The Benefits of Single Source Protein Dog Food

by Lexi Notabartolo

Beef meat steak

The right single-source protein food can offer benefits to all dogs but may be an especially useful tool for pups that have sensitive stomachs or deal with food allergies.

You may have seen ‘single source protein’ dog food popping up on pet store shelves and wondered what makes it different from other specialty dog diet formulations. Far from just a buzzy marketing phrase, the right single-source protein food can offer benefits to all dogs but may be an especially useful tool for pups that have sensitive stomachs or deal with food allergies.

What is a single source protein dog food?

At the most basic level, a single source protein dog food relies on one kind of protein in its recipe. This means that the ingredients list may have different forms of protein (muscle meat, organ meat, etc.) but all of those will come from a single animal type. Sundays Beef Recipe, for example, includes beef muscle meat (which is what you’d buy at a butcher and eat as a human), beef heart, beef liver, and beef bone. Four different forms of protein are used, but all come from a single source. 


While Sundays will never use by-products and fillers, you may come across ‘single source protein’ dog foods that do. Brands can get away with doing this because, similar to limited ingredient diet dog foods, there is no single definition or regulatory body policing the use of these terms. This means that knowing what to look for on a dog food label is essential to determine if a single source protein food is right for your pup.   

Why would I give my dog a single source protein food?

The biggest benefit to feeding your pup a single source protein dog food is that it makes it much easier to observe and track changes in their overall health and well-being. If you are feeding your dog food with by-products or meals listed on the label, other bits of the animal or other materials processed in the same facility may get mixed in. This can make it difficult to pinpoint what in your dog’s diet is having an impact (positive or negative) and why. It may become especially important to know what ingredients your dog has a response to if you are trying to eliminate specific irritants or allergens from your dog’s diet.

Can a single source protein food help a dog with food allergies?

Allergies in dogs occur when the immune system has a reaction to a particular substance, known as an allergen. These substances can vary, but the most common allergens are proteins from plants, insects, animals, and food. Food allergies occur when a dog’s immune system interprets the presence of a protein in what a dog is consuming as a threat and creates antibodies to ‘combat’ the allergen. 


Subsequently, one of the first things a veterinarian may recommend to treat a suspected food allergy in a dog is an elimination diet to figure out what is triggering the reaction. Single source protein foods make this easier for dog parents since they (generally) are more specific about protein sources in their recipes, making the process of elimination more straightforward than brands where you need to guess what ingredients on the label actually are. Some foods, like Sundays’ Turkey Recipe, are both a single source protein and formulated specifically to address common food triggers for dogs with allergies.    

Can a single source protein food help a dog with a sensitive stomach?

A dog may not have an allergy, but simply struggle to digest a certain ingredient or protein type. These are equally as important to address, however, since sensitivities can manifest as a disinterest in a specific food (since a dog may perceive that something disagreeable is in it) or in many foods (for fear that they will consume the thing that is upsetting their stomach). In this case, single source protein dog foods play a similar role as in the allergy case to helping pinpoint what is causing a dog’s gastric distress. Once the offending ingredient is identified, it can be eliminated from a dog’s diet and (hopefully) their mealtime excitement restored.


If you suspect your dog is struggling with a food allergy or a sensitive stomach, the first thing you should do is talk with your veterinarian and get their advice about what to do. If the decision is made to try a single source protein dog food as part of a treatment plan, we’ve collected first hand accounts from Sundays dog parents about their experience navigating food allergies, making the switch to Sundays to treat their issues, and the benefits their dogs experienced afterward.

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