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November 8, 2021

What Is a Limited Ingredient Dog Food?

  • Limited Ingredient
  • Nutrition
  • Dog Food
  • Dog
Small breed dog sitting in bed beside GO! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Small Bites Salmon Recipe

Does your dog display symptoms including itchy skin, chronic vomiting, diarrhea, or paw licking? If so, they may be experiencing an adverse reaction to their food. Don’t flip your LID yet – providing a limited ingredient diet (LID) may be the answer.

What is an adverse food reaction?

An adverse food reaction can be the result of either a food allergy or food intolerance. Food allergies occur when the immune system reacts inappropriately to a certain food. Food intolerances are more common and often elicit symptoms related to the digestive tract (i.e. bloating, stomach pain), rather than the immune system.

What causes an adverse food reaction?

In the case of a food allergy, the immune system identifies certain food items as a threat and begins to attack them to protect the body. Food allergies can be quite severe, even fatal, and induce unpleasant symptoms for your pet.

Food intolerances occur when the body has trouble digesting certain food components. The symptoms of food intolerance are often less severe and not life-threatening, compared to food allergies.
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Taylor RichardsMSc Student - Companion Animal Nutrition

An adverse reaction can occur in a pet after only a single exposure to a food, or after a long period of time (i.e., months or years) on the same food. Similar to people, the degree of adversity to an ingredient can vary from pet to pet. Some pets may have a severe reaction to trace quantities of an ingredient, whereas other pets can have a higher tolerance level.

What is a Limited Ingredient Diet (LID)?

Limited Ingredient diets are formulated to use as few ingredients as possible, while still providing complete and balanced nutrition for pets. They are usually developed to minimize exposure to potential allergens or foods that may trigger a reaction. Limited ingredient is not a regulated term in the pet food industry. There is no specific limit on the number of ingredients that can be added into pet food products to be labelled as a limited ingredient diet. Therefore, the number of ingredients can vary from one product to another.

What ingredients are typically found in a LID?

Proteins are considered the most common food allergens. This means that they are often the first ingredient that pet owners and veterinarians will target when determining the root cause for a food reaction. When doing so, a veterinarian will need to know the type and number of different proteins your pet has consumed before in order to choose a protein that they have not been exposed to previously.

Limited ingredient recipes often include a single animal protein along with as few additional ingredients as possible to meet the nutritional requirements of your pet.
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Taylor Richards MSc Student - Companion Animal Nutrition

In the case of our LID recipes, the protein sources included are often “novel proteins”, which are considered low exposure for pets, to best avoid any adverse food reactions.

Some common animal proteins found in LIDs include:

  • Salmon
  • Lamb
  • Duck
  • Turkey
  • Venison

These novel proteins are used in LIDs in commercial dog foods today and provide many benefits for your pet. These protein sources are often high in essential amino acids, as well as essential omega-3 fatty acids, which means they can be good for not only minimizing allergen risks, but also for other health benefits such as supporting healthy hip and joints.

Some common plant proteins found in LIDs include:

  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas

These plant protein sources are a great source of essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber to aid with digestion.

Should my dog be eating a limited ingredient diet?

Limited ingredient recipes provide a method to help dogs with adverse food reactions by reducing the number of total ingredients, or even eliminating certain ingredients (usually proteins), that are often recognized as an allergen. If your dog experiences adverse food reactions, our Go! Solutions Sensitivities Limited Ingredient Recipes for dogs may be right for you!


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Limited ingredient recipes for your canine friend

Our Go! Solutions Sensitivities recipes are specially formulated by experts to help dogs suffering from food sensitivities.

If your pet requires a LID recipe, it is important that this makes up their entire diet. This means that treats and other food sources that contain any ingredients that are not found in the LID must be eliminated. This allows you and your veterinarian to narrow down, or simply avoid contamination with the culprit and to ensure that the LID formulation is best suited for your pet.

Although LID recipes have less ingredients, they are still balanced to meet your dogs’ nutritional requirements. For this reason, even pets without adverse food reactions can enjoy these limited ingredient formulations.

Specifically, LID recipes can be helpful with rotational feeding. Rotational feeding is the practice of rotating your dog’s food – changing the protein source, type of food (wet/dry), etc. Rotational feeding helps to keep things interesting for picky pets, reduces the chance of allergy development, and increases their tolerance to dietary changes.

To learn more about rotational feeding, check out our article: Rotational Feeding for Dogs: Should You Do It?


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Taylor Richards

PhD Student - Companion Animal Nutrition

Taylor received her BSc in Honours Animal Biology, with a minor in Nutrition and Nutraceuticals, at the University of Guelph. She is currently completing her PhD in Companion Animal Nutrition in the Department of Animal Biosciences, also at the University of Guelph.