The Protein Myth
Strangely, there is no data at all to suggest that high protein diets for dogs affect the rate of kidney filtration. So why do most sources recommend you restrict it?
The reason why protein is restricted in most renal diets for dogs is to rebalance blood work. Creatinine, protein waste, is often elevated in dogs that suffer from canine kidney disease and the idea behind the protein restriction is the less protein made available, the less creatinine in the blood. Phosphorus too, which is most present in lean meats is also likely to be elevated, meaning if you take out all the protein and meat, the markers will go down.
Whilst this may be an adequate short term solution to a dog suffering from kidney disease, at least for the reduction in creatinine and phosphorus in the blood, long term it’s a terrible idea, especially for protein restriction. Again, there’s no evidence that protein levels effect kidney filtration. (1)
This effect of the long term restriction of quality meat and protein via the current renal diets for dogs, will see the dog’s coat becoming more dull, their hair will become more corse, their skin will become dry and their joint health and mobility will decline. The external signs will be clear, it’s going to decrease the overall health of the dog, but internally, it could be a lot worse.
These generic diets create a pay off, restrict nutrients for a rebalancing of the blood work, at the expense of so many other parts of the dog’s health.
The real kicker, is that it is not necessary.
The reason for the ubiquitous restriction of protein for all dogs suffering from kidney issues lies with the attempt to provide a one model for all therapy. Making bespoke diets for dogs suffering from kidney disease is simply not possible from a large scale manufacturing perspective.
And so they don’t. No matter the stage of your dog’s kidney disease, no matter what their blood work balance is, the current diets aim to treat every dog with kidney disease the same. That’s not proper therapy and it’s a bad solution for all dog.
Did you know that none of my diets I create for dogs with kidney disease are low in protein?
There is however, a restriction of phosphorus as there is data that shows it contributes to kidney disease progression. (2)
As long as there is management of the phosphorus levels, increased dietary protein can be safely fed to dogs with CKD and this is a preferable route as protein is a vital part of any healthy diet for a dog. (2)
Here’s a quote from a testimonial, I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet, I’m going to point out some parts that are really relevant to why bespoke nutrition and medium protein is so much healthier.
On 17th December, (Pickles’ 11th birthday), we went to the vets for her monthly bloods and blood pressure check. The vet was astounded by the transformation in 4 months. Not only had she stabilised at a low grade 2 RF, her coat looks incredible, her eyes shine bright, her lust for life has returned and her new diet seems to have taken years off her!
Pickles wouldn’t have seen her 11th birthday if it hadn’t have been for ‘the dog nutritionist’ – thank you Cam Wimble with all my heart and our vet thanks you too, she is now busy giving your details to all her renal failure clients!
Coat looks incredible, lust for life has returned and her condition had stabilised. How? Protein.
As you stabilise the blood work anomalies with a short term restriction (if necessary), address all the potential causes of kidney disease (necessary) and do this all with a fresh food diet that’s contains amazingly health sources of protein, your can manage the disease and your dog can thrive at the same time.
Low protein diets are recommended only at the end stages of kidney disease when minimal kidney function remains or a short term restriction can be implemented if there are severe blood work abnormalities (creatinine).
- Sanderson, S.L., Rethinking Protein Restriction in Aging Dogs and Cats with Chronic Kidney Disease. Premise of Systems Microbiomics in Improving Health and Related Diagnostics for Human and Companion Animals, p.87.
- Leibetseder JL, Neufeld KW. Effects of Medium Protein Diets in Dogs with Chronic Renal Failure. J Nutr. 1991;121: S145-S149
- Jones, W.L., 2001. Demineralization of a wide variety of foods for the renal patient. journal of Renal Nutrition, 11(2), pp.90-96.