Low Protein Dog Food – Which, When, Who and What?

Last Updated on January 1, 2022 Ashley Camelia

Introducing the New Low Protein Food

At first, your dog might not be so interested in the low protein diet. This might be because it’s something new or because it prefers the taste of the food you previously served up. You can’t blame your precious pooch for being unhappy about the diet but there isn’t much option here if you want a healthy dog.

So you have to be firm and persist with this special diet for the good of your pet. Most dogs will get hungry and eventually try the new food. After some time they will develop a taste for it and be happy to eat again.

If your dog won’t eat try moving its bowl inside or to another area. Sometimes a scene change can inspire your dog to take some bites. Once it starts eating its taste buds are stimulated and it will eat more.

It can be stressful to know your dog is going on a mini hunger strike. Be strong and encourage your dog to eat what is best for its overall health and wellness. If your dog continues to not eat the food for more than three days ask your veterinarian for professional advice.

Low protein dog food

Which is The Best Low Protein Dog Food?

A high-quality protein is easy to digest and can be found in sources like chicken, turkey, beef, fish, and eggs. Treats with animal proteins as the main ingredient are usually the top option for dogs.

The following are some of the dog food brands we recommended that have complementary products including dog treats. So if your dog is especially fond of a particular brand it might love the matching doggy treat too.

Blue Buffalo
  • Flavour: Chicken & Brown Rice
  • Breed: All Breed Sizes
  • Size: 5/6/15/30/34 lbs
Hill's Science Diet
  • Flavour: Chicken & Barley
  • Breed: All Breed Sizes
  • Size: 4/15.5/24/30 lbs
Natural Balance
  • Flavour: Sweet Potato & Bison
  • Breed: All Breed Sizes
  • Size: 4.5/13/26 lbs

1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula dry dog food

Your dog will love flavorsome blends including chicken, lamb, and fish mixed with brown rice, fruits, and vegetables.

Formulated with reduced calories from fat, this dry dog food provides a fully satisfying meal without an excessive amount of calories from fat to help dogs achieve and maintain a healthy weight. No corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives are used in this dog food.

Your precious pooch will be munching on a formulated blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists, to support immune system health, life stage requirements, and a healthy oxidative balance.

The brand is named after Blue the Airedale dog who had health problems. The founders of the company couldn’t find the pet food Blue needed at that time so they made their own and it grew into a business.

We see lots of positive reviews from pet owners saying their dogs love this healthy dog food that is low in calories and perfect for a dog needing a low protein diet.

The key benefits:

  • Helps build stronger muscles
  • Stronger immune system
  • Promotes healthy skin and coat


2. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food 

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food

For dogs with sensitive stomachs and skin issues, this product could be a huge help.

This adult dry dog food promotes digestive health while nourishing the skin. It offers a source of prebiotic fiber to support a balanced gut microbiome in grown dogs. The easily digested formula is packed with vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids to help your grown dog maintain a lustrous coat and healthy skin.

Hill’s Food, Shelter and Love program donates food to shelters across America which is commendable. With every purchase of Science Diet, you help feed over 100,000 homeless pets every day all year round.

Hill’s has plenty of positive reviews from people saying their dogs adore this healthy dog food that is low in calories.

The main benefits:

  • Highly digestible food (gentle on stomach)
  • Vitamin E and Omega 5 fatty acid for skin and coat nourishment
  • With beep pulp, a nourishing prebiotic fiber


3. Natural Balance Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Limited Ingredient Diets)

Natural Balance Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Some fancy foods are being served up with this brand including sweet potato and bison, potato and duck, and sweet potato and venison. Sounds like the menu from a posh restaurant so you can be sure your dog will be happy at mealtime.

This low-carb product claims to promote healthy skin and coat and improve digestion issues. Simple recipes, quality foods, and formulas for puppies, adults, and seniors are available.

Positive reviews are shown from pet owners saying their dogs enjoy feasting on this healthy dog food that is low in calories. One buyer said her dog loves the product and is usually pickier than a five-year-old at a salad bar. What better review could you hope for than that?

The major benefits:

  • Complete, balanced nutritious ingredients
  • Grain-free, limited ingredient diet (single animal protein source)
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives


When Your Beloved Dog Needs A Low Protein Diet?

Generally, most dogs require a diet that is high in protein so they can grow healthy and strong. Protein provides amino acids to build hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It also plays a main role in hormone production. The protein in dog foods can come from animals, plants, or a combination of both sources.

While protein helps your canine friend function well there are some circumstances when your dog might need a low protein diet. If a pet dog is unwell there are certain illnesses that a low protein diet would be beneficial.

Your veterinarian might recommend you buy dog food that is low in protein to help your dog’s recovery if it is suffering from kidney or liver-related illnesses for example.

Here are some low-protein dog food products that we think stand out in the pet food market. You can buy them online, at pet stores, suppliers/ supermarkets, or perhaps from your local veterinarian.


Who Should Buy Low Protein Dog Food?

1.   Liver and Kidney Problems

The liver and kidneys digest proteins, so for dogs with liver or kidney conditions, a low protein diet can help by reducing the stress on these organs.

Reducing phosphorous is also essential in managing kidney and liver disease. Often a cure isn’t possible, but the situation can be managed. So this diet is usually permanent.

A dog with liver or kidney failure can still live for a long time. One of the best ways to enable them to live the rest of their lives out is by feeding them a healthy diet and making their surroundings comfortable.

Try out different brands of low-protein dog food until you find the one your dog likes the best. It may enjoy a certain brand for some time before desires a different taste. Luckily there are many options on the market and dog food producers are quite creative with their flavor options.

Before starting your dog on the new diet take note of its weight and measurements. This way you can check every fortnight to see if your dog is putting on or losing weight. Some small weight loss or gain can be expected with any new diet. But you want to make sure the weight change isn’t dramatic as it could cause further health issues.

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2.   Urate Bladder Stones

A rare type of bladder stones, urate bladder stones, can be dissolved by switching to a low protein diet. After your dog has recovered it should go back to a normal diet.

Bladder stones, also known as uroliths or cystic calculi, are hard formations of minerals that are found in the urinary bladder. They are more common than kidney stones in dogs. There may be one big stone or several stones varying in size from grains to small rocks.

Urate bladder stones are usually caused by a genetic abnormality that causes a defect in the metabolism of uric acid.

Other causes of urate bladder stones include liver diseases like portosystemic shunts. A portosystemic shunt is an abnormal vein joining the blood supply returning from the intestines to the vein returning blood to the heart, bypassing the liver (shunting). The shunts might be present from birth or developed over time. The urate bladder stones can form if the urine is highly acidic or concentrated.

Dog breeds most prone to urate bladder stones are Dalmatians, English Bulldogs, and Black Russian Terriers. Genetic testing should be done before breeding these breeds to lower the occurrence of this condition.

Signs your dog has bladder stones are hematuria (blood in the urine) and dysuria (straining to urinate). Hematuria happens when the stones rub against the bladder wall, irritating and damaging the tissue which leads to bleeding. Dysuria may cause inflammation and swelling of the bladder walls or the urethra. It is likely to be painful for your dog.

Big stones can cause an obstruction at the neck of the bladder, the point where the bladder joins the urethra. Little stones may flow with the urine into the urethra where they can become lodged and cause an obstruction. If an obstruction happens, the bladder can’t be properly emptied. If the obstruction is whole, the dog will be unable to urinate at all. If the obstruction is not fixed there is a danger the bladder can burst. Complete obstruction can be fatal and should be treated as an emergency.

If urate bladder stones form because of a portosystemic shunt, your pet might also display signs of neurologic impairment (dullness or disorientation, head pressing, or seizures).

Your vet will try to feel for the stones and may be successful if they are big enough. If not ultrasound or a method using dye to outline the stones in the bladder will be used as X-rays can’t detect the stones.

From these results, your vet can diagnose if your dog has crate bladder stones almost for sure and treatment can begin. The only way to confirm the condition 100% is by analyzing one in the lab. Your dog may need surgery or another method called urohydroppropulsion which is not so invasive.

Following this, a low protein diet can prevent further stones from forming. Your vet will give specific recommendations depending on your dog’s history and condition.


3.   Overweight or Obese

If your dog is overweight and in danger of developing further health problems your vet may recommend a diet low in protein. It is important to keep your dog active and give it regular exercise. Eating a proper diet and getting regular exercise is much healthier than a low protein diet that is needed due to a lazy or inactive dog.

Of course, senior dogs can be prone to putting on weight as their metabolism changes and they become less able to be active. Dogs will other illnesses or injuries can also be inactive. In this case, encouraging gentle exercise as often as possible will help your dog remain agile and in good spirits.

Your veterinarian may also recommend a low protein diet in the following cases:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Lyme-disease associated nephritis
  • Other inflammatory kidney diseases
  • Portosystemic shunt (liver shunt)
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Prevention of some types of urinary stones


What are the Important Factors To Consider?

There are some must-haves for a low protein dog food including the following:

1. Protein source

Protein should come from high-quality animal sources. Animal proteins are the easiest for your dog to digest and process. Check the label for ingredients such as meat, eggs, and dairy.

2. Amount of protein

Most commercial dog foods for adult dogs are made up of about 25% protein. A diet shouldn’t be less than about 18% protein from dry food (unless your vet recommends otherwise). Note that water dilutes the protein content. So a cup of dry food will have more protein than a cup of wet food for example.

3. Quality

Quality is important and often more expensive brands are priced as such due to quality. There is a high chance you are moving to a high protein diet for your dog because it is sick. So it is important even more so due to your pet’s health issues that it gets the best possible food.

4. Balanced nutrition

Food has to be low in protein and fat and have the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients so your dog is fit and healthy. Stay away from food with color, preservatives, sweeteners, or artificial flavors. These can be irritating and unhealthy for your dog. If your dog is ill this can especially be detrimental to its health.

5. Flavor

The food needs to be tasty and enjoyed by your dog. Most flavor comes from protein so some low-protein dog foods can lack tastiness. Try different brands and find one your dog loves. Consider mixing the dry food with wet food if your pet is picky. A dog in renal failure will often have symptoms including acidic stomach and nausea. That can often make them reject food or have a low appetite. So the taste of the dog food is very important. Your dog needs to like the taste so it stays very motivated to eat.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What proteins are best for my dog?

Lean ground beef and pork, duck, white fish, and egg whites are all foods with good sources of protein for your dog. These are all good options due to the ratio of fat to phosphorus.

Here is a helpful guideline to refer to when measuring protein amounts:

  • Salmon 20 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat
  • Pollock 23 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat
  • Lamb 25 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat
  • Beef (lean and ground) 26 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat
  • Turkey (lean and ground) 27 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat
  • Chicken 27 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat
  • Goat 27 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat
  • Venison 30 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat


2. What fat source is best for my dog?

Coconut oil is great because it is high in good fat but low in vitamins. Avocado oil is a great alternative.


3. Which vegetables are best for my pet dog?

Green beans, pumpkin, potato, broccoli, and carrots are all great options for your dog.


4. Which carbs and fiber foods should I give my dog?

Rice, vegetables, barley, fruits, and grains such as brown rice are great as they are easy for your dog to digest.


5. My dog’s appetite is low. What can I do?

Try feeding your dog smaller meals more frequently. Mix up the food so the taste is varying. Sit with your dog and encourage and praise it when eating. Never force your dog to eat.


6. At what age should I start considering the amount of protein my dog is eating?

Puppies and young dogs rarely need a diet low in protein. You only need to consider protein if your dog suffers from bladder stones, kidney or liver issues, or is overweight. For all of these conditions, you will need to visit the veterinarian for advice and treatment. At that time your vet will discuss your dog’s current diet and make suggestions on modifications.


7. Is peanut butter good for my dog with kidney issues?

Peanut butter is high in salt so isn’t good for dogs with kidney issues. Even if this is your dog’s favorite treat try not to feed it peanut butter after the vet has diagnosed kidney problems.


8. Can my dog still eat eggs on a low protein diet?

Eggs are high in protein so you need to be aware that too many are unhealthy for a dog that needs a low protein diet. Eggs contain many essential amino acids and fatty acids and are excellent treats or dietary supplements for dogs. So some egg is recommended even for dogs on a low protein diet but only in moderation.


  1. How to Make Low‐Protein Dog Food – Wikihow.com
  2. How do I Calculate the Calorie Content? – Association of American Feed Control Officials
  3. Treats for Dogs With Bladder Stones – Dog Nutrition Topics and Tips