What’s The Best Low Protein Dog Food & Does My Dog Need It?

It’s a well-known fact that a healthy diet helps a dog live a long and healthy life. The average dog can eat any major dog food brand that indicates it provides a complete and nutritional diet. However, some dogs suffer from medical conditions that can be seriously impacted by diet and require special food, like a low protein diet.

Medical Conditions That Require A Low Protein Diet

When a dog is diagnosed with one of the following medical conditions their veterinarian will likely recommend a dog food that’s low in protein.

Kidney Disease

Dogs can be diagnosed with both acute and chronic kidney disease.

When a dog has an acute kidney injury, the kidneys suddenly shut down and the dog may show symptoms in as little as a few hours. An acute kidney injury is typically caused by the ingestion of a poison, a severe bacterial infection, or physical injury that results in the breakdown of muscle, a condition known as rhabdomyolysis.

Dogs with an acute kidney injury can recover if the cause is identified quickly and the treatment started promptly.

Chronic kidney disease can exist for months or years before a dog shows clinic symptoms. Although some dogs have congenital defects that cause chronic kidney disease, this condition is most often diagnosed in older dogs.

Dogs diagnosed with kidney disease can live for years if treated properly.

Symptoms of kidney disease include:

● Increased Thirst
● Increased Urination
● Weight Loss
● Vomiting
● Diarrhea
● Loss Of Appetite
● Generalized Weakness

When protein is consumed in a body with healthy kidneys, fluids and waste are filtered out but proteins like albumin are returned back into the bloodstream. Albumin helps to carry nutrients, hormones, and enzymes through the bloodstream.

When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, proteins like albumin are filtered out of the body and excreted in the urine. This is why dogs with kidney disease will typically have proteinuria.

Although some protein is needed to keep the body healthy, a low protein diet is recommended so that the kidneys don’t have to work harder to eliminate protein. Kidney diets also limit phosphorous, sodium, and potassium.

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Hepatic Encephalopathy

The liver is an amazing organ! This massive organ helps to metabolize medications, remove toxins, and is essential for 1500 biomechanical functions that are needed for life. The liver also synthesizes proteins.

One of the neatest things about the liver is that it can regenerate. However, this also means that the liver is severely damaged by the time a dog begins to show clinical symptoms. Hepatic encephalopathy is actually a neurological condition that’s caused by liver dysfunction.

Symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy can include:

● Loss Of Appetite
● Vomiting
● Diarrhea
● Weight Loss
● Jaundice (Yellowing Of Eyes/Skin)
● Seizures
● Confusion
● Circling And Running Into Walls
● Depression

Hepatic encephalopathy is often noted after the patient consumes a meal. This occurs because when the liver breaks down proteins, a by-product of this chemical process is ammonia. It’s suspected that ammonia is a trigger for hepatic encephalopathy.

In addition to medications and supplements, your veterinarian may recommend a diet change. A low-protein diet could help your dog get the protein it needs to function without overwhelming the liver.

Bladder Stones

Bladder stones are quite common in dogs. There are several types of bladder stones:

1. Struvite
2. Cystine (Calcium-Oxalate)
3. Urate

Dietary changes, including a low protein diet, can help to prevent the reformation of these stones once they have been removed surgically.

Should I Consider Making My Own Low Protein Diet For My Dog?

While there are many low protein recipes on the internet the truth is that those advertising these foods don’t know your dog and typically don’t have a degree in veterinary medicine. If you’d like to consider making your own food, consult with a veterinary nutritionist who can review your dog’s medical records and provide you with an appropriate recipe based on their medical needs.

Keep in mind that preparing food in large quantities is very time consuming and can be expensive.

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The Best Low Protein Dog Food On The Market

The following are the most highly-rated low protein dry and wet foods available today:

This diet can be purchased from a veterinarian or through other stores with a prescription.

This food helps to increase appetite and support kidney function. In addition to this, it includes S+OXSHIELD, a formulation that helps to reduce the risk of developing struvite and calcium oxalate crystals! This is another chicken-based food.

This diet is specially formulated to support kidney function with antioxidants, fatty acids, low phosphorous, and targeted protein levels. Your dog will thank you for the delicious food!

Another prescription diet, KS supports the kidneys with low protein, phosphorous, and sodium. This food is also grain-free, supporting those with food allergies to grains.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PV

Made with venison, this is a great option for dogs who also suffer from food allergies to certain types of protein. Additionally, the food contains Omega-3s and DHA to support the skin.

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF

Purina focused on creating a dog food with low sodium, phosphorous, and protein while still providing the nutrients every dog needs to be their best. B-complex vitamins have also been added to help break down nutrients.

This food is specially formulated for dogs with kidney disease or with hepatic encephalopathy. You will need a prescription to purchase this food.

Hill’s Prescription l/d

Designed for dogs with liver disease this prescription diet contains high-quality protein, however, in moderation at a minimum amount of 17.5%. By feeding this diet, the workload on the liver will lessen and the liver will be able to focus efforts on regeneration.

This food also contains S+OXSHIELD to help prevent the formation of struvite and calcium oxalate crystals.

Diamond Care Renal Formula

Another formula created for dogs with kidney disease, this food contains antioxidants that help to support the immune system.

Just Food For Dogs Renal Support Low Protein

Made with lamb liver, sushi rice, and a plethora of fresh veggies, this frozen food comes in easy to store packets. In addition to low protein, the food also limits phosphorous, potassium, and sodium. Your dog won’t be able to resist this delicious food – it smells so good you might even be tempted to try it yourself!

It can be difficult finding food that your dog will love to eat. Always consult with your veterinarian before switching diets as a change in food could cause GI upset. When a dog has an upset stomach, this could result in dehydration, complicating the underlying kidney or liver disease.

Once you do find a food your dog loves, stick to it! Keep in mind that treats and “people food” can all contain high amounts of protein, sodium, phosphorous, and potassium. If you feed any other food in addition to the low protein diet, it could worsen your dog’s medical condition.