5 Best Low Protein Dog Foods (Plus a Healthy Treat!)

Switching your dog over to a low protein diet per a vet’s recommendation may help promote kidney health.

We know that dogs love their animal fats and protein [1], but unfortunately it’ not always possible to give them as much as they want.

Occasionally, a trip to the vet might reveal some disturbing news about kidney or liver disease, and this can change what you need to feed your dog in an instant.

Here’s a video of Dr. Becker explaining kidney importance in detail:

Both of these organs work to break down protein in diets [2], so when they start to falter, your dog needs to cut back on his or her intake to give them some needed healing room.

Best low-protein dog food review

Thankfully, you don’t have to compromise on quality. There are tons of great low-protein foods [3] explicitly formulated to try and alleviate these medical conditions.

In this article, we’ll run you through five of our favorites!

Related: Check out our article on heartworm prevention for dogs.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet | Canine Gastro Intestinal Low Fat

Royal-Canin-Veterinary-Diet-Canine-Gastro-Intestinal-Low-Fat-Canned-Dog-Food

It’s not a brand that you might be familiar with unless you need to be, but this vet-exclusive formula is one of the best for improving the digestive health of your pet.

It focuses on delivering easily digestible fats and proteins to ease the pressure on your dog’s kidneys, while also supplementing their fiber [4] diet to help keep them regular.

Pros

  • Great for allergy sufferers
  • Contains multiple vitamins and anti-oxidants for greater all-around health

Cons

  • Can be quite expensive depending on where you shop

Customer feedback

Enjoyed even by picky pooches, Royal Canin has helped some pets overcome their diagnoses to live more comfortable lives. This product earned a 4.4 out of 5 stars rating, and customers appreciate that it’s accessible and tastes great, while still delivering a ton of nutritional benefits to help keep dogs in top shape.

It’s particularly useful for dogs that require supplemental medication since pills are easy to hide in the pâté.

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Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets | NF Kidney Function

Purina-NF-Kidney-Function-Canine-Formula-Canned-Dog-Food

Consumers have a love-hate relationship with Purina, as it is a mass-market brand that has products lining the store shelves all over the world; some swearing by it and other’s choosing their words when it comes to the brand.

Case in point, this canned formula specially designed to improve the kidney functions of your dogs. It does what it sets out to do by delivering safe protein levels, but unfortunately also comes with some unneeded filler that might upset some sensitive stomachs.

Pros

  • Affordable for canned formulas
  • Appealing to picky eaters

Cons

  • Contains some unpopular ingredients to improve the taste and texture for your pets
  • Mostly contains by-products

Customer feedback

Customers appreciate that there is an affordable food to help their dogs cope with kidney distress, but don’t necessarily love every aspect of the food, and gave this product a rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars.

On one hand, the formula is tasty and does contain a balanced set of nutrients to promote an improved digestive system. However, on the other a lot of the ingredients are low-quality, and some of the unnecessary ingredients can be quite rough on the stomach of sensitive dogs, resulting in things like vomiting and diarrhea.

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Hill’s Science Diet | Active Longevity Senior Dog Food

Hills-Science-Diet-Senior-Dog-Food

Even if your dog isn’t quite a senior yet, foods designed for them are naturally lower in protein than other formulas which makes them worth looking into when shopping.

This entry by Hill’s Science Diet is the first of the dry foods on our list which makes it more economical while also working to improve the health of your dog’s teeth.

It’s harder to process than wet food, but if your dog can stomach it, it’s a great option that can even help her lose some weight.

Pros

  • Good ingredients to promote both internal and external health
  • Dry food is more calorie dense, which makes feedings cheaper in the long-run

Cons

  • Harder to process than wet foods
  • Naturally higher protein levels than wet food

Customer feedback

Most owners agree that Hill’s Science Diet is one of the best mass-market foods at promoting the health of your pet and rated it with 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s consistently highly rated by vets and is made in the USA, so you know the manufacturing standards are quite high.

Within a few days of eating it consistently, many dogs had more energy, played more often, and saw improvements with their digestive issues. A few customers report that their dogs won’t eat the kibble, but this is to be expected with all pet foods, so your mileage may vary.

Thinking of redoing the floors? Check out this guide to choosing the best flooring for dogs.

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Blue Natural Veterinary Diet | KS Kidney Support

blue natural vet diet KS kidney support

Despite chicken being the first ingredient, Blue Natural has managed to create a product that only contains 3% protein, making this a fantastic option for pets who quickly need to get their bloodwork back to normal levels.

The lack of salt and low levels of phosphorus also make this great for other organs as well, making these cans a prime choice for a variety of conditions.

Pros

  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Extremely low in protein

Cons

  • Cans are easy to dent, which caused some concerns during shipping

Customer feedback

Owners overwhelmingly appreciate the quality and care put into Blue Natural’s line of food and rated it at 4.2 out of 5 stars. They report that their need for supplemental medication has almost completely ceased after switching to this formula since repeated blood work has shown that kidney and liver functions rapidly drop to normal levels.

While that’s not a guarantee of success for everyone, it does show that the low phosphorus, salt, and protein recipe is a health-conscious one that works quite well for most dogs.

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Related: Blue Buffalo Dog Food – Company Review

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet | Canine Urinary SO

Royal-Canin-Veterinary-Diet-Canine-Urinary-SO-Dry-Dog-Food

Royal Canin is back again with another recipe. This bag of dry food is targeted at improving the health of your dog’s urinary functions [5] which have close ties to the kidneys.

The low protein levels and added compounds help your dog process the food they’re eating by breaking down complex minerals to result in more efficient and healthy kidney function.

While this is great for dogs who suffer from stones, it’s also a very good preventative formula to try and keep it from happening at all.

Pros

  • Formula offers complete kidney care
  • Improves urine output

Cons

  • Slow acting
  • Many dogs don’t enjoy the taste

Customer feedback

This food rated 4.6 out of 5 stars. For dogs that have issues using the bathroom regularly, this formula has proven to be a lifesaver by increasing the quantity and flow rate of urine, a by-product of kidney health.

When potential crystals or stones are caught in time, this food works to break down and eliminate them which makes this a good choice of food for dogs who are predisposed to the condition.

However, because it can take a few weeks for the formula to take effect, this food can’t act as a replacement for something like surgery. If you think your dog is suffering, always take them to a vet first.

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Time for a healthy snack!

Good dogs deserve healthy snacks. Treats can be given between meals to stave off the hunger pains, as a training tool, or just because you have the urge to spoil your buddy. We’ve looked for a low protein and healthy treat for pups with weak kidneys, and found the ideal product.

Low Protein Treats – Mattie’s Healthy Treats for Dogs

Low-Protein-Treats-–-Matties-Healthy-Treats-for-Dogs

You’ve got their meals all planned out, but what about their snacks? Appropriate treats can act as a great supplement to their diet, and if your dog requires a low-protein one then there’s no better than Mattie to serve up a healthy snack.

These pumpkin-flavored treats are a big hit with dogs and are the perfect size for them to nosh on. The lack of meat in the ingredients might turn off some pets, but most don’t seem to mind.

Pros

  • Each treat is a good size
  • Some proceeds help fund research into canine kidney disease

Cons

  • Lack of meat in the ingredients

Customer feedback

Owners love giving their dog’s treats, but many of them are made with the healthy pet in mind. Customers are thankful that these treats are one of the few made specifically for those with weaker kidneys while still being reasonably priced to boot and rated it at 4.4 out of 5 stars.

Even older dogs with many different health complications can enjoy this snack since there’s nothing in here to make any existing conditions worse.

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Final say on limiting your dog’s protein intake

brown puppy eating

There are many factors that could lead you on a hunt for a low-protein food. Your dog may love what he’s eating now, but there are still some great options for him that will make both of you happy.

Our list covered both dry and canned varieties, so find out what your pet prefers and give one of them a try. You may just be surprised at the results.

dognutrition.com-websites-medical-disclaimer

Another read: Best Dog Treats – Indulging Your Pup with Nutritious Snacks.

Resources

  1. Pet food safety: dietary protein D. P. Laflamme. August 2008
  2. Influence of dietary protein on renal function in dogs K. C. Bovée. November 1991
  3. Swanson, Kelly S et al. “Nutritional sustainability of pet foods” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) vol. 4,2 141-50. 6 Mar. 2013, doi:10.3945/an.112.003335
  4. de Godoy, Maria R C et al. “Alternative dietary fiber sources in companion animal nutrition” Nutrients vol. 5,8 3099-117. 6 Aug. 2013, doi:10.3390/nu5083099
  5. Martin, William F et al. “Dietary protein intake and renal function” Nutrition & metabolism vol. 2 25. 20 Sep. 2005, doi:10.1186/1743-7075-2-25

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Dog Nutrition

Written by Dog Nutrition

The Dog Nutrition team is here to help you navigate the stormy ocean waters that are the dog products industry. With over 10+ years experience in dealing with dog products and caring dog owners, we look beneath the surface to uncover hidden features, deals, and some of the most popular, best selling and highest reviewed dog products you can purchase.

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