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10 Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

Choosing nutritious dog food can be a challenge for pet owners due to the abundance of options available. Sometimes, dog food labels may include ingredients that you're unfamiliar with or unsure if they're essential and beneficial for your dog.

Luckily, there are now limited ingredient dog foods available that formulate nutritious dog food with only essential components. Some dogs suffer from food allergies, and with dog food containing a large number of ingredients, it can be difficult to identify the causes.

In this guide, BestForPets has compiled a list of the best limited ingredient dog foods currently on the market. Our goal is to help you choose the best food for your dog, especially if they have sensitivities or allergies.

icon Vet Approved
icon Reviewed & Fact - Checked by

Deborah R. Fletcher (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information provided is current and up-to-date, in line with the latest research conducted in the field of veterinary medicine.

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Reviews

1. Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice

Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe

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Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe is an excellent option for dogs with beef or poultry allergies.

It contains only six natural ingredients, with lamb meal as the first ingredient, making it a high-quality protein source for adult dogs.

This dog food is rich in vitamins and minerals, including taurine, an essential amino acid that promotes eye and cardiovascular health in dogs.

Additionally, this dog food is gluten-free and does not contain any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, making it a healthy and nutritious option for dogs.

While the kibble size of this dog food may be too large for smaller dogs, it is available in a variety of bag sizes, ranging from 6 to 28 pounds, making it a convenient and affordable option for pet owners.

Overall, Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe is a cost-effective and nutritious option for dogs with food sensitivities.

Its high-quality protein source, added vitamins and minerals, gluten-free recipe, and affordable price make it an excellent choice for pet owners looking for a limited ingredient dog food.

Pros

6 natural ingredients

The first component is lamb

Gluten-free

Affordable

Multiple bag size possibilities

Cons

Kibble may be too large for tiny dogs

Might result in increased thirst


2. Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe

Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

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Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe is a USDA-certified organic dry dog food suitable for dogs of all breeds and sizes.

This dog food features high-quality ingredients, including free-range, hormone-free USDA-certified organic chicken and superfoods like cranberries, organic sweet potatoes, and organic flaxseed.

With 3.5% fiber, this dog food is an excellent option for promoting digestive health in dogs. Additionally, it is free from artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors, ensuring that your canine receives a natural and healthy diet.

However, some users have reported digestive issues in their dogs after consuming this dog food, possibly due to the inclusion of oatmeal as one of the primary ingredients. It is essential to consider your dog’s specific dietary needs before selecting a dog food.

This organic dog food is available in three different container sizes: 4 pounds, 10 pounds, and 18 pounds, making it a convenient and accessible option for pet owners.

Overall, Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe is a high-quality and nutritious option for dogs. Its USDA-certified organic ingredients, superfoods, and digestive health benefits make it a healthy and natural option for dogs of all life stages.

Pros

Natural ingredients

Includes a combination of superfoods

Utilizes free-range poultry without additional hormones.

Includes coconut oil to facilitate digestion

Cons

Expensive

May cause digestive problems in certain dogs


3. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Lamb

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe with Real Lamb Natural Dry Dog Food

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Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Lamb is a great option for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies to certain ingredients such as wheat, soy, or corn.

This dog food contains only one source of animal protein, which is grass-fed lamb, and one type of vegetable, peas, making it easy to digest for dogs.

This dog food is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids, which are essential for healthy skin and coat. Additionally, this dog food is free from dairy, eggs, and potatoes, making it a healthy and natural option for dogs.

However, some dog owners have reported digestive issues, such as regurgitation and diarrhea, in their dogs after consuming this dog food. It is essential to consider your dog’s specific needs before selecting a dog food.

Overall, Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Lamb is a high-quality and nutritious option for dogs with food sensitivities.

Its use of grass-fed lamb, freeze-dried raw-coated kibble, and exclusion of allergens makes it a healthy and natural option for dogs. However, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian before switching your dog to a grain-free diet.

Pros

Grain-free for individuals allergic to grains

Raw, freeze-dried, coated kibble to preserve nutrition

No dairy, potatoes, nor eggs

Vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants abound

Cons

Some dogs have vomiting and diarrhea as a result of this toxin

Expensive


4. NUTRO SO SIMPLE Adult Beef & Rice Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food

NUTRO SO Simple with Beef Adult Dog Food

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NUTRO SO SIMPLE Adult Beef & Rice Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food is a simple and natural option for adult dogs.

This dog food contains real beef as the first ingredient, along with other natural ingredients such as eggs, flaxseeds, and whole grains, providing a balanced and nutritious diet for your canine.

While some dog owners have reported that their dog may not enjoy the flavor, most dogs seem to like the taste of this dog food. It is also one of the more affordable limited ingredient dog foods available, available in either a 4-pound or 11-pound container.

However, this dog food does contain peas, which is a controversial ingredient due to ongoing research indicating that peas may contribute to canine cardiac disease. However, this investigation has not been verified.

Overall, NUTRO SO SIMPLE Adult Beef & Rice Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food is a good option for pet owners seeking a simple and affordable dog food for their adult dogs.

Its use of real beef, whole grains, and natural ingredients provides a balanced and nutritious diet for dogs.

Additionally, it is free from non-GMO ingredients, chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, soy protein, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, reflecting a “feed clean” philosophy.

Pros

All-natural dog food

Non-GMO ingredients

Packed with vitamins and minerals

Affordable

Beef is the primary component

Cons

Contains peas, a potentially contentious element

Difficult to sell to finicky eater


5. ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains

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ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains with Restricted Ingredients Lamb & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food is a high-fiber dietary supplement suitable for dogs with a high fiber requirement.

This dog food is gluten-free, making it an excellent option for canines with food allergies or sensitivities. It contains wholesome ingredients such as pumpkin, oats, butternut squash, and nutritious grains, promoting optimal digestive health in dogs.

The primary protein source in this dog food is grass-fed lamb, which provides a concentrated source of protein and a delicious flavor.

Additionally, this dog food contains no artificial flavors or preservatives, reflecting a commitment to providing a natural and healthy diet for dogs. However, some dog owners have reported that this dog food appears ancient and desiccated, which may be a disadvantage.

Additionally, it is one of the more expensive limited ingredient dog foods available. However, ACANA offers several alternative options for pet owners seeking a more palatable option for their dogs.

Overall, ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains with Restricted Ingredients Lamb & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food is a high-quality and nutritious option for dogs.

Its use of grass-fed lamb, wholesome grains, and natural ingredients provides a balanced and healthy diet for dogs. Additionally, it is free of legumes, potatoes, or gluten, making it an excellent option for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

Pros

High fiber density

Gluten-free

Grass-fed lamb is the primary component

No preservatives or artificial flavors

Cons

Expensive

The kibble may seem old and dry


6. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet with Healthy Grains Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe with Healthy Grains

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Merrick Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe Limited Ingredient Diet Including Whole Grains is an excellent choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

This dog food is specifically formulated to aid in the treatment of digestive disorders by including deboned salmon, salmon meal, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, sweet potatoes, sunflower oil, natural flavor, and flaxseed, which are essential ingredients for canine digestive health.

This dog food contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals to provide a nourishing yet gentle meal for dogs. It is available in 12-pound and 22-pound packages, making it an affordable option compared to other limited ingredient dog foods.

This dog food is also suitable for dogs with allergies to peas, dairy, eggs, wheat, and soy, as it contains none of these ingredients.

However, some dog owners have reported that the size of the kibble can fluctuate, varying from pale and massive to black and small. It is important to maintain the same recipe and flavor for your dog’s health and consistency.

Overall, Merrick Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe Limited Ingredient Diet Including Whole Grains is a high-quality and nutritious option for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Its use of real salmon, whole grains, and natural ingredients provides a balanced and healthy diet for dogs with digestive disorders.

Additionally, it is free of chickpeas, lentils, or peas, making it an excellent option for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

Pros

Boned salmon is the primary component

Formulation for sensitive stomachs

Contains nine healthy components

Affordable

Cons

Size and hue of kibble are uneven


7. Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient – Best for Puppies

SIMPLY NOURISH Puppy Salmon and Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

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If you own a puppy, it is crucial to feed them food specifically formulated for their nutritional needs.

Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dog Food is an excellent option for canines as it contains a limited number of ingredients that are specifically formulated for puppies.

The first ingredient in this dry dog food is deboned salmon, followed by salmon meal. Both of these ingredients are of superior quality, indicating that this food is packed with high-quality protein.

The addition of “meal” to the salmon ingredient simply means that it has been cooked to eliminate a significant amount of moisture, which is necessary when incorporating it into dried food.

This process ensures that the food is not bland and retains its nutrient value. One of the remarkable features of this food is its high protein content of 29% and 16% fat.

This is an excellent ratio for a dry dog food, ensuring your puppy gets the necessary energy and nutrients they need to grow and develop.

Additionally, this food contains an abundance of fatty acids that contain DHA and EPA, two essential fats for brain development. Another great feature of Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dog Food is that it contains nothing that your dog does not require.

It is made without fillers, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives in the United States, ensuring that your puppy receives a high-quality and nutritious meal.

In summary, Simply Nourish Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dog Food is an excellent option for pet owners looking for a high-quality and nutritious food option for their puppies.

Its high protein and fat content, as well as its inclusion of essential fatty acids, make it an ideal choice for supporting the growth and development of your puppy.

Pros

Exceptional salmon as the primary ingredient

Protein and fat rich

Doesn’t contain additives

Free of prevalent allergens such as poultry

Cons

Includes dried legumes


8. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

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Natural Balance Diets With Limited Ingredients Dry Dog Food is a premium quality dog food that is made with high-quality ingredients.

The first ingredient listed is salmon, which is a novel protein source that is not commonly used in dog food. This makes it an excellent option for dogs with allergies, as it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

The second ingredient in this dog food is menhaden fish meal, which is another high-quality protein source. This ingredient is loaded with omega-3s and other healthy fats, which are essential for a dog’s overall health and well-being.

The remaining ingredients in this dog food are all vegetables, which provide numerous vitamins and minerals to support optimal health.

One of the standout features of this dog food is that it does not contain any peas, pea protein, lentils, legumes, corn, wheat, or soy. This makes it an excellent choice for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

However, one potential downside of this dog food is that it contains a relatively low amount of protein. With only 24% protein, this may not be sufficient for some dogs, especially those with high energy needs.

Overall, Natural Balance Diets With Limited Ingredients Dry Dog Food is a great option for pet owners looking for a high-quality and nutritious dog food.

Its limited ingredient diet philosophy and use of premium ingredients make it an excellent choice for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

Additionally, its safety and transparency program ensures that every batch of food is tested for safety, providing pet owners with peace of mind.

Pros

Free of pea, pea protein, lentils, and other substandard ingredients

Salmon is the primary ingredient in this dish

Rich in omega-3s

Quality vegetables are included

Made in the U.S.A.

Cons

Slightly deficient in protein


9. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Food

Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food

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Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is an excellent option for dogs that are unable to digest salmon.

This dog food features ground turkey as the first ingredient and turkey as the second. Turkey is a high-quality protein source that is not commonly used in dog food, making it a rare and excellent ingredient choice.

This dog food is free from common allergens such as chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, or eggs.

Additionally, it does not contain any artificial flavors or preservatives, making it a natural and healthy option for dogs. However, it is worth noting that this dog food does contain synthetic colors.

One potential downside of this dog food is that it contains a relatively low protein content of 20%. Additionally, it contains a substantial amount of legumes, including whole peas, pea carbohydrates, pea fiber, and pea protein.

While the FDA is currently investigating the potential link between legumes and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), the effects of legumes on a dog’s health are not yet fully understood.

Overall, Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is a good option for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies. Its limited ingredient list and high-quality protein source make it a healthy and natural option for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Additionally, its inclusion of antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits supports immune system health and a healthy oxidative balance.

Pros

Turkey is the primary constituent in this dish

Devoid of prevalent allergens

Absent of synthetic preservatives and flavors

Cons

Containing little protein

Contains many legumes


10. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food

Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Small Bites Dry Dog Food 12.5lb

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Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food is a grain-free and limited ingredient diet that is suitable for dogs with ingredient sensitivities.

This dog food features high-quality turkey raised on American farms as the first ingredient, making it an excellent source of protein, riboflavin, selenium, and phosphorus for dogs.

This dog food does not contain common allergens such as corn, wheat, soy, dairy, or poultry, making it a healthy option for most canines.

Additionally, its high protein content of 35% and lipid content of 15% provide dogs with the necessary nutrients for optimal health and well-being.

However, the inclusion of peas as the fourth ingredient is a potential concern. Large quantities of peas have been linked to certain cardiac diseases in dogs. Additionally, the brand itself has been linked to these cardiac conditions by the FDA.

Overall, Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food is a good option for dogs with ingredient sensitivities. Its limited ingredient formula and high-quality protein source make it a healthy and nutritious option for dogs of all life stages.

Additionally, its inclusion of probiotics helps support gut health, promoting overall wellness in dogs.

Pros

Protein and fat rich

Includes superior poultry

Devoid of prevalent allergens

Cons

Contains legumes

The FDA has linked Brand to certain cardiac conditions.

Buying Guide

Buying Guide

Choosing the right dog food can be complicated, especially for beginners. Important factors include your dog’s age, breed, health, and activity level.

Other considerations include the quality of the ingredients, nutritional needs, and any allergies or sensitivities.

By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that your dog is getting the best nutrition for their breed and size.

1. What exactly are limited ingredients?

Dog food labeled as “limited ingredient” contains only the essential components for a dog’s health. This type of food is particularly beneficial for dogs with food allergies or sensitive stomachs.

Although the phrase “limited ingredient” is not regulated and is often used loosely, it generally means that there are fewer components in the food, with the primary ingredients being animal protein and a vegetable or carbohydrate.

The quantity of ingredients is not regulated, and it is more important to know what the components are rather than how many there are.

Take a look at our article on “Limited ingredient dog foods“, which provides valuable information on selecting the best food for your dog’s unique dietary requirements and sensitivities.

2. Understanding Food Labels

When it comes to selecting the right dog food, it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients list.

While some dog food labels may have fewer ingredients than others, it’s crucial to understand what those components are and how they will benefit your pet.

Animal protein should always be the primary and most important ingredient. Manufacturers are obliged by law to list the ingredients in order of quantity, from most abundant to least.

The first ingredient listed should be the animal protein, such as chicken, lamb, beef, or another type of animal protein. If your dog has an allergy to chicken, for example, it’s important to avoid chicken-based dog food.

The first four ingredients listed are the most important, so after the animal protein, look for a vegetable or carbohydrate to follow within the first four ingredients.

This will ensure that your dog is getting the necessary nutrients for optimal health and well-being.

3. What Constitutes Meat Meals?

Meat meal is a common ingredient in many dog foods and is often listed as the second item on the ingredients list. Despite misconceptions, meat meal is a valuable source of essential nutrients.

It is made from the protein-rich tissues of mammals such as lamb, beef, or chicken, and does not contain hooves, hair, blood, dung, or stomach contents.

The mammalian tissue undergoes a rendering process that eliminates disease-causing germs, leaving behind a high-protein source.

Some producers disclose the origin of the meat meal, such as lamb or chicken. In some cases, the producer may not disclose the source of the meat and simply list it as “meat meal.”

In these instances, the source is an unidentified warm-blooded mammal. It’s best to choose meals that specify the origin of the meat to ensure the quality and safety of the product.

4. Dog Food Protein and Fat Content

Our dogs are designed to thrive on a diet primarily composed of protein and fat.

Studies have shown that when allowed to choose their own diet, dogs prefer to consume primarily fat and protein. This study likely provides us with a good idea of the diet we should feed our dogs.

Because of this, we place a high priority on the protein and fat content of commercial dog food, and you should too. The amount of protein in dog food is essential and should be considered when selecting a diet for your dog.

However, it is remarkably difficult to locate dog food that is high in both protein and fat. The majority of commercial dog foods are high in carbohydrates, which our dogs do not thrive on.

Therefore, it is essential to inspect dog food before purchasing it. Find a dog food that includes as much protein and fat as possible. When it comes to commercial dog food, you will not find a product with excessively high protein content.

Buying Guide

5. Investigation by the FDA and Peas

The FDA is presently investigating a growing number of canine cases of dilated cardiomyopathy, a fatal cardiac condition that cannot be treated.

This malady has been observed in certain dogs for some time. The recent increase, however, has been linked to diet, specifically “grain-free” items.

When the FDA examined the cases more closely, it appeared that dogs were at greater risk if their food contained legumes, lentils, potatoes, or similar foods.

It is unknown why these substances are associated with DCM, or if they are even associated with the disease. However, a correlation appears to exist at this time.

This is problematic because many grain-free dog foods contain legumes. Legumes are inexpensive and high-fat vegetables.

6. Quality of Dog Food Ingredients

When selecting dog food, it is essential to consider the quality of the ingredients. Ideally, the first ingredient should be some type of meat as canines evolved to thrive primarily on it, and they continue to do so today.

Furthermore, the meat should be of the highest quality attainable, and whole flesh is always the superior choice. However, flesh entrée is acceptable as long as its source is specified.

For example, “chicken meal” is acceptable, but “meat meal” is not. This is because the source of the latter is unclear, and we should not feed our pets unknown meat.

By-products are acceptable as long as their origin is disclosed, but they are of inferior quality compared to other options. They are not desirable, but they are not detrimental to your dog.

The quality of vegetables is also essential. As previously discussed, peas, potatoes, and lentils have been linked to a severe cardiac condition in dogs, so they should be avoided whenever possible.

While whole grains can be nutritionally beneficial for dogs and are easily digestible, they should not be the primary ingredient in your pet’s diet.

Dogs evolved to consume grains, but meat should still be the primary source of nutrition for them.

7. How Dog Allergies Work

If you’re looking for a limited ingredient dog food, it’s likely that your dog has food allergies. Unlike human allergies, dog allergies develop over time with repeated exposure to certain proteins.

For example, a dog who has been eating chicken-based dog food for their entire life is more likely to develop an allergy to chicken.

Some dog breeds are more susceptible to developing allergies than others, but any dog can develop a food allergy if they are repeatedly exposed to the same protein.

When a dog develops a food allergy, skin-related symptoms are common. They may become extremely sensitive, especially on their feet, and repeatedly gnaw and chew their feet, causing sores.

These wounds can develop a secondary infection, which can cause further complications. After receiving a food allergy diagnosis, dogs must avoid their allergen.

This typically involves switching to dog food that does not contain the protein that triggers the allergy. Fortunately, there are many limited-ingredient diets available for dogs with food allergies.

Diversifying your dog’s diet is the best way to prevent food allergies. By frequently changing their diet, you can prevent overexposure to a specific protein that may trigger an allergy.

FAQs

1. What is limited ingredients dog food?

Limited ingredient dog food aims to reduce the number of ingredients in a dog’s diet to diagnose and treat food allergies. The prevalence of food sensitivities in dogs is unclear.

2. What should the top 5 ingredients be in dog food?

The top five ingredients in high-quality dog food should include protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and fatty acids, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.

3. What is the 100% rule for dog food?

The 100% rule for dog food means that if a product claims to contain 100% of a particular ingredient, only that ingredient should be present, although small amounts of water, condiments, and preservatives may be added during processing.

4. Is limited ingredient the same as grain free?

No. Limited ingredient and grain-free diets are not the same. Limited ingredient dog food contains only one source of protein and one source of carbohydrates, while grain-free dog food uses non-grain sources of carbohydrates.

5. Is Royal Canin really that good?

No. Based on the information provided, Royal Canin’s dog food may not be as high-quality as other brands with a similar price point.

6. What ingredients are in high quality dog food?

High-quality dog food should include essential vitamins and minerals such as A, D, E, K, and B vitamins, choline, and trace minerals like zinc, iron, and manganese.

7. Is Hill’s Science diet worth it?

Optional. Hill’s Science Diet Adult appears to be an adequate dog food, as it contains a moderate quantity of named meat portions as its primary source of animal protein.

However, whether or not it is worthwhile ultimately depends on the preferences and priorities of the individual.

8. Can dog food be too rich?

Yes. Dog food can be too nutrient-dense, leading to weight gain or gastrointestinal issues, especially if feeding guidelines are followed too strictly without considering a dog’s specific dietary needs.

FAQs

Conclusion

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) hopes that you found our research on the best limited ingredient dog foods to be informative and fascinating. We understand that our evaluation is just illustrative of some of the market’s leading products.

Our purpose is to provide you with a general overview of each product. We advise you to perform your own research in order to reach a well-informed judgment regarding the best option for you.

Author Image

Dr. Barry Buttler

Dr. Barry Buttler, DVM, MS, DACVIM, is an experienced veterinarian who specializes in the care of small animals, specifically dogs. Dr. Barry K. Buttler is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and holds multiple certifications in small animal emergency medicine and geriatric pet health.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Barry Buttler

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