The Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food (Good For Allergies)

Written by Joan W.
Updated: May 27, 2024
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Does your dog have itchy skin or a thinning coat? Are there ear or foot infections that just won’t go away? Does your dog regularly throw up or have diarrhea? These and other signs like hyperactivity or lethargy, weight loss, and even aggression can be signs of food allergies.

Food allergies can appear in dogs out of nowhere and even when your dog has been eating the same food for a long time. The most common allergens for dogs include beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, soy, or milk.

Some breeds are prone to allergies, while other dogs develop food intolerances or allergies over time. Your dog’s immune system has misidentified a food as something harmful for one reason or another. Whenever he ingests it, his immune system tries to fight it off.

Limited ingredient dog foods help pets with sensitive stomachs and food allergies avoid what irritates them. The right limited ingredient food will help your dog return to his happy, playful, hungry self.

We’ve reviewed a selection of the best limited ingredient options to help you make the perfect choice for your pet. We’ve also provided an in-depth guide so that you know exactly what to look for when choosing the best.

  1. JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash Recipe Frozen Fresh Dog Food
    • Made fresh and then frozen
    • Made with human-grade ingredients
    • Contain venison
    • No fillers and preservatives
    Check Chewy
  2. Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
    • Contains non-GMO ingredients
    • Great for dogs with kidney problems
    • Contains wild boar and pork
    • Grain & gluten-free
    Check Chewy
  3. Ziwi Peak Mackerel & Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food
    • Premium, nutrient-dense food
    • No fillers like grain, potato, or peas
    • Stay fresh longer
    • Whole-prey formula
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  4. Lotus Sardine Loaf Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
    • Contain wild-caught sardines
    • Contains omega 3s for the dog's coat
    • Support dental and kidney health
    • Added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
    Check Chewy
  5. Stella & Chewy's Venison Blend Dinner Patties
    • Easy to break up and rehydrate
    • Added vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
    • Made from venison and lamb
    • Contains organic fruit and vegetables
    Check Chewy

A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Limited Ingredient Dog Food

#1 Best Overall: JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash Recipe Frozen Fresh Dog Food

In our review, the overall best-limited ingredient dog food is JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash Recipe Frozen Fresh Dog Food.

It’s hard to beat real food. Some people cook for their dogs, but most of us don’t have the time to do it day after day. This food is made fresh and then frozen so you can feed your dog real food.

The more you process any food, the fewer natural nutrients and enzymes remain. Fresh frozen food is an excellent alternative to raw foods, which can occasionally carry contaminants. This recipe is made with human-grade ingredients like ground venison, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and brussels sprouts.

Venison is a novel protein that isn’t a common allergen like farmed meats like beef and chicken. JustFoodForDogs keeps their food free from fillers, preservatives, growth hormones, BHA, BHT, or artificial coloring — none of which your dog needs.

The formulas are supported by independent research and within AAFCO protocols. The prepared packages arrive frozen and can be stored in your freezer for up to one year. Once you thaw it in the refrigerator, serve it within four days.

However, the main complaint that customers have about this food is that it is expensive and therefore may be best used as a topper or a treat, rather than as a main meal. The only other issue with it is that the preparation process requires remembering to thaw it out in good time so that it is ready when you need it.

Pros and Cons of the JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash Recipe Frozen Fresh Dog Food

ProsCons
This food features venison as the first ingredient.It is an expansive option.
It is free from free from fillers, preservatives, growth hormones, BHA, BHT, and artificial coloring.It needs to be thawed out before being used.
It is made from human-grade ingredients.
It can be stored in the freezer for up to one year.
Overall Best
JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash Recipe Frozen Fresh Dog Food
  • Made fresh and then frozen
  • Made with human-grade ingredients
  • Contain venison
  • No fillers and preservatives
Check Chewy

2. Best Pea and Potato-Free: Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Green peas and potatoes are common fillers in limited ingredient diet dog foods. While neither ingredient is necessarily harmful, and many dogs tolerate them well, they can be problematic for some canines. Therefore, we recommend the Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food as the best option that is free from them.

In particular, dogs with kidney problems need to avoid green peas. Peas contain an acid that needs to be filtered through the kidneys. Cooked potatoes without the skins are not harmful to most dogs, but they don’t add nutritional value either. If you are going to the trouble to find high-quality limited ingredient food for your dog, you’re not gaining anything by feeding them potatoes.

On the other hand, squashes like pumpkin or butternut have digestive and nutritional benefits for your dog. This food combines wild boar, pork, pumpkin, and butternut squash to create a nutrient-rich and fortified kibble. It is grain and gluten free but is packed full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.

This high-quality limited ingredient dog food is manufactured in the United States using non-GMO ingredients. Earthborn Holistic Venture is a small, family-owned company that uses BPA-free packaging with up to 30% plant-based plastic.

Unfortunately, the kibble pieces are quite large which makes this food unsuitable for smaller dogs.

Pros and Cons of the Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains wild boar, pork, pumpkin, and butternut squash to create a nutrient-rich kibble.The kibble pieces are quite large, making it unsuitable for smaller dogs.
It is manufactured in the United States using non-GMO ingredients.
It is grain and gluten-free.
It is enhanced with vitamins and minerals.
It contains plenty of protein and fiber.
Best Pea and Potato-Free
Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • Contains non-GMO ingredients
  • Great for dogs with kidney problems
  • Contains wild boar and pork
  • Grain & gluten-free
Check Chewy

3. Best Air-Dried Variety: Ziwi Peak Mackerel & Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food

Our selection as the best air-dried option is the Ziwi Peak Mackerel and Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food.

This is a premium, nutrient-dense dog food. It uses only two protein sources and contains absolutely zero fillers like grain, potato, or peas, which can cause obesity or irritate sensitive canine stomachs.

Ziwi Peak uses ethical and sustainable free-range meats and wild-caught fish. They use a whole-prey formula including meat, organs, bone, and New Zealand green mussels. 

The air-dry process preserves many of the food’s nutrients but without the potential risk for contamination that some dog owners fear with raw products. Because it’s highly concentrated, check the serving sizes because it’s easy to give too much. With air-dried food, smaller bags stay fresher and chewier for longer than the big ones.

Unfortunately, some customers have reported that this food dried out quicker than expected, while others found that their dogs would not eat it.

Pros and Cons of the Ziwi Peak Mackerel & Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food

ProsCons
This food uses only two protein sources.It dries out quickly.
It is free from fillers like grain, potato, and peas.Not all dogs like this food.
It is developed using a whole-prey formula including meat, organs, bone, and New Zealand green mussels. 
Best Air-Dried Variety
Ziwi Peak Mackerel & Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food
  • Premium, nutrient-dense food
  • No fillers like grain, potato, or peas
  • Stay fresh longer
  • Whole-prey formula
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best Canned Food: Lotus Sardine Loaf Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Most dogs love the soft and tasty option that is canned food, which is why we recommend the Lotus Sardine Loaf Grain-Free Canned Dog Food.

The first ingredient in this food is sardines, while other excellent ingredients include New Zealand green mussels, chopped asparagus, blueberries, pumpkin flakes, and cranberries. As it has a single protein source it is ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Plus, this food is enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to provide all-round good health. It also contains omega-3 fatty acid which promotes a healthy skin and coat. Furthermore, it is grain-free and does not contain any corn, wheat, or soy.

Unfortunately, although this food is a pate, pup parents have reported that it was mushier than expected.

Pros and Cons of the Lotus Sardine Loaf Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains sardines as a single protein source.The pate was mushier than expected.
It is a grain-free option.
It is enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
It contains omega-3 to promote a healthy coat and skin.
Best Canned Food
Lotus Sardine Loaf Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
  • Contain wild-caught sardines
  • Contains omega 3s for the dog's coat
  • Support dental and kidney health
  • Added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Check Chewy

5. Best Freeze-Dried Option: Stella & Chewy’s Venison Blend Dinner Patties

In our opinion the best freeze-dried option is Stella & Chewy’s Venison Blend Dinner Patties.

It’s been a long time since dogs hunted in the wild, so they are well-adapted to cooked food. However, proponents of a raw diet say dogs have more energy, better teeth, shinier coats, and smaller stools when they eat raw meat, organs, bone, fruits, and vegetables.

Stella & Chewy make a raw diet accessible to owners who aren’t going to build relationships with local butchers to source raw bones, organs, and meat for their dogs every day.

The freeze-dried patties are easy to break up and rehydrate. The carefully crafted formula includes added vitamins and minerals, probiotics, and antioxidants from blueberries, cranberries, beets, squash, and other nutritious ingredients. Probiotics promote a healthy digestive system, while the antioxidants boost the immune system. Plus, this food is free from grain, gluten, fillers, artificial preservatives and colorings. Raw food is very dense, and you don’t need to feed your dog as much by volume as with kibble or canned food.

However, pup parents have reported that this food takes quite a long time to absorb water, while some also found that it caused their dogs to develop diarrhea.

Pros and Cons of Stella & Chewy’s Venison Blend Dinner Patties

ProsCons
These freeze-dried patties are easy to break up and rehydrate. They take a long time to absorb water.
It is enhanced with vitamins and minerals.They caused diarrhea in some dogs.
It contains probiotics to promote a healthy digestive system.
It contains antioxidants to boost the immune system.
Best Freeze-Dried
Stella & Chewy's Venison Blend Dinner Patties
  • Easy to break up and rehydrate
  • Added vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
  • Made from venison and lamb
  • Contains organic fruit and vegetables
Check Chewy

Choosing the Best: What to Look For

When choosing the best limited ingredient dog food, there are three factors you will want to consider. They are: is protein the first ingredient, which proteins are included, and does it contain nutritionless fillers?

The First Ingredient: Protein

Dogs thrive on a variety of foods, but high-quality protein is essential. Some limited ingredient dog foods will start with potato and add meat second or third. They may be less expensive to buy now but they aren’t delivering the valuable nutrition your dog needs.

Which Proteins Are Included?

If your dog needs to avoid beef or chicken, read through all the proteins listed in a limited ingredient dog food. Some will say lamb or pork but also include beef or chicken. Don’t let them sneak the allergens past you.

Any Nutritionless Fillers?

Most dogs want to eat everything. If you’re eating bread, corn, soy, or potato they are there almost as excited as if you’re eating a fresh pork chop. However, too many starches are not healthy for them. Limit the nutritionless fillers in any food you buy.

The Different Types of Limited Ingredient Dog Food: Pros and Cons Compared

More pet owners realize they can help their dogs live longer and healthier lives by purchasing high-quality food. So, more limited ingredient dog foods are available. You can choose between fresh, fresh-frozen, canned, kibble, freeze-dried raw, raw frozen, or air-dried.

Here are some pros and cons of each type.

Fresh

ProsCons
It contains whole food.It may include added preservatives.
It is minimally processed.As it’s refrigerated, it’s either served cold or has to be removed and brought to room temperature.
It is easy to serve.

Fresh-Frozen

ProsCons
It is easy to use.It can be expensive.
It can be kept in the freezer for months.
It contains whole foods.

Canned

ProsCons
It is easy to use and store.It is not fresh.
It tends to be high in meat protein.It can be highly processed.
It contains fewer preservatives than some other types of dog food.

Kibble

ProsCons
It is easy to use and store.It is highly processed.
It is cost-effective.It has a low moisture content.
It can remove plaque and tartar from teeth.

Freeze-Dried or Frozen Raw

ProsCons
It provides excellent nutrition.There are potential pathogens in raw food.
It is an accessible way to feed your dog a raw diet.It is easy to overfeed with concentrated food.
There are several health benefits to raw food.It can be expensive.

Air-Dried

ProsCons
It is an excellent source of nutrition.It has a low moisture content.
It is easy to scoop and serve.It can become stale if not stored properly and is hard to chew.
The process preserves raw ingredients and removes pathogens.

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About the Author

Joan Weisman is an experienced freelance marketing strategist and copywriter who helps small businesses expand their audience and stay top of mind with customers. She loves animals and dotes on her cat and dog.

The Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food (Good For Allergies) FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why should I use a limited ingredient dog food?

Sometimes a dog’s immune system can misidentify a food ingredient as being harmful and their immune system then begins to fight back.  When this happens your dog can display symptoms such as diarrhea, itching, or vomiting — the same reactions also occur when the dog is truly allergic to the ingredient.

Limited ingredient dog food does exactly what it says on the tin — it contains a limited number of ingredients.  This helps to eliminate the ingredient that caused the reaction in the dog.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.