It’s tough enough to walk into a pet shop and find yourself face-to-face with hundreds of different pet food brands and manufacturers, all trying to sell themselves as the highest quality or best choice for your pet. Add in specialized diet such as requiring low protein dog food and suddenly you’re in an even tougher position as your choices become more limited, yet the information becomes much harder to digest.
That’s why we’ve taken the hard work out of choosing the best low protein dog food for your needs. Below, we’ve given you our top 10 low protein foods for dogs, as well as what you should consider for your pooch and letting you know what makes a high-quality low protein dog food, so you can make the right choice for your- and your dogs- needs.
The Best Low-Protein Dog Food
Created to give senior dogs all the protein they need, without all the added bulk that many competitors try to slip into senior food, this low protein grain free dog food is the best low protein dog food on the market, today.
Enticing to many a dog, the smell and taste of this dog food is perfect, which is due in part to the high-quality meats which provide the right amount of protein for senior dogs. It also comes with plenty of added supplements and nutrients, such as the Omega-3 fatty acids, to ensure that you dog remains happy and healthy on their low phosphorus diet.
Crude Protein (Min.)- 19.00%
Crude Fat (Min.)- 8.00%
Crude Fiber (Max.)- 5.00%
Moisture (Max.)- 10.00%
Calcium (Min.)- 1.00%
Phosphorus (Min.)- 0.80%
Copper (Min.)- 10 mg/kg
Zinc (Min.)- 140 mg/kg
Vitamin E (Min.)- 100 IU/kg
Iron (Min.)- 240 mg/kg
Selenium (Min.)- 0.40 mg/kg
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Min.)- 0.17%*
Omega-6 Fatty Acids (Min.)- 1.40%*
Beta-Carotene (Min.)- 1 mg/kg*
- BrandNature’s Recipe
- Weight4.5 pounds
Easy to digest and packed with ingredients that help to make the most of your senior dogs’ digestive system, this low protein dry dog food from Hill’s Science Diet is perfect for elderly pooches that might otherwise struggle with their energy and digestion. Through their use of healthy nutrients, vitamins and minerals, this is dog food that is packed with essential fatty acids for a healthy brain, vitamin E for a healthy skin and coat, and plenty of high quality, lean meats for a healthy heart and kidneys.
Made right here in the USA, this is dog food with a focus on heath and wellbeing for older dogs, shown through their use of the best ingredients and a desire to keep your dog’s heart and digestive system on track and super strong.
Crude Fiber- 2.0%
Carbohydrate / NFE- 52.7%
Calcium – 0.86%
Vitamin C- 144 ppm
Vitamin E- 599 IU/kg
Total Omega-3 FA- 0.50%
Total Omega-6 FA- 3.80%
- BrandHill’s Science Diet
- Weight33 pounds
The Limited Ingredient Diet range from Natural Balance (also known as the LID range) have been created to provide affordable dog food for pups who have a wide range of conditions. Eliminating many of the grains and carbohydrate sources you might find in lower-quality low protein dog food, leaving only high-quality ingredients in its place and therefore giving your dog the best low protein dog food without compromising on taste or quality.
In particular, the use of bison in this low protein dog food means that your dog is given a lean source of protein with added amino acids, without compromising on excessive levels of protein. All-in-all, that makes this option one of the best low protein dog foods on the market and available at a great price, too.
Crude Protein (Min.)- 20.0%
Crude Fat (Min.)- 10.0%
Crude Fiber (Max.)- 4.0%
Moisture (Max.)- 10.0%
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) (Min.)- 0.01%
Calcium (Min.)- 0.8%
Phosphorus (Min.)- 0.6%
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Min.)- 0.5%
Omega-6 Fatty Acids (Min.)- 1.5%
- BrandNatural Balance
- Weight26 pounds
Blue Buffalo are one of our favorites, as they are known for providing high quality dog food at an affordable price and this Life Protection Formula is no different. Focusing on exposing your dog to only the most essential ingredients, Blue Buffalo have created a brand of healthy dry dog food that is ideal for elderly dogs and dogs who suffer with digestive or urinary tract issues.
This is low fat low protein dog food that comes with no hidden nasties but plenty of added vitamins and minerals to give your dog the best blend of antioxidants and nutrients- ensuring that your dog is getting the best food that money can buy, without all the filler that many companies use to save money.
Crude Protein- 20.0% min
Crude Fat- 9.0% min
Crude Fiber- 10.0% max
Moisture- 10.0% max
Calcium – 0.9% min
Phosphorus- 0.7% min
Omega 3 Fatty Acids- 0.3% min
Omega 6 Fatty Acids- 1.75% min
L-Carnitine- 100 mg/kg min
Glucosamine- 400 mg/kg min
Chondroitin Sulfate- 300 mg/kg min
- BrandBlue Buffalo
- Weight30 pounds
Purina is a name that has become synonymous with high quality foods for dogs and this Kidney Function range is absolutely no different. Providing your dog with everything they might need if your pooch is suffering from any additional medical needs, this is a brand that will make your dog as happy and healthy as they can be.
This is one of the most expensive options on our list but comes as a great source of amino acids while remaining very low in phosphorus and protein. We love this option as there is a real focus on providing just the right amount of everything a dog with kidney problems could possibly want or need.
Crude Protein- 12.0% min
Crude Fat- 13.0% min
Crude Fiber- 2.0% max
Moisture- 12.0% max
Ash- 4.5% max
Calcium- 0.55% min
Phosphorous- 0.4% max
Sodium- 0.4% max
- BrandVeterinary Diets
- Weight6 pounds
Our only low protein wet dog food on our list comes from Royal Canin. This is a brand that is known for providing simple, effective food for dogs with complicated medical histories and tends to be stocked by nearly every vet across the US. Particularly as their food has been created to be easily digested after the more invasive surgeries that many dogs have to undergo.
This particular option is a low-fat low protein dog food that has been created for dogs with gastrointestinal distress and kidney problems, so has added Hydrolyzed yeast, fructooligosaccharides, and zeolite which are designed to nourish the intestinal tissue and microflora.
Crude Protein- 6.0% min
Crude Fat- 1.0% min
Crude Fiber- 2.5% max
Moisture- 76.0% max
- BrandRoyal Canin
- Weight7 ounces
Another option from Royal Canin but this time in the form of dry dog, this Veterinary Diet bag comes with the same benefits as the wet food we mentioned above. However, this option comes with the added benefit of being available in dry format, meaning it is cheaper to make and ship, as well as lasting longer- making this one of the more cost-effective options for a traditionally expensive diet.
This is food that has been created to hold as few “imperfect” ingredients as possible, so that your dog only gets the best, low phosphorus, low fat dog food with no added grains or fillers. All-in-all this is an easy to digest, simple food that is perfect for dogs with very sensitive stomachs or any additional medical issues.
Crude Protein (min)- 14.0%
Crude Fat (min)- 14.0%
Crude Fiber (max)- 4.7%
Moisture (max)- 10.0%
Magnesium (max)- 0.08%
- BrandRoyal Canin
- Weight6.61 pounds
Designed for overweight dogs and dogs who struggle with their weight, this food has been created to help dogs maintain a healthy balance between their basic food groups with a focus on simple ingredients.
The three sources of protein come from chicken, lamb and salmon with the intent of getting high quality, low phosphorus proteins with added amino acids- all from natural sources and available at a great price. It’s no surprise that this has led to the Nutro Ultra Weight Management dog food being one of the highest rated options online, today.
Crude Protein (min.)- 23.00%
Crude Fat (min.)- 10.00%
Crude Fat (max.)- 13.00%
Crude Fiber (max.)- 4.00%
Moisture (max.) – 10.00%
Calcium (min.)- 1.20%
Phosphorus (min.)- 1.00%
Zinc (min.)- 250.00 mg/kg
Vitamin E (min.) -80.00 IU/kg
Chondroitin Sulfate (min.)- 200.00 mg/kg
Glucosamine (min.)- 80.00 mg/kg
Omega 3 Fatty Acids (min.)- 0.40%
Omega 6 Fatty Acids (min.)- 2.00%
Taurine (min.)- 0.05%
- Weight30 pounds
While this is an item that comes as a treat form, instead of the actual low protein dog food we have as our other entries, we felt it was important to be able to provide your dog with treats that don’t interfere with your dog’s low protein diet.
Made from pumpkin and flavored with cinnamon, these dog treats are made with no wheat, soy or corn as fillers- leaving only the good stuff for any dog who struggles with their digestion or kidneys. Even better, Mattie’s donates some of the profits to canine kidney disease research, so everyone wins!
Protein (Min)- 6.8%
Fat (Min)- 2.2%
Fiber (Min)- 1.2%
Moisture (Max)- 9.0%
Omega 3- 0.2%
Omega 6- 0.3%
- BrandMattie’s Treats
- Weight1 pounds
Our final choice comes from CANIDAE, who has decided to focus on larger breeds. This is the best dog food on the market if you have a larger breed that usually requires more protein than usual, as it manages to fulfil their protein needs without the large amount of phosphorus that usually come hand-in-hand with these options.
With plenty of added antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and no nasty fillers, this is a great option- if a little pricey- for larger dogs who might be struggling with digestive or kidney issues but who still need a formula designed for big dogs.
Crude Protein (min.)- 24.00%
Crude Fat (min.)- 14.50%
Crude Fiber (max.)- 4.00%
Moisture (max.)- 10.00%
Linoleic Acid (omega-6 fatty acid) (min.)- 3.70%
Alpha Linoleic Acid (omega-3 fatty acid) (min.)- 0.50%
Vitamin E (min.)- 200.00 iu/kg
Ascorbic Acid (vitamin c) (min.)- 50.00 mg/kg
Glucosamine (naturally occurring) (min.)- 700.00 mg/kg
Chondroitin Sulfate (naturally occurring) (min.)- 250.00 mg/kg
Lactobacillus Acidophilus (min.)- 100 million cfu.
- Weight30.3 pounds
Best Low Protein Dog Food Buying Guide
What to Consider When Buying a Low Protein Dog Food
- Your Dog
What breed of dog you have, as well as their age, plays a huge part in how much protein your pup should be given as part of their diet. High-energy dogs who are bred to work all day are more likely to need high protein dog food, while toy breeds and older dogs are less likely to need the same levels of protein, as they are less likely to burn off energy throughout the day.
The medical and environmental background of your dog plays just a big a part in their protein requirements as their age and breed. For example, dogs with medical conditions may need a diet which has a lower protein percentage while healthy dogs may need a higher level of protein in their diet (we discuss the medical issues that require low protein dog food, below).
The climate of your dog’s environment plays a large part in the levels of protein required, too. For those who live in more extreme climates, such as those in very cold parts of the country, your dog will need more protein as they burn off more energy through maintaining a healthy body temperature, for which they need higher levels of protein in their body. Meanwhile, those in warmer climates will naturally have less need for a fattier, more protein-dense diet.
As we discuss in more detail below, having the right ingredients in your low protein dog food makes a huge difference in how well your dog will react to their new food, as well as their overall health. A massive part of having the right ingredients is having a good range of high-quality ingredients that provide the perfect nutrition for your dog.
Keep reading to learn how to decipher your dog’s nutritional information, as well as finding out why certain ingredients are knocked out of the ring altogether, when it comes to finding the best nutrition for a dog with low protein needs.
Just like us humans, dogs have their own tastes and preferences when it comes to new food and treats. This is especially true when it comes to low protein dog food, as you’ll notice that these choices tend to be less palatable for many dogs who simple aren’t as interested in food which offers less protein and therefore less taste.
For this reason, it’s always worth trying to stay with the same manufacturer or flavor when trying new food. You should also transition the new low protein dog food into your dog’s dish a bit at a time, so they don’t get a stomach upset from the new food.
What Dog Conditions Require Low Protein Diet?
- Renal Failure
If your dogs’ kidneys are failing, encouraging them to eat a low protein diet for dogs will ease some of the pressure on their organs, by reducing the workload. This will stop the build up of the byproduct urea, which is produced by the kidneys when processing protein.
- Liver Disease
While it’s always important to have a good mixture of carbohydrates, fat and proteins in the diet, some dogs who suffer from liver disease will need a decrease in protein intake. This helps to stop the over-production of ammonia which can harm the body in excessive levels.
- Kidney Disease
Often the most common reason why many owners go in search of low protein dog food, kidney disease can cause your dog to struggle with processing many of the nutrients that pass through the system. Of course, this leads to elevated levels of certain nutrients such as sodium, phosphorus and potassium in the bloodstream, which leads to further complications.
In order to avoid these complications, opting for a low protein dog food often rules out these minerals, which leads to a much healthier make-up of the bloodstream. This negates any deprecating aspects of their illness and allows your pup to live a full and healthy life.
- Bladder Stones
While bladder stones are a relatively uncommon problem, they are more likely to occur in elderly dogs. One way to cut down on the likelihood of these occuring is to give you’re a low protein diet. This is said to be due to a limited acidic build-up, which can otherwise be present in high protein diets.
- Protein-Losing Conditions
Also known as protein-losing enteropathy or intestinal protein loss, these conditions can cause chronic diarrhea, weight loss, lack of energy and so on- all related to being unable to fully process proteins in the intestines. While these aren’t caused by proteins- but instead are related to various diseases and illnesses such as cancer and infections- the prescription of a low protein diet for dogs can ease the symptoms and therefore make for a much happier dog.
Benefits of Low Protein Dog Food
The benefits of a low protein diet for dogs are mostly seen in dogs who are first suffering from medical problems in the first place. For those who are simply interested in a low protein diet, the benefits mostly consist of providing resistance to issues related to the kidneys and intestines for those dogs who are sensitive to high protein diets. For every other dog, the benefits include:
- For dogs who are suffering from issues with an over-production of urea, eating low protein dog food will ease the workload on the liver and kidneys.
- If your dog is suffering with high levels of urea, you will notice they are lethargic and struggling with fatigue and weight loss. Partaking in a low protein diet will ease these symptoms and make for a much happier, healthier dog.
- Limiting the levels of phosphorus, which is found in higher amounts in high protein diets, can help limit the issues associated with kidney disease, liver disease and condition whereby absorbing protein is an issue.
Homemade Low Protein Dog Food
You’ll be pleased to know that, if you have the time, energy and patience, you may not need to buy low protein puppy food at all- just follow one our low protein dog food recipes to make a delicious low protein homemade dog food that is suitable for any dog that needs a diet with lower levels of protein and phosphorous.
- Take a pound of ground pork- or ground beef with less than 20% fat, if you prefer and brown off the meat in a pan.
- Drain the fat and pop the meat to one side to cool.
- Use three cups of any vegetable that is suitable for dogs- these include carrots, swede, green beans and beetroot (be aware that the latter may cause some red or pink urine).
- Steam or boil your chopped vegetables and allow these to cool.
- Choosing a carbohydrate-based product (rice, macaroni or original Malt O Meal), cook 2 cups your starch product according to the product directions. Again, leave this to cool to one side.
- Cook 3 ounces of finely diced chicken, pork or beef liver- you can do this with the mince if you’re confident in your cooking.
- Add in 1000mg of a ground-up calcium supplement- you can find these in any vitamin section of your local supermarket.
- As above, add in 1000mg of fish oil to your concoction.
- Mix everything together until the ingredients are evenly distributed and place in a secure, airtight storage container.
For the recipe above, you should feed your dog half a cup for every 8 pounds of weight your dog carries, twice a day. If you’re looking to add weight, give an extra half cup twice a day, while those looking to lose weight should have half a cup less, every day.
Best Low Protein Dog Food FAQ:
Q: Does a high protein diet cause kidney disease?
A: A high protein diet does not, in itself, cause kidney disease. However, sufferers of kidney disease may find that they can no longer adequately process sodium, potassium and phosphorus, which can lead to an unusually high level of these in the bloodstream.
Since proteins are rich in phosphorus, most veterinarians and dietitians recommend reducing protein intake for those who suffer with kidney issues. This allows for a much more suitable level of phosphorus in the bloodstream and therefore a much healthier pup.
Q: What percentage is low protein dog food?
A: It’s important to note that, when we talk about the percentage of protein in low protein dog food, we are talking about the percentage of the total dry matter. This is because, when we include the moisture content of the food, the level of protein actually becomes smaller as a total. Thus, while any percentage lower than 18-percent of protein constitutes as low protein dry dog food, you should be aware that this is in the guaranteed analysis of dry matter.
As a comparison, the average level of protein found in dog food tends to hover around the 25% mark, while high protein dog food will be around 30% and upwards- and these have the same rules regarding dry vs. wet matter.
Q: What dog food has low phosphorus?
A: There are plenty of options out there that offer low-phosphorus foods from a range of manufacturers, which you can see in our range of top picks above. There are also prescriptive diets which are given solely by your vet, so if you think you need a much lower level of protein and phosphorus than even those on our list, be sure to make an appointment with your local veterinarian.
Of course, some ingredients will naturally be lower in phosphorus than others, and these are usually in the form of higher quality ingredients, which can still hold the same level of protein while cutting down on the level of phosphorus present in the ingredients.
Common meats which are naturally low in phosphorus include duck, sardines, liver, chicken, turkey, rabbit and pork. This is why you’ll notice that many of the choices given above use these as the main ingredient- effectively cutting down on the levels of phosphorus present in the food, naturally.
Q: Are eggs high in phosphorus?
A: Yes! However, there is a clear and easy way to cut the level of phosphorus present in eggs by a considerable amount. Simply take away the yolk of a raw egg before serving or cooking for your pooch, as it is actually the yolk that contains the majority of the fat, cholesterol and phosphorus.
Once this has been removed, you shouldn’t have any problems using an egg in your dog’s low phosphorus diet. Indeed, the egg white can even be used to help encourage your dog to enjoy their new food.
Q: Should senior dogs eat less protein?
A: While many older dogs are more likely to suffer with kidney or urinary tract issues, this isn’t actually directly related to the levels of protein in the food. Often, the problems come from elevated levels of sodium, potassium and phosphorus, the latter of which is most commonly found in protein. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that senior dogs need less protein.
Indeed, some elderly dogs need food that is higher in protein in order to maintain their weight or muscle mass. Indeed, the individual circumstances can differ massively and that is the main reason why you should always seek advice from your vet before starting your dog on a low fat or low protein dog food.
Our Top Pick
As an affordable option for dogs who are likely to need a low phosphorus and low protein diet the most- our beloved senior dogs- this option from Nature’s Recipe is made from lamb meal and rice, without any added nasties. It also comes with added fiber to make up for any lost when taking out any unnecessary grains and additives which usually manage this function.
As such, customers are raving about how well their elderly dogs are managing on their new diet- often stating that their dogs are now more regular, with smaller stools as they are able to digest much more of the food itself. Naturally, happy dogs are our main priority and, because of this, Nature’s Recipe low phosphorus dog food comes up as our top pick.