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7 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food: Simple, Short-List Eats!

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Dog Food By Kelsey Snyder 12 min read September 23, 2021

LID dog foods for allergic dogs

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 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 Food Allergies?

food allergies cause itchy skin

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.
chicken is a common allergen

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 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. 

Some Breeds Are More Likely to Have Food Allergies than Others

Any breed or mixed-breed mutt can suffer from food allergies. However, they’re more common in some breeds, including dachshunds, pit bulls, golden retrievers, pugs, and German shepherds, among others.

Have a Dog with Food Allergies? You Have Two Choices

LID or Hydrolyzed dog foods for food allergies

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) 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) Foods: These feature proteins that have been chemically split up, letting your dog ingest them without triggering an immune response. They 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 foods require a prescription. This isn’t always the case, as sometimes you can purchase them directly from the manufacturer.
  • Pricing: Hydrolyzed foods are 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 foods, 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. 

For example, a large-breed puppy has vastly different dietary requirements than a senior pug with kidney disease.

Novel Proteins FTW!

In addition to having fewer ingredients than conventional dog foods, LID recipes often include novel proteins, such as venison, kangaroo, alligator, goat, or bison.

Because your dog has probably never consumed these types of meats, he’ll be very unlikely to suffer allergic reactions after eating them.

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.

1. JustFoodForDogs 

Best Overall LID Dog Food

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Just Food for Dogs

JustFoodForDogs 

Fresh foods that are custom-blended for YOUR dog and made with a limited number of human-grade ingredients.

About: JustFoodForDogs is changing up the LID 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. 

Features:

  • 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.

Ingredients List

(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%

Pros

  • 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 

Cons

  • Refrigeration or freezing required
  • Quite expensive

2. Zignature

Best Premium LID Kibble

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Zignature

Zignature

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 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. 

Features:

  • 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.

Ingredients List

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%

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • One of the more expensive options
  • No grain-inclusive recipes

Special Note: Zignature’s Kangaroo Recipe cannot be shipped to California.

3. Blue Buffalo Basics

Best Mid-Tier LID Kibble

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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 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 recipes, you don’t have to worry about hidden chicken or other meaty surprises.

Features:

  • 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.

Ingredients List

(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%

Pros

  • Contains none of the most common sensitivity triggers like corn, chicken, egg, soy, or wheat
  • Specialty recipes available for puppies, seniors, and more

Cons

  • 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

Best Prescription LID Kibble

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Hill

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 food is designed for safe eating by the most delicate of digestive systems. 

Features:

  • 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.

Ingredients List

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%

Pros

  • Specially formulated by experts for dogs with the most sensitive of systems
  • Backed by a money-back guarantee
  • Hill’s donates food regularly to shelters AND helps in doggy adoption (a win for every dog lover)

Cons

  • 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

Best Grain-Inclusive LID Dog Food

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Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food with Grains, Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula, 28 Pounds

Natural Balance L.I.D. With Grains

An LID kibble made with healthy grains, this food provides the things your dog needs, without including any triggering ingredients.

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.

Features:

  • 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.

Ingredients List

First,Five,Ingredients...,

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Natural Pork Flavor, Potato Protein, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Natural Chicken Flavor, Deboned Salmon, Apples, Blueberries, Yeast Culture, Organic Alfalfa, Flaxseed Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salmon Oil, Salt, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate), Choline Chloride, Yucca schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

Protein Content for Salmon & Brown Rice: 24%

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Larger bag options would be nice for families with large dogs
  • No exotic protein options available

7. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Rachael Ray 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.

Features:

  • 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.

Ingredients List

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%

Pros

  • Affordable
  • 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

Cons

  • Limited protein options
  • Small bag sizes are a bummer for large breed owners

7. Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula

Best Canned LID Dog Food

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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 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.

Features:

  • 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.

Ingredients List

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%

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Texture can be an issue with pickier pooches

***

Is your doggo on a limited ingredient diet? Do you feed him one of the foods on our list, or does he enjoy another? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear. 

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Written by

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey is a K9 of Mine contributor who has worked with dogs as a shift runner and office manager of a boarding kennel. When she’s not writing, she can be found throwing a ball or losing at tug of war. An animal lover to the max, she lives in South Jersey with her husband, her five dogs Boomer, Taj, Batman, Maya, and Moxie, some kitties, and two grumpy turtles.

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