Limited Ingredient Food for Dogs – What Are They And Their Purposes?

While looking for pet food in your local pet store, you might have come across some that have a label “Limited Ingredient” on the package. Or maybe your friends or your local veterinarian had recommended you about them due to your dog’s food allergy concerns and they have recommended feeding your dogs some trial food, and now you are wondering how you can buy a good alternative over the counter limited ingredient food rather than buying expensive ones.

Limited Ingredient Food for Dogs

What Exactly Are “limited ingredient”, and Would It Be Good for Your Dogs?

Limited ingredients in pet food had been gaining popularity over the years due to consumer concerns about food allergies and sensitivities to various ingredients amongst dogs. A food allergy in dogs means that they are responding to food allergens. These allergens are commonly known to cause hypersensitivity:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Soy

Itchy skin, skin infections, hair loss, flatulence, diarrhea, and vomiting are amongst the most common allergic reactions to food in dogs. Adverse reactions to food that are spoiled, containing certain additives or preservatives, mold on food (Aflatoxins), on the other hand, is called Ingredient Sensitivities.

It can mean that the food has lesser amounts of ingredients in comparison to the standard kibble or the standard over the counter dog food. A limited ingredient means that the food is made and contains only one protein, carbohydrate, and/or fat.

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What Are the Purposes of Limited Ingredients in Dogs

When you don’t know what type of food is making your dog sick, a veterinarian might suggest an 8-10 wee diet trial. Dogs during this time are not allowed to eat anything but the prescribed food, these include treats, flavored pills, people, and NADA. If by then they are not sick, then food allergy is what’s making them sick.

A diet trial is where the dog has to eat something it has never eaten before. A hydrolyzed diet or novel protein diet is what the veterinarian will prescribe during the diagnosis. The hydrolyzed diet uses high-pressure water to break proteins down into smaller pieces, and in doing so, the immune system of the dog will no longer react to them.

On the other hand, the novel protein diet is a type of food that contains a novel protein and carbs that your dog has never eaten before or been exposed to before.

Many versions of these food combinations exist today, these can range from alligator and rice to venison or rabbit. Both of these diets are made with care to remove potential allergens that can make your dog sick.

But What’s the Catch?

This limited ingredient food for dogs can sometimes be too heavy for the owner’s pockets making them hesitant to buy them. Even though that this is a type of investment to ensure your dog’s overall health is healthy, pet owners sometimes would opt not to purchase them.

These diets are pricey because they are specifically made and produced in comparison to the standard, over the counter dog food that is available in the market. These standard, over the counter dog food, won’t care whether very small piece food allergens get into the food.

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Limited Ingredient Dog Foods are Very Much Welcome

Limited ingredient diets enter the stage! According to AAFCO, the limited ingredient does not have any official definition. The American Association of Feed Control Officials. The meaning of “limited ingredient” is different from how they are defined by the individual companies that use it to market their food.

The main thing that consumers notice is these foods cost less than the veterinarian recommended hydrolyzed and novel protein diets.

You are guaranteed to be getting what you pay for but keep in mind that it is challenging to get a limited allergen diet at your local pet stores because commercial pet foods may actually contain more than the ingredients that are listed. Additionally, the rollers may not be cleaned thoroughly or dedicated to the way prescription diets tell them to do that are clinically indicated for diet trials are.

If you opted to use over counter dog food for a food elimination diet, chances of you wasting your precious resources are significantly higher or worse, prolonging suffering for your dog.

Our Final Thoughts

Limited ingredient diets, as long as they have the words “certified by AAFCO to be complete and balanced” in their packaging, can be fed to almost any dog breeds (including those in our post on dog breeds start with V). That certification tells us that the food you are about to buy contains the right mix of protein, carbs, fat, and essential vitamins, and minerals to improve or support your dog’s overall health.

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If your dog is loving it, has an AAFCO certification to be complete and balanced, and it is from a brand you love and trust, then by all means, go for it!