Limited ingredient dog foods should be viewed as a temporary solution to help alleviate the symptoms of allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances in your dog. They’re a very good way to help you figure out what ingredient(s) in your old dog food may have caused problems.
Some dogs are very reactive to all manner of ingredients, in which case a limited ingredient dog food can be fed long term – as long as it’s “complete and balanced”.
Otherwise take a view to start adding variety back into your dog’s diet once you’ve found out what they reacted to.
Let’s take a look at the following:
What is a limited ingredient dog food?
Less ingredients than a regular dog food is fairly obvious, with a limited ingredient formula being a few main ingredients combined with essential fats, oils, vitamins and minerals. They will contain a single meat-protein and fat from the same source.
The quality of a limited ingredient dog food can vary, but a good brand will have a focus on a single meat protein, healthy fats, oils, and with any luck minimal carbohydrates.
In addition, a limited ingredient dog food should avoid ingredients which commonly trigger dietary sensitivities in dogs, including problematic grains (wheat/cereals), specific meat proteins, dairy (including eggs), and artificial colours or preservatives.
Should my dog be on a limited ingredient dog food?
A skin rash or dull coat may be an indicator your dog may benefit from a limited ingredient dog food. We often fail to associate such small symptoms with a dietary sensitivity, but we also need to consider what’s going on with our dog “beneath the skin”.
If your dog is showing any of the following symptoms, it is worth switching to a limited ingredient dog food to see if their symptoms subside:
- Ear infections, yeasty ears, or skin issues (itching, hot spots, or rashes)
- Excessive licking or biting of paws or other body parts
- Digestive issues, including runny poos, gas, regurgitating food, vomiting, bloating, or diarrhea
- Hives or swelling
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Weight gain or loss
- Dull or dry coat, or excessive shedding
Please note some of the more severe symptoms listed above, particularly excessive vomiting, bloating, or diarrhea, should be discussed with your vet. These may suggest a more severe health concern which you must rule out.
Recommended limited ingredient dog food (in Australia)
We have some really good limited ingredient dog foods in Australia, including class-leading international brands.
Keep in mind limited ingredient formulas tend to cost more than regular formulas, not because of “pay more for less” but because the ingredients should be a higher quality.
Usually the best way forward is to use a limited ingredient dog food to help you analyses and hopefully fix the problems your dog is having.
Limited ingredient dry dog foods
The following brands I have recommended over many years, and most of the time have shown an improvement within a matter of days. If you opt for any of these brands, please let me know how you get on.
Taste of the Wild PREY offers a range of formulas using novel ingredients including Turkey, Beef, or Trout. Being a brand sold worldwide the brand has a good reputation with excellent feedback from many pet owners.
Related: Full Taste of the Wild PREY review
Canidae PURE is very similar to Taste of the Wild PREY with lots of formulas on hand, including senior and puppy limited ingredient diets. Formulas range from Lamb and Pea, Bison and Lentil, Duck and Sweet Potato, Salmon, and Healthy Weight Tuna.
Related: Full Canidae PURE review
Another good brand, Zignature has a decent range of limited ingredient formulas, including a couple for small dogs (Lamb formula + Trout & Salmon formula).
Related: Zignature dog food review
Limited ingredient dog food rolls / BARF
You will find a variety of limited ingredient dog food rolls available in Australia. For rolls I recommend the Balanced Life Limited Ingredient Rolls (such as the crocodile formula).
Hypoallergenic vs Limited Ingredient dog foods
You may have heard the term hypoallergenic dog food which shares a lot of commonality with limited ingredient brands, and both are designed to fix similar problems in dogs.
The differences are subtle, but a hypoallergenic dog food may favour a novel protein source, hydrolysed protein (often plant-based), and may contain more ingredients including preservatives, colours, or flavours.
A limited ingredient dog food will often use a natural preservative such as rosemary.
Other considerations about limited ingredient dog foods
Are limited ingredient dog foods nutritionally complete?
Yes, most limited ingredient dog foods conform to AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards for complete and balanced nutrition. Australia does not have an equivalent standard, so you must insure the dog food complies with AAFCO standards.
How do I transition my dog to a limited ingredient diet?
If your dog has been fed a single brand of dog food for a long period of time they may suffer digestive upset when a new food is introduced. Like us, a dog will develop intolerances to ingredients within an unvaried diet as well as ingredients which become unusual. Quite often these intolerances become the reason why a limited ingredient dog food is necessary. If this is the case introduce the new food gradually over a period of a week and monitor any adverse reactions.
Are limited ingredient dog foods more expensive than regular dog food?
You may find limited ingredient formulas more expensive than regular formulas from the same brand despite having less ingredients. However, it may be the case the ingredients are a higher quality or a focus on meat and animal fat ingredients rather than carbohydrate or starch ingredients.
Can all dogs eat limited ingredient dog food?
Any dog can eat a complete and balanced dog food, but unless your dog has a specific dietary need or health issue it may cause your dog to develop further intolerances from having a limited ingredient diet. It may also cost you more than necessary.
Can I make my own limited ingredient dog food at home?
Yes, it is possible to make a limited ingredient diet at home as long as it is complete and balanced. Raw is one such option, of which a great deal of information is available on including the correct ingredients and ratios. If feeding a homemade limited ingredient diet over a long period then careful consideration will be needed to ensure your dog receives all required nutrition.
The recommendations and advice on Pet Food Reviews are based in part on feedback from you and other dog owners. If your dog has any symptoms for which you believe a limited ingredient dog food would help, then feel free to list symptoms in the comments. If you have success with any of the recommendations on this page, or have other suggestions for limited ingredient dog foods in Australia, then please add this information too.
I hope this guide has helped!