is compliant with AAFCO and any claims that are made including the Guaranteed Analysis have been reviewed and approved by regulatory experts

Made from pure, USDA-grade beef liver, this treat contains no grains, chicken, soy, or artificial ingredients. The tasty tidbits provide a low-calorie protein boost.

Using a freeze-drying process, the manufacturer provides a nutrient-rich goodie that’s low calorie and easy to digest. There are no preservatives in the treat.

Customers say their dogs go crazy for the treats, and they’re great for dogs with food allergies.

Frequently Asked Questions

dog smiling after finishing his limited ingredients based meal

What food is best for dogs with itchy skin?

LID dog foods are an excellent choice for animals suffering from itchy skin. These products can help you to pinpoint and avoid trigger ingredients. To further support skin health, you should look for products that have sources of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Because grains and starches like potatoes and legumes break down into sugars that can lead to yeast infections, you should avoid these ingredients.

What is the most common food allergy in dogs?

The most common food allergens for dogs are from proteins, particularly animal-based proteins.

What protein are dogs most allergic to? 

Proteins from dairy, beef, chicken, chicken eggs, lamb, gluten from wheat, or soy are the most common allergens for dogs.

Is Limited Ingredient Dog Food Good For Dogs?

Limited Ingredient Dog Foods aren’t necessary if you have a healthy dog, but they can be very helpful if your pooch has food allergies or sensitivities.

How can I help my dog with allergies?

If your dog has allergy symptoms like pawing at the ears, constant licking and itching, skin rashes, recurring ear infections, or loose stools, consult with your veterinarian. You may want to conduct a food elimination trial to identify food allergens. Then, choose an appropriate LID to reduce the risk of reactions.

What’s the Difference Between a Food Allergy and a Food intolerance?

A true food allergy involves an immune response of the body to specific food or foods. For this to occur, your dog would have to eat the material to develop a hypersensitivity. If he consumes the food again, there will be an adverse reaction. Food allergies are rare. Food intolerances, on the other hand, will yield an adverse reaction that is not immunologic.

Can a dog be allergic to all protein?

Any pooch can develop an allergy to any protein source if the body identifies the substance as a threat or invader. However, dogs usually have a limited scope of allergies, and food allergies are not that common.

What do you feed a dog with a protein allergy?

If you can identify a particular protein as the source of your furbaby’s allergies, you can select limited ingredient diets that do not contain those foods.

Can too much protein cause itchy skin in dogs?

It’s more about the type of protein than the amount of protein. If your pooch has a sensitivity to certain proteins, you should eliminate them from his diet.

What is the easiest protein for dogs to digest?

The most digestible protein for dogs is eggs followed by fish meal, lamb, chicken, then beef.

What’s the Difference Between LID Food and Grain-free Food?

Although both foods are formulated to help pups with sensitivities, there are significant differences between LID and grain-free foods. 

Grain-free Foods

The main difference is that grain-free foods contain absolutely no grains, including:

  • Cereal grains such as wheat and corn
  • Whole grains including rice and oats
  • Ancient grains like amaranth and quinoa.

When you look at the label of a grain-free food, you also may notice a long list of ingredients. These products can include other substances like vegetables and fruits to provide essential nutrients. They also may have multiple protein sources.

LID Foods

LID foods may contain one or two grains as their carbohydrate sources. However, the grains are probably not the traditional wheat or corn but rather an ancient grain such as millet. These products have a short ingredient list of about four to nine items. Under the definition of a LID that we shared above, they will only have one or at most two proteins and one or two carbs.

Final Woof

dogs thanks his owner for choosing him the right food

When dogs develop sensitivities or allergies to food materials, you need to find products that don’t contain the offending foods. Whether you’re trying to determine which allergens affect your furbaby or avoiding the ones you already know to be a problem, LID foods can help.

The top commercial products will feature a short list of ingredients (around four to eight) and a single animal protein source. They should be free of substances that could trigger a reaction, including artificial ingredients and fillers. 

For the best results, limited ingredients should provide natural omega fatty acids and other essential nutrients. 

After evaluating over 30 products on the market and comparing them to our criteria and key considerations for the best Limited Ingredient dog food, we recommend Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon & Potato Formula Dry Dog Food.

This product has a single protein source, five digestible key ingredients, and essential nutrients for total health. But, of course, you should always follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for your furbaby.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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