If you want to give your dog a healthier diet, one way to achieve that is with a limited ingredient dog food. Limited ingredient diets generally contain fewer or no fillers and are often grain-free. In this article, we are taking a look at the best limited ingredient dog foods out there.
However, unless your dog has been diagnosed by a veterinarian as having celiac disease or a grain allergy or sensitivity, a grain-free diet is unnecessary. With that being said, keeping your dog on one of the market’s best limited ingredient dog foods is perfectly fine, as long as you take them for routine vet visits that include yearly blood work. We have more information about when a limited ingredient dog food is suitable after our top picks section.
Top Picks: 7 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Choosing the best limited ingredient dog food for your pet isn’t an exact science and may take a few tries. This is especially true if you have a picky pup. We have chosen the top seven best limited ingredient dog food choices and why each selection is the top of its kind.
- Best Overall: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Adult HP. If your pup has protein enzyme sensitivities, this is the dog food you need to ask your vet about.
- Best Grain-Free: Party Animal California Chicken & Oats Recipe. This entirely grain and gluten free formula is made in small batches by a proud mom and pop brand.
- Best Canned: CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Petite Fricassee Style Dinner. Made for small breeds, this tasty meal contains turkey and green beans.
- Best Dry: Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Venison Formula. This is a grain-free recipe with limited carbs and no artificial flavors or colors.
- Best for Allergies: Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Duck Formula. This formula features cage-free duck as a single source of poultry protein with six key ingredients.
- Best Raw: Stella & Chewy’s Dandy Lamb Dinner Patties. Stella & Chewy’s is a complete and balanced formula enhanced with probiotics to aid in healthy digestion.
- Best Fish Formula: The Honest Kitchen Fish Recipe. This delicious recipe contains no by-products, preservatives, GMO ingredients, hormones, or antibiotics.
1. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Adult HP
The best limited ingredient dog food overall
Brand: Royal Canin | Type: Dry | Protein: Hydrolyzed Protein | Nutritional Information: Contains Grain / Pea-Free | Price: 💰💰
This premium diet is only purchasable with a prescription from your veterinarian. Its formula helps pups who suffer from tummy troubles, hair loss, and itching due to food sensitivities. This highly palatable food uses hydrolyzed proteins, which break down into tiny pieces, so they’re quickly absorbed. These little pieces also have less risk of triggering an immune reaction than traditional proteins. B vitamins, amino acids, and omega-3 fatty acids support healthy skin and coat. This food also features an exclusive blend of fibers to help promote healthy digestion.
- Excellent choice for dogs with protein intolerance
- Seems to improve coat and skin on many dogs on the diet
- Works great on dogs with sensitive stomachs, no more digestive issues
- Terrible smell
- Cheap zipper enclosure on large bag breaks easily
- Formula change is noticeable and causes digestive issues in some dogs
2. Party Animal California Chicken & Oats Recipe
The best grain-free limited ingredient dog food
Brand: Party Animal | Type: Dry | Protein: Chicken | Nutritional Information: Grain-Free | Price: 💰💰
This wholesome recipe features USDA-certified organic chicken as the very first ingredient for a healthy source of protein to help maintain your pup’s lean muscle mass. Organic fruits and vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds provide great sources of natural antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and folic acid to keep your dog active all day.
- Pet owners love the use of organic ingredients
- Even the pickiest of pups seem to love Party Animal
- Owners love that it’s made by a small company in the USA
- Its price is not owners’ favorite but all seem to think it’s worth the cost
- One pet owner complained that the bag was ripped when it was taken out of the shipping box
3. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Petite Fricassee Style Dinner
The best limited ingredient canned dog food
Brand: CANIDAE | Type: Wet | Protein: Turkey | Nutritional Information: Grain-Free | Price: 💰
This fricassee-style dinner with turkey and green beans is formulated for picky pups. It is a simple, limited-ingredient diet that is perfect for sensitive stomachs. Canidae fricassee dinners are made in the USA and are free from corn, wheat, soy, and carrageenan. Each container is a perfect portion size for small dogs. Mix it with dry food or serve it alone for a tasty meal your little nugget will love.
- Convenient single-servings trays
- Even the most finicky pups love it
- Looks like real food; owners like that it doesn’t look like over-processed dog food
- Formula contains rosemary extract, which is not ideal for seizure-prone dogs
- Contains turkey and chicken, which can be irritants for dogs with sensitive stomachs
4. Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Venison Formula
The best limited ingredient dry dog food
Brand: Natural Balance | Type: Dry | Protein: Deer Venison | Nutritional Information: Grain-Free | Price: 💰💰
This limited ingredient diet recipe includes a single protein source. With a limited list of high-quality, complex carbohydrate sources, this recipe helps maintain your dog’s digestive health and balance. Natural Balance L.I.D. contains balanced omega-3 and 6 fatty acids that help maintain healthy skin and a luxurious coat. They never include artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, so you can feel good about feeding your favorite pooch this wholesome diet.
- Noticeable improvements to coat and skin
- Seems to alleviate allergy symptoms from food allergies
- Households with multiple dogs are likely to enjoy the kibble
- Kibble pieces are pretty large, so make sure your little guy can handle the bites
- Only comes in bag sizes up to 26 pounds; some owners would like a bigger bag
5. Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Duck Formula
The best limited ingredient dry dog food for allergies
Brand: Go! | Type: Dry | Protein: Duck | Nutritional Information: Grain-Free | Price: 💰💰
Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Duck Grain-Free Dry Dog Food provides your furry friend with the daily nutrition they need to keep going strong. Formulated for pups with specific dietary needs, it features cage-free duck as a single source of poultry protein. It is made with as few ingredients as possible. This grain, gluten, and potato free recipe includes prebiotic fiber from dried chicory root to support sensitive stomachs with omega oils for a healthy skin and coat. It also contains no by-product meals, wheat, corn, or soy for the safety of your dog.
- Improves skin condition and reduces itchiness
- Seems easily digestible for dogs in all life stages
- Good choice for pups who have suffered from pancreatitis
- Formula changes over the past couple of years
- Recent price increase and a change from 25 to 22-pound bags
6. Stella & Chewy’s Dandy Lamb Dinner Patties
The best limited ingredient raw dog food
Brand: Stella & Chewy’s | Type: Freeze-Dried | Protein: Lamb | Nutritional Information: Grain-Free | Price: 💰💰💰
Based on the philosophy that dogs thrive on the same diet they would eat in the wild, this all-natural recipe makes it easy to feed your pup similarly to their ancestors. Made from sustainably-sourced ingredients and raw, single-source protein, this recipe starts with 95% grass-fed lamb, organs, and bone, plus 100% certified organic fruits and vegetables. Stella & Chewy is offering the benefits of raw food nutrition with the convenience of freeze-dried preparation. With freeze-dried, raw diets, do not heat the food up. If you want to rehydrate the patty, use tepid water; never hot water, and never cook the food.
- Really smells like lamb and looks like real food
- One owner says that it perked up their 14-year-old dog
- Includes probiotics to aid in healthy digestion since digesting raw meat can be difficult for some breeds
- Some owners say that the patties were stale
- The price is a bit steep for some owners, but most say it’s worth it
7. The Honest Kitchen Fish Recipe
The best limited ingredient fish formula
Brand: The Honest Kitchen | Type: Dehydrated | Protein: White Fish | Nutritional Information: Gluten-Free | Price: 💰💰💰
The Honest Kitchen follows strict FDA standards for human foods, including over 100 manufacturing and quality control regulations. Their pet foods are produced in a human food facility right next to products meant for people. As one of the world’s first human-grade pet food companies, The Honest Kitchen is committed to making high quality, safe and nutritious products for your pets. A note about dehydrated pet foods: the dehydration process removes moisture from food, making it compact and nutritionally dense. Therefore, a 4-pound box makes 16 pounds of fresh food.
- Most pups lick the bowl clean and beg for more
- Easier to consume and digest than dry kibble for some dogs
- Some dogs have improved coat and skin and less itching and redness
- Price, but most owners who grumble about price agree it’s worth it
- Overwhelming, the biggest and only real complaint is the potent fish smell
What to Look For in the Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food
There are many factors to consider when selecting the best grain-free limited ingredient dog food for your canine. We broke the top seven best limited ingredient foods into categories to help owners see the variables to consider, like type of food, proteins, and digestive issues. There is no one perfect food for each dog. However, you can take our suggestions and try a new diet that will benefit your BFF. We will always recommend speaking with your veterinarian before making any diet changes.
Why Are You Making the Switch?
Many owners try limited ingredient diets because of a few reasons:
- Sensitivity to common ingredients in more mainstream diets
- Allergy to specific types of proteins
- Performing a diet trial to rule out gut irritants and food allergens
- Personal preference
It is best to consult with a veterinarian when making a diet switch to ensure that the transition goes smoothly. Whether you get the sign-off from your vet or not, the key to switching foods is to do it gradually. If your dog rarely suffers from gastrointestinal issues, you should take no fewer than 7 days to transition to the new food. Gradually combine your dog’s new diet in with their current food and slowly change the ratio over the course of a week. Doing this reduces the risk of tummy upset when switching foods. If you are transitioning from dry to wet, this will be quite a treat for your pup! If you are going from one wet food to another, it is not necessary to mix the two wet foods together while transitioning.
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If your dog is switching to a therapeutic diet prescribed by their veterinarian, you do not have to transition to the new food unless otherwise instructed. Dogs with sensitive stomachs should be given upwards of two weeks to transition to a new diet. Watch for signs of distress such as:
- Anorexia (not wanting to eat)
Compiling a best-of list can be difficult — deciding on criteria and rating metrics, weeding through hundreds of products, and then articulating the list from a place of knowledge and experience.
This reviewer has several years of veterinary experience and education and can speak intelligently on the topic of dog nutrition. Even so, we read hundreds of reviews (both positive and negative) from multiple sources in order to compare data and create our list of the top 7 best grain-free limited ingredient dog foods available for purchase.