Food, Health

Low Protein Dog Food – Is it Good for Your Dog?

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Author: Jacob Kay

Normally, low protein dog food is prescribed for dogs with kidney disease. So, if you were wondering whether low protein dog food is good for your dog or not, then this article is for you. In this article, you will find precise details regarding the low protein dog food diet and, how you can serve it to your furry friend without compromising the nutrition intake.

In addition, I have also included a homemade recipe for low protein dog food. It should help you initiate the transition of your furry friend i.e. switching from a regular diet to a low protein diet. But, this transition will not be that simple and it is difficult to formulate the recipe. So, keep reading!

Low protein Dog Food

A low protein dog food is a type of food that retains less protein. It is used to assist dogs who are having difficulty metabolising protein or suffering from kidney disease, liver disease, or bladder stones issue. Hence, compared to 20-25% of protein found in the regular diet of an adult dog, dog owners can expect a low protein diet to retain 15-18% of protein.

Now, if you are thinking that this protein percentage is quite lower than what a dog needs then you are right. It is less, but, this reduction is significant if you are using to on vets instruction to deal with health issues. So, you need to formulate a low protein dog food recipe or serve a food pack that maintains overall nutritional levels. But, before I suggest the recipe, let’s have a closer look at some of the main ingredients of low protein dog food.


Low protein dog food – main ingredients

The main ingredients of low protein dog food are rice, potatoes, oats, carrots, green beans, and olive oil. All of these ingredients have low or moderate protein levels that could help improve a dog’s health. let’s analyse how these ingredients are significant in a low protein dog food:

#1. Oats

Oats are a carbohydrate source. They are rich in fibre and antioxidants. The protein in oats is about 12-13% on a dry matter basis. It is moderate compared to other grains. The vitamins, antioxidants, and fibre present in oats help with digestion and improve immunity, and overall skin health of the dog.

Dogs suffering from kidney issues benefit from oats as it reduces inflammation, and soothes their stomach. In addition, oats are low in phosphorus so, the workload of kidneys is reduced.

#2. Carrots

The protein content in carrots is roughly 8-9% on a dry matter basis. They retain less protein than most of the vegetables. Antioxidants like beta-carotene prevent cell damage in the dog’s kidneys and liver. In addition, it also protects the liver by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.

Further, carrots are low in phosphorus which is good for improving the functioning of kidneys. High phosphorus levels could put more stress on the kidneys and cause damage. Likewise, the liver of dogs is damaged if the copper levels are high. Carrots have low copper levels and hence, less accumulation which helps prevent damage to the liver of the dog.

#3. Green beans

Green beans have roughly 18-19% of protein on a dry matter basis. This proportion is not exactly low protein but, suitable as a low protein food for dogs who don’t need excessive cuts on regular protein intake. The presence of fibre, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and manganese helps improve digestion, prevent issues like constipation or diarrhoea and promote kidney health.

In addition, green beans are low in calories but, can make dogs feel full. This can help prevent obesity. Less weight in dogs significantly reduces the risk of kidney disease. Also, the low phosphorus in green beans makes sure that kidneys have less stress. These beans are suitable for raw feeding but, make sure you don’t add spices or salt in them.

#4. Olive oil

Olive oil or coconut oil has about 0% protein on a dry matter basis. The reason is obvious, they are pure fats. The olive oil retains omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and improve the overall kidney function of a dog.

Further, the presence of anti-oxidants protects dog’s kidneys from oxidative stress and reduces damage. The low phosphorus in olive oil ensures there is no interference with calcium absorption and prevents bone loss. Olive oil is low in calories and helps maintain healthy weight and energy levels without compromising the kidneys of the dog.

#5. Rice

This ingredient is a common carbohydrate source and is easy to digest. Rice has roughly 7-8% protein on a dry matter basis. This is quite low, especially when you compare it with the majority of the grains. Rice is available in both white and, brown but, the brown one has more nutrients and fibres in comparison to the white ones.

Dogs suffering from kidney or liver disease, are likely to exhibit signs of muscle wastage or weight loss. The low protein in rice helps in controlling muscle wasting and preventing weight loss in dogs. In addition, can also help in preventing diarrhoea and relieve dogs from gastrointestinal issues.

#6. Potatoes

Potatoes are starchy vegetables and can provide potassium, carbohydrates, Vitamin C, and other essential minerals to the dog. They constitute about 9-10% protein on a dry matter basis. This protein proportion is lower than the majority of the vegetables.

The potatoes in low protein dog diet help regulate the fluid balance and blood pressure in dogs having kidney issues. The balance is achieved because of the potassium present in this vegetable. However, the potatoes are not to be served without peeling and proper cooking. Serving raw potatoes will be toxic for the dogs.

However, both rice and potatoes can cause health issues such as obesity, high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. This could make the existing kidney or liver problem even worse.

High-protein ingredients in low protein dog food

We just had a glimpse of some of the main ingredients that are present in low protein dog food. However, the lower protein percentage in these ingredients causes nutrition imbalance. So, there are higher chance of dogs receiving less nutrition.

Hence, it’s necessary for a low protein dog food to have high-protein ingredients. This may seem unusual but, is crucial from a health perspective. To get a better understanding of this matter, below are some of the reasons why high-protein ingredients are needed in a low protein diet for dogs:

#1. To maintain bones, muscles, joints, and energy levels

The amino acids present in the protein help in forming body tissues and organs of the dog. A low protein dog food will not have enough protein in it. This poses a risk of muscle loss, vitamin deficiency, weight loss, malnutrition, muscle loss or bone-related issues.

The dog is susceptible to these issues because of less protein. To maintain their energy levels, muscle and bone strength, and also, improve overall joint strength, they will need proper protein. So, it becomes crucial for dog owners to ensure that low protein dog food retains some high-protein ingredients.

#2. To improve protein absorption capacity and digestion

The high-protein ingredients in the mix of low protein dog food need to be of good quality. This is important as dogs suffering from kidney or liver disease will have less protein absorption capacity and will find it challenging to process protein. So, instead of improvement, more quantity of high-protein ingredients might have an adverse effect if its quality is not proper.

The quality of protein relies on the amino acid profile and biological value of the protein. So, ingredients such as eggs which have a high biological value i.e. retain amino acids that the dog needs, and are digested easily by the dogs. In addition, a small amount of high-protein ingredients ensures there is no overload or stress induced on the organs of the dog having kidney or liver disease.

#3. To provide essential fatty acids

Dogs cannot produce Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids by themselves. Both of these fatty acid helps reduce inflammation and improve kidney and liver function in dogs. They need Omega-3 fatty acids to lower blood pressure, reduce proteinuria, and protect kidney or liver cells from oxidative stress.

Omega-6 fatty acids assist in modulating a dog’s immune system, reducing inflammation and improving skin and coat health. Thus, to match this requirement, high-quality protein source needs to be added to the mix of ingredients of the low-protein dog food. High-protein source ingredients such as fish oil can help in matching such requirements.

Now, that we have analysed the reasons why high-protein ingredients are needed in low protein dog food, let’s have a peek at some of the ingredients which would help achieve these prospects:

  • Eggs – These are high-quality animal-based proteins and have high biological value. This indicates that the amino acids are well utilised by the dog. They provide necessary vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K. In addition, eggs also provide iron, zinc, and selenium which contributes to the improvement of health. Normally, egg-based products will constitute 34-82% protein on a dry matter basis so, you’ll have to adjust the quantity as per your requirement.
  • Fish and fish oil – both of these ingredients can help in providing nutritious benefits to the dogs. The only distinction is that fish as a whole food includes more proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Whereas, fish oil retains 0% protein on a dry matter basis and less nutrients. Based on the vet’s suggestion or the dog’s protein requirement, you can add either one of them. Any of these ingredients will provide omega-3 fatty acids. Adding fish oil can improve a dog’s coat and skin, reduce inflammation, and support the kidneys of the dog.
  • Chicken – it has 70% of protein on a dry matter basis. Hence, this animal-based protein needs to be added in small amounts to the dog’s food. If added properly, chicken can help improve kidney health as it has low phosphorus and sodium. High levels of phosphorus cause stress and elevated sodium levels can increase blood pressure, and fluid retention, which damages the kidney. Also, to prevent obesity issues and protect the kidneys, chicken could come in handy as an ingredient as it has low calories.
  • Pork fat – this animal-based protein contains 25-27% protein present on a dry matter basis. This is pure fat but, is useful to add calories, and taste to low protein dog food. The taste factor is important as some dogs will resent the low protein dog food because of the smell and taste. However, because of the fat content, the quantity must be adjusted properly. Otherwise, a dog who is already having kidney or liver disease will suffer from severe health issues. This is because of the high presence of sodium, phosphorus, copper, and fat in pork fat.
  • Lamb – this fatty meat constitutes 27-28% of protein on a dry matter basis and is more than pork or beef. Still, if it is used in less proportion then, it could provide the required nutrition balance to the low protein dog food. However, this high-protein ingredient may not suit some dogs because of allergies or sensitivities.

High protein ingredient formula

Based on the dog’s regular protein intake and considering factors like age, weight, size, and vet’s instructions, you can add high-protein ingredients to the dog’s low-protein diet. Below is a rough calculation or estimate of how you can provide a precise quantity:

Q=P×Wlb100×CQ = \frac{P \times W_{lb}}{100 \times C}

Here, Q refers to the quantity of high-quality protein in grams. P is the percentage of protein (on a dry matter basis). Wlb stands for dog’s weight in lbs. C is the percentage of protein in high-quality protein. Using this formula you can calculate the estimate quantity.

For instance,

If your furry friend weighs 45 lbs and needs about 15% protein (on a dry matter basis), and let’s assume you wish to add egg product as a high-protein ingredient, which roughly has 48% protein on a dry matter basis, to the low protein dog food then you will get the result as follows:

Q=15×45100×48Q = \frac{15 \times 45}{100 \times 48}

Q=0.9375Q = 0.9375

Hence, you need to add 0.9375 grams of egg product to the low protein food.

Note: this formula is a rough estimate so, it’s best to consult the vet before deciding on serving a low protein food diet to dogs with high-protein components in it.

Things to Consider Before Serving Low Protein Dog Food


When you decide to serve low protein dog protein to your friend, make sure you consult your vet. This is important as it is not a regular meal and not all dogs need it. As a responsible dog owner, you also need to analyse various prospects before you plan on serving low protein dog food to your furry friend. Here are they:

#1. Purpose of serving low protein dog food

Often dog owners themselves decide to serve a low protein dog food to their furry friend. This could be fatal, especially if they serve it as their regular meal. I say this because low protein dog food is not like a regular meal and not all dogs need it.

Dog owners must know why they want to serve low protein dog food to their dogs. Usually, the switch in diet is made on the vet’s recommendation to address certain health issues such as kidney or liver disease, or bladder stones. So, if you change the diet without knowing the purpose, or vet’s consult, your dog could become vulnerable to various other health issues.

#2. Protein quality and quantity

Before starting to serve your dog with a low protein dog food diet, it’s crucial for you to have good quality protein and, optimal quantity. You don’t want to cause nutritional imbalance and cause issues for your dog. However, there is no precise measurement of protein that you can serve. It differs based on various factors.

Still, you can consider 20% protein on a dry matter basis as a parameter. You can alter it based on your vet’s instructions as it’s possible that your dog needs less than 20% of protein. In addition, your furry friend’s low protein dog food should have high-quality protein ingredients. Quality is crucial as it determines the digestibility and bioavailability of the protein. Low-quality protein ingredients must be avoided as they are not absorbed or utilised properly.

#3. Analyse phosphorus content and other nutrients

Phosphorus can accumulate in the blood of dogs and cause more damage to the kidneys. The ingredients present in the low protein diet must maintain low phosphorus levels to ensure the dog’s safety. Anything around 0.5% on a dry matter basis will be fine.

Along with phosphorus, there are other nutrients whose proportion needs to remain less to avoid health issues. These nutrients are sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins, and antioxidants. The high presence of any of these nutrients could risk a dog’s health.

#4. Flavour and taste

Unlike regular meals, low protein dog food will have a dull or unpleasant taste. This may seem like a small thing but, often unpleasant taste and flavour makes dog resent low protein dog food. The chances of resentment are more when you serve a commercial low protein dog food pack.

Hence, it becomes crucial for you to consider this prospect. To improve the taste, you can add some water, wet food or broth to the low protein dog food. You can also try adding some food items as toppings. However, make sure that you don’t overdo this. Adding more quantity of different food items would change the nutrition composition of the low protein dog food.

#5. Food type and texture

The food type and texture of the low protein dog food are important aspects. This is mainly because different dogs have different preferences when it comes to food texture and type. For example, some dogs prefer canned or wet food, and some prefer dry dog food or kibble.

But, wet dog food provides more moisture and flavour in comparison with dry dog food. This can benefit dogs with urinary or kidney problems. So, feeding wet protein dog food is slightly better. However, this doesn’t undermine the effectiveness of low protein dry dog food. It has similar benefits but, the effect is more inclined towards dental health and is difficult for senior dogs to chew.

#6. Availability and cost

Dry dog food, and wet dog food are available easily whereas, low protein dog food is not available that easily. The availability becomes a major issue when there is a specific instruction from the vet regarding ingredients. For example, if a vet suggests a protein percentage of 15% the pack might have a low or high protein percentage.

To tackle this issue, dog owners need to consider making low protein dog food by themselves. However, formulating a homemade low protein dog food recipe could get complicated. Not to forget, the ingredients need to be bought and prepared separately. This could get messy, time-consuming or even elevate the budget. As a responsible dog owner, you need to analyse these prospects and decide whether you will buy low protein dog food or make it yourself.

Regular Meal to Low Protein Dog Food – Transition

Switching a dog’s regular meal with low protein dog food is a challenging task. I say this because many dog owners have shared their experiences with me and I have found out that the majority of them replace their dog’s regular meals with low protein dog food. This is a rookie mistake.

A low protein dog food is not a substitute for regular meals and not all dogs will eat it. To avoid such a mistake, and make sure your furry friend eats the low protein dog food, here are some of the tips you can consider to help your furry friend transition from their regular diet to low protein diet:

#1. Start small

If you don’t want to use a large quantity of low protein dog food in the first meal, start small. Mix small amounts of low protein dog food in your furry friend’s regular meal. Let’s say about 20-25%. This means, you include 75% of the regular meal and replace the remaining portion with the low protein dog food. You can adjust this distribution at your convenience.

So, if you feel 10-15% of their regular meal should be replaced, fine. This will make the transition smoother as such a low quantity of low protein dog food might not create any significant change in the nutrition or flavour of their regular meal. With low change, chances of successful transition increases.

#2. Gradual change in quantity

Once you start changing the composition, it is important to continue the ratio for a few days. If the dog is used to the initial change in the meal, you can gradually increase the quantity. So, if your dog is having 25% low protein dog food for 3-4 days without showing any health issues or behavioural change, you can make it 50%.

If you follow this procedure to help your dog with the transition, the feeding schedule will look like this:

  • Day 1 to Day 3: Regular meal ratio of 75% and 25% of low protein dog food.
  • Day 3 to Day 6: Regular meal ratio of 50% and 50% of low protein dog food.
  • Day 6 to Day 8: Regular meal ratio of 25% and 75% of low protein dog food.
  • Day 8 to Day 10: No Regular meal in the mix, 100% of low protein dog food.

Remember, some dogs will adjust to low protein dog food within 7-10 days and some will need more time. Likewise, some dogs may also adjust quickly. So, based on your furry friend’s response to the meal, you can change the buffer period and alter the ratio at their convenience.

#3. Monitor dog’s behaviour and health

To make sure that your furry friend is adjusting to the change in the diet, you’ll have to continuously monitor their behaviour and health condition. So, after each alteration, you need to observe their activities and check their health. If you notice any signs of gastrointestinal upset like diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or another such issue, you’ll have to reduce the quantity of the low protein dog food.

Reducing the quantity of low protein food will extend the transition period. Your furry friend’s health should get better. However, if the health issue is still persistent, you can stop mixing low protein food in their meal and halt the transition. See if their health gets better. If not, you may have to get your dog’s health examined by the vet.

#4. Adjust the buffer time and avoid high-protein

To avoid health issues or behavioural issues while serving low protein food to dogs, you need to constantly adjust the buffer time. This simply means adjusting the days as per the dog’s response to changes in the diet. For example, if your dog is resenting a meal after a couple of days, you may have to lower the quantity and feed the meal for more days.

So, it may take more than 3 days for your dog to adjust to 25% of low protein dog food. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that high-protein ingredients are not to be utilised in the mix. You can use small bits as toppings but, not more. The reason is simple, it will cancel out the purpose of serving low protein food to the dog.

Benefits of Low Protein Dog Food

If the transition from regular food to low protein dog food is a success, your furry friend will leverage ample benefits. They will also get relief from existing kidney or liver-related issues. Following are some of the prominent benefits of low protein food for dogs:

  • Control the progression of kidney diseases

The low protein food can help in controlling the progression of kidney diseases in the dogs. The low protein food reduces the amount of phosphorus and protein that enters a dog’s bloodstream and urine. This reduction minimises the workload of the kidney and prevents further damage.

The low protein food also helps deal with symptoms of kidney disease like nausea, weight loss, vomiting, seizures, or anaemia. It also provides minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants which help protect a dog’s kidney from oxidative stress. In addition, low protein dog food also helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in dogs suffering from kidney diseases. This prevents issues like dehydration, hypertension, or oedema.

  • Improvement in dog’s overall health

The low protein dog food not only improves the dog’s kidneys but, also helps improve the dog’s overall health. It offers nutrients required by the dog without increasing strain on their organs. The ingredients in the food help reduce inflammation, dryness, and itching and improve dog’s skin and coat health.

In addition, the fatty acid in the low protein food improves the softness and shine of the dog’s fur. The fibre content in low-protein food helps in stopping digestive issues such as constipation, gas, or diarrhoea. Furthermore, the carbohydrates present in a low protein diet can prevent lethargy, fatigue, or weakness. boost energy levels in dogs.

  • Optimize the functioning of metabolic organs

The amount of protein and fat entering the dog’s bloodstream and the bile is reduced with the help of low protein food. This can reduce stress on metabolic organs i.e. liver and the pancreas. The less stress on these organs eventually optimizes their functioning.

Further, low protein food also helps in tackling symptoms like ascites, jaundice, or pancreatitis. It also provides pancreatic cells or the liver with antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress. In addition, maintains the insulin and blood sugar levels as well and prevents issues like diabetes, hyperglycemia, or hypoglycemia.

  • Relief from severe symptoms of impaired organ function

A low protein food can help provide relief to dogs with impaired organ function. So, dogs suffering from heart disease, cancer, or bladder stones get huge relief. This is possible because of the reduction of protein levels and other substances in the dog’s bloodstream and urine. The risk of infection or complication is less and pain is reduced.

The omega-3 fatty acids present in low protein dog food, reduce inflammation and improve blood flow in dogs. In addition, the immunity and cellular health of dogs are significantly improved after having low protein food. The minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants present in the low protein food improve the immune response and cellular repair. This helps in preventing issues like metastasis, cachexia, and immunosuppression.

  • Less workload on kidney and liver

Huge protein levels in a dog’s bloodstream could induce stress on vital organs like the kidneys and liver. This can elevate the workload and compromise the functioning of both the kidney and liver, especially if the dog is already suffering from the disease. The low protein diet helps in decreasing the protein levels which lessens the stress on the kidneys and liver facilitating optimal functioning.

Additionally, the toxins and waste products produced in a dog’s body are less. This means less production and excretion of urea, ammonia, uric acid, or creatinine so, less toxicity and acidosis.

  • Reduces risk of obesity

Dogs who are overweight benefit a lot from a low protein food diet. The ingredients present in low protein food contain fewer calories which reduces the risk of obesity. One of the reasons low protein dog food helps reduce weight is – it makes the dogs feel full even with lower protein levels. This significantly reduces the appetite and they don’t gain excessive weight.

Dogs feel full because there is no reduction of other nutrients. To compensate for low protein content in the diet, there are ingredients present in low protein food which deliver proper vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. This maintains the nutrition balance with less protein and quantity.

Homemade Recipe for Low Protein Dog Food

To leverage the benefits of low protein for your furry friend, it’s important for you to include proper ingredients and formulate a suitable recipe formula. You have to consider protein percentage and nutrition distribution for the best results.

So, considering these prospects I have suggested one recipe which will be helpful. If you are used to serving homemade cooked food to your furry friend then this should be easy.

Salmon and oatmeal low protein diet recipe

Before getting started, let me explain why I went with this recipe. Salmon is a source of omega-3 fatty acids and helps reduce inflammation and enhance kidney or liver function. Also, the biological value of salmon is high which means, it has the necessary amino acids and is easily digestible and utilised by the dog.

Oatmeal is a good source of vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants. These elements support dog’s immunity, improve digestion, and also, make their skin better. In addition, oatmeal also has a low glycemic index. This suggests that it doesn’t cause random spikes and drops in insulin and blood sugar levels in a dog.


  • 2 cups of oatmeal
  • 1 pound of skinless, boneless salmon fillet
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 crushed multivitamin tablet


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper.
  2. Cut down the salmon fillet and reduce them into bite-sized pieces. Place the pieces on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake the salmon for roughly 15-20 minutes or wait till it’s cooked through and splinters.
  4. Now, use a big pot and boil the water. Add oatmeal, rosemary, olive oil and salt to the mix.
  5. Reduce the heat and steam the mix for about 15 minutes. You can also wait until the mix becomes soft and thick.
  6. Sprinkle the crushed multivitamin tablet as topping to the mix and stir the mix.
  7. Allow the oatmeal and salmon mix to cool down.

Once the mixture of salmon and oatmeal cools down, it is ready for serving. You can add this food item to your dog’s meal as per the requirement. Also, you can store the remaining mix in the refrigerator for 3 days or in freezer for 3 months.

However, if you wish to spend less time formulating the recipe and making this food, you can consider buying a low protein food pack for dogs. Make sure you don’t compromise on the quality and buy the best low protein dog food for your furry friend.

Health Hazards of Serving Low Protein Dog Food

While there are ample benefits to using low protein dog food, especially from a health perspective, there are some drawbacks as well. Many dogs might not get better and their existing medical condition could get worse. Below are some of the potential health hazards of serving low protein dog food to the dog.s

  • Muscle wastage and weight loss

Protein is an important component of muscle growth. It provides energy and builds strong muscles, bones, and joints. A low protein food compromises muscle growth as dogs might begin to break down their own muscle tissues to match the protein requirement. This can result in muscle wastage.

This phenomenon is referred to as catabolism. Muscle wastage in dogs could compromise their physical health and also make them vulnerable to different injuries and infections. In addition, muscle wastage in dogs can cause weakness and lead to weight loss as well. The dog’s appetite gets low, their energy levels are down and overall health is compromised.

  • Malnutrition and Vitamin deficiency

Vitamins are crucial for a dog’s body as they act as hormones, coenzymes, or antioxidants. The vitamin compounds are necessary for a dog’s normal growth, development, and maintain their health. They are classified into two categories – fat soluble and water soluble. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins which are stored in the body’s fat tissue.

Water solubles such as Vitamins B and C are not stored in the dog’s body. They need protein in order to synthesize and activate these vitamins. So, when a dog has low protein food, the lack of protein compromises the ability to produce and utilise such vitamins. This results in vitamin deficiency and malnutrition. In addition, Vitamin deficiency and malnutrition in dogs can trigger symptoms like rickets, anaemia, blindness, scurvy, or beriberi.

  • Joint related issues

Cartilage is a connective tissue which covers the ends of bones and prevents rubbing against each other. Synovial fluid is a viscous fluid which fills the joint space and provides lubrication to the cartilage. Protein helps to maintain the cartilage and synovial fluid that cushion and lubricate the joints. Also, it helps with the synthesis and repair of the cartilage and synovial fluid.

So, if the dog is on a low protein diet, chances are that they will lose the ability to produce and maintain these substances. This could cause cartilage degeneration and synovial fluid shortage. A dog suffers from joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation, and has less mobility. In addition, this could lead to severe issues like arthritis, and osteoporosis. However, if supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine are used in the mix, it could improve lubrication and cushioning.

  • Healthy weight is not maintained

Maintaining a healthy weight for a dog is important. This is possible by ensuring a proper balance between calorie intake and calories burned by the dog. Protein helps to achieve this prospect as it regulates calorie intake and expenditure. It ensures that the dog feels full after having the meal and minimises their hunger and cravings.

Low protein dog food will not meet the regular protein requirement and it’s possible that the dog will develop more appetite. They might start to overeat and become obese. This could also cause issues like diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis.

  • Negative impact on the immunity system, and cells

Protein is crucial for the structure and functioning of organs, cells, and the immunity system in a dog’s body. The low protein diet could have a negative impact on the cells, organs, and immune system of the dog. This is mainly because protein is the main component of the majority of the tissues and organs in a dog’s body.

It also helps in maintaining the shape, integrity, and activity. In addition, protein is required for the regulation, and synthesis of different molecules such as hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and receptors. Low protein food given to dogs can comprise the ability to produce and utilise these molecules. As a result, there is cellular damage and organ dysfunction observed in dogs.

Furthermore, the low protein food can also cause impairment in a dog’s nerve function and cellular repair capability. This is because protein is needed in proper quantity to facilitate the reception and transmission of nerve impulses and for replicating and repairing the DNA.

  • Impacts mucosal function and permeability in the small intestine

The low protein dog food has a significant impact on mucosal function and permeability in the small intestine of a dog. As a result, dogs often have a leaky gut. Mucosa is the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and it stops toxins and bacteria from entering the bloodstream. It allows the absorption of nutrients and water into the bloodstream.

Protein helps in maintaining mucosa and also repair it if needed. It also helps in producing mucus, cytokines, and immunoglobulins, that assist in regulating mucose. Low protein dog food disrupts the junctions and elevates inflammation and permeability. The intestinal lining is damaged and toxins or bacteria can get into the bloodstream causing a leaky gut. The leaky gut can trigger allergies, and cause inflammation, autoimmune disease, and chronic infection in dogs.


Is low protein dog food for kidney disease only?

No, low protein dog food is not only for kidney disease. There are plenty of other diseases which may demand a change in the dog’s regular diet and a switch to low protein dog food. They may need low protein food in the following conditions – heart disease, liver disease, or bladder stones. The less protein portion in this food helps in reducing the toxins and halts the progression of existing liver or kidney issues. In addition, it can also help prevent the loss of protein that is already ingested by dogs, which tends to happen when some cases of PLN i.e. protein-losing nephropathy.

How low fat low protein dog food help a dog?

A low fat low protein dog food can help reduce the production of toxins and stop the progression of kidney or liver disease. It is also beneficial for dogs who have urinary stones, Lyme disease (associated with kidney inflammation), liver shunt, and hepatic encephalopathy (related to cirrhosis of the liver). Also, the low fat low protein dog food helps in preventing protein loss in cases of PLN, a disease associated with renal failure.

Why should I consult a vet before serving low protein dog food?

A vet can assess your dog’s health better than you and provide accurate insights as to whether your furry friend needs low protein dog food or not. They will examine the dog’s appetite, weight, energy levels, and urine output and tell if the dog needs a low protein food diet. Based on the results of the examination, you will receive instructions on how much protein content to adjust. You will also get specific instructions on ingredients the low protein dog food must include to maintain the nutrition balance. If you don’t consult a vet regarding this switch, your furry friend is likely to suffer from various health issues.

When to stop serving low protein dog food to dogs?

There is no exact time frame suggesting when to stop serving low protein dog food to dogs. One of the reasons it is difficult to suggest the timeframe is that some of the diseases are fatal and dogs will have to continue having low protein dog food for a longer duration or permanently. So, if your furry friend is suffering from chronic kidney disease or hepatic encephalopathy. Both of these diseases mandate continuing low protein dog food unless the vet suggests stopping it. Likewise, some of the conditions may only require low protein dog food temporarily. For instance, bladder stones, or liver shunt. However, ultimately, it’s up to the vet to provide an estimate on how long you should feed the low protein dog food and how many times or when to stop.

Conclusive Remarks on Low Protein Dog Food

Low protein dog food is made to reduce the protein levels in dogs who are suffering from kidney or liver issues. It helps in minimising the production and excretion of toxins, preventing the loss of protein through the kidneys. In addition, it slows down the weakening of the organ function.

But, low protein dog food is not suitable for every dog. It is not recommended to use for healthy, senior, or obese dogs. The amino acids in low protein dog food won’t be enough and it might also not match the energy requirements of healthy, senior, or obese dogs. Also, it could lead to issues like malnutrition, poor coat and skin health, and muscle wastage.

Thus, as a responsible dog owner, you need to consult your vet and feed low protein dog food as per their instructions. Based on the instructions from the vet, you can opt for a low protein food pack or make it yourself with the help of the suggested recipe in the article.

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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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