Food for Dogs With a Limited Diet

by Susan Leisure
    Limited ingredient dog foods may help keep your pup healthier if he has an allergy to some common ingredients.

    Limited ingredient dog foods may help keep your pup healthier if he has an allergy to some common ingredients.

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    Limited diet dog foods are popular and almost every pet store has at least a few limited ingredient formulas. For dogs with food allergies, a limited diet literally may be a life saver.

    Fundamentals of Limited Diets

    Many dog food companies now offer limited ingredient formulas for dogs. The purpose of limited diets is to control allergic reactions or an intolerance to common ingredients. If a food has several ingredients, it is often impossible to pin down which ingredient is causing the reaction. Limited ingredient diets usually contain only one protein source, one carbohydrate source and minimal fruits and vegetables. During the past decade, the number of limited ingredient foods has increased dramatically, so as a dog owner, you can choose from either prescription or holistic limited ingredient formulas.

    Novel Proteins

    The foundation of a limited diet is a novel or unique protein. What makes a protein novel? You should choose a protein that your pup has never had before. Many dog food companies use chicken and beef, followed closely by lamb and fish, so these normally don't qualify as unique proteins. Look for foods that use bison, venison, turkey, duck or pork as the protein. Be sure to read through the entire ingredient list, as some pet food manufacturers advertise a "bison formula," but sometimes the second or third ingredient is chicken or beef meal.

    Novel Carbohydrates

    Most commercial dog food companies use corn, wheat and soy products as the main carbohydrates in the food. These ingredients are cheap, so using them helps keep the cost of the food down. But, they are common culprits in food allergies. Limited ingredient diets almost always stay away from these common grains. Instead, the foods have sweet potatoes, chickpeas or oatmeal as the main carbohydrate.

    Limited Fruits and Veggies

    Top rated dog foods usually contain a variety of fruits and vegetables. These healthy ingredients provide a lot of vitamins and minerals for your canine companion. But, they might cause an allergic reaction or intolerance. Limited ingredient foods almost always limit or leave out fruits and veggies to minimize allergic reactions. If you want to give your pup a healthy treat, try organic carrots, bananas or apples to see how he responds. If he has any reaction, stop using them and look for a limited ingredient treat, too.

    Avoid Packaged People Food

    If your pooch is on a limited ingredient diet because of food allergies or an intolerance, it's important to keep him away from people food. Many packaged and processed foods contain allergens hidden in the ingredient list. In addition, some packaged foods may have toxic ingredients, such as chocolate or raisins. To be safe, don't feed your dog any people food that comes in a package.

    Photo Credits

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    About the Author

    Susan Leisure is the director of an animal welfare organization and owner of a holistic pet supply store in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a master's degree from Emory University, and is currently completing a degree in clinical pet nutrition.

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