You’ve heard of limited ingredient dog food — but what is it exactly, and is it right for your canine patients?
Limited ingredient dog foods are made with a minimal number of ingredients to reduce allergic reactions and food intolerances while still providing complete and balanced nutrition. Also called limited antigen dog foods, these diets have one to a few high quality proteins, and one to a few carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, or starches, though some veterinarians consider limited ingredient foods to be those containing only one protein and one carb.
RECOGNIZING LIMITED INGREDIENT DOG FOOD
Although commercially-available limited ingredient recipes have improved over the years, no official definition exists for limited ingredient foods. Originally, limited ingredient diets were not available commercially, but manufacturers started producing them at the request of vets implementing elimination diets. Look for these characteristics in limited ingredient dog food:
• Simple, high quality ingredients
• Single protein
• No fillers from animal by-products, beet pulp, corn, and wheat
• Often grain-free
• No preservatives or additives
A few things to avoid include:
• General descriptions such as “poultry”, which can mean turkey, chicken, or any other fowl
• Food dyes, artificial flavors, and preservatives
• By-products or vague ingredients like “chicken meal”
• Fillers like tapioca, soy, and corn
WHAT IS THE BEST LIMITED INGREDIENT DOG FOOD FOR ALLERGIES?
Examine the label’s guaranteed analysis, which provides maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture and minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, to ensure the food is balanced.
It’s also important to find a food that’s minimally processed to ensure the bioavailability and preservation of nutrients. Raw or gently cooked diets are usually less processed than conventional canned or kibble diets.
Next, look for these characteristics:
• The food should contain only one protein.
• Look for novel whole proteins such as game meat, buffalo, kangaroo, pheasant, venison, and duck.
• Look for novel carbs such as squash, amaranth, millet, and quinoa.
• The food should include zinc, copper, and selenium, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and B6 to support the immune system in the gut.
IS LIMITED INGREDIENT DOG FOOD RIGHT FOR YOUR PATIENTS?
Keep in mind that foods cause less than 10% of dog allergies, yet are frequently the first source held responsible for skin and other issues. However, a limited ingredient diet of sustainably raised protein and carbs can often soothe skin and digestive irritations and possibly pre-empt some health problems.