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10 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks
For dogs with allergies, limited ingredient dog foods can be a lifesaver. Limited ingredient dog foods are exactly what they sound like – dog foods made with very few ingredients. Because they contain few ingredients, there is less of a chance dogs with allergies will react to them.
However, even if your dog doesn’t have allergies, they may benefit from a limited ingredient dog food. For example, some dogs experience gastrointestinal symptoms when given certain ingredients, even if they aren’t genuinely allergic to them. A limited ingredient dog food can be great for these canines too.
Not all limited ingredient dog foods are made equal, though. For this reason, we reviewed some of the best limited ingredient dog food on the market. You’ll find out the reviews below.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food||
|Best Value||Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food||
|Best for Puppies||Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dog Food||
|American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food||
|Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food||
The 10 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods – Reviews 2021
1. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food is made with premium, high-quality ingredients. Salmon is the first ingredient listed. This is a novel protein, which means it is not commonly used in dog food. Because of this, dogs are unlikely to be allergic to it, making this a good option for dogs with allergies.
As the second ingredient, this dog food includes menhaden fish meal, which is another high-quality ingredient. This is full of omega-3s and other healthy fats, which is exactly what our dogs need to thrive. The last few ingredients before the added vitamins are all veggies, which add quite a few vitamins and minerals to this dog food.
We loved that this dog food did not include any pea, pea protein, lentils, legumes, corn, wheat, or soy. The only thing we didn’t like about this dog food is that it is a bit low in protein. 24% protein is a bit low when it comes to dry dog food, especially when the moisture content is only 10%. Still, almost all of the protein included does come from animals, which is more than we can say for most dog foods on the market.
2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food – Best Value
Out of all the dog foods we reviewed, Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food rose to the top of our list as the best limited ingredient dog food for the money. This dog food is high-quality and much cheaper than most of the competition. It includes just six ingredients, such as lamb meal, brown rice, ground rice, dried plain beet pulp, chicken fat, and natural pork flavor. Almost all of these ingredients are high-quality options.
The only ingredient we didn’t like was the ground rice, mostly because we don’t know whether this rice is whole grain or not. Whole grain rice is very nutritious for dogs, but white rice isn’t.
We liked that this food is free from common allergens, including corn, wheat, and soy. Chicken fat is included. However, when a dog is allergic to a type of food, they are allergic to the protein found in that food. Chicken fat does not include any proteins, so your dog will not be allergic to it – even if they are allergic to chicken.
3. Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dog Food – Best for Puppies
If you have a puppy, you need to feed them food specifically designed for puppies, since they have particular nutrition requirements. Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dog Food is designed specifically for puppies and only includes a few ingredients.
The first ingredient is deboned salmon, which is followed by salmon meal. Both of these ingredients are high-quality. The “meal” signifier only means that the salmon has been cooked to remove much of the moisture, which is a requirement when you’re putting it into dry food. Otherwise, the food wouldn’t be very dry.
We also loved that this food is high in protein at 29%. Fat is pretty high as well at 16%. For a dry dog food, that is fantastic. This dog food also includes plenty of fatty acids, which contain DHA and EPA – two types of fat that are important for brain development.
This food doesn’t contain anything your puppy doesn’t need either. It is made in the USA without fillers, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
4. American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is made from a single animal protein and is grain-free. Both grain and various kinds of animal protein are common allergens, so this feature makes this food perfect for dogs with allergies. The animal protein used is salmon, which appears as the first and second ingredient.
Salmon is a high-quality ingredient and full of vitamins and minerals your dog needs to thrive, like omega-3 fatty acids. Because of the high amount of salmon used, this food is also high in protein at 25%. Fat is decently high at 12% as well. This food is also free of ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors.
The only ingredient we didn’t like was peas, which shows up multiple times in the ingredient list. Peas may be connected to a particular health problem in dogs, though researchers are still investigating the matter. They are also high in protein but do not include all the amino acids our dogs need. Because of this, this can artificially inflate the food’s protein level, which can be misleading for buyers. This food is high in protein, but not all of that protein is complete.
5. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
For dogs who can’t handle salmon, Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food may be your best choice. It isn’t favorite on the list, but it doesn’t rely on salmon. Instead, it uses turkey as the first ingredient, as well as turkey meal as the third. Turkey is a high-quality ingredient that isn’t often found in dog food, so the odds of your dog being allergic to it is low.
This dog food is free from common allergens, including chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, and eggs. It is free from artificial flavors and preservatives as well. (But not artificial colors, as you might have noticed.)
This food is a bit lower in protein at 20%, which is one reason it was scored lower on our list. It also includes quite a few peas on the ingredient list, including whole peas, pea starch, pea fiber, and pea protein. That is a lot of peas. Peas may be connected to DCM, a heart condition in dogs. FDA is currently investigating the issue and has not concluded yet.
6. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food
Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food is not all bad, but it isn’t our favorite dog food on this list. It is grain-free and made with only a few ingredients, which may make it the right choice for dogs who are sensitive to specific ingredients.
We did like that this dog food includes farm-raised turkey from within the USA. Turkey is a good source of protein that is also rich in selenium and phosphorus. It is low in saturated fat as well, making it a good choice for most dogs. This food is also free from common allergens, like corn, wheat, soy, dairy, and chicken. Plus, this food is formulated for both adults and puppies.
The protein content is exceptionally high at 35%, and the fat content is high at 15% as well. This is precisely what most dogs need to eat to thrive.
Our main turnoff for this food was the inclusion of peas as the fourth ingredient. These may be linked to certain heart conditions in dogs when eaten in high amounts. The brand itself has also been linked to these heart conditions by the FDA.
7. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is designed for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs. It includes added probiotics and prebiotics, which may help dogs who are prone to gastrointestinal discomfort. Like many limited ingredient dog foods, this one is made with salmon as the first ingredient. This is a suitable protein as long as your canine is not allergic to salmon. It is high in healthy fats, which our dogs need to thrive.
This food does not include grains, gluten, or wheat. These are common allergens, and their absence makes this a suitable dog food for those with allergies. It does include flaxseed, which can improve the health of your dog’s skin.
This dog food does include peas fairly high on the list, as well as a few other controversial ingredients, like tomato pomace. While some dogs do fine with these ingredients, others do not. Their inclusion does make this dog food a bit less high-quality, though.
8. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
As far as dog foods go, Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food probably isn’t your best option out there. It is quite a bit expensive, despite not having any apparent benefit. We didn’t find the elevated price worth it in the least, which is one of the reasons it is rated much lower on our list.
This dog food’s ingredient list is okay. It does include lamb meal and lamb as the first two ingredients, which are good protein sources for most dogs. However, it also includes peas and pea protein. Pea protein does not contain all the amino acids your dog needs to thrive, but it does raise the protein content of the food. Overall, that makes the protein in this food lower-quality.
Furthermore, this food doesn’t include much protein either at only 24%. That is quite a bit lower than we would like to see. The fat is very high, though, as 21.5%.
We did like that this food is made in the USA and that it is free of many of the common allergens found in dog food. It is full of omega fatty acids and antioxidants as well. However, overall, we just can’t recommend this dog food for most pet parents.
9. Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food
Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food is one of the most expensive dry dog foods on this list. It is much more expensive than most of the competition. This is likely because it includes rabbit as the first ingredient, which is a more expensive option. However, most dogs don’t need rabbit unless they’re allergic to everything else, which is very unlikely. Because of this, most pet owners do not need to spend the extra money on their dog’s food.
We did like that this dog food was free from grains, gluten, peas, legumes, lentils, potatoes, chicken, and eggs. These are common allergens in dogs and lower-quality ingredients. This dog food also included added taurine, which can help support your dog’s heart health. One of our favorite things about this dog food was the resealable bag, however.
The fat and protein content in this food is a bit low. Fat is only at 13%, while protein was at 26%. We would have liked to see them a bit higher, especially for the price of this dog food.
Overall, while this dog food wasn’t awful, it just isn’t worth the high price, in our opinion.
10. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
While most limited-ingredient dog foods do tend to be a bit expensive, Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is incredibly expensive. It isn’t the most expensive one on the list, but it is pretty close. Furthermore, it is smaller than most larger bags.
One of the reasons this dog food is the last on the list is because it is only designed for larger dogs. That is not going to fit the needs of most people reading this article. Another reason is that this food includes quite a few ingredients, even though it is technically “limited ingredient.” In total, it includes ten different ingredients. While this isn’t necessarily too high, it may be a turnoff for dogs with lots of allergies.
The ingredients used are decently high-quality. Deboned lamb is included as the first ingredient, with lamb meal as the second ingredient. However, some possibly troublesome ingredients, such as lentils, are included as well. The ingredients are non-GMO, however, which is always a good thing.
There is a lot that goes into choosing the perfect dog food for your pup. It can be quite complicated, in fact, especially for the uninitiated. To help you make the best decision possible, we explain some of the critical factors to keep in mind when choosing a dog food below.
Protein and Fat Content
Our dogs are made to thrive on a diet that is mostly made up of protein and fat. Studies have shown that dogs choose to eat mostly fat and protein when allowed to choose their own diet. Typically, when given the option to select their own food, animals choose a composition that they’ll strive on. Because of this, this study likely gave us a good idea of what diet we should feed our pooch.
Because of this study, we put a heavy emphasis on how much protein and fat are in commercial dog food, and you should too. How much protein is in dog food is essential and should be taken into consideration when choosing a dog food for your canine.
However, it is surprisingly difficult to find a dog food that is high in protein and fat. Most commercial dog foods are high in carbohydrates, which is not something our dogs thrive on. Because of this, it is essential to check any dog food before you purchase it. You should find a dog food that contains as much protein and fat as you can.
When it comes to commercial dog food, you are not going to find a dog food that is too high in protein.
The FDA Investigation and Peas
The FDA is currently investigating an increasing number of canine dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a severe heart condition that leads to death without treatment. This disease occurs in some dogs and has been occurring for some time. However, the recent increase has been linked to diet, particularly “grain-free” foods.
When the FDA looked at the cases closer, canines seemed to be at a higher risk if their food included peas, lentils, potatoes, or other similar foods. It is unknown why these foods are linked to CDM (or if they are connected to the disease at all). However, at the time, there does seem to be some correlation.
This is troublesome because MANY grain-free dog foods include peas. They are cheap veggies that are also high in protein.
The quality of ingredients is also essential to consider when you’re choosing a dog food. Preferably, you want some form of meat to be listed as the first ingredient. Our dogs evolved to eat mostly meat, and they continue to thrive off of it today.
Meat should also be as high-quality as possible. Whole meat is always the preferable option. However, meat meal is also okay as long as the source is listed. “Chicken meal” is fine, but “meat meal” is not. This is because it could be anything. Let’s not feed our dogs mystery meat.
By-products are okay as long as their source is listed, but they are a bit lower quality than other options. They aren’t preferably. However, they are not harmful to your pup either.
The quality of veggies is also essential. As we have previously discussed, peas, potatoes, and lentils have been linked with a severe canine heart condition, so they should be avoided if possible.
White, processed grains are also a poor option. These grains do not include very many nutrients in the least. However, whole grains can be nutritionally helpful for our dogs and are a good choice for many canines. Dogs evolved to eat grains and can digest them just fine – you just don’t want grains as the main ingredient in your pet’s food.
How Dog Allergies Work
If you’re looking for a limited ingredient dog food, the odds are that your puppy has allergies. Allergies in dogs develop differently from allergies in people. Dogs develop an allergy to protein after they have been exposed to it chronically for an extended period. For example, a dog that has been fed the same chicken dog food for his whole life is likely to develop a food allergy to chicken.
Some breeds are more prone to developing an allergy than others. However, any dog can develop a food allergy if they are exposed to the same protein over and over again.
When a dog does develop a food allergy, symptoms are usually skin-related. The dog may get very itchy, especially on their paws. They may insistently bite and chew their paws, which can create sores. These sores will likely not heal without treatment, since your dog is still licking and chewing them. A secondary development can set up in these sores, which can cause even more problems.
After being diagnosed with a food allergy, dogs will need to avoid their allergen. They will probably need their dog food changed to one that does not include whichever protein they’re allergic to. Luckily, there are many different limited ingredient diets out there for these dogs.
The best way to prevent food allergies is to feed your dog with a variety of different foods. Because food allergies occur after repeated exposure, it is usually in your dog’s best interest to switch their food often. This will diversify their diet and prevent them from being overexposed to a specific protein.
Below, you’ll find the answers to some of the most common questions regarding limited ingredient dog foods.
What is a limited ingredient dog food?
These dog foods are made with very few ingredients. They’re aimed at dogs with allergies. Some dogs will allergies have significant problems finding food they can eat. These limited foods help with that.
However, there is no strict definition of what “limited ingredient” means. It may mean a dog food has ten ingredients or four. It just depends on the brand. Furthermore, the counted ingredients do not include added vitamins and minerals. Dogs cannot become allergic to these things, though, so you don’t have to worry about them.
Is a limited ingredient dog food good for dogs?
Not all dogs. This food is for dogs who can’t eat anything else without developing allergies. If you have a dog without allergies, eating a limited ingredient dog food may cause them to develop allergies. This is because these foods usually only include one source of protein. Because of the lack of diversity in their diet, your dog may eventually develop an allergy to the main protein in their limited ingredient dog food.
For dogs without allergies, we recommend not choosing a limited ingredient diet.
The best limited ingredient dog food on the market is Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food. It is free from potentially troublesome ingredients, like peas and lentils. The meat included is high-quality as well.
For those who need to save a bit of money, the Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food is also a good option.
We hope this article helped you find the best limited ingredient dog food for your canine. Finding food for a dog with allergies can be difficult, but it is possible when you use our reviews and buyer’s guide.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods – Reviews 2021
- 1. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
- 2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food – Best Value
- 3. Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dog Food – Best for Puppies
- 4. American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- 5. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- 6. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food
- 7. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- 8. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- 9. Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food
- 10. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Buyer’s Guide