The Low-Down on Limited Ingredient Diets

The Low-Down on Limited Ingredient Diets

If you or a loved one has a food sensitivity, you're careful to avoid the offending ingredient: no peanut butter nearby, dairy be darned, and gluten be gone! Like humans, pets have food sensitivities. However, they are unable to communicate their symptoms, so we often miss their ailments, allergies and/ or sensitivity issues altogether. Enter: Limited Ingredient Diets.

What is a Limited Ingredient Diet?

Must get every. last. bite. In the pet food world, a food labeled as a Limited Ingredient Diet should be free of common allergy-inducing ingredients such as:

  • Chicken
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • White potato
  • Grains with gluten
  • Eggs
  • Tapioca
Note that the above ingredients like chicken and eggs aren't unhealthy for all pets. Just like nuts or shellfish for humans, these ingredients are fine for some but cause reactions in others. Some LID formulas stick to one protein source and one carb source, such as salmon and chickpea. Others simply stick to a single protein source and a few carb sources known to be allergy-friendly, such as chickpeas and sweet potato. Should my pet be on a Limited Ingredient Diet? LIDs are ideal for pets with food sensitivities. Symptoms of pet food sensitivities include:
  • Hot spots
  • Itchiness without fleas
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Loose stool after mealtime
  • Excessive gassiness
  • Frequent vomiting (in more severe cases)
If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, an LID may be worth a try. If your pet is currently thriving on her current food, keep it up! Although, you may look in to rotating formulas to minimize the risk of food intolerances. So, how do I choose? When you finish all your food... Our biggest piece of advice: read the label!  The term "Limited Ingredient Diet" is not regulated. There are excellent LID formulas available, but there are others who co-opt the term for marketing only. So, do your research (or chat with a Tomlinson's Team Member) to determine a true LID using the above criteria. If you already know your pet is allergic to an ingredient, reading the ingredient deck will help narrow down your search. If you're not sure what's causing your dog's tummy troubles, try an elimination diet: 
  1. Inspect at the ingredients of your pet's current food, looking for any of the allergenic ingredients listed above.
  2. Identify an LID formula without said ingredients.
  3. Over 7-14 days, transition your pet to the new food, giving a little more new food and a little less old food each day.
  4. Once fully transitioned, keep track of your pet's symptoms over 30 days.
    1. If symptoms dissipate, BINGO! You've found your food.
    2. If symptoms remain, test another LID formula or brand.
If your pet can tolerate it, we suggest rotating protein formulas within the same LID brand to avoid developing any further sensitivities. Plus, it keeps mealtime more interesting when you're not always eating the same thing. Need help getting started? Here are some more tips on how to choose the right food for your pet.  What are some of Team Tomlinson's favorites? Nulo Limited+: Not only is Nulo based right here in Austin, Texas, but their new line of Limited+ foods are single-source protein recipes made without common potential allergens like chicken, chicken fat, eggs, peas, pea fiber, white potato and tapioca.   Zignature: Limited ingredients and hypoallergenic formulas are Zignature's expertise. You can find traditional protein sources like salmon and turkey, as well as more exotic proteins like kangaroo and venison.     The Honest Kitchen: Their line of Minimalist foods include only 6 ingredients, perfect for those that seem to be allergic to *everything*.   Raw Diets: Most brands of raw foods are single-source protein. And, because they don't require the same kind of carbohydrates required to make kibble, the carbs in raw foods come from healthier sources- like vegetables.   Tell us about your experience with LIDs in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page!

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