Understanding how protein works in your dog’s body is the key to understanding a higher protein diet.
Typically when dogs eat a commercial dog food, carbohydrates and fat are utilized for energy. Conversely when a dog is fed a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet, the protein (and fat) is utilized for energy. Making protein available for energy happens through the body’s process called gluconeogenesis, where the protein is turned into glucose. The residual protein will then be excreted in the urine.
Traditionally if an animal is kidney compromised, typically it would be put on a lower protein diet, as this lower protein would produce less nitrogen-a component of protein. The conclusion derived from this would be that a higher protein causes kidney issues and utilizing lowered protein is thought to be the remedy. Studies show that this is simply not the case. CANINE AND FELINE NUTRITION Case, Carey and Hirakawa 1995 states:
“There is no conclusive evidence showing that protein intake actually contributes to the development of kidney dysfunction in healthy animals.”
However, one option utilized frequently is the use of highly digestible proteins, not necessarily lower in quantity, but certainly less nitrogen producing. As an example CANINE AND FELINE NUTRITION Case, Carey and Hirakawa 1995:
“In general, high-quality animal source proteins provide superior amino acid balances for companion animals, compared with the amino acid balances that are supplied by grain proteins.”
This works well, particularly in the case of older animals, as their ability to utilize protein decreases. As stated in NRC Wannemacher and McCoy 1996:
“Older dogs appear to require somewhat more crude protein to maintain labile protein (so called protein reserves) perhaps as much as 50% more.”
As this happens digestibility needs to increase through the use of exceptional protein sources such as chicken meal, salmon meal etc.
Unless is it determined that your dog requires restricted protein due to severe kidney problem, restriction is not required. As well, restricting will not “”save”” the pet’s kidneys by feeding a low protein. Kirk’s Veterinary Therapy XIII, Small Animal Practice Finco, Brown, Barsanti and Bartges states, “…restriction of protein intake does not alter the development of renal lesions nor does it preserve renal function. Considering these (research) findings, the authors do not recommend reduction of dietary protein in dogs with renal disease or reduced renal function in order to achieve renoprotective effects.””
Although feeding your pet is a personal choice, understanding the pros and cons of feeding various diets, goes a long way in the decision making process. As in all cases regarding your pet, always check with your veterinarian regarding health, or any other issues, including food choices.
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