What is Low-Protein Dog Food?
Protein is an essential nutrient that all dogs need in order to grow and maintain their overall health. There are certain medical conditions, however, which may limit a dog’s ability to digest protein in which case, too much protein could actually be dangerous. For these dogs, a low-protein diet may be recommended. In this article you will learn the basics about low-protein diets and why they might be necessary for certain dogs.
Needs for Low-Protein Diet
Dogs require 22 different amino acids to support healthy growth and development. A dog’s body is able to synthesize (create) 12 of these amino acids, but the other 10 must come from the diet – this is why they are referred to as “essential” amino acids. Protein sources like meat, fish and eggs are the best sources of these amino acids but not all dogs are able to digest these foods properly. While a healthy dog is generally not at risk for eating too much protein, a dog suffering from kidney disease may have problems with a high-protein diet.
Kidney problems are fairly common in senior dogs and it may lead to symptoms like weight loss, nausea, constipation and low energy or lethargy. The kidneys are responsible for filtering out toxins in the dog’s body and excreting them through the urine. In the case of kidney failure or other kidney problems, however, the ability of the kidneys to produce urine may be affected and toxins may start to build up in the dog’s blood. One of the keys to preventing kidney problems from progressing is to limit the dog’s intake of protein by following a low-protein diet.
In addition to dogs suffering from kidney disease, low-protein diets may also be recommended for certain large-breed dogs. Large-breed puppies tend to grow very quickly – this is natural, but if the process occurs over too short a time period it could be dangerous for the dog. Overgrowth can result in strain on the bones, causing them to be unable to support the dog’s weight properly. Dogs that have grown too quickly may be more likely to suffer injuries as well as bone and joint problems. For these reasons, large-breed puppies are often switched from a puppy formula to a lower protein diet after the first 6 months or so to prevent overgrowth.
Recommended Low-Protein Brands
A low-protein diet is generally not required unless the dog has a medical condition necessitating a lower level of protein in the diet. If your dog does require a low-protein diet, however, the following brands are good options to consider:
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection
- Canidae Platinum Dog Food
- Holistic Select Weight Management
- Innova Adult Low Fat
- Nutro Ultra Weight Management
Your dog’s nutrition is not something to be trifled with – if your dog doesn’t receive the right balance of nutrients he will fail to thrive and could be at a higher risk for disease. If your dog is suffering from kidney disease or has some other condition which prevents his body from digesting protein properly, you may need to switch him to a low-protein diet.