A term that many a dog lover has invariably heard mentioned recently is the “limited ingredient diet”. More and more traditional dried dog food providers have started announcing either new “limited ingredient” special editions or have reformulated their product entirely. Nevertheless, there seems to an understandable lack of information on what really constitutes a limited ingredient diet and so this to try and get it’s gist across:
A limited ingredient diet is nothing but reducing the entirety of your dog’s diet to two ingredients- One protein and one carb. This protein can be something as commonplace as chicken, beef or ham to more exotic options such as venison, turkey or even, emu (you read it right).
Historically, limited ingredient diets were recommended by vets as a method to identify the allergen which was causing disturbance in a dog. The owner was asked to give just one protein and one carb a day, and observe his dog’s behaviour. If no adverse reaction was observed, the protein was changed and then the carb, and so on, until the problem ingredient was identified. Till date, many a vet prescribes this method to help allergic dogs, suffering from repeated bouts of diarrhoea or food intolerance. This definitely makes for a more efficient method than to just make guesses as to the causative reason of your dog’s disturbances.
The foremost advantage of a limited ingredient diet, according to it’s exponents, is the fact that it becomes incredibly easy to monitor your dog’s nutrition and limits your dog’s chances of consuming something harmful or adverse. It is lauded over the “throw in the kitchen sink” approach adopted by many dog food manufacturers. A constantly rising number of food allergies among dogs also contributes to this. Many owners claim the longevity of their dogs to be a direct result of their life long insistence on a limited ingredient diet. This, in part, could also be because, by ensuring that only 2 ingredients go into your dog’s meal, you cut down on a ton of additives and preservatives, which perturbingly, are finding their way more and more into food, including your canine’s. Additionally, it is common knowledge in doggie-loving circles that a dog’s bowels are not built to withstand variety and work best when treated to an unchanged healthy diet.
Critics of the diet usually cite micronutrients, or the lack thereof, as a major point of failure in such a diet. Many argue that although the 1 protein and 1 carb diet addresses the bulk of a dog’s basic nutritional needs, it fails to account for several minerals and vitamins which although not required in large amounts or high frequency, are essential to your dog’s health and well being.
Another concern is misdirecting marketing among companies that market dog food. There are several manufacturers who market their products as “limited ingredient” although it’s a far cry from the traditional definition of “containing only 2 ingredients” Several condiments, preservatives and even entire ingredients are unaccounted for and may hoodwink an unsuspecting and superficially perusing customer. Some of these so called “limited ingredient” formulations have ingredients like peas to provide carbohydrates and this usually results in less than desirable consequences to your dog’s bowels and health, in general.
If you have a healthy dog with no known allergies and want to jump on the limited ingredient bandwagon, here’s a simple “how to” on getting started. The first step is to choose a source of protein that has high bio-availability and a requisite protein percentage. Chicken, beef, duck or lamb are common options that are highly recommended along with a source of carbs like sweet potato, potato or mixed vegetables. With the mixed vegetable option, it’s again not strictly LID and you’ll be skirting the fence although a truckload of micros will find their way into your dog. It is recommended to steer clear of the really exotic proteins like rabbit, emu or venison as these are typically very expensive and not really better for your dog in any tangible way. You can even bulk prepare a formulation to last for a month or two, saving on time and energy.