As the name implies, limited ingredient diets are formulations that make use of a restricted set of ingredients to supply daily nutritional requirements. While these may actually apply to humans, limited ingredient diets primarily refer to pet diets. There are different formulations appropriate for both dogs and cats. In most cases these types of diets are designed to address specific disorders, such as compromised kidney function, allergies, or intestinal problems.
In general, limited ingredient diets are restricted to simple ingredients that are natural, easy to digest and high in nutrition. A key feature of these diets is uniqueness; there is no mixing of different types of proteins. Only one type of protein, the key ingredient, is included. The most common protein sources for pets with sensitive stomachs are bison, duck, lamb or venison. The carbohydrate components are limited to sweet potatoes or potatoes, and grains are often completely eliminated since these are known allergens.
It is highly recommended that owners of pets with specific dietary needs make their own dog food from fresh ingredients. That way, there is no way that an ingredient that may be causing problems for the dog will be present. However, if this is not possible, there are commercially available limited ingredient diet formulations from well-known dog food brands. Choose all natural or organic brands, and check out the nutritional label to make sure it contains the right combination of allowed ingredients.
The benefits of limited ingredient diets may not be immediately apparent. In most cases, you will know for sure if it is working for your dog or not within twelve weeks, so you will have to wait. It may happen that you will go through several limited ingredient diets before you identify the foods that your dog cannot tolerate. Once you identify those foods, eliminate them from your dog’s diet. The changes for the better can be highly gratifying and life-changing for both you and your pet.