Top 10 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

Top 10 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

There is a lot that can be said about improper canine nutrition, bad digestion, and sensitive stomachs. Even though most dogs have a healthy appetite, they can also suffer from food sensitivities or allergies that upset their tummy and cause a range of symptoms, from itchy skin to diarrhea. Luckily, if you opt for a quality limited ingredient dog food formula, you can solve most, if not all, of their stomach and food allergy issues. Limited ingredient dog food is formulated to have fewer ingredients without compromising on the nutritional value – mostly, they just exclude harmful fillers and artificial ingredients, and focus on the good stuff, often opting for novel protein to minimize allergen potential.

If you’re unsure which limited ingredient dog food is the best for your pet, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of the 10 best limited ingredient dog foods that are specifically designed to help dogs with food sensitivities, allergies, bad digestion, and other, similar health issues.

The 10 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods


Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Chicken & Brown Rice Puppy Recipe – Best for Puppies

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Chicken & Brown Rice Puppy Recipe

Main ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, brown rice
Protein content: 24%
Fat content: 12%
Calories: 370 kcal/cup

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Chicken & Brown Rice Puppy Recipe contains your puppy’s necessary ingredients to grow healthy and strong. Real chicken is the first ingredient, and the brown rice provides a sufficient amount of fiber (4%). This limited-ingredients formula only contains what your puppy needs, such as an excellent protein source, healthy grains, and no gluten.

It contains fish oil that aids in your puppy’s brain development, and it’s suitable for all breeds big and small. It’s more affordable than other dog foods on our list, and it’s available in a 4-pound bag or a 24-pound bag.

If your pup has a chicken allergy, Natural Balance offers other sources of protein, such as lamb or salmon. Some consumers reported that this food gave their puppy diarrhea, so it’s wise to monitor your pup, as the food may not work for all puppies.

  • Contains fish oil for brain development
  • Gluten-free
  • Real chicken is first ingredient
  • Affordable
  • May give some pups diarrhea

Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice – Best Value

Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice

Main ingredients: Lamb meal, brown rice
Protein content: 20%
Fat content: 13%
Calories: 325 kcal/cup

Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice has only six natural ingredients, with lamb meal being the first. Lamb meal is high in protein and has less water than fresh lamb meat, but it’s a terrific alternative for a protein source for dogs that have allergies to beef or chicken. It does contain chicken fat, which is not considered a chicken allergy due to its lack of protein.

Plenty of vitamins and minerals are added to this food, including taurine, an amino acid that promotes eye and heart health. This food is gluten-free and free from artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. This dry kibble is for adult dogs and comes in several bag sizes: a 6-pound bag, 14-pound bag, 28-pound bag, or a bundle of 2, 28-pound bags at a reasonable price compared to its competitors.

The kibble size may be too large for smaller dogs, and it may cause increased thirst in some dogs. However, with its natural limited ingredients, added vitamins and minerals, gluten-free formula, and reasonable price, this food comes in as the best limited ingredient dog food for the money.

  • Kibble may be too big for smaller dogs
  • May cause increased thirst
  • Gluten-free
  • Affordable
  • 6 natural ingredients
  • Lamb is the first ingredient
  • Multiple bag size choices

The Farmer’s Dog – Best Overall

the farmers dog chicken greens

Main ingredients: Beef, turkey, chicken, and pork
Protein content: 39% (beef recipe), 33% (turkey recipe), 46% (chicken recipe), and 36% (pork recipe)
Fat content: 29% (beef), 19% (turkey), 34% (chicken), and 28% (pork)
Calories: 721 kcal/cup (beef), 562 kcal/cup (turkey), 590 kcal/cup (chicken), and 621 kcal/cup (pork)

The Farmer’s Dog uses the freshest human-grade ingredients possible to formulate healthy dog food, and they even deliver the food right to your doorstep. When you buy from The Farmer’s Dog, you will not receive burnt brown balls, but rather fresh food that your dog deserves.

The company offers four different recipes: beef, turkey, chicken, and pork. All food is prepared in USDA kitchens and adheres to AAFCO’s nutritional standards. The food is quickly frozen for shipping and delivered to your door in pre-portioned packages. The limited ingredients come from trusted local farms and reputable food suppliers that follow USDA standards. All food is 100% complete and balanced and catered to your dog’s needs. The healthy ingredients you’ll find are carrots, broccoli, spinach, chickpeas, kale, beef liver, sweet potatoes, lentils, Brussels sprouts, and chicken liver, all depending on the recipe.

To start, you’ll answer a few questions about your dog, and they will formulate a meal plan they feel will benefit your dog the most, depending on your answers. Customer service is stellar, along with the food, making it our pick for the best overall limited ingredient dog food. This food subscription is expensive, but the quality is worth the expense.

Disclaimer: Note the term “human-grade” is not legally regulated and serves largely marketing purposes only.

  • Expensive
  • Adheres to USDA standards
  • All fresh and human-grade ingredients
  • 100% complete and balanced
  • Excellent customer service

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

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

Main ingredients: Deboned salmon, salmon meal, peas
Protein content: 25%
Fat content: 12%
Calories: 327 kcal/cup

If your dog has an allergy to grains and you need grain-free, American Journey Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food may be worth a try. Deboned salmon is the first ingredient, and it offers plenty of carbs with peas and sweet potatoes. It has sunflower oil and flaxseed that provide omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, and it has no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors.

Peas are a bit controversial due to the ongoing study to determine if peas cause heart disease in dogs, but this has not yet been confirmed.

The smell of this food is quite pungent due to the salmon, and it may cause soft stools in some dogs. Some dogs may produce more stools in a day than usual from eating this food.

Disclaimer: Grain-free diets are not ideal for every dog. Grains are beneficial to most dogs unless they have an allergy. We advise you to consult your veterinarian before switching your dog to a grain-free diet.

  • Deboned salmon is first ingredient
  • Grain-free for dogs with allergies
  • Contains omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Some dogs may produce soft stools
  • Smell of food is strong and pungent
  • Some dogs may produce several stools in a day

Nom Nom

Nomnom Pork Potluck dog food

Main ingredients: Beef, chicken, pork, turkey (4 separate recipes)
Protein content: 8% (beef recipe), 8.5% (chicken recipe), 7% (pork recipe), and 10% (turkey recipe)
Fat content: 4% (beef), 6% (chicken), 5% (pork), and 5% (turkey)
Calories: 182 kcal/cup (beef), 206 kcal/cup (chicken), 177 kcal/cup (pork), and 201 kcal/cup (turkey)

Nom Nom is a fresh dog food delivery service. The founders recruited board-certified veterinary nutritionists to formulate this healthy dog food, and the results are fresh food with limited ingredients and no fillers, artificial flavors, or by-products. After entering your dog’s info, such as weight, breed, activity level, etc., Nom Nom will create a meal plan just for your dog. All recipes have their own fresh ingredients, such as carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and much more.

Unlike most fresh dog food delivery services, you don’t have to subscribe for your dog to enjoy this food because it’s available at certain pet food stores across the country. You can also order samples of all four recipes from the website before committing without a subscription.

It comes frozen in dry ice, and all meals come pre-portioned. All you have to do is thaw it and serve it. It is 100% complete and balanced and fortified with vitamins and minerals your dog requires on a daily basis. They offer discounts for multi-dog households, and you’ll receive perks as a subscriber, such as free surprises from time to time within deliveries, and early notifications on new recipes, treats, and supplements.

This food is expensive, but the quality ingredients make it worthwhile if it fits into your budget.

  • Discounts for multi-dog households
  • Uses only fresh ingredients
  • 100% complete and balanced
  • Samples available without a subscription
  • Expensive

Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe – Vet’s Choice

Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe

Main ingredients: Organic chicken, organic chicken meal, organic oatmeal
Protein content: 26%
Fat content: 15%
Calories: 383 kcal/cup

Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe is a blend of superfoods, including blueberries, organic sweet potatoes, and organic flaxseed. USDA-certified organic chicken is the first ingredient, and the chicken comes from free-range chickens with no added hormones. This food contains coconut oil and healthy grains to promote a healthy digestive system. It has a 3.5% fiber content and contains no artificial preservatives.

This USDA organic dry kibble is suitable for all breeds and sizes, and it’s crafted with non-GMO ingredients and vitamins and minerals that dogs need to live happy and healthy.

Some consumers report tummy issues with their dogs after eating this food. Oatmeal is one of the main ingredients and may not work well for all dogs. It is also expensive, but you have three bag size choices: 4-pound, 10-pound, or an 18-pound bag.

  • Uses free-range chicken with no added hormones
  • Organic ingredients
  • Contains a blend of superfoods
  • Contains coconut oil for easy digestion
  • Expensive
  • May cause tummy issues in some dogs

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Lamb

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Lamb

Main ingredients: Lamb meal, lamb, tapioca
Protein content: 24%
Fat content: 21.5%
Calories: 496 kcal/cup

If your dog loves the taste of lamb, Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe could be an excellent option for a limited ingredient dog food. This food works well for dogs with food allergies to grains or corn, and it contains no wheat or soy. This food has only one animal protein (lamb) and one vegetable (peas). The raw-coated kibble is freeze-dried, and it retains all of the vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It also omits dairy, eggs, and potatoes.

Some dog parents report that this food makes their dogs vomit and have diarrhea, so it may not work for all dogs. This food is also pricey, but you have the choice between a 4-pound bang and a 20-pound bag.

Disclaimer: Grain-free diets are not ideal for every dog. Grains are beneficial to most dogs unless they have an allergy. We advise you to consult your veterinarian before switching your dog to a grain-free diet.

  • No dairy, eggs, or potatoes
  • Grain-free for those with grain allergies
  • Freeze-dried, raw coated kibble to retain nutrients
  • Plenty of vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants
  • Causes vomiting and diarrhea in some dogs
  • Expensive

ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains

ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains

Main ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal
Protein content: 27%
Fat content: 17%
Calories: 371 kcal/cup

ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food is loaded with fiber (6%) and serves doggies that need extra fiber in their diet well. It contains pumpkin, oats, butternut squash, and wholesome grains for optimal gut health, and it has no gluten or legumes for doggies with allergies to those foods. There are no artificial flavors or preservatives, and the lamb is grass-fed.

A downside is the food may look old and dried out. It is also expensive. However, if your dog is not a lamb fan, ACANA offers other flavors that may be more suitable for your canine pal.

  • Grass-fed lamb is first ingredient
  • High fiber content
  • Gluten-free
  • No preservatives or artificial flavors
  • Expensive
  • Kibble may appear old and dried out

NUTRO SO SIMPLE Adult Beef & Rice Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food

NUTRO SO SIMPLE Adult Beef & Rice Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food

Main ingredients: Beef, whole grain brown rice
Protein content: 22%
Fat content: 14%
Calories: 388 kcal/cup

NUTRO SO SIMPLE Adult Beef & Rice Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food is just what the name states—simple. This natural adult dog food uses only a handful of non-GMO ingredients, and real beef is the first ingredient listed. It’s loaded with natural flavors, vitamins, and minerals through flaxseeds, eggs, and whole grains.

Dog parents with picky eaters report that their dog will not eat the food, but most dogs seem to enjoy the taste. It is one of the more affordable limited ingredient dog foods on the list, and you can choose either a 4-pound bag or an 11-pound bag for a reasonable price.

It does contain peas, which is a controversial ingredient due to the ongoing study of peas possibly contributing to heart disease in dogs. This study, however, has not yet been confirmed.

  • Full of vitamins and minerals
  • Affordable
  • All-natural dog food
  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • Beef is first ingredient
  • Contains peas, a possible controversial ingredient
  • Tough sale for picky eaters

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet with Healthy Grains Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet with Healthy Grains Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe

Main ingredients: Deboned salmon, salmon meal, brown rice
Protein content: 24%
Fat content: 14%
Calories: 384 kcal/cup

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet with Healthy Grains Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe is an excellent option for dogs with sensitive stomachs. This food is formulated to aid with digestive issues using nine key components: deboned salmon, salmon meal, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, sweet potatoes, sunflower oil, natural flavor, and flaxseed. It also contains plenty of vitamins and minerals to round out this nutritional yet gentle formula.

It’s a little more affordable than its competitors, and it comes in a 12-pound bag or a 22-pound bag. There are no peas, dairy, eggs, wheat, or soy in this food, so you’re good to go if your dog has allergies to these foods.

Sometimes the kibble size may be inconsistent, meaning it may be light and large one time and dark and small the next. However, there should be no change in the formula or the taste for your pooch.

  • Uses 9 wholesome ingredients
  • Deboned salmon is first ingredient
  • Gentle formula for sensitive stomachs
  • Affordable
  • Kibble size and color are inconsistent

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

There is a lot that 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 explain some of the critical factors to keep in mind when choosing a dog food below.

The FDA Investigation and Peas

  • The FDA is currently investigating an increasing number of canine dilated cardiomyopathy, 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 looked at the cases closer, canines seemed to be at a higher risk if their food included peas, lentils, potatoes, or other similar foods. It is unknown why these foods are linked to CDM (or if they are connected to the disease at all). However, at the time, there does seem to be some correlation.
  • This is troublesome because MANY grain-free dog foods include peas. They are cheap veggies that are also high in protein.

Protein and Fat Content in Dog Food

  • Our dogs are made to thrive on a diet that is mostly made up of protein and fat. Studies have shown that dogs choose to eat mostly fat and protein when allowed to choose their own diet. Typically, when given the option to select their own food, animals choose a composition that they’ll strive on. Because of this, this study likely gave us a good idea of what diet we should feed our pooch.
  • Because of this study, we put a heavy emphasis on how much protein and fat are in commercial dog food, and you should too. How much protein is in dog food is essential and should be taken into consideration when choosing a dog food for your canine.
  • However, it is surprisingly difficult to find a dog food that is high in protein and fat. Most commercial dog foods are high in carbohydrates, which is not something our dogs thrive on. Because of this, it is essential to check any dog food before you purchase it. You should find a dog food that contains as much protein and fat as you can.
  • When it comes to commercial dog food, you are not going to find a dog food that is too high in protein.

Dog Food Ingredient Quality

  • The quality of ingredients is also essential to consider when you’re choosing a dog food. Preferably, you want some form of meat to 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. Whole meat is always the preferable option. However, meat meal is also okay as long as the source is listed. “Chicken meal” is fine, but “meat meal” is not. This is because it could be anything. Let’s not feed our dogs mystery meat.
  • By-products are okay as long as their source is listed, but they are a bit lower quality than other options. They aren’t preferably. However, they are not harmful to your pup either.
  • The quality of veggies is also essential. As we have 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. These grains do not include very many nutrients in the least. However, whole grains can be nutritionally helpful for our dogs and are a good choice for many canines. Dogs evolved to eat grains and can digest them just 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 a 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 that has been fed the same chicken dog food for his whole life is likely to 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 if they are exposed to the same protein over and over again.
  • When a dog does develop a food allergy, symptoms 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 set up in these sores, which can cause even more problems.
  • After being diagnosed with a food allergy, dogs will need to avoid their allergen. They will probably need their dog food changed to one that does not include whichever protein they’re allergic to. Luckily, there are many different limited ingredient diets out there for these dogs.
  • The best way to prevent food allergies is to feed your dog with a variety of different foods. 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.

What is a limited ingredient dog food?

  • These dog foods are made with very few ingredients. They’re aimed at dogs with allergies. Some dogs will allergies have significant problems finding food they can eat. These limited foods help with that.
  • 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 counted ingredients do not include added vitamins and minerals. Dogs cannot become allergic to these things, though, so you don’t have to worry about them.

Is a limited ingredient dog food good for dogs?

  • Not all dogs. This food is for dogs who can’t eat anything else without developing allergies. If you have a dog without allergies, eating a limited ingredient dog food may cause them to develop allergies. This is because these foods usually only include one source of protein. Because of the lack of diversity in their diet, your dog may eventually develop an allergy to the main protein in their limited ingredient dog food.
  • For dogs without allergies, we recommend not choosing a limited ingredient diet.

How can I diagnose a food allergy in my dog?

The only way to determine if your dog has a food allergy is to go on an elimination diet trial or, better yet, see a vet who can also run tests to diagnose potential allergies/rule out certain conditions. In any case, you should switch your dog’s regular food (the one that seems to lead to problems) to a diet without the suspected allergen (hypoallergenic dog food) and closely watch his behavior.

Final Thoughts

For the best overall limited ingredient dog food, The Farmer’s Dog combines fresh ingredients in pre-portioned packages for optimal health. Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice provides high protein with limited ingredients at the best value. Nom Nom is 100% complete and balanced with fresh ingredients.

We hope our reviews help with your search. Good luck and happy searching!

Edward Hollon is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Edward has been writing for petdii for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Edward has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Edward knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.