3 Benefits of Low Protein Dog Treats
Every pet owner wants the finest things for their best canine friend. Grooming, hygiene and exercise are all important aspects of keeping your dog happy and healthy. Just as important, if not more important, is making sure your dog eats a healthy and balanced diet. A good diet can be one of the best things that you can provide your dog to keep them healthy for years. That's why low protein dog treats might be a useful addition to your dog's diet.
There may come a time, however, when your dog develops issues in their body that require a different diet. Certain health conditions can require a variety of changes in their diet like more fiber, fewer carbohydrates, or lower proteins. Fortunately, there are seemingly endless amounts of dog foods on the market with varying levels of nutrition that your vet may recommend if your dog needs a change in diet. One of them is a low protein diet.
While many experts have been touting high protein diets for years now, that may not necessarily be the case for your dog. If your pup is suffering from a number of lingering health conditions--including liver disease, kidney disease or bladder stones--too much protein can do more harm than good. Your vet can tell you the best route to take with nutrition and may end up putting your dog on a low-protein diet to help improve their overall health.
Since the idea of a low-protein diet goes against what most of us hear about protein being the most important thing for our dogs, it is best to learn about why your vet may choose this option for your pet. A low protein diet can still contain plenty of nutrients and as long as the protein levels are balanced, there can be a number of benefits of this type of diet for your dog. Here are a number of benefits to putting your dog on a low protein diet.
1. Helps Ease Discomfort from Kidney Disease
Various things happen to your dog's digestive system depending on the type of food they eat. Whether your dog is on a wet-food only, high fiber or low protein diet, the effects may greatly impact your dog's health. When your dog digests protein it produces toxins, which are usually processed by the kidneys and flushed out through urination. If your dog develops kidney problems or kidney disease, your vet may choose to put them on a lower protein diet. Your dog may show signs of kidney disease by exhibiting lethargy, constipation, depression, acute blindness, blood in the urine, seizures and even comas. When your dog's body has less protein to metabolize, their body will produce fewer toxins which will put less pressure on their kidneys. A low protein diet can also help with the inflammation associated with kidney disease.
Aside from reducing inflammation and helping your dog metabolize protein, there are other benefits of a low protein diet for a dog with kidney issues. A low protein diet can also help prevent your dog from losing protein that they're already ingesting. Many dogs that go on low protein diets for kidney issues have some form of protein-losing nephropathy which is associated with progressive renal failure. Fortunately, certain studies have shown that limiting the amount of protein in the dog's diet also limits the amount of protein lost by the kidneys.
The research on this topic is still controversial, though Andrea J. Fascetti and Sean J. Delaney from the University of California, Davis Veterinary Medicine say, "Restriction of dietary protein has been demonstrated to slow the rate of progression of renal damage in rats and people." So if your dog is having renal issues or other kidney related issues then putting them on a low protein diet could be the best option.
2. Helps Ease Discomfort from Bladder Stones.
Urinary stones can cause your dog a great deal of discomfort. There are several symptoms to look out for if you think your dog may have bladder stones. There may be blood in your dog's urine, increased urination due to a physical blockage, unable to urinate, urinating in inappropriate areas, depression or even vomiting. Unfortunately these symptoms can often mimic other issues like urinary tract infections, so you want to be sure that you visit your vet to get the right diagnosis. Of course, it is always best to speak to your veterinarian before drastically changing your dog's diet.
Fortunately, dropping the protein levels in your dog's diet can not only help alleviate the symptoms of bladder stones, but it may also be able to prevent the stones from forming in the first place. This is helpful if your dog is prone to bladder stones and has had a chronic issue with them in the past. Depending on how bad the issue is with your dog's bladder stones, your vet may decide to put your dog on a low protein diet permanently. Doing so could be the best option for potentially preventing bladder stones in your dog's future.
Sometimes surgery can be the only answer for your dog's bladder stones though you can work with your vet to see if there are alternative options. According to PetWave.com, "Some stones, particularly cystine stones, can actually be dissolved medically through a protein-restricted diet, administration of dietary supplements to reduce the acidity of the urine and maintenance of good hydration." Be sure your dog has plenty of water to drink and consider lowering the protein in their diet to put less strain on the bladder. The stones may not dissolve on their own but with a proper diet recommended by your vet, your dog will feel happier and healthier.
3. Eases Digestion for Dogs with Liver Disease
Symptoms of liver disease can include increased thirst, loss of appetite and weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea, walking in an unstable manner and yellowish eyes, tongue or gums. Liver shunts occur when your dog develops problems with the liver and it starts to malfunction. If the liver disease progresses your dog can develop hepatic encephalopathy. Hepatic encephalopathy is a metabolic disorder that affects the central nervous system which develops secondary to liver disease (which is known as hepatopathy).
Hepatic encephalopathy is the specific liver problem that would lead to feeding your dog a low protein diet. Symptoms of this can be similar to average liver disease but also include staring, circling, head pressing, blindness, drooling and even coma. These symptoms would be in addition to the symptoms of regular liver disease. The symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy will change throughout the day and often worsen after meals, and in extreme cases, your dog may develop an almost complete intolerance to protein. So of course it would make sense that a change in diet could help lessen the symptoms of your dog's issues.
Dogs with liver disease still require calories of course. This is best remedied by increasing the amount of high-quality carbohydrates and fats in their diet. Feeding your dog smaller meals throughout the day along with a low protein diet can help with liver disease issue as well. Dialing back on the protein can help to ease digestion and improve liver health. Your veterinarian's guidance is essential as you optimize your pup's protein intake.
A balanced diet for your dog can be one of the most important things you can give them to keep them happy and healthy. If your dog ends up with a serious health condition, whether it includes kidney disease, liver disease, bladder stones or something else equally as important, it might be advisable to get them onto a low protein diet. You should pick food that meets your canine companion's nutritional needs. Although most commercial dog foods are formulated to have the minimum nutritional requirement for your dog, it is important to remember that not every dog has the same nutritional needs, and your dog may require a special diet recommended by their vet.
There are many benefits to a low protein diet including alleviating a number of symptoms from one of several potential problems. Though it may be said from some that a high protein diet would be best for your dog, that may not be the case if your dog is suffering from an illness. If your dog does have an illness, the protein in their diet could worsen the problem. It may be beneficial to supplement your dog's low protein diet with phosphorous, which is a nutrient that your dog needs which may not be included in a low protein diet.
Every pet owner wants the finest things for their best canine friend. And not all kibble is created equal. Even though meat makes up the majority of your dog's diet, they also derive nutrients from grains, fruits, and vegetables. Of course, you will always want to talk with your vet first before making any dramatic dietary changes that might harm your pet more than help them. Working closely with your vet, you will be able to decide what will work best with your best friend.