Canned dog food, dry dog food, special formulas, vet-approved foods… it’s no wonder lots of dog owners aren’t sure what to feed their dogs. The decision becomes even more complicated when your pooch has trouble digesting certain things. Allergies and intolerances make the task of feeding your dog more complex.
Fortunately, there are many limited ingredient dog food options on the market today. If you’re considering buying one of these products, read our comprehensive guide first. We’ve completed a deep dive into this topic, giving you access to everything you need to know.
Jump to (dry):
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For the purposes of this article, the terms canned dog food and wet dog food are interchangeable.
- 1 Best Dry Limited Ingredient Dog Food
- 2 Feeding Guide for Dry Limited Ingredient Dog Food
- 3 Best Canned Limited Ingredient Dog Food
- 4 Feeding Guide for Canned Limited Ingredient Dog Food
- 5 Choosing the Right Limited Ingredient Dog Food
- 5.1 Seek advice from your vet first
- 5.2 Which foods can cause adverse reactions in dogs?
- 5.3 How can you work out what is causing the problem in your dog?
- 5.4 How to shop for the best limited ingredient dog food for your pooch
- 6 Our Conclusion
Best Dry Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Dry dog food is often easier to store. It’s available in bags of various sizes, most of which can easily be resealed in between meals. It’s easier to use if you are taking your dog on holiday with you too, as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water, as they’re likely to drink more if they eat dry dog kibble. It won’t have the same moisture content as wet food. Here is our pick of several of the best dry limited ingredient dog foods on the market today.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula
Natural Balance provides this complete dry food for dogs with a limited ingredient list. You can purchase a 4.5lb bag to see if your dog likes it, progressing to either a 13lb bag or 26lb bag later if you wish.
This is a grain-free formula, which limits the carbohydrates in the food. A good source of fiber is provided from flaxseeds and sweet potatoes. If your dog is fine with salmon, he’s going to love this complete food with its natural source of amino acids.
Sweet potatoes, salmon, fish meal, and potato protein make up the bulk of this recipe. A selection of vitamins has also been added, including vitamins A, E, and D3 to enhance your dog’s good health.
Complete feeding instructions are included, giving you accurate cup measurements for all weights and sizes. This is ideal for all puppies and adult dogs.
Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Turkey & Potato
This Blue Buffalo Basics complete dog food is free from chicken, a known allergen for some dogs. The pack confirms there are no chicken by-products included either. Instead, the first ingredient on the list is turkey, which supports easy digestion for your dog. It also includes potato and is completely free from grains. You can feed this to your dog with confidence, knowing it does not contain soy, corn, or wheat.
You can purchase a small 4lb bag to try first if you wish. Larger 11lb and 24lb bag sizes are available when you’re ready to commit to a bigger purchase once your dog is happy.
The bag includes a convenient daily feeding chart on one side, confirming the food is suitable for all sizes and breeds of dog. You can feed the nuggets dry if your dog prefers this or mix them with warm water to release more flavors.
Zignature Trout & Salmon Meal Limited Ingredient Formula
Another fishy meal, this Zignature dish is guaranteed to be free of potatoes, grains, and chicken products. Real trout and salmon appear in first and second positions on the ingredient list. Also included are chickpeas, peas, and flaxseed to add more fiber.
The recipe is also confirmed to be free of corn, soy, eggs, gluten, and many other common triggers for your pet. Since some dogs exhibit more than one food sensitivity, this limited ingredient dry formula dog food could well be ideal for pups with more complicated food sensitivities.
The back of the pack provides you with feeding guidelines. These give cup sizes according to body weight. There is a separate note for feeding puppies, pregnant females, and lactating females. This is a great choice of limited ingredient dog food for any age or size of dog, with bigger savings if you buy a bigger bag too.
American Journey Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato
Sweet potato often features in dog food with limited ingredient lists, and that is the case here too. American Journey promotes this food as the ideal one for dogs at all stages of life. Real salmon features first on the ingredient list and is the only source of protein provided. This means your dog should be fine with it if they have a protein sensitivity of some kind.
It is also grain-free, so there are no corn derivatives, soy, or wheat present in the recipe. The sweet potatoes and peas featuring in the recipe are easy to digest carbohydrate sources. Meanwhile, the salmon provides your pooch with essential fatty acids. These can help improve the condition of their skin and coat – perfect if they suffer from skin sensitivities that regular grooming can’t help, too.
You won’t find any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives in the recipe either, keeping the formula as clean as possible.
Feeding Guide for Dry Limited Ingredient Dog Food
If your dog usually eats kibble rather than dog food from a can, you’ll probably want to purchase a dry limited ingredient dog food to keep that part of his diet consistent.
The good news is all limited ingredient foods are going to be of excellent quality. That means you can be sure you are getting the same thing from one bag to the next. If your dog tries a limited ingredient food and likes it, you can be confident in buying it in future too.
How much kibble should your dog have?
All dog foods should provide you with a feeding guide. It’s important to understand that not all dry foods will give you the same weight per cup as others. Sometimes the kibble may be denser or lighter than a competitor’s kibble.
Make sure you weigh your dog before you work out how much kibble to give them. You can get this done at the vet’s or weigh yourself first and then weigh yourself while holding your dog. This is easy with a small dog but tricky if you have a great Dane! Vet’s scales will be accurate and larger than home scales, and they will usually be happy to weigh your dog for you without charging you for it.
Minimum and maximum feeding guide
The guide will usually give you one of two measurements:
- Cup sizes (more common on dog foods made in the USA)
- Weight of food in grams (more common in foods made in the UK)
Cup sizes are based on volume, so make sure you have proper cup measures to use if you go for this option.
When you look at the guide given on the bag of kibble, you will sometimes see there are minimum and maximum amounts. For example, one kibble we looked at stated a dog weighing between 10lbs and 20lbs should be fed 2/3 to one cup of kibble per day.
The exact amount you should feed your dog will depend on several factors. For example, more active dogs will require more energy and therefore should be given more kibble.
You may wish to adjust the amount you feed your dog each day, depending on how much activity they get. Even elements such as climate can make a difference.
If you feed your dog the occasional treat, you should adjust for this too.
Furthermore, a dog that walks for two miles a day on flat ground won’t burn as much energy as one walking the same distance in a hilly area. Be prepared to adjust accordingly, until you get the right amount.
You may not always see minimums and maximums though. For example, one food may give feeding instructions for a small breed of dog. They may list cup sizes to feed to dogs weighing 10lbs, 15lbs, and 20lbs within that category. Even then though, if your dog weighs 13lbs, you may find you need to give them an amount that comes in between the weights given for the 10lb and 15lb dogs.
How many meals per day?
If your dog previously ate twice a day, there should be no reason to change that just because you swap to a limited ingredient dry dog food. Remember that the amount of food indicated in the guide is a daily amount. If it says one cup and you feed your dog twice daily, give them half a cup at each mealtime.
The feeding instructions are very important and are always given with every type of dog food. Adhering to them will help your dog enjoy better digestion and a healthier condition.
Best Canned Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Prefer feeding your pooch canned dog food? There are lots of good options when you want to buy canned limited ingredient dog food instead. You’ll need to refrigerate any leftover contents after opening each can. The contents should be transferred into a plastic container with a lid to ensure they stay fresh. Larger breeds may require a whole can, so this wouldn’t be an issue if you have a big dog to feed.
We’ve highlighted some of the best canned options for your dog below. These are made by several leading brands on the market.
Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Turkey & Potato Recipe Canned
This Blue Buffalo product is designed for adult dogs experiencing problems with their digestion. It is grain-free and contains no chicken or chicken derivatives. These are both common allergy triggers in dogs.
Instead, your dog will enjoy a tasty real turkey and potato recipe. Potatoes are more easily digested than many other sources of carbohydrate. Other ingredients include tasty fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin, blueberries, and cranberries. A careful mix of vitamins has been added as well, including vitamins A, B12, D3, and B9.
The feeding guide suggests feeding between half and three-quarters of a can each day per 10lbs of body weight. The limited ingredient diet food comes in a convenient pack of 12 cans, offering great value for the owner. One thing we liked about this option is that a list of what isn’t included can be found on the back of each can.
American Journey Limited Ingredient Lamb & Sweet Potato Canned
If your dog has issues with certain proteins, this American Journey option could provide a tasty and safe alternative. It features lamb, lamb broth, and lamb’s liver as the first three ingredients, and no other animal proteins are included. if your dog has trouble digesting certain carbohydrates, they’ll find it easier to get along with the tasty sweet potatoes included in this recipe.
Its ‘made in the USA’ status ensures you can confidently feed your dog this limited ingredient food while ensuring there are no poultry by-products hidden inside. It’s an all-natural option too, with no fake flavors, preservatives, or colors included.
The cans are dispatched in cases of 12, giving you great value for money. You get peace of mind too, since the cans are free from BPA. Each can will give a feeding guide per 15lbs of body weight. It also provides instructions for puppies, lactating females, and pregnant females.
Nutro Limited Ingredient Loaf Lamb & Potato Canned
This limited ingredient recipe from Nutro Limited contains five key ingredient sources. The premium loaf recipe has real lamb as the first ingredient, sourced from Australian and New Zealand and pasture fed. Potatoes are also included as a good source of carbs that are easy for your dog to digest.
This is a good option to select if your dog suffers from sensitivities to grains. There is no corn, wheat, or soy in this recipe. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives are included either – reassuring if you suspect your dog has adverse reactions to them.
The canned food is available in a convenient pack of 12, with each can offering 355g of loaf-style food. Feeding guidelines are included along with an ingredient list and guaranteed analysis of the contents. Their motto – simple, purposeful, trustworthy – clearly comes into play here.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Sweet Potato & Venison Canned
Sweet potato often features in limited ingredient dog food recipes, and we see it again in this canned food. Natural Balance has produced a sweet potato formula combined with venison for something a little different. If your dog reacts to beef, chicken, or other sources of protein, this single-source protein food might be the one you’ve been looking for.
The front of the can confirms the recipe contains no fillers – often the source of digestion issues for some dogs. This food was designed by vets, so you have the guarantee that plenty of knowledge has gone into the creation of this food. Not only is it a good option for dogs with digestive issues, it has also been designed to help deal with skin problems and respiratory issues.
The limited ingredient list includes a full selection of essential vitamins, including D3, vitamin E, and a source of vitamin C.
Feeding Guide for Canned Limited Ingredient Dog Food
If you’ve decided to feed your dog a limited ingredient dog food from a can, there are lots of recipes available to choose from. Before you choose your canned food, read through the full ingredient list. While these recipes do have limited ingredient lists, they may still feature lots of items.
This is often because the foods feature lots of vitamins and minerals, added to ensure your dog gets everything they need to enjoy long life and good health. All these elements must be separately added to the list, making it appear far longer than you might expect.
Check the first few crucial ingredients on that list though. These will include the basic components of the wet food. You should also check the front of the can for messages confirming the absence of certain ingredients that are known to cause reactions. Typical examples include no chicken, no grains, and only a single source of animal protein.
Why choose canned limited ingredient dog food?
Some people prefer cans as they are easier to recycle once the can is washed and empty. There is no waste, which may not be true if you buy a large bag of kibble. Not all the bags are recyclable.
Your dog might also prefer wet food out of a can rather than eating dry kibble. If that’s the case and you’re changing from a regular wet food to a limited ingredient dog food, it makes sense to stick with the canned format.
It is also easy to stack and store the cans in a cool dark place and retrieve them when required. While some can be purchased separately, enabling you to give them a try, many brands provide their canned dog food in cases of 12. The good thing about this is that you will get a discount for buying the larger quantity. This is a bonus when you’re certain your dog is fine to eat it.
How much canned dog food should you feed your dog?
All good canned limited ingredient dog foods will provide you with a feeding guide on the back of the can. Since the food comes in a can, you will usually get can sizes to go by. This contrasts with cups or grams, as often seen with dry foods.
For example, you might see a recommendation to feed your dog half a can a day. Since there is less space on a can to provide proper feeding instructions for each size of dog, you are more likely to see instructions for each 10lbs of body weight or something similar. For instance, you might see half a can for each 10lbs of body weight. You can then adjust the amount you feed your dog each day depending on how much they weigh.
There might also be separate instructions for puppies and pregnant and lactating females. Watch out for these, as they can vary between brands. Don’t assume one brand would recommend the same amount each day as another. They are often not interchangeable.
Storing opened cans of limited ingredient dog food
Once you have opened a can, be sure to refrigerate anything that is left. While some cans are BPA-free, it makes sense to tip out the contents of the can into a fridge-safe plastic container with a lid. This will keep it fresh until the next day.
Choosing trusted brands of limited ingredient canned dog food will ensure you purchase a recipe you can trust. They will be created with the best-quality ingredients of the highest standard. Your dog will thank you for making a good choice.
Choosing the Right Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Does your dog have problems digesting their food? Do they suffer from itchy skin or loose stools? Allergies and dog food sensitivities can exhibit themselves in various ways. While there can be other reasons for this, certain foods can cause problems for some dogs.
Seek advice from your vet first
Of course, it is always advisable to take your dog to the vet if they are experiencing prolonged issues of any kind. The sooner they receive treatment, if appropriate, the faster they will recover.
Some allergies and issues are seasonal in nature. Dogs can develop hay fever just as humans can. If your dog only experiences issues during certain months, those issues are unlikely to be related to their food intake.
Once you and your vet have ruled out other causes of potential intolerances or allergies, you may wish to consider trying different foods to rule out possible culprits.
Which foods can cause adverse reactions in dogs?
Just as humans react badly to certain foods more than others, dogs can also exhibit symptoms of gastrointestinal upset if they are affected by one or more foods.
Sometimes, meat and/or fish can be the culprit, such as:
On other occasions, dogs may be affected by grains and similar items, such as:
Fillers, often used to bulk out dog food of all flavors and types, can also lead to digestive and skin issues in certain dogs.
How can you work out what is causing the problem in your dog?
The best way to do this is via an elimination diet. However, if you feed your dog a complete mix that includes several ingredients, it’s tricky to know which ingredient is causing the problem.
The best way to figure out the solution is to change your dog’s diet. Remove the food they are currently eating and be sure to eliminate all their existing treats too. You then need to transfer them to a food they haven’t had before. This can be challenging but it is the only way to be certain of the food that is causing them problems.
If they are fine on the new food, you can then reintroduce a food they previously had. This could well be an ingredient in their kibble or wet food, for instance. Use the above list to start ruling out some of the most common allergens and foods that cause intolerances in dogs. Depending on the severity of the reaction, they might develop their original issues within a day or so or it could take longer.
If they eat a reintroduced food and they’re fine, you know that is not the culprit. Keep trying individual foods to determine which one is causing the problem. It is not unusual for a dog to have problems with two or three foods, so don’t stop if you find one of the reintroduced items has caused an issue. Make sure you try everything, so you know which ones are to be avoided.
How to shop for the best limited ingredient dog food for your pooch
You can see it might take a few weeks to understand exactly what your dog can and cannot eat. However, once you know what to look for – and what to avoid – you can set off with your shopping list.
Firstly, you should figure out whether you prefer to buy dry dog food or canned dog food. If your dog prefers one to the other, go with that option. There are ample limited ingredient foods you can go for in each category.
Check the ingredient list
This should be clearly listed on the back of the pack or can. Very often, the front of the label will tell you what you won’t find in it. Messages such as ‘grain free’ and ‘wheat free’ will be prominently displayed.
Not all ingredients will be displayed on the front of the pack though. Always check the full list, so you can spot any additions you know your dog would have problems with.
Look for formulas designed to help deal with certain issues
For example, some high quality dog foods have limited ingredients to help with skin issues or digestive issues. You should still check there is nothing in the ingredient list that would upset your dog, but it can provide you with a good starting point.
Stick to well-known brands made to high-quality standards
Some cheap pet foods are made in other countries – countries that don’t necessarily have the strict standards we place on the manufacture of dog food. By sticking to brands you know you can trust, you know the food you give your dog won’t be tainted by poor-quality ingredients.
Chances are you will find limited ingredient dog foods are more expensive than the standard foods. Those standard options are often cheaper because they contain fillers. They also often work with open formulas for the recipes. That means they could contain something different each time – not ideal when you have a dog with food allergies or sensitivities.
However, you can still shop around for a good deal to find the best limited ingredient dog food for your pet. Some foods are available in several pack sizes as well. If you know your dog is fine once they’ve tried a smaller pack, you can confidently order a larger size to save some money. The same applies if you order a pack of canned food.
Do your research to find the right product for your dog
There is no easy fix to solving your dog’s skin or digestive issues. Firstly, you need to rule out anything else that might cause them issues. Fleas, hay fever, and many other causes could be to blame.
However, if you do find out that switching your dog’s food helps them tackle their issues, you will both be much happier for it. You can also be reassured at the quality of the limited ingredient kibble or wet food you’re giving them.
Discovering the source of your dog’s digestive, skin, or respiratory issues is very important if you are to improve their quality of life. Since it is not unusual for dogs to suffer from such problems, there are lots of high-quality limited ingredient dog foods on the market to help you find a better food source for them.
As you can see from our guide, once you know what to omit from their diet, it becomes far easier to improve your dog’s health by feeding them the right selection of ingredients each day.
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