If you haven’t heard of limited-ingredient dog food, you might be wondering, “Why would I want to limit the amount of ingredients in my dog’s food? How can it be complete and balanced? Surely more sources of nutrition would be better?”.
Limited-ingredient foods have benefits, particularly for dogs with allergies (of which there are many). We asked Braeden Ruud, CEO and founder of family-run dog food company Raised Right, rated 5-star by DFA, to discuss those benefits and tell us more about limited-ingredient dog food. This is what he wrote.
What are the benefits of limited-ingredient dog food?
Before we get into the benefits of feeding a limited-ingredient diet to your dog, I think it would be helpful to give some context about what exactly limited-ingredient dog food is and what it isn’t.
Since there isn’t a defined maximum number of ingredients allowed in limited-ingredient diets, you need to make sure you’re checking the ingredient list before buying because not all limited-ingredient dog foods are created equally.
While the term “limited ingredient dog food” may seem self-explanatory, there is more to it than just potentially having fewer ingredients than typical dog food recipes.
What is limited ingredient dog food?
For a recipe to be considered a limited-ingredient diet, it should only contain one source of animal protein. This means that if the recipe has both beef and chicken in it, then it wouldn’t be a limited ingredient dog food. Additionally, the recipe should only contain one fruit and one vegetable in the list of ingredients.
Here’s an example of a limited-ingredient recipe from Raised Right. As you’ll see, the recipe below has one fruit, one vegetable, and the meat ingredients all coming from turkey as the source of animal protein:
Turkey Thigh, Turkey Heart, Turkey Liver, Carrots, Blueberries, Organic Spearmint, Cod Liver Oil, Egg Shell Powder, Flaxseed Oil, Organic Dried Kelp
You may be wondering, is the recipe above complete and balanced? The answer is ‘yes’ as Raised Right works with veterinarian, Dr Karen Becker and pet food formulation expert Steve Brown to formulate all of their adult dog recipes to meet AAFCO’s standards for a complete and balanced recipe using only whole foods without having to add any synthetic vitamins or minerals. This leads me to our next topic…
Are all limited-ingredient dog foods complete and balanced?
One of the main things you need to be careful of when looking at various limited-ingredient dog foods is to check if the recipe is formulated to meet AAFCO’s standards for a complete and balanced diet. You can do this by looking for an AAFCO statement on the label. If there is no AAFCO statement on the label, it means the recipe is not complete and balanced so your dog likely isn’t getting all the nutrients they need.
Raised Right took this a step further by being the first company to voluntarily submit a recipe to be tested by Check Your Pet Food, which is a private corporation independent of any pet food brand or organization that tests pet foods to see if the recipe is what the brand says it is.
Not only did the test results show that Raised Right meets AAFCO’s standards for a complete and balanced diet, but it also shows that the guaranteed analysis exactly matches what’s on their label.
Why does limited ingredient dog food exist and what are the benefits?
While many people choose to feed limited-ingredient recipes because they’re looking for a dog food that has simpler ingredients, there are some people whose dogs can only eat limited-ingredient recipes due to food sensitivities that cause allergic reactions or stomach issues like IBD.
Just like humans, some dogs struggle with a variety of food sensitivities. Since many of the dog food recipes on the market today have over 30 ingredients in them, it can be hard to find an option that doesn’t contain any ingredients they need to avoid. Raised Right understands this and that’s a big reason why all of their adult dog recipes contain 10 ingredients or fewer, with some having just seven or eight ingredients in them.
When we were formulating our recipes, it was very important to us that every single ingredient needed to have a nutritional purpose instead of including a bunch of high-carb filler ingredients like potato, rice, or pasta. This lack of useless or even harmful filler ingredients is another benefit of high-quality limited-ingredient dog food.
Formulating our recipes this way has allowed our food to not only help healthy dogs stay healthy, but many dogs with severe food sensitivities depend on our food as the only food they’re able to eat and we take this responsibility extremely seriously.