Limited Ingredient Dog Food - Is it Better for Your Dog?

Dog foods marketed with ‘limited ingredients’ have become quite popular over the past few years. This is because limited ingredient dog food can help dogs who have allergies and sensitive stomachs. If you are considering switching your dog to a limited ingredient diet, here’s all that you need to know about this topic. 

What is limited ingredient dog food? 

Limited ingredient dog food refers to dog food that contains a limited number of ingredients. It is usually made with one, or maximum two, sources of proteins and carbohydrates.

limited ingrediets dog food
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It is important to note that there is actually no regulatory definition for limited ingredient dog food. As such, some manufacturers’ limited ingredient dog food simply has less ingredients than the standard, regular dog food.   

Despite the fewer ingredients, limited ingredient dog food should still be able to provide all the nutrients that your dog requires to stay strong and healthy. They are usually formulated to provide your pet with nutrition that is complete and balanced. 

How many ingredients in dog food is considered ‘limited’?

There are no regulations set to determine the maximum number of ingredients that can be contained in limited ingredient dog food. Instead, the term just indicates that the number of ingredients is fewer than that of in regular dog food. It is thus still very important that you read labels and ingredient lists carefully to ensure that foods that may cause allergies or intestinal sensitivities are not present. 

Proteins in limited ingredient dog food

Many limited ingredient dog foods contain a novel protein and carbohydrate to reduce the chance of allergies. However, common proteins that your dog has most likely been exposed to such as chicken, beef, lamb, turkey and pork may also be used. As such, limited ingredient dog food is not hypoallergenic dog food.

Proteins used in limited ingredient dog food include:

  • Alligator
  • Bison
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Fish
  • Kangaroo
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Rabbit
  • Turkey
  • Venison

Carbohydrates in limited ingredient dog food

Carbohydrates that are commonly used in limited ingredient dog food include:

  • Regular rice/Brown rice
  • Potato/Sweet potato
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Oatmeal

If you are looking for nutritiously balanced dog food with a single source or protein and ingredients properly listed, Petcubes' raw dog food is an excellent range to check out

What is the difference between grain free and limited ingredient dog food? 

Simply put, grain free food does not contain grains that are common in dog foods such as wheat, rice, oats, rye, barley, corn and quinoa. Carbohydrates in grain free foods come from non-grain sources such as potatoes or peas. 

Comparatively, limited ingredient dog food may use grain as the carbohydrate source, although ingredients such as corn and wheat are uncommon. 

Limited ingredient dog food usually contains one, or maximum two protein and carbohydrate sources. Grain free diets may have more than two protein and carbohydrate sources, as well as many other ingredients. As such, grain free dog food is not necessarily limited in its number of ingredients. 

Limited ingredient dog food for skin allergies

If your dog has skin issues, a limited ingredient diet may be the answer. Food allergies in dogs can manifest in gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, gas and vomiting, as well as skin issues such as itchiness. Dog skin allergies can lead to hair loss and skin infections if it is not treated. 

Limited ingredient dog food is sometimes used in food trials to help diagnose food allergies in dogs. Because the number of ingredients in the food is limited, you will be able to tell which types of food that your dog does not agree with. 

As many limited ingredient dog foods use novel proteins, your dog is less likely to have an allergic reaction to it. 

Do take note that food trials are only successful if the present skin issues clear up with the change in diet. If the skin allergies do not clear up, your dog may still be allergic to something in its food, or have undiagnosed medical issues. 

Does your dog need a limited ingredient diet? 

A limited ingredient diet seems to be better even if your dog does not have allergies. However, it is actually not necessary for dogs who have no medical issues. In fact, low quality limited ingredient dog food may not provide adequate nutrients for your dog. 

adequate nutrients
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If you do plan on giving your dog a limited ingredient diet, ensure that it is made from high quality ingredients so that your dog still receives all the nutrients it needs. Remember to check with your veterinarian before you make a switch in your dog’s diet. This is especially so if you are doing it to manage food allergies. Your vet will be able to recommend the most suitable diet for your dog. 


Limited ingredient dog food can help you to manage food allergies, although it is not a cure for it. You can use it to eliminate the foods that your dog does not agree with and help your dog to get better. Do remember to read all labels and ensure that your dog is still getting all the nutrients that it needs if you are going to feed it limited ingredient dog food.