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11 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

11 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

A dog eating scattered dog foodLimited-ingredient dog foods can be a lifesaver for dogs with allergies. Because they contain few ingredients, there is less of a chance that dogs with allergies will react to them. However, even if your dog doesn’t have allergies, they may benefit from a limited ingredient dog food.

For example, some dogs experience gastrointestinal symptoms when given certain ingredients, even if they aren’t genuinely allergic to them. A limited-ingredient dog food can be great for those canines, too.

However, not all limited-ingredient dog foods are made equal. For this reason, we have reviews of some of the best limited-ingredient recipes on the market.

divider-pawA Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food Subscription Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food Subscription
  • Human-grade food quality
  • Nutrition established by AAFCO Food Nutrient Profiles
  • 4 recipes to choose from
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited
  • Whole grain, brown rice included
  • Lamb meal as the first ingredient
  • Free from allergens
  • Best for Puppies
    Third place
    Simply Nourish Limited Puppy Simply Nourish Limited Puppy
  • High in protein and fat
  • Doesn't contain fillers
  • Free from common allergens, like chicken
  • American Journey Limited Dry American Journey Limited Dry
  • Protein and fat content are high
  • Salmon as the first ingredient
  • Free from artificial ingredients
  • Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Natural Balance Limited Ingredient
  • Salmon as the first ingredient
  • Full of omega-3s
  • High-quality veggies included
  • The 11 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

    1. Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food Subscription – Best Overall

    Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food Subscription

    Nom Nom’s dog food is our top pick as the best overall limited-ingredient dog food. Nom Nom has four dog food flavors available with limited ingredients and a single protein source. It’s ideal for dogs with food sensitivities, especially to specific proteins.

    Each recipe meets the AAFCO recommended nutrition levels, and Nom Nom employs two Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists to ensure their foods meet or exceed the nutritional needs of the average adult dog. However, these recipes may not be suitable for dogs with specific nutritional or medical needs, including puppies and elderly dogs.

    Each formula is made from human-grade ingredients and prepared to the same standard as human foods. Nom Nom uses a subscription-style ordering service that can be canceled anytime at no charge. You can try a sample pack that features each dog food flavor, allowing you to determine which is your dog’s favorite. Due to the high quality of the food and the subscription-style ordering process, Nom Nom retails for a higher price than many other dog foods.

    Pros
    • Four flavors available
    • Good option for dogs with food sensitivities
    • Meets or exceeds AAFCO recommendations
    • Human-grade ingredients
    • Subscription-style ordering process
    Cons
    • May not be ideal for all nutritional needs or medical conditions
    • Premium price

    2. Rachael Ray Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food – Budget Buy

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Out of all the dog foods we reviewed, Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food rose to the top of our list as the best limited-ingredient dog food for the money. The high-quality formula is much cheaper than most of the competition. It includes just six ingredients: lamb meal, brown rice, ground rice, dried plain beet pulp, chicken fat, and natural pork flavor. Almost all of these ingredients are high-quality options.

    The only ingredient we didn’t like was the ground rice, mostly because we didn’t know whether the rice was whole grain or not. Whole-grain rice is very nutritious for dogs, but white rice isn’t. We liked that the Nutrish formula is free from common allergens, even though chicken fat is included. However, chicken fat does not include any proteins, so your dog will not be allergic to it if they are allergic to chicken.

    Pros
    • Lamb meal as the first ingredient
    • Whole-grain brown rice included
    • Only ingredients
    • Free from allergens
    Cons
    • Low in protein at only 20%

    3. Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient – Best for Puppies

    SIMPLY NOURISH Puppy Salmon and Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

    If you have a puppy, you need to feed them food designed for puppies since they have particular nutrition requirements. Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dog Food is designed for puppies and only includes a few ingredients.

    The first ingredient is deboned salmon, which is followed by salmon meal. Both of these ingredients are high-quality. The “meal” signifier only means that the salmon has been cooked to remove much of the moisture, which is required when adding it to dry food. Otherwise, the formula wouldn’t be very dry.

    We also loved that this food is high in protein at 29%, which is fantastic for a dry formula. Simply Nourish also includes plenty of fatty acids, which are important for brain development. It doesn’t contain anything your puppy doesn’t need, either. It is made in the USA without fillers, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

    Pros
    • High-quality salmon as the first ingredient
    • High in protein and fat
    • Doesn’t contain fillers
    • Free from common allergens, like chicken
    Cons
    • Contains dried peas

    4. American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry

    American Journey Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is made from a single animal protein and is grain-free. Some grains and animal proteins are common allergens, so this feature makes American Journey perfect for dogs with allergies. Salmon is the animal protein used, appearing as the first and second ingredients.

    Salmon is full of vitamins and minerals your dog needs to thrive, like omega-3 fatty acids. Because of the high amount of salmon used, this food is also high in protein at 25%. It is free of ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors.

    Peas were the only ingredient we didn’t like, which appeared multiple times in the ingredient list. Peas may be connected to a health problem in dogs, but researchers are still investigating the matter. They are also high in protein but do not include all the amino acids our dogs need. Because of this, peas can artificially inflate the food’s protein level, which can be misleading for buyers.

    Pros
    • Protein and fat content are high
    • Salmon as the first ingredient
    • Free from artificial ingredients
    Cons
    • Includes peas

    5. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food

    Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Small Breed Bites Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food is made with premium, high-quality ingredients. Salmon is the first ingredient listed. This is a novel protein not commonly used in dog food. Dogs are unlikely to be allergic to it, making this a good option for dogs with allergies.

    The second ingredient, menhaden fish meal, is another high-quality component. It is full of omega-3s and other healthy fats, which is exactly what our dogs need to thrive. The last few ingredients are all veggies, which provide several vitamins and minerals.

    We love that Natural Balance does not include peas, pea protein, lentils, legumes, corn, wheat, or soy. The only thing we didn’t like is that it is a bit low in protein.  Still, almost all of the protein comes from animals, which is more than we can say for most dog foods on the market.

    Pros
    • Free from peas, pea protein, lentils, and other low-quality ingredients
    • Salmon as the first ingredient
    • Full of omega-3s
    • High-quality veggies included
    • Produced in the USA
    Cons
    • A bit low in protein

    6. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Food

    Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care

    For dogs that dislike salmon, Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is ideal. It uses turkey as the first ingredient, as well as turkey meal as the third. Turkey is a high-quality ingredient that isn’t as common as chicken or beef. Blue Buffalo doesn’t include chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, or eggs in the formula. It is free from artificial flavors and preservatives but not artificial colors, as you might have noticed.

    Blue Buffalo’s recipe is low in protein at 20%, which is one reason it scored lower on our list. It also includes several peas on the ingredient list, including whole peas, pea starch, pea fiber, and pea protein. Peas may be connected to dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart condition in dogs. The FDA is currently investigating the issue and has not made any conclusions.

    Pros
    • Turkey as the first ingredient
    • Free from common allergens
    • Free from artificial preservatives and flavors
    Cons
    • Low in protein
    • Contains a lot of peas

    7. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food

    Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food

    Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food is grain-free and made with only a few ingredients, which may make it the right choice for dogs sensitive to specific ingredients. We liked that Zignature uses farm-raised turkey from the USA. Turkey is a good source of protein and is also rich in selenium and phosphorus. It is low in saturated fat, making it a good choice for most dogs. Zignature’s formula is also free of common allergens like corn, wheat, soy, dairy, and chicken. Plus, it is formulated for adults and puppies.

    The protein content is exceptionally high at 35%, which can benefit energetic dogs. Our main turnoff is the inclusion of peas as the fourth ingredient. They may be linked to heart conditions in dogs when eaten in high amounts. The brand itself has also been linked to these heart conditions by the FDA.

    Pros
    • High in protein and fat
    • Includes high-quality turkey
    • Free from common allergens
    Cons
    • Includes peas
    • Zignature is linked to heart conditions by the FDA

    8. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Wellness Natural Pet Food Wellness Simple Natural Grain Free Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

    Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is designed for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs. It includes added probiotics and prebiotics, which may help dogs prone to gastrointestinal discomfort. Like many limited-ingredient dog foods, this one is made with salmon as the first ingredient. It is high in healthy fats, which our dogs need to thrive.

    The recipe does not include grains, gluten, or wheat. However, it contains flaxseed, which can improve the health of your dog’s skin. Unfortunately peas are fairly high on the list, as well as a few other controversial ingredients, like tomato pomace. While some dogs do fine with these ingredients, others do not.

    Pros
    • Salmon as the first ingredient
    • Free grain, gluten wheat
    • Flaxseed included
    Cons
    • Peas included
    • Tomato pomace included

    9. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe with Real Lamb Natural Dry Dog Food

    As far as dog foods go, Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food probably isn’t your best option. It is expensive despite not having any apparent benefit. We didn’t find the elevated price worth it in the least, which is one of the reasons it is rated much lower on our list.

    Instinct’s ingredient list is okay. It includes lamb meal and lamb as the first two ingredients, which are good protein sources for most dogs. However, it also includes peas and pea protein. Pea protein does not contain all the amino acids your dog needs to thrive, but it raises the protein content of the food. Furthermore, the formula doesn’t include much protein at only 24%. That is quite a bit lower than we would like to see. .

    We like that Instinct is made in the USA and is free of many common allergens found in dog food. It is also full of omega fatty acids and antioxidants.

    Pros
    • High in fat
    • Lamb as the only protein source
    • Free of common allergens
    Cons
    • Low in protein
    • Peas and pea protein included
    • Expensive

    10. Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

    Venture Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food is one of the most expensive dry dog foods on this list. It is much more expensive than most of the competition. This is likely because it includes rabbit as the first ingredient, which is a more expensive ingredient. However, most dogs don’t need to consume rabbit meat unless they’re allergic to everything else, which is very unlikely.

    However, Earthborn is free of grains, gluten, peas, legumes, lentils, potatoes, chicken, and eggs. These are common allergens in dogs and lower-quality ingredients. The recipe also contains taurine, which can help support your dog’s heart health. However, one of our favorite things about this dog food was the resealable bag.

    The fat and protein content in this recipe are a bit low. The fat is only 13%, while the protein is 26%. We would have liked to see them a bit higher, especially when considering the high price.

     

    Pros
    • Free of common allergens
    • Added taurine
    • Resealable bags
    Cons
    • Low in fat
    • Very expensive
    • Doesn’t seem to work for dogs with sensitive stomachs

    11. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Sensitive Support with Real Lamb & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

    While most limited-ingredient dog foods are expensive, Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is incredibly expensive. It isn’t the most expensive on the list, but it is pretty close. Furthermore, the bag is smaller than those of most brands.

    One reason the recipe is the last on the list is that it is only designed for larger dogs. Another reason is that it contains too many ingredients, even though it is technically a “limited ingredient” formula. In total, it includes 10 ingredients. While that isn’t necessarily too high, it may be unsuitable for dogs with allergies.

    However, Nutro uses high-quality ingredients. Deboned lamb is the first ingredient and lamb meal is the second. However, some possibly troublesome ingredients, such as lentils, are also included. The ingredients are non-GMO, however, which is always a good thing.

    Pros
    • Uses lamb as the first ingredient
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Many ingredients
    • Low protein
    • Includes some low-quality ingredients

    divider-paw

    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food

    A lot goes into choosing the perfect dog food for your pup. It can be quite complicated, in fact, especially for the uninitiated. To help you make the best decision possible, we’ll explain some of the critical factors below.

    Protein and Fat Content in Dog Food

    Our dogs are made to thrive on a diet mostly made up of protein and fat. Studies have shown that dogs eat mostly fat and protein when allowed to choose their own diet. The protein content in dog food should be taken into consideration when choosing a formula for your canine.

    When it comes to commercial dog food, you are unlikely to find a brand that is too high in protein.

    dog eating dog food
    Image Credit: cottonbro, Unsplash

    The FDA Investigation and Peas

    The FDA is currently investigating ingredients that may contribute to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which is a severe heart condition that leads to death without treatment. This disease occurs in some dogs and has been occurring for some time. However, the recent increase has been linked to diet, particularly “grain-free” foods.

    When the FDA examined the cases closely, canines seemed to be at a higher risk if their food included peas, lentils, potatoes, or similar foods. It is unknown why these foods are linked to DCM (or if they are connected to the disease). However, there seems to be a correlation.

    This is troublesome because MANY grain-free dog foods include peas. They are cheap veggies that are also high in protein.

    Dog Food Ingredient Quality

    The quality of ingredients is also essential to consider when choosing dog food. Preferably, meat should be listed as the first ingredient. Our dogs evolved to eat mostly meat, and they continue to thrive off of it today.

    Meat should also be as high-quality as possible. Meat meals are okay as long as the source is listed. “Chicken meal” is fine, but “meat meal” is not. This is because it could be anything. By-products are also beneficial if their source is listed but are a bit lower quality than other ingredients. However, they are not harmful to your pup.

    The quality of veggies is also essential. As previously discussed, peas, potatoes, and lentils have been linked with a severe canine heart condition, so they should be avoided if possible. White, processed grains are also a poor option. They do not include very many nutrients, but whole grains can benefit dogs. Dogs evolved to eat grains and can digest them fine; you just don’t want grains as the main ingredient in your pet’s food.

    How Dog Allergies Work

    If you’re looking for limited-ingredient dog food, the odds are that your puppy has allergies. Allergies in dogs develop differently from allergies in people. Dogs develop an allergy to protein after they have been exposed to it chronically for an extended period. For example, a dog fed the same chicken dog food for several years may develop a food allergy to chicken.

    Some breeds are more prone to developing an allergy than others. However, any dog can develop a food allergy. When a dog develops a food allergy, the adverse reactions are usually skin-related. The dog may get very itchy, especially on their paws. They may insistently bite and chew their paws, which can create sores. These sores will likely not heal without treatment since your dog is still licking and chewing them. A secondary development can develop in these sores, which can cause even more problems.

    After being diagnosed with a food allergy, a dog may need to consume a limited-ingredient diet. Because food allergies occur after repeated exposure, it is usually in your dog’s best interest to switch their food often. This will diversify their diet and prevent them from being overexposed to a specific protein.

    FAQ: Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food

    Below, you’ll find the answers to some of the most common questions regarding limited-ingredient dog foods.

    What is a limited ingredient dog food?

    These recipes are made with very few ingredients and are developed for dogs with allergies. However, there is no strict definition of what “limited ingredient” means. It may mean a dog food has ten ingredients or four. It just depends on the brand. Furthermore, the ingredients do not include added vitamins and minerals.

    Is a Limited-Ingredient Dog Food Good for Dogs?

    Limited-ingredient formulas are for dogs that can’t eat anything else without developing allergies. If your dog doesn’t have allergies, they can eat standard recipes. For dogs without allergies, we recommend not choosing a limited-ingredient diet.

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    Conclusion: Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food

    The best limited-ingredient dog food on the market is Nom Nom’s dog food. Each recipe meets the AAFCO recommended nutrition levels, but Certified Veterinary Nutritionists ensure their foods exceed the nutritional needs of the average adult dog. For those on tighter budgets, the Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food is also a good option.

    We hope this article helped you find the best limited-ingredient dog food for your canine. Finding food for a dog with allergies can be difficult, but it is possible with our reviews and buyer’s guide.


    Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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