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Everything you need to know about low protein dog food

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The low protein dog food diet isn’t for every dog. In fact, it should only be followed on a vets recommendation. Here’s what else you need to know about low protein dog food

By Ashley Murphy

The low protein dog food diet

You might be wondering why a dog would need to go on a low protein diet. After all, protein is one of the most important nutrients. In fact, proteins are the building blocks of living organisms. It's essential for healthy muscle and tissue development; protein also provides fuel for the body. A lack of protein can lead to hair loss, depression, fatigue, and muscle atrophy.  A protein deficiency creates a constant or frequent sense of hunger that can't be satisfied without a protein boost. Given how vital it is, why would any dog need less protein?

Reason for a low protein diet

The low protein diet isn't just another fashionable diet trend, and it's got nothing to do with making ethical or sustainable choices. The low protein diet is about your dog's health, and should only be followed after professional veterinary advice. It's a diet that was specially designed for dogs suffering from medical conditions including kidney disease, liver disease, and certain kinds of bladder issues.

So what does the low protein diet actually do?

Despite being full of goodness, protein is fairly difficult to digest. This is especially the case with meat-based proteins. Both the kidneys and liver play a vital part in processing proteins. If your dog is struggling with serious kidney or liver issues, digesting a lot of protein puts additional strain on these organs. Less protein means less work for the kidneys and liver, giving them more time to repair themselves. In many cases, a low protein diet is a short-term solution to a specific medical problem. For example, bladder stones can be treated quickly and effectively by temporarily reducing protein intake.

It's important to note that some kidney and liver conditions are chronic. This means they can't be cured and will only get worse over time. These conditions have no known cure, but they can still be managed. A low protein diet puts less stress on these organs, which helps slow down their inevitable deterioration. If your vet suggests the low-protein diet for a chronic issue, that diet is likely to be permanent.

Managing the low protein dog diet

It's important to stress that owners should never put their dog on a low protein diet without veterinary supervision. Those that do are likely to cause more problems than they solve. Ann Hohenaus is a third-generation veterinarian. She says: “ You never want to design one yourself. These diets are for serious issues and you could make any issues your dog has worse.”

Any dog on a low protein diet will also require check-ups with a local vet. They’re likely to take regular blood or stool samples. This monitors the underlying health condition, but it also makes sure your dog is getting enough nutrition. The vet will also keep a close eye on your dog's weight. If they start losing too much, they may need to eat a bit more protein. Alternatively,  it could be a sign that the condition is worsening.

Buying low protein dog food

Most standard dog contains around 25% protein. For a dog food to be considered low protein, it should be made up of no more than 23%. Most low protein dogs food stay around the 18% mark. Anything lower than that is specially designed for dogs suffering from serious health issues; this is the stuff your vet would probably recommend. Prices vary depending on the brand and the quality of ingredients. However, given that low protein food is made for dogs with health issues, it's important to opt for a high-quality feed. You certainly want to restrict its intake, but the protein still needs to be of the highest quality.

You can also ask your vet about any health supplements, specifically amino acids and iron-based multivitamins. These could speed up your dog's recovery, or help manage their long-term condition.

Dogs need protein. Its help them grow, keeps them strong, and fuels their bodies and mind. It's an essential part of any diet. Therefore, it should only be restricted on the advice of your local vet. The low protein diet can work as a short-term solution to a certain health condition, or as a long-term aid in managing chronic and degenerative issues. Either way, the low protein diet needs medical supervision and guidance.