Best Limited-Ingredient Dog Food

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Dogs with food allergies and intolerances need specific dog food. This will help them get optimal nutrition, without allergic reactions or compromised gut health.

But what’s the best limited-ingredient dog food that can do both?

Our top choice is ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Diet Beef & Pumpkin Grain-Free dry dog food

This high-protein formula is grain-free and contains less than 15 ingredients for sensitive adult dogs. 

But we have other options too — including beef-free and chicken-free choices if your dog can’t have those proteins. 

Our Best Limited-Ingredient Dog Food

10 Best Limited-Ingredient Dog Foods Reviewed 

Each of the following formulas we’ve listed follows AAFCO’s nutrient profile guidelines. Before switching your pup to new dog food, consult with your veterinarian. 


Best Overall

ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

ACANA Singles Beef Pumpkin Grain Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Beef Meal, Beef Liver, Sweet Potato, Whole Chickpeas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 31% Crude Protein, 17% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 371 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and limited ingredient dog food with antioxidants for immune support 

Dogs with food intolerances or food allergies need food that can support their nutritional needs. But, you don’t want to cause reactions or digestive issues.

This usually means limiting their exposure to certain ingredients. This is where limited-ingredient formulas come in. 

ACANA Singles Limited-Ingredient dog food is the perfect balance between protein and fiber. But, it’s low on ingredients that can cause reactions and tummy issues.

It starts with real animal proteins like deboned beef and beef liver. While beef can affect some dogs, most can digest it, but ACANA offers non-beef formulas too.

But this high-quality protein provides nutrients like taurine and chondroitin too. These aid in heart health and strong muscles. 

Instead of grains, sweet potatoes and whole chickpeas offer a source of complex carbohydrates. These provide prebiotic fiber for easier digestion. And they also boost your dog’s immune system with vitamins like vitamin C and iron. 

Pollock oil and beef tripe coat your dog’s tummy and keep it free from inflammation. And they also offer omega fatty acids for limber joints. For antioxidants and to aid in digestion, whole pumpkin is also included. 

Dog owners say this food has made a massive difference in their dog’s digestion and skin health. 


Best for Puppies

Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Alaska Pollock Puppy & Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Alaska Pollock & Lentils Recipe Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Pollock, Pollock Meal, Green Lentils, Red Lentils, Canola Oil
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 17% Crude Fat, 6% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 426 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and high-fat dry puppy food with less than 10 ingredients

Puppies tend to be more sensitive to food and the environment while they’re growing. This is because their immune and digestive systems are still developing. Plus they’re getting used to eating and digesting certain ingredients. 

Try a limited-ingredient diet if your pup is struggling with regular puppy food. Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Alaska Pollock Puppy & Adult Grain-Free dry dog food is the perfect option. 

This food starts with a single animal protein — pollock. This novel protein is perfect for pups who can’t eat other animals, like chicken and beef.

But, it’s still high in amino acids and offers a whopping 30% Crude Protein. This is perfect for growing dogs and aids in muscle building and joint health

Besides pollock, there are only 9 other ingredients. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include vitamins and minerals. This includes canola oil and flaxseeds. These provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that support healthy skin and a shiny coat. 

Patented GanedenBC30 probiotics help promote your pup’s digestive and immune health. Combined with low-glycemic ingredients, your pup won’t have any issues digesting their food.

Puppy owners say this is the perfect food if your dog needs to start an elimination diet. And they love how it supports dogs with both food and environmental allergies. 


Best for Seniors

Lotus Wholesome Good Grains Senior Special Needs Recipe Dry Dog Food

Lotus Wholesome Good Grains Senior Special Needs
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Rye, Chicken Liver, Sardine, Brown Rice
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 18% Crude Protein, 9% Crude Fat, 4.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 417 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Low-fat limited ingredient dry dog food with calcium and phosphorus for seniors

Feeding a senior dog can be challenging. Their needs change, and they need more nutrients. But they also need fewer calories and fat to avoid weight gain and other health issues.

And, if you throw in allergies or sensitivities, this can make it even more challenging to find the perfect formula. 

That’s where Lotus Wholesome Good Grains Senior Special Needs dry dog food comes in. This low-fat and moderate-calorie dog food contains 20 ingredients. And it’s packed with fiber, which helps with protecting your dog’s digestive system. 

It’s important to note that this food does include chicken and grains (no gluten). If your dog can’t eat these, you’ll want to find another limited-ingredient formula.

This recipe starts with chicken, chicken liver, and sardines. These low-calorie lean proteins provide amino acids to help your canine protect their lean muscle mass. And they provide glucosamine and chondroitin for firm and supple joints. 

Brown rice, barley, and oats are low on the glycemic index — so they’re much easier for your dog to digest. And they contain calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for strong bones. 

Olive oil and salmon oil provide healthy omega fatty acids and ARA. These boost brain function and keep your senior pup’s cartilage and joints flexible. 

Senior pet parents say that the kibble is large, so you’ll need to soak it if your dog needs something easier to eat. But they love how it’s boosted their canine’s energy levels. 


Best for Small Breeds

CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

CANIDAE PURE Petite Small Breed Grain Free Salmon
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Peas, Lentils, Tapioca
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Crude Protein, 12.5% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 525 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-calorie and raw coated dry dog food with probiotics for immune and gut health 

With 10 simple ingredients, CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed dry dog food is the perfect solution for small pups.

It’s concentrated in calories, so you don’t have to use as much to feed your ball of energy. So this food is friendly on your wallet and your dog’s health. 

It starts with real deboned salmon and salmon meal. These animal proteins come packed with glucosamine and chondroitin. These aid in lean muscle support and joint health.

And freeze-dried salmon bits boost extra flavor and iron for energy. Plus, the omega fatty acids help soothe skin inflammation if symptoms do occur. 

Instead of grains and gluten, this food includes garbanzo beans, peas, and lentils. They provide plenty of prebiotic fiber and healthy carbohydrates for digestive health. And they contain essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium for metabolic support. 

Canola oil and flaxseeds provide essential fatty acids for heart and brain health. And they keep your dog’s coat luscious and smooth. 

CANIDAE PURE doesn’t include corn, wheat, or soy and is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. 

Small breed pet owners love how this food helps their dog keep a trim but strong figure. And they all note that their dog hasn’t reacted to any of the ingredients. 


Best for Large Breeds

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Large Breed Lamb & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

Nutro LID Grain-Free Adult Large Breed Lamb
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Dried Potatoes, Dried Sweet Potato
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 20% Crude Protein, 13% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 475 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-calorie and chicken-free limited ingredient dry dog food for large dogs

For many large dogs, it’s crucial to avoid proteins like chicken and beef to avoid allergic reactions.

But, because they still need plenty of protein and fat to keep up with their frames and muscles, it’s essential to choose the suitable animal protein.

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Large Breed Lamb dry dog food is the best option. 

This formula starts with real deboned lamb and lamb meal. They offer 20% of highly-digestible Crude Protein, so your big boy won’t have any problems with muscle maintenance.

And lamb provides vitamins and minerals like B vitamins for energy and potassium for strong bones. 

There are only 8 other ingredients in this recipe besides the proteins. These include chickpeas, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

These offer plenty of soluble fiber for healthier digestion. And they provide nutrients like vitamin A and vitamin C for immune health. 

Sunflower oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and DHA for coat, joint, and heart health. 

This formula is free of corn, wheat, and soy. It doesn’t include artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Large breed owners love the kibble size of this food and are happy they were able to find a chicken-free option for their pup. 


Best Wet Food

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Wellness Simple LID Grain Free Turkey Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Potatoes, Ground Flaxseed, Carrageenan
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 8% Crude Protein, 7% Crude Fat, 1% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 469 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: High-protein and high-fat wet dog food with less than 5 ingredients

Picky pups or dogs with allergies to many ingredients may be better off with wet dog food than kibble. If your pooch needs canned dog food, try Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet. 

This is a grain-free formula. And, it only includes 4 simple ingredients (minus natural preservatives, vitamins, and minerals). And they keep it simple with a single protein source and low-glycemic carbohydrates. 

The animal protein is real turkey and turkey bone broth for moisture and natural vitamins and minerals.

Yes, turkey is poultry. But unlike chicken, it’s less likely to cause an allergic reaction. And it still contains glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints and muscle maintenance. 

Potatoes are the only carbohydrates, and they provide prebiotics and fiber. And since they’re gentle on the stomach, your dog shouldn’t have any issues digesting them and absorbing extra vitamins. 

Flaxseeds, the last ingredient, provide omega-3s for skin and brain health. And omega fatty acids help fight inflammation, which is helpful for dogs with allergies. 

This canned dog food is free of meat by-products, artificial preservatives, wheat, corn, soy, peas, and chicken. 

Dog moms and dads admit that the food stinks, but they love that it’s simple, low in sodium, and packed with protein. 


Best Budget Food

American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 6% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 327 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and high-fiber limited ingredient diet for budget-conscious owners 

Dog food can be pretty costly when avoiding allergens, especially if your dog needs to avoid specific proteins.

And grain-free dog foods have grown both in popularity and price. But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find an affordable formula. 

American Journey Limited Ingredient dry dog food is affordable and high-quality. Plus it’s made with novel proteins. 

It starts with one animal protein — real salmon. This is perfect for dogs that are allergic to beef and poultry. The high protein content helps your pup maintain lean muscle mass. And they get a boost of energy because of added B vitamins. 

Flaxseeds and sunflower oil supply essential fatty acids, including ARA. These aid in a healthy immune system and bone formation. 

For pups with allergies to grains, this food offers peas, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes. They’re full of fiber for better digestion. And they include nutrients like vitamin E and zinc for coat shine and muscle recovery. 

American Journey doesn’t include any corn, wheat, soy, or poultry by-product meals. It’s also free of artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors.

Canine owners are ecstatic to have a budget option for their dog’s needs, and they love how they can avoid poultry. 


Best Premium Food

Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Venison Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Go! SENSITIVITIES LID Venison Grain Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Venison, Venison Meal, Tapioca, Peas, Pea Flour
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 22% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 4.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 442 kcal/cup 
  • Key Feature: High-calorie and limited ingredient premium dry food 

Many dogs owners are willing to spare no expense to take care of their pups with allergies and food sensitivities. If you’re looking for high-value dog food for your dog, look no further than Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient dog food. 

This premium formula contains 10 simple ingredients. And it has a high-quality single protein source — deboned venison.

Did you know that the following common protein allergen for dogs is lamb meat? While chicken and beef are the most prevalent allergens, lamb can still impact some pups. So venison is a great alternative. 

And don’t worry, venison still offers essential amino acids for muscle maintenance and strength. Plus it’s tasty and has plenty of vitamins and minerals for energy, digestion, and brain health. 

The best ingredient in this food is the ASC-certified marine microalgae oil. This oil is a sustainable alternative to fish oil — which many dog foods have for omega fatty acids and DHA

The marine microalgae oil provides the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as fish oil. This boosts brain development and can decrease inflammation. 

Pet owners love that this food has quality ingredients. They’ve noticed a change in their dog’s coat health and energy levels and even admit that their pup is less gassy now. 


Best for Severe Allergies

SquarePet Squarely Natural Lamb Meal Dry Dog Food

SquarePet Squarely Natural Lamb Meal
  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, White Rice, Lamb, Cold-Pressed Sunflower Oil
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 22% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 383 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: 5 ingredient “bland” dry food for dogs with severe allergies 

Does it seem like your dog is allergic to almost everything? If so, your vet will recommend an elimination diet.

These diets help pinpoint the allergens that your dog has, so you can avoid them. But these meals are usually bland, and many dogs will pick at them because they aren’t fun to eat. 

But with SquarePet Squarely Natural Lamb Meal dry dog food, that’s no longer an issue.

This food contains 5 simple ingredients, plus vitamins and minerals. So it’s perfect for an elimination diet, and to feed your adult dog for years if you choose to do so.  

It contains a mono-protein — New Zealand lamb — for gentle nourishment. And, the protein protects and builds lean muscle mass. Cold-pressed sunflower oil comes packed with omega fatty acids. These aid in healthier hair, skin, and immunity.

The only other ingredients are brown rice and white rice. These offer simple and easy-to-digest carbohydrates. This aids in easier digestion and to protect gut health. 

Pet parents say this food is the only option that doesn’t cause allergic reactions for their pup.


Best Fresh Food

Nom Nom Turkey Fare Dog Food

Nom Nom Turkey Recipe
  • First 5 Ingredients: Ground Turkey, Brown Rice, Eggs, Carrots, Spinach
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 10% Crude Protein, 5% Crude Fat, 1% Crude Fiber, 72% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 201 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Customizable and fresh-made human-grade dog food 
Get 50% OFF your first Nom Nom order!

If you’re close to wanting to make your dog’s food yourself, try Nom Nom before going off the deep end. This fresh-made and human-grade dog food comes customized to your dog’s particular needs. And, you can even take out ingredients that your dog can’t eat. 

First, you’ll need to take Nom Nom’s online quiz. They’ll ask about your dog’s weight, height, and potential allergies. From there, they calculate your pup’s requirements and give you flavor options for balanced nutrition.  

And bonus points, the food ships within 24 hours of prep. So you’re going to get the freshest pre-portioned food right to your door, without having to do it all yourself. A subscription helps you get the food every two to four weeks, and you don’t have to remember to order.

There are four recipe options to choose from — lamb, beef, chicken, and turkey. Of course, common allergies might mean that you only have two choices, but these flavor-packed meals shouldn’t bore your pup. 

Each food shipment of dog food is pre-portioned and comes with a feeding guide. 

Dog owners love that they can get fresh food right to their door, and their dogs are thriving with the homemade-like diet.


dog licking closeup

Choosing the Best Limited-Ingredient Dog Food for Your Dog

Looking for the best options for your dog when it comes to limited-ingredient formulas? Here’s what you need to know. 

Food Allergies in Dogs

Dogs can have both food allergies and intolerances. But, it’s important to remember that both of these issues are different, even though the terms seem interchangeable. 

Food allergies cause an immune response where your dog’s body “attacks” the food. This causes reactions like hives, watery eyes, and even throat swell. Most of the symptoms range from moderate to severe. 

Food intolerances are because your dog can’t handle or digest food well. These symptoms include GI upset, diarrhea, or gassiness.

Think about it this way; many people are allergic to peanuts, and some are lactose intolerant. Being intolerant to lactose can send you to the bathroom for a few hours, but eating a peanut can equal death for some. 

When it comes to allergies, the most common foods for dogs include; specific proteins (beef, chicken), eggs, wheat, and soy. 

Some typical food intolerances for dogs include some grains (like rice or oats) and dairy. These don’t affect all dogs and can be safe for most. But if you notice these ingredients cause an upset tummy, they may be best to avoid

What to Feed a Dog With Food Allergies?

So, what do you feed a dog with food allergies? Well, there are a few different options. 

LID Dog Food

Limited ingredient dog foods (like the options on this list) have fewer ingredients than regular kibble.

And many avoid most of the common allergens and intolerances. This helps your dog avoid food that can cause allergic reactions or GI upset.

Hypoallergenic Food

Hypoallergic food (or hydrolyzed food) are formulas that offer proteins that have split up via a chemical process.

This breaks down the proteins and makes it easier for your dog to eat them without triggering a food allergy or intolerance. 

These are the most costly option and are usually vet-prescribed too. So only go this route if your vet recommends it. 

How to Choose the Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food

When choosing the best limited ingredient dog foods, there are a few essential tips to keep in mind.

The first is ingredient quality. Dog foods with excessive fillers or hard-to-digest proteins aren’t the best option. Instead, focus on animal proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates that support your dog’s needs. 

You may want to avoid chicken, beef, and eggs for protein since those are the most common allergens. Instead, choose fish, lamb, venison, turkey, rabbit, or buffalo options. You can even look into vegetarian options like legumes and beans. But these should be the last option.

To help ease other potential allergic reactions to things like the environment or grass, look into healthy fats as well.

These help reduce inflammation and boost your dog’s immune system. Fish oil, flaxseeds, coconut oil, and animal fats like pork fat or lamb organs are great options. 

Last but not least, avoid processed and filler grains when possible. For some dogs, ingredients like soy and wheat can cause an allergic reaction.

If that’s not the case, feel free to add them back into your pup’s diet. But if they can’t handle them, look into a grain-free food or formulas that offer complex carbohydrates like oatmeal or legumes. 

Our Verdict

Fido doesn’t have to suffer every time they eat their food. Instead, try a limited-ingredient diet that meets their needs. 

Our favorite option is ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Diet Beef & Pumpkin Grain-Free dry dog food. 

With simple and high-quality ingredients, it protects gut, muscle, and joint health. And, it boosts your pup’s immune system too. 

No matter your dog’s needs, there is the perfect formula for them on this list — including elimination diets and an option for sensitive pups. 

FAQs

Which dog food has the fewest ingredients?

The dog foods on this list have less than 20 ingredients. This is about 15 ingredients less than most regular kibbles. But, if your dog needs to avoid many components, talk to your vet.
They may recommend a dehydrated or raw food option that focuses on one protein and one grain.

Is limited ingredient dog food good for allergies?

Yes. Most limited ingredient dog foods focus on providing proteins, grains, and fats that don’t trigger allergies. 

For example, many on this list have lamb, venison, or fish as their primary source of protein. This helps protect dogs allergic to common proteins like beef and chicken. 

Is a limited ingredient dog food good for dogs?

It can be, but only if your dog needs it. If your dog doesn’t have any allergies or intolerances, limited ingredient dog foods won’t offer them much other than nutritious kibble.

Are all limited ingredient dog foods grain-free?

No. Some do include whole grains like oats, brown rice, or barley. But, some dogs aren’t allergic or intolerant to grains.

If that’s the case, they shouldn’t skip these nutritious add-ons. Your dog should only eat a grain-free diet if recommended by your vet or if they have allergies.  

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AUTHOR
Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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