An adult dog eating dog food out of a bowl on the ground next to a package of The Honest Kitchen's Limited Ingredient Duck product.

The Ultimate Guide to Limited Ingredient Diets for Dogs

The Ultimate Guide to Limited Ingredient Diets for Dogs

Food allergies in dogs are not extremely common. However, when a dog does have a food allergy, it’s easy to overlook the symptoms or attribute them to something other than their food.

In fact, in 10–15% of dogs, food allergies most often cause skin and gastrointestinal issues, which happen to be symptoms of many other health conditions.

This is an important statistic to consider when choosing a food for your pup — even more important if your dog is predisposed to allergies or intolerances. This is where a limited ingredient diet under the supervision of a vet may be helpful.

In this article, we’ll cover what limited ingredient diets are, what they include and exclude, and why they can be helpful for dogs with food allergies or intolerances.

What Is Limited Ingredient Dog Food?

As suggested by the name, limited ingredient pet foods contain very few ingredients. Typically, these simple types of dog food contain more natural ingredients, one or two being animal protein sources, and one carbohydrate source.

Additionally, manufacturers create these foods on a clean production line without any cross-contamination. Keep in mind, though, that limited ingredient dog food is not the same as hypoallergenic dog food.

Though they are related and may overlap at times, hypoallergenic dog food doesn’t necessarily mean fewer ingredients. It simply means there aren’t any common allergens. Hypoallergenic dog food is usually more standardized across brands as well.

Why Is Limited Ingredient Dog Food Healthy?

Limited ingredient dog food can be more appealing because the ingredients are recognizable and often of high nutritional quality. If your dog has food intolerances, fewer ingredients means fewer opportunities for a reaction.

In some brands’ cases — like The Honest Kitchen — limited ingredient formulas are human grade as well. This means the manufacturer ensures that the food meets human-consumption quality standards at every step of the production process.

Finally, limited ingredient dog foods are available for dogs of all different sizes, breeds, and life stages, from small breeds to large breeds and everywhere in between. Limited ingredient recipes often contain fewer calories as well, since they don’t have all the fillers that many commercial grade kibble includes.

What Are Some Ingredients To Limit in (or Remove From) a Dog’s Diet?

Some of the most common allergies among dogs include beef, dairy, wheat, eggs, chicken, lamb, gluten, and soy. Though it’s not a guarantee that your dog will develop an allergy to any of these ingredients, it’s important to keep an eye out for symptoms of an allergy.

If your dog shows signs of food allergies or intolerances, you may want to consider eliminating certain ingredients. Remember, the order of ingredients on a dog food label indicates the ratio, with the first ingredient making up the bulk of the recipe.

Benefits of a Limited Ingredient Diet for Your Dog

Beyond providing your dog with a clean and nutritious diet, there are other great benefits of a limited ingredient diet. A simple diet can help pet parents identify allergies, support better digestion, reduce food sensitivities, and promote overall health.

Helps Identify Food Allergies

As mentioned earlier, food allergies are easy to overlook or misdiagnose, so a limited ingredient dog food can help rule out potential allergies. By eliminating likely culprits, limited ingredient dog food can help pinpoint the ingredient causing your dog's allergic reaction or sensitivity.

Some allergy symptoms include itchy skin, paws, or ears, as well as digestive disturbances like vomiting or diarrhea. More subtle symptoms can include hyperactivity, weight loss, lack of energy, and aggression. If you’re interested in learning more about how to identify potential food allergies in dogs, check out our tips on elimination diets.

However, if your pup’s allergy symptoms are persistent and severe, talk to your vet right away about allergy testing and help craft a diet that can support your dog’s specific needs. There are also veterinary allergists who specialize in working with dogs who have allergies.

Supports Better Digestion and Reduces Sensitivities

Digestive issues can be common among dogs for many reasons. But beyond the occasional forage through the trash or encounter with a new plant outside, they can arise from food sensitivities or exposure to artificial preservatives.

The artificial preservative butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is one common culprit, as well as fillers like corn and meat meals.

Avoidance is, unfortunately, the only solution for preventing digestive issues caused by food sensitivities, so the fewer ingredients, the better. Identification of your dog’s allergies or intolerances may help aid digestion and reduce symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and skin irritation.

In addition to eliminating certain foods, you can also consider supplements and toppers to support your pup’s digestion and bowel health. The Honest Kitchen’s Perfect Form Herbal Digestive Supplement is a great place to start. This supplement contains papaya leaf, plantain leaf, slippery elm, and other natural herbs to support digestion.

Promotes Overall Health

The whole food ingredients in sustainably made, limited ingredient dog foods can support your dog’s overall health. A diet made up of high-quality ingredients and key nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids can provide complete and balanced nutrition.

If your pup has a sensitive stomach, a limited ingredient diet may also offer relief from digestive upset and improvement in other areas like energy, mood, and general life satisfaction.

Plus, as a pet parent, it can be stressful when your dog isn’t feeling well or is experiencing a health concern. If your pup’s overall health is stable, you’ll likely feel more at ease too.

Try a Limited Ingredient Diet From The Honest Kitchen

It’s important to take diet and food choices into consideration when your pup experiences allergy or sensitivity symptoms. While food allergies aren’t especially common, they do happen.

Limited ingredient diets can help pet owners identify any allergy triggers and provide their pets with a balanced, nutritious diet that eliminates health issues.

If you’re looking to try a limited ingredient diet for your dog, we recommend the human grade , limited ingredient dog food from The Honest Kitchen. Our line of delicious limited ingredient dog food recipes is made with just six whole foods per recipe — perfect for dogs with food sensitivities, or just those who appreciate the simpler things in life. With five different high-quality protein flavors including turkey, beef, duck, chicken, and fish, you’re sure to find a recipe that supports your pup’s preferences and nutritional needs.

Check out The Honest Kitchen's limited ingredient dog food today!

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