Heed these takeaways:
- Limited-ingredient diets are designed for dogs with food allergies and intolerances.
- They typically feature one source of protein and carbohydrates, and commonly use novel protein sources.
- However, food allergies are quite rare and most dogs don’t need to be fed a limited-ingredient diet.
- Switching to a high-quality pet food can help solve your pup’s skin problems and digestive issues.
Just when you thought choosing dog food couldn’t get any more confusing, along comes a new feeding trend: limited-ingredient diets.
You’ve probably noticed more and more limited-ingredient dog foods popping up on the shelves of your local pet store recently. They’re a direct response to the increasing number of pet parents who have become concerned that their pups may suffer from food allergies and intolerances.
But what exactly is a limited-ingredient dog food? How does it work? And does your pup need a limited-ingredient diet? Let’s take a closer look.
What is a limited-ingredient dog food?
As the name suggests, a limited-ingredient dog food has fewer ingredients than ordinary dog food. However, the definition of limited ingredients can differ depending on the pet food manufacturer.
Typically, such foods are made with only one protein source, usually a less commonly used protein like salmon or lamb. They also often have only one source of carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, and the ingredients list is a lot shorter than those you see on most dog food labels.
The basic philosophy behind limited-ingredient foods is reducing the risk of your pup suffering an allergic reaction or developing an intolerance to something he eats. In other words, the fewer ingredients he eats, the less chance of him having an adverse response to something in his food.
Supporters of these diets also point out that when there are fewer ingredients in your dog’s dinner, it’s easier to keep track of exactly what he’s eating.
Should I feed my dog a limited-ingredient diet?
In most cases, the answer is no. If your dog is perfectly healthy and isn’t showing any signs of a food allergy or intolerance, there’s no reason why you should restrict them to a limited-ingredient diet. Unlike humans who eat different foods daily and thus can get a variety of nutrients, dogs will only eat kibble. Hence there should be a variety of ingredients in their kibble to satisfy all their nutritional requirements.
However, even if you’re concerned your pet might be suffering from food allergies, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should rush out and buy a big bag of limited-ingredient food. The best approach is to speak to your veterinarian about your concerns so that he or she can help you determine whether or not your dog is actually intolerant of a particular ingredient.
Many pet parents are surprised to learn that food allergies only account for around 10% of allergies in dogs, so they’re a lot less common than you might think. So, even if you think a limited-ingredient diet might be good for your pet, that may not be the case.
If your dog is showing symptoms that could indicate a food allergy or sensitivity — such as itchy and inflamed skin, recurring skin and ear infections, and an upset stomach — your vet can rule out any other potential causes, and then help you feed an elimination trial diet to work out what ingredient is causing problems for your pet.
If a limited-ingredient diet is needed, your veterinarian will be able to recommend one.
The right diet for your pup
In most cases, if your pup is suffering from an itchy skin or digestive problems, a food allergy won’t be the cause.
However, the diet you feed your pup is essential for his general health, and simply switching to a high-quality dog food can often produce many of the benefits often associated with a limited-ingredient diet.
And that’s why switching to Heed is a smart choice. All of our recipes feature only the best ingredients, carefully sourced and cooked in small batches to ensure that all the nutrients stay locked in. We use alternative protein sources like salmon and turkey to suit pups with food sensitivities, and add a unique mix of all natural prebiotics to promote a thriving gut.
Best of all (as far as your pup is concerned, at least) our blends are independently tested to ensure that they taste great.
So, before you restrict your dog to a limited-ingredient diet, take a closer look at the food you’re feeding your pup and whether it adequately meets his nutritional needs.