Dogs are naturally carnivorous though they have evolved over time to handle other non-meat foods like grains and other starches. This is why most dog foods have protein as one of the major components. In fact, many dog foods contain real meat. But there are some dogs that experience adverse health effects when on this protein-heavy diet. For instance, some have allergic reactions while others experience digestive issues. Some dogs simply refuse to eat foods high in protein content.
In such cases, a low protein diet for dogs is the answer. The diet should consist of dog food with lower protein content than normal. Such food will typically contain a slightly increased amount of starch and fats to make up for the reduced protein content.
When is a Low Protein Diet Necessary?
For healthy dogs, a low protein diet is not necessary. This is because proteins are essential to healthy growth and development. But some situations call for low protein food. Make sure that you consult with your vet before you start your dog on a new diet.
1. When the dog has kidney or liver problems
Digesting proteins produces various toxins as byproducts. These toxins are processed by the kidney and excreted through urine. When a dog is suffering from kidney or liver problems, veterinarians generally recommend that protein intake be lowered.
This has the benefit of reducing the amount of toxin buildup in the kidneys, thus reducing their workload. Too much protein can potentially aggravate current health problems. However, you should be careful not to eliminate proteins or reduce it too much since the dog still needs it for growth and development.
Alongside a reduction in protein content in dog food, experts also recommend switching to low phosphorous dog food. It helps mitigate kidney and liver problems.
2. When the dog is overweight
Proteins are naturally heavy on calories. Most of the high protein dog foods in the market have high calorie counts, especially the canned ones. If your pet is on a weight loss diet, you might want to cut back on the proteins to reduce the calorie intake. Weight loss dog foods will usually have reduced protein content, low fat content and no grains at all. This results in drastically reduced calorie intake, which when combined with regular exercise, helps shed the excess pounds.
If for any reason you cannot reduce protein content in your dog’s food (maybe because of a health issue), then look for brands that use low-calorie protein sources in the recipes. Additionally, look for recipes with higher fiber and vegetable content. These will help the dog fill up faster and thus eat less.
3. When the dog is allergic or sensitive to certain proteins
Some dogs are allergic to certain protein sources, especially meats. Your dog may be allergic to salmon, chicken, beef or some other type of meat. In some cases, it could just be that the dog’s digestive system cannot process a certain protein properly resulting in digestive issues like diarrhea, abdominal pain and constipation. Low protein foods are great for pets that display adverse allergic or digestive reactions after eating protein-heavy foods.
Once you start your dog on a low protein diet and the adverse reactions keep recurring, you should see your vet. Together, you can narrow down what specific protein is causing the problem and eliminate it completely from the diet.
What Is The Best Low Protein Dog Food?
Generally, low protein diets are not very common. This is because a majority of dogs naturally need plenty of proteins in their food and only a few instances is a low protein diet for dogs necessary. Some of the brands that carry low protein dog food include Flint River Ranch, Royal Canin and Purina. Compare what different brands have to offer and pay close attention to the detailed analysis of each food, noting the percentage of protein content.
For instance, here is a detailed analysis table of a certain Kibble food from Flint River Ranch. Most foods have protein content of 25 percent and above. This food only has 18 percent protein.
Whether you are looking for low protein puppy food, adult dog food or senior dog food, we highly recommend you talk to your vet first. The vet will recommend how best to go about lowering the protein consumption for your dog.