Research studies have in the past linked dog’s kidney failure to the high proportions of protein presence in dog’s diet. Is your dog safe from these shocking revelations? If these allegations are true then you could be risking your pet friend’s life by feeding him/her on too much protein. But is it really true?
Those research studies that indicated a link between kidney dysfunction/failure to dog diets high in protein have been disputed over time, the dispute is centered on the fact that the research studies were done on rats and not dogs. Rats diet is chiefly composed of plants, that makes rats digestive system intolerant to proteins because they have difficulty excreting protein and not because they’ll die from kidney failure.
What about dogs “Is too much protein bad for dogs, right?” you ask. Do your own research and poll half a dozen nutrition specialists (not the guy who runs the local pet shop) and here is what you will find: There is no general agreement among expert nutritionists regarding what constitutes “too much” protein in the dog’s diet. Research shows that dogs have a high capacity for digesting and utilizing diets containing more than thirty percent protein on a dry weight basis. (Dry weight basis means the food with no moisture present.
Dry dog food in a bag usually has 10 percent moisture and canned food has about 74 percent moisture.) If left to catch and consume prey to survive, as wild canines do every day, dogs’ diets would be even higher in protein than what is generally available commercially.
Think about this… do you ever see a stray dog grazing in a corn or barley field to allay its hunger? Nature has created a meat-eating machine in the dog and every day in practice will see the health benefits displayed by the feeding of meat-based diets. Dogs fed poor quality diets look and feel great only if their caretakers also feed table scraps such as chicken, meat, eggs, cottage cheese and other “left-overs.” Meat such as chicken, poultry, beef or fish should be the first ingredient listed in any dog food you judge to be “the best”.
“But what about the senior dog?” you might ask. Most people will tell you that high protein diets are bad for older dog’s kidneys, maybe even your vet. But contrary to that this is what researchers have found out : In dogs that actually have kidney damage or dysfunction (regardless of their age) and that have a BUN level greater than 75, restricted protein intake may be beneficial but not because of any adverse impact on the kidneys. The protein these impaired dogs ingest should be of high quality such as is derived from eggs, poultry, and meat. On the other hand, high protein levels in a food DOES NOT cause kidney damage in the normal, healthy dog!
So what does that mean for the senior dog? It means that you should not restrict feeding high quality protein to older dogs just because they are older. There is even some valid research that indicates older dogs may need a higher percentage of protein in their diets than they required during middle age.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to us because dogs evolved through the ages as meat eaters. The grain-based fiber diets for dogs did not even exist until seventy years ago when we humans demanded the convenience, simplicity and economy of dog food in a bag.
The “sine qua non” is this, and it is based on fact… protein intake does not cause kidney damage in healthy dogs of any age. So whatever you choose as “the ideal” diet for your dog, make certain that an animal tissue source is listed first in the ingredient list. Your older dog or cat should, if its kidney function is normal, receive the benefits of a high quality diet rich in animal-derived protein.