Some dogs have food allergies and dietary sensitivities that make finding the right food tricky.
Luckily, there are limited-ingredient dog foods now available to aid in the process. By reducing the number of ingredients and often sticking to a single protein source, a limited ingredient dog food let you worry less about scouring miles-long ingredient lists and more about the important things, like belly rubs.
Below, we’ll share some of our favorite limited-ingredient dog foods and discuss food allergies and intolerances.
Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods: Quick Picks
- #1 JustFoodforDogs [Best Overall LID Food]: A tasty LID option that’s made with fresh, human-grade proteins, and formulated to meet your pet’s specific needs. This is easily the best option for dogs with food allergies.
- #2 Zignature [Best Premium LID Kibble]: Zignature offers a variety of single-protein recipes that are ideal for dogs suffering from food allergies. These recipes are perfect for owners who want fantastic quality at a lower price point than fresh foods.
- #3 Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 [Most Affordable LID Option]: An affordable, yet nutritious choice, this dog food is made with only six core ingredients, along with vitamins and minerals. It’s the perfect choice for cost-conscious owners of dogs with food allergies.
What Are Dog Food Allergies?
Like us, dogs can have food allergies and intolerances. While these conditions sound similar and can cause similar symptoms, they’re different issues.
Food allergies trigger an immune response in your dog’s body, while food intolerances are simply the result of your dog’s system not handling a particular food well.
With an allergy, you’ll see symptoms similar to a human allergic reaction, like a rash, itchy skin, or inflammation.
And these symptoms can be pretty severe, especially around the ears, inner thighs, or paws. Your dog may also vomit or experience severe diarrhea or eye discharge.
With a food intolerance, your dog may experience diarrhea, vomiting, or putrid gas. However, offending food items don’t trigger immune responses (such as itchy skin) in intolerant dogs.
For example, think of a person with lactose intolerance versus a shellfish allergy. Someone allergic to shellfish can wind up seriously ill or even dead if they ingest crab. Meanwhile, a sufferer of lactose intolerance won’t die if they eat cheese, but they’ll likely wind up in a bathroom somewhere feeling pretty crummy.
The most common food allergies for dogs are:
- Primary Proteins: Beef, lamb, and chicken are the most common meat protein culprits that trigger food allergies in floofs.
- Eggs: Egg product is often included in kibble as a protein source. But while it’s a nutritious ingredient, it can trigger allergic reactions in some pups.
- Dairy Products: Dairy products aren’t very common in dog foods (though a few foods do contain cheese), but they can still cause a reaction.
- Soy: Soy is commonly used to boost the protein content of foods, but it can trigger allergic reactions in some four-footers. Accordingly, many foods are being made without soy.
- Wheat: Wheat can be a problem for some dogs, but fortunately, gluten-free foods are on the rise.
While recently shunned in the canine kibble world, it’s important to note that grains are not a common trigger for allergies or food intolerances. In fact, there’s some research that has found a correlation between grain-free dog foods and dilated cardiomyopathy, so it is generally wise to select a grain-inclusive recipe unless your dog has a specific intolerance or allergy to grains.
If your veterinarian suspects a food allergy or intolerance, he or she may recommend an elimination diet to pinpoint the problem ingredient. Any type of protein can cause an allergic reaction, however, so finding the exact one can take time.
Have a Dog with Food Allergies? You Have Two Choices
Unfortunately, dogs who have food allergies or intolerances will need a different dog food, which won’t cause them any discomfort or stress.
You’ll essentially have two options for feeding your dog and preventing issues:
- Limited Ingredient Diet (LID) Dog Foods: LID foods contain fewer ingredients than traditional kibbles, allowing you to avoid the items your dog is allergic to or intolerant of.
- Hydrolyzed (Hypoallergenic) Dog Foods: These feature proteins that have been chemically split up, letting your dog ingest them without triggering an immune response. These hypoallergenic dog foods can also be useful for dogs with simple intolerances, but given their cost, this is generally overkill.
Which is better for you depends on several factors, including:
- Vet’s recommendation: Oftentimes, hydrolyzed dog food requires a prescription. This isn’t always the case, as sometimes you can purchase them directly from the manufacturer.
- Pricing: Hydrolyzed dog food is more expensive, whereas LID diets come in at several price points, some of which are more affordable than others.
- Availability: LID foods are generally easier to find than hydrolyzed options.
- Past experience: If your dog has had poor results with LID dog food, hydrolyzed food may be a better option.
If you suspect food allergies or intolerances, discuss the issue with your vet. It’s always best to do so before making any dietary switch just to make sure it fits your dog’s unique case, and nutritional needs can vary significantly from dog to dog.
The 7 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
The limited ingredient market has been flooded with options, but we’ve run through them and grabbed the best, whether you’re looking for a fresh food, a premium kibble, or a canned chow.
Fresh dog foods that’s custom-blended for YOUR dog and made with a limited number of human-grade ingredients.
About: JustFoodForDogs is changing up the limited ingredient dog food market with fresh selections formulated by veterinarians and dog nutritionists. Unlike mass-produced dog foods, this fresh dog food option will be custom-crafted to suit YOUR dog’s needs, and that includes leaving out ingredients that’ll cause him problems.
- Custom formulated for your specific dog
- Real, human-grade protein always included
- Grain-free and grain-inclusive options available
- Zero preservatives or hormones
- Made in the USA
Options: There are six daily meal recipe options, including beef and russet potato, venison and squash, and chicken and white rice. You can also opt for veterinary-specialty diets under your veterinarian’s guidance, with recipes for renal, hepatic, and skin support among their offerings. Available in 7.8, 23.6, and 31.5-pound boxes.
(Beef and russet potato): Lean ground beef, Russet potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Green beans...,
Beef liver, Green peas, Apples, Safflower oil, Premium FPA/DHA from fish oil
Protein Content for: 8.5%
- JFFD makes it easy to avoid triggering your dog’s allergies or intolerances
- Highly palatable, even among pickier dogs
- Can be purchased online for convenience or picked up in-store at CA retail locations or limited Petco locations across the US
- Offers a money-back guarantee
- Refrigeration or freezing required
- Quite expensive
Featuring your choice of exotic meats, Zignature’s line of LID kibbles are great for dogs who’re allergic to common proteins.
About: Zignature is the top-tier price point among LID dog food recipes, but it sure delivers when it comes to quality and safety. With an impressive range of protein options, there’s something for every sensitive pup’s palate.
- High-quality meat is always the first ingredient
- Single-source protein recipes ideal for sensitive systems
- Ingredients are sourced from Australia, France, the USA and similar countries
- Made in the USA
Options: Zignature dog food is available in a wide variety of common and rare proteins, including kangaroo, salmon, venison, and more. Also offered in small bites form for little doggos.
Kangaroo, Kangaroo meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Sunflower oil, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal...,
Natural flavors, Flaxseed, Dicalcium phosphate, Salt, Choline chloride, Vitamin A, Acetate, Vitamin D3 supplement, Vitamin E supplement, Niacin, D‐Calcium pantothenate, Thiamine mononitrate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin supplement, Folic acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement, Taurine, Zinc proteinate, Iron proteinate, Copper proteinate, Cobalt proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Calcium iodate, Sodium selenite, DHA, Mixed tocopherols, Calcium carbonate, L-Carnitine
Protein Content for Kangaroo Recipe: 28%
- Wide offering of exotic proteins excellent for dogs with sensitivities to standard fare
- Contains zero chicken, potatoes, corn, soy, or wheat
- Flavor is a favorite among many doggos
- One of the more expensive options
- No grain-inclusive recipes
3. Blue Buffalo Basics
Blue Buffalo Basics
An LID dog food that’s great for dogs with sensitive systems and owners looking for a combination of value and quality.
About: Blue Buffalo Basics is a high-quality dry dog food kibble made from a limited slate of ingredients that aid in digestion, making things a little easier for sensitive systems with easy-to-digest legumes and other produce.
This dog food even contains probiotics, so you don’t need to worry about including added supplements. With all single protein dog food recipes, you don’t have to worry about hidden chicken or other meaty surprises.
- Protein is always the first ingredient
- Grain-free and grain-inclusive versions available
- Plenty of probiotics for healthy digestion
- Made in the USA
Options: Canned and kibble versions are available along with specialty recipes, including healthy weight, senior, puppy, large breed, and small breed.
(Salmon and Potato): Deboned salmon, Oatmeal, Brown rice, Salmon meal, Peas...,
Potatoes, Pea fiber, Canola oil, Natural flavor, Pea protein, Dicalcium phosphate, Calcium carbonate, Fish oil, Potassium chloride, Pumpkin, Dried chicory root, Dehydrated alfalfa meal, Flaxseed alfalfa nutrient concentrate, Salt, Choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, DL-methionine, Mixed tocopherols, L-Ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, Zinc Amino acid chelate, Zinc sulfate, Glucosamine hydrochloride, Vegetable juice, Ferrous sulfate, Iron amino acid chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried kelp, Yucca schidigera extract, Niacin, Calcium pantothenate, Copper sulfate, Biotin, L-Lysine, Vitamin A supplement, Copper amino acid chelate, Dried yeast, Manganese sulfate, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Taurine, Manganese amino acid chelate, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Thiamine mononitrate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Vitamin B12 supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Calcium iodate, Folic acid, Sodium selenite, Rosemary oil
Protein Content for Salmon and Potato: 20%
- Contains none of the most common sensitivity triggers like corn, chicken, egg, soy, or wheat
- Specialty recipes available for puppies, seniors, and more
- Larger bag sizes would be ideal for families with big dogs
- Not every dog is a fan of the included LifeSource Bits, a hallmark of Blue Buffalo recipes
4. Hill’s Prescription Diet d/d
Hill’s Prescription Diet d/d
A prescription LID recipe that’s great for owners who are serious about nutrition and not triggering their dog’s food allergies.
About: Hill’s Prescription Diet is a great kibble for dogs with extreme dietary sensitivities. Developed by veterinarians and dog nutritionists, this prescription-only dog food is designed for safe eating by the most delicate of digestive systems, making it a great dog food choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
- Made with a single intact protein source
- Contains omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat health
- Tested for adverse reactions in sensitive dogs during the product’s development
- Made in the USA
Options: Available in 8, 17.6, and 25-pound bags.
Potatoes, Potato starch, Venison, Potato protein, Soybean oil...,
Coconut oil, Powdered cellulose, Pork liver flavor, Dicalcium phosphate, Lactic acid, Fish oil, Potassium chloride, Glyceryl monostearate, Calcium carbonate, Iodized salt, Choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, Niacin supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Calcium pantothenate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin A supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement, Folic acid, Vitamin D3 supplement, DL-methionine, Taurine, Ferrous sulfate, Zinc oxide, Copper sulfate, Manganous oxide, Calcium iodate, Sodium selenite, Mixed tocopherols, Magnesium oxide, Natural flavors, Beta-carotene
Protein Content: 19.1%
- Specially formulated by experts for dogs with the most sensitive of systems
- Backed by a money-back guarantee
- Hill’s donates dog food regularly to shelters AND helps in doggy adoption (a win for every dog lover)
- Veterinary prescription required
- Kibble size can be too large for small breeds
- Pretty pricey compared to mainstream kibbles
5. Natural Balance L.I.D. With Grains
About: Natural Balance’s LID With Grains provides the limited ingredient list sensitive dogs require with quality carbohydrates to aid in energy and digestion. With its added omega-3s, your dog’s skin and coat will thank you. Natural Balance is a great dry dog food pick for any dog with allergy issues, as they offer a wide range of various limited ingredient recipes to meet your pup’s unique needs.
- Single protein source in every recipe
- Grain-inclusive, but a grain-free option is also available
- Contains no corn, soy, or wheat
- Made in the USA
Options: Available in five standard protein options, including chicken, beef, and lamb. Bag sizes range from 4 pounds to 26 pounds. Small-breed bites are also available.
Protein Content for Salmon & Brown Rice: 24%
- Every batch is rigorously tested for safety
- More affordable than most other LID kibbles
- Company offers a UPC charity rebate program for qualified dog rescues
- Larger bag options would be nice for families with large dogs
- No exotic protein options available
7. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6
Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6
An LID kibble providing the nutrition your dog needs with just six main ingredients, allowing you to quickly spot any potential triggers.
About: Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 eliminates guesswork by including just six core ingredients, along with vitamins and minerals. Added beet pulp aids in digestion, giving your doggo a fiber boost.
- Concentrated protein meal is always the first ingredient
- Grain-free and grain-inclusive options available
- Contains no corn, soy, or wheat
- Made in the USA dog food
Options: Available in grain-free turkey and pea and grain-inclusive lamb and rice. Bag options vary from 5 to 28 pounds, depending on recipe.
Turkey meal, Dried peas, Pea starch, Dried plain beet pulp, Chicken fat...,
Natural flavor, Dicalcium phosphate, Salt, Potassium chloride, Zinc proteinate, Vitamin E supplement, Iron proteinate, L-Ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Biotin, Niacin, d-Calcium pantothenate, Sodium selenite, Vitamin A supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin B12 supplement, Calcium iodate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid
Protein Content for Salmon & Brown Rice: 21%
- One of the truly shorter ingredient lists to weed through among LIDs
- Every bag sold includes a donation to the Rachael Ray Foundation, helping pets in need
- Limited protein options
- Small bag sizes are a bummer for large breed owners
7. Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula
Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula
A limited-ingredient canned food available with several novel proteins that’s great for dogs with allergies who prefer wet foods.
About: Zignature’s Limited Ingredient Formula canned dog food lets dogs with sensitivities enjoy a balanced, healthy meal, whether eaten on its own or added to kibble for enticement. Made with high-quality ingredients sourced from the US, France, Australia, and New Zealand, this LID option takes safety seriously.
- Meat is always the first ingredient
- Wide array of protein options
- Single protein source recipes that are potato-, grain-, and chicken-free
- Made in the USA
Options: Each 12-count case features 13-ounce cans offered in thirteen recipes using unique proteins, including salmon, duck, and goat.
Duck, Duck broth, Peas, Duck meal, Chickpeas...,
Sun-cured alfalfa meal, Agar-agar, Salt, Choline chloride, Potassium chloride, Zinc proteinate, Iron proteinate, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Sodium selenite, Calcium iodate, Vitamin E supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Niacin supplement, Calcium pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin A supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B12 supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid, Taurine, L-Carnitine
Protein Content for Duck: 8%
- Many rare protein options are available
- Can be fed on its own or used as a topper
- Flavor is a hit compared to most other LID options
- Texture can be an issue with pickier pooches
Is your doggo on a limited ingredient diet? Do you feed him one of the dog foods on our list, or does he enjoy another? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear.