|Best Overall||JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash Recipe Fresh Frozen Dog Food|
|Best Pea and Potato-Free||Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food|
|Best Air-Dried Variety||Ziwi Peak Mackerel & Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food|
|Best Canned with Fish||Lotus Sardine Loaf Grain-Free Canned Dog Food|
|Best for Small Breeds||BIXBI Liberty Small Breed Fisherman’s Catch Dry Dog Food|
|Best Freeze-Dried||Stella & Chewy’s Venison Blend Dinner Patties|
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.
A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Limited Ingredient Dog Food
1. Overall Best: JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash Recipe Fresh Frozen Dog Food
In our review, the overall best-limited ingredient dog food is JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash Recipe Fresh Frozen 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. JustFoodForDogs 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. JustFoodForDogs 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.
- Made fresh and then frozen
- Made with human-grade ingredients
- Contain venison
- No fillers and preservatives
2. Best Pea and Potato-Free: Earthborn Holistic Venture Smoked Wild Boar & Butternut Squash
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.
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. Earthborn Holistic Venture combines wild boar, pork, pumpkin, and butternut squash to create a nutrient-rich and fortified kibble.
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.
- Contains non-GMO ingredients
- Great for dogs with kidney problems
- Contains wild boar and pork
- Grain & gluten-free
3. Best Air-Dried Variety: Ziwi Peak Mackerel & Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food
Chewy alone lists over 1,000 items under limited ingredient dog foods. We’ve sorted through the marketplace to select a handful of the best. Ziwi Peak Mackerel and Lamb Air-Dried dog food doesn’t say ‘limited ingredient’ on the label, but it definitely tops the list.
This is a premium, nutrient-dense dog food. It uses only two protein sources and 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 longer than the big ones.
- Premium, nutrient-dense food
- No fillers like grain, potato, or peas
- Stay fresh longer
- Whole-prey formula
4. Best Canned Variety Made with Fish: Lotus Sardine Loaf Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Fish is a delicious, high-protein, and low-fat food, but much of the fish we get in the United States is farmed. Plus, bigger fish can be exposed to mercury and pass that on to our pets. Sardines are great because they are too small and short-lived to farm and have insignificant levels of mercury.
The first ingredient in the Lotus Sardine Loaf, sardines are high in
- Omega 3
- Vitamin D
- Amino acids
Sardines support dental and kidney health in dogs, and the omega 3s help your dog’s coat stay soft. These little fish also pack a good punch of protein.
To round out the nutritional balance, Lotus includes other excellent ingredients like New Zealand green mussels, chopped asparagus, blueberries, pumpkin flakes, and cranberries. You can see why they made our top six.
5. Best Designed for Small Breeds: BIXBI Liberty Small Breed Fisherman’s Catch
BIXBI Liberty Small Breed Fisherman’s Catch uses fresh fish – not fish meal – sourced in the United States. The first ingredient is freshwater trout (a fish that is thankfully low in mercury), and they gently steam-cook it to maintain the flavor and keep it nutrient-rich.
There is no potato, soy, corn, or wheat to add empty nutrition to your dog’s dinner. It sticks to a single source of protein and keeps the ingredient list simple. BIXBI Liberty is also pretty affordable compared to other high-quality limited ingredient dog foods.
- The first ingredient is freshwater trout
- Contains no potato, soy, corn, or wheat
- Very affordable
- Made in the USA
6. Best Freeze-Dried Option: Stella & Chewy’s Venison Blend Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried
You may have noticed that your dog can’t cook. 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. Raw food is very dense, and you don’t need to feed your dog as much by volume as with kibble or canned food. It’s wise to check the package before serving.
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 allergins 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.
|Whole foods||May include added preservatives|
|Minimally processed||Since it’s refrigerated, it’s either served cold or has to be removed and brought to room temperature|
|Easy to serve|
|Easy to use||Can get expensive|
|Keeps in the freezer for months|
|Easy to use and store||Not fresh|
|Tend to be high in meat protein||Can be highly processed|
|Fewer preservatives than some other types of dog food|
|Easy storage||Highly processed|
|Can remove plaque||Some have added chemicals and artificial coloring|
Freeze-Dried or Frozen Raw
|Excellent nutrition||Potential pathogens in raw food|
|An accessible way to feed your dog a raw diet||Easy to overfeed with concentrated food|
|Health benefits of raw food||Gets expensive|
|Excellent nutrition||Low moisture|
|Easy to scoop and serve||Gets stale if not stored properly and is hard to chew|
|The process preserves raw ingredients and removes pathogens|
Verified Review: User Experience
Pet owners report JustFoodForDogs works great for their dogs with food allergies and sensitive stomachs. A couple said they saw a noticeable increase in their dog’s energy. Other owners with picky eaters said their dogs couldn’t get enough of this fresh-frozen food.
The reviews for Earthborn Holistic Venture are also solid and positive, especially for dogs with allergies. A satisfied pet owner who fed his dog Earthborn Holistic Venture for six years said she has great teeth, is healthy, has a shiny coat, and has zero health issues.
Ziwi Peak is always a fan favorite. It is good for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs, and it’s also popular with picky eaters. One user reports the air-dried texture can get harder to chew when a bigger bag has been open for a while (so purchasing the smaller bag is recommended unless you’re feeding a couple of big dogs). Also, it gets expensive.
The Lotus Grain-Free Sardine Loaf got rave reviews for being a novel protein that dogs clearly think is delicious. One owner said her husky finally stopped having diarrhea when they switched to this food.
Many dogs and pet owners love Stella & Chewy Venison Blend Dinner Patties. One complained the patties were too dense, while another said they weren’t patties at all, but powder.
A small percentage of users for every type of food said their dog wouldn’t eat it, but you can’t account for taste!