10 Best Low Protein Dog Food for Kidney and Liver Health: 2022

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Read on to find our review of the best low protein dog food for 2022.

Most dogs need protein in their diet. But, certain health conditions can make this extremely hard for them and cause serious harm.

Dogs with liver disease or renal failure may need low protein dog food to manage the extra stress.

Most low protein foods are veterinary prescribed. Unlike normal dog food, these provide your canine with the extra nutritional support to help manage these conditions.

But, finding the right low protein dog diet for your dog can be challenging. Luckily, we’ve been busy researching, so you don’t have to.

We recommend Hills Prescription Diet L/D Liver Care Dog Food as the best low protein dog food. It gives your canine tailored nutritional support, plus, it is loaded with nutrients your canine needs to flourish.

But every dog is different. So we have found 9 other low protein dog foods suitable for a wide variety of scenarios, from seniors to large breeds, to weight control or kidney health.

10 Best Low Protein Dog Food

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Best Overall
Hill's Prescription Diet l/d Liver Care Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food
Hill's Prescription Diet l/d Liver Care Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food
  • Made by Hill's team of vets and nutritionists
  • Controlled amounts of digestible protein to aid the liver
  • High-quality antioxidants for the immune system
  • Low copper to restrict build-up in the liver
9.7
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Best Budget
Diamond Naturals Light Formula Dry Dog Food
Diamond Naturals Light Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Each serving has K9 Strain Proprietary probiotics for digestion
  • High amounts of vitamins and minerals from superfoods
  • Made in the USA by a family-owned company
  • Real pasture-raised lamb as the first ingredient
9.5
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Best for Large Breeds
Bil-Jac Reduced Fat Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food
Bil-Jac Reduced Fat Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food
  • Has no gluten, wheat, soy, rendered fats, fillers, or protein concentrate
  • Low protein with 30% less fat than other brands
  • Fresh, farm-raised chicken is the first ingredient
  • Made in the USA
9.1
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Best for Weight Control
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Adult Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Adult Dog Food
  • Made with high-quality protein sources
  • High concentrations of glucosamine and chondroitin for joints
  • Supplemented L-Carnitine to burn off extra body fat
  • No wheat, corn, or soy
8.8
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Best for Sensitive Tummies
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Dog Food
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Dog Food
  • Low 248 kcal/cup calories ideal for overweight dogs
  • Has several easily digestible ingredients
  • Tailored nutrition for dogs who struggle with dietary fats
  • Made by a team of veterinarians with over 50 years experience
8.6
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  1. Hills Prescription Diet L/D Liver Care Dog Food (Best Overall)
  2. Diamond Naturals Light Formula Dry Dog Food (Best Budget)
  3. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food (Best Grain Free)
  4. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet Kidney Function Wet Dog Food (Best Wet)
  5. Bil-Jac Reduced Fat Chicken Recipe Dog Food (Best for Large Breeds)
  6. Hill’s Prescription Diet g/d Aging Care Chicken Dry Dog Food (Best for Seniors)
  7. Solid Gold Holistique Blendz Sensitive Stomach Dog Food (Best for Digestion)
  8. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Dog Food (Best for Sensitivities)
  9. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Adult Dog Food (Best for Weight Control)
  10. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support S Dog Food (Best for Kidney Health)


Our Best Low Protein Dog Foods Reviewed

All of the dog food brands we are about to discuss meet AAFCO recommended daily nutrient profiles for dogs. Before switching your dog’s diet, consult a veterinarian. [1]

Best Overall
Hill's Prescription Diet l/d Liver Care Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food
  • First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Chicken, Chicken Fat, Egg Product, Soybean Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 14.5% Protein, 20.5% Fat, 3.5% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Calories: 419 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Pea-Free, Veterinary Diet, Low Protein
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Adult

Liver function is the main reason many dogs switch to a low protein diet.

This low protein dog food by Hill’s Science Diet is specially formulated to protect your canine’s liver health with clinical, tailored nutrition.

It has a relatively low 14.5% protein, which comes from ingredients like eggs. These protein-dense ingredients give your pup rich amounts of amino acids that protect their muscles, and keep up energy levels.

Egg is also an excellent choice because it’s high quality. Low-quality protein can cause further damage to the liver.

L-carnitine and L-arginine are included to aid fat metabolism in the liver. In fact, these healthy nutrients prevent enzymes levels from rising, which mainly causes damage. [2]

Added vitamins and minerals prevent nutritional deficiencies commonly linked to reduced liver function. And Hill’s incomparable SOx shield ingredients prevent crystals from forming in the urinary tract.

This dog food does contain soybean meal, meaning it may not be suitable for pups with soy allergies. But, soy protein does give canines added nutrients without putting extra strain on the liver.

Hill’s Liver Care formula is made in the USA by a dedicated team of nutritionists and veterinarians. It only has trusted, global ingredients that will benefit your canine companion.

What We Like
  • Made by Hill's team of veterinarians and pet nutritionists for optimal liver health
  • Contains adjusted levels of easily digestible protein to prevent liver overload
  • Clinically proven antioxidants to support the immune system
  • Specifically made for liver health and function
  • Requires veterinarian prescription
  • Made without peas
  • Omega fatty acids come from ingredients like fish oil
What We Don't Like
  • Fussy eaters don't like the diet
  • Can cause upset tummy early on
  • Some small breed owners think it's better suited to medium and large breeds


Best Budget
Diamond Naturals Light Formula Dry Dog Food
  • First 5 ingredients: Lamb Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 18% Protein, 6% Fat, 8% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Calories: 275 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Weight Control, No Corn No Wheat No Soy
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Adult

This affordable low-protein food has tons of high-quality ingredients that provide superior nutrition to your dog without piling on extra pounds.

In fact, it’s suitable for overweight or less active pups and contains 15% fewer calories than other Diamond Natural formulas.

Lamb meal is the first ingredient on the list, which acts as the primary source of protein. This high-quality meat is also an excellent option for dogs with food allergies caused by common allergens, like chicken.

Plus, these tender meats have rich amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin too. They help protect the joints by cushioning them with cartilage tissue. And this is a particular problem for overweight dogs or older dogs with kidney and liver disease. 

Diamond Naturals Light Formula is made without wheat, soy, or corn, which prevents upsetting sensitive tummies. Instead, it includes healthy whole grains for added fiber to support the digestive system. [3

Finally, powerful antioxidants come from ingredients like blueberries and oranges, giving canines a real boost for the immune system.

This low protein diet is made in the USA by a family-owned company, using trusted local and global suppliers and ingredients. It is also free of artificial preservatives and colors.

What We Like
  • Affordable formula with plenty of high-quality ingredients
  • Ideal for overweight or sedentary dogs with health issues
  • Lamb meal is the first ingredient
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients
  • Contains plenty of omega fatty acids for skin and coat health
  • Powerful superfoods included for essential vitamins and minerals
  • Limited calories ideal for overweight pups
  • Made in the USA
What We Don't Like
  • Does contain grain-based ingredients
  • Some pups refuse to eat it
  • Can cause gassiness




Best Grain-Free
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food 
  • First 5 ingredients: Sweet Potato, Bison, Pea Protein, Potato Protein, Canola Oil
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 20% Protein, 10% Fat, 4% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Calories: 355 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Sensitive Digestion, Limited Ingredient Diet, No Corn No Wheat No Soy, Grain-Free, Chicken-Free
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Adult

Natural Balance is frequently recommended by dog parents for its limited ingredient diets.

It has lower protein than other dog food brands, which is ideal for dogs who need a low protein diet. Plus, it gives your pup all the nutrients and vitamins they need for any life stage, without the excess calories.

Each serving has a low 355 kcal/cup caloric content, mainly coming from ingredients like sweet potatoes. This carbohydrate-dense ingredient also provides fiber for the digestive system and high potassium concentrations for energy.

Bison acts as the primary contributor of the 20% protein while limited additional Bison acts as the primary source of the 20% protein. This novel protein is loaded with omega fatty acids like DHA, which aids your dog’s brain, joints, and heart.

Plus, these healthy fats encourage natural skin oils to be made, improving dry, itchy skin and giving them a shiny coat. All of which are common problems for food-sensitive dogs. [5]

But it doesn’t stop there! Added flaxseed acts as another source of omega fatty acids to work alongside the bison. Plus, it’ll keep energy levels topped up. 

And added brown rice supports the digestive system with its rich amounts of prebiotic and probiotics.

Natural Balance dog food is made without corn, wheat, gluten, soy, and grains. So it’s ideal for dogs who need a low protein diet and dogs who suffer from food allergies.

What We Like
  • Made without common allergens
  • Only has a single protein source
  • Brown rice included for nutrients like fiber and essential oils
  • No corn, wheat, soy, grains, or chicken
  • Full of DHA for healthy skin, coat, brain, and heart
  • Ideal omega fatty acid content helps dogs with allergies
What We Don't Like
  • Can cause loose stools
  • Not a huge hit for fussy eaters sometimes
  • Can also cause gassiness initially, when switching foods


Best Wet
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet Kidney Function Wet Dog Food
  • First 5 ingredients: Water for Processing, Meat By-Products, Rice, Corn Grits, Beef
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 3.8% Protein, 5.5% Fat, 2% Fiber, 74% Moisture
  • Calories: 483 kcal/can
  • Key Features: Low-Protein, Pea-Free, Veterinary Diet
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Adult

Sometimes, pups suffering from chronic kidney disease can have a low appetite. [6]

Purina Pro Plan Kidney Function wet food is a prescription dog food that gives additional kidney support. Low protein diets won’t taste great for dogs most of the time. But, this food will appeal to even the fussiest of eaters.

The 3.8% protein is low compared to other dog food brands. However, it comes from high-quality meats like beef and liver. These luscious meats will provide canines with the essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals they need to function daily.

Plus, beef has high amounts of folic acid, which assists normal metabolic functions like red blood cell production.

Added animal fats will stimulate fussy eaters because they enhance taste and palatability. Healthy fats like omega fatty acids are also included in the recipe, which aid the heart, brain, and joints.

Purina Pro carefully considers the ingredients in this low protein food to give optimal support for the kidneys. So they include vitamin E supplement, which combats symptoms of liver disease by decreasing liver enzymes.

Healthy sources of antioxidants help support the vulnerable immune system. While the recipe’s low concentrations of sodium prevent hypercalciuria, which can often lead to urate bladder stones.

This formula is made by a team of pet nutritionists, researchers, and veterinarians to contain controlled phosphorus and high-quality protein. It is also made without any peas.

What We Like
  • Appealing wet food specifically made for kidney care
  • Designed by a dedicated team of nutritionists, researchers, and vets
  • Optimal sodium level
  • Has plenty of beneficial antioxidants
  • Fish oil included for rich amounts of omega fatty acids
  • Numerous dog parent reviews swear by this formula for renal support
What We Don't Like
  • Does contain some by-products and grains that can upset some tummies
  • 3.8% protein is low compared to other brands


Best for Large Breeds
Bil-Jac Reduced Fat Chicken Recipe Dog Food
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken By-Products, Corn Meal, Chicken, Dried Beet Pulp, Oatmeal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 17% Protein, 10% Fat, 5% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Calories: 350 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Weight Control, Pea-Free
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Adult

Large dogs have slower metabolisms that can survive off less protein and fat. In fact, too much fat for large breeds can quickly lead to weight gain.

This low-fat diet gives ample fiber to support the digestive system. And it has high-quality vitamins and minerals, along with plenty of omega fatty acids to keep them looking great.

Chicken by-products are the recipe’s primary source of protein. This protein-dense ingredient has high amounts of amino sugars like glucosamine and chondroitin, which aid joints and bones.

Larger canines tend to put extra pressure on their joints because of their increased weight. So glucosamine and chondroitin help cushion the joints by growing cartilage tissue around them, preventing them from rubbing and causing discomfort.

It is made using a unique, low-temperature vacuum-drying method that extracts excess moisture without compromising the nutritional content. So your big loveable friend is getting maximum available nutrition from their diet.

Added fish oil contributes to the recipe’s low 10% fat content. Fish oil is an excellent source of omega fatty acids, nourishing natural skin oils and giving your pup a lustrous, smooth coat. Plus, its anti-inflammatory properties aid joints. [10]

Overall, this low protein dog food is ideal for controlling your dog’s weight. In fact, compared to other Bil-Jac formulas, it has 30% less fat.

And Bil-Jac’s Reduced Fat dry dog food is made without fillers, gluten meals, wheat, sprayed-on rendered fats, or protein concentrate.

What We Like
  • Chicken by-product is the first ingredient
  • The unique proprietary method extracts moisture from kibble without compromising nutrition
  • Has an abundance of omega fatty acids 
  • Contains several low-glycemic foods, ideal for the slow metabolism of large breeds
  • Has 30% less fat than other brands
  • Has no peas, gluten, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients
  • Made in the USA
What We Don't Like
  • Can cause infrequency in stool
  • 10% fat content is lower than other foods


Best for Seniors
Hill's Prescription Diet g/d Aging Care Chicken Dry Dog Food 
  • First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Sorghum
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 14.5% Protein, 7.5% Fat, 4% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Calories: 351 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Pea-Free, Veterinary Diet
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Senior

Worried about your old friend’s heart or kidney? Then try giving them the clinical, tailored nutrition of Hill’s Prescription Diet Aging Care dog food.

It has a low 14.5% protein, which comes from chicken by-product meals. This ingredient typically contains crushed bones, which provide a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin

Glucosamine aids in the overall health of cartilage tissue and eases pain in aging joints. [11]

The 7.5% fat is ideal too. Many elderly dogs can suffer from gaining weight quickly if they consume high fatty, high-calorie diets. But, the fat content still contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which support senior dogs’ heart and brain health and work alongside additives like glucosamine.

Controlled sodium, phosphorus, and protein are vital for preventing a senior dog’s kidneys and heart from overloading.

Aging dogs tend to have less liver functionality meaning a low protein diet can be vital for them to remain healthy.

This dog food needs a veterinarian prescription to be purchased as it’s been specifically formulated for senior dogs who need support for their kidneys and heart. 

What We Like
  • Contains the right balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed by seniors
  • Controlled sodium and phosphorus content
  • Made by Hill's specialist team of vets and nutritionists for kidney and heart health
  • Healthy amounts of omega fatty acids to support the heart
  • 8.5% fat content ideal for controlling weight
  • Rich amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Chicken by-product meal is the first ingredient, combined with eggs for protein
What We Don't Like
  • Can be unappealing for picky eaters
  • Kibble can be too large for some dogs


Best for Digestion Issues
Solid Gold Holistique Blendz Sensitive Stomach Dog Food
  • First 5 ingredients: Oatmeal, Pearled Barley, Peas, Ocean Fish Meal, Dried Eggs
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 18% Protein, 6% Fat, 4% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Calories: 340 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: No Corn No Wheat No Soy
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Adult

Solid Gold is known by pet parents for its high-quality dog food recipes. This low protein diet is made primarily to improve healthy digestion.

It has several high-fiber ingredients that contribute to your pup’s tummy, and powerful antioxidants that improve the health of the immune system.

The primary source of the 18% protein comes from ocean fish meal. This easily digestible animal protein has large quantities of omega fatty acids that help control inflammation in the gut. And they also help your canine’s joints, heart, and brain.

Nutritious whole grains like pearled barley and oatmeal act as energy sources for your dog. Plus, they have rich amounts of dietary fiber that nourish healthy bacteria in the tummy and help break down food. [12]

But how is this one of the best low protein dog food? Simply because it has lower phosphorus and sodium levels than a usual high protein diet. This helps prevent excessive strain on your dog’s kidneys or heart.

Plus, it has controlled, low amounts of calcium carbonate, which can be really harmful to dogs with kidney health issues.

Solid Gold Holistique Blend dog food is made with no corn, wheat, or soy, which is ideal for dogs with food allergies or sensitive tummies.

What We Like
  • Rich amounts of dietary fiber for healthy digestion
  • Controlled levels of calcium, phosphorus, and sodium
  • Made with nutritious whole grains for added nutrients and energy
  • The unique blend of superfoods give a boost to the immune system
  • Ocean fish meal is the primary source of protein
  • High concentrations of omega fatty acids
  • Made without corn, wheat, and soy
What We Don't Like
  • Meat isn't the first ingredient. Appears fourth on the list
  • Can cause gassiness for some dogs
  • Doesn't appeal to some picky eaters


Best for Sensitive Tummies
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Dog Food
  • First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Wheat, Barley, Natural Flavors
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 20% Protein, 8.5% Fat, 3.9% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Calories: 248 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Pea-Free, Veterinary Diet, Sensitive Digestion
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Adult

Royal Canin’s Gastrointestinal dry dog food is formulated for dogs that struggle digesting dietary fats.

It gives dogs plenty of dietary fibers that will improve and support a sensitive tummy, with controlled amounts of protein for your pup’s overall well-being.

Most dog food brands will have real meat as the first ingredient. Instead, this low protein dog food uses brewers rice. This nutritional, complex carbohydrate acts as an easily digestible energy source. Plus, it’s loaded with healthy nutrients your pup needs.

A controlled 20% protein comes from ingredients like chicken by-product meal. While most pet owners can be put off by this, it is an excellent ingredient to use because it’s so easy for stomachs to digest.

And rich amounts of omega fatty acids can be found in fish oil. These beneficial fats reduce inflammation in the body, especially your pup’s tummy.

What’s impressive is the therapeutic amounts of prebiotics and probiotics that come from beet pulp. These aid the digestive system by promoting healthy bacteria in the gut to regulate digestion. [13]

Each serving only contains 248 kcal/cup calories and 8.5% fat. So it’s no wonder it’s such a popular choice for pet parents with dogs who struggle with weight. And if that wasn’t enough, a precise blend of antioxidants helps boost the immune system too.

Royal Canin has 50 years of experience in making dog foods. So you can rest easy knowing your canine has a safe, nutritional, low protein meal.

What We Like
  • Veterinary-exclusive dog food that helps digestion issues
  • Contains low-fat content for dogs that suffer from digesting dietary fats
  • Provides dogs with optimal nutrition
  • Has several easily digestible proteins and prebiotics
  • Gives dogs plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA
  • 248 kcal/cup calories ideal for overweight dogs
What We Don't Like
  • Brewers rice is the first ingredient, instead of an animal protein source
  • Some dog parents noticed diarrhea initially when feeding it to their dogs


Best for Weight Control
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Adult Dog Food
  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Pea Fiber
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 20% Protein, 9% Fat, 10% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Calories: 326 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Weight Control, No Corn No Wheat No Soy
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Adult

Worried about your dog’s weight, but they need a low protein diet? Then try Blue Buffalo Life Protection dog food.

This weight control formula features high-quality proteins, antioxidant-rich ingredients, and dietary fibers to make weight loss a breeze.

Deboned chicken is the first ingredient on the list. This protein-rich ingredient promotes lean muscles in dogs while remaining low in calories.

Supplemented L-Carnitine helps your pup absorb all the nutritional goodness of the lower 20% protein. And it’s really effective in improving metabolism and burning off fat.

Like other high protein diets, this Blue Buffalo has made sure real meat is the first ingredient. And the tiny 9% crude fat lowers the number of calories per serving to only 326 kcal/cup. This prevents surplus energy from turning into fat on your dog. [14]

Because of the extra weight, overweight pups can suffer from joint health issues. So natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin are included to support tired joints.

Whole grains like barley add to the impressive 10% fiber content. So your dog will get plenty of healthy bacteria in their gut which helps them absorb nutrients. Plus, it helps them feel fuller for longer, making them eat less!

Blue Buffalo’s weight control dog food is made without wheat, corn, soy, or chicken by-product meals.

What We Like
  • Made without corn, wheat, and soy
  • Has high-quality protein sources
  • Added nutrients like L-Carnitine promotes lean muscles and help burn off extra fat
  • High concentrations of glucosamine and chondroitin for overworked joints
  • A unique blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to boost the immune system
  • Several dog parents noticed immediate improvements in their dog's weight
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
What We Don't Like
  • Not a huge hit with fussy eaters
  • Fiber content slightly lower than other weight control formulas


Best for Kidney Health
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support S Dog Food 
  • First 5 ingredients: Corn, Brewers Rice, Chicken Fat, Brown Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 10.5% Protein, 16% Fat, 3.7% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Calories: 365 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Low-Protein, Pea-Free, Veterinary Diet
  • AAFCO Life Stage: Adult

Many pet owners will consider a low protein dog food if they have concerns over their dog’s kidney health. 

This veterinarian-prescribed, low protein dog food from Royal Canin has been specially formulated to aid overworked kidneys and stimulate appetites.

Unlike other dog food brands, meat is not the first ingredient on the list. In fact, the chicken by-product meal doesn’t appear until the fifth. But, it is an easily digestible protein source with several essential nutrients your pup needs.

Corn and brown rice act as easily digestible carbohydrates that give your canine the energy they need. And controlled levels of phosphorus and sodium protect vulnerable kidneys, so they don’t have to filter additional minerals. [15]

Royal Canin has also added antioxidant-rich ingredients to support immune systems and fish oil for high concentrations of omega fatty acids. All of which will prevent tissue damage in your dog’s body.

Most of the time, dogs with severe kidney disease will have reduced appetites. So, the kibble has been made into a unique crescent shape to encourage eating.

But if that wasn’t enough, your pup will get more than enough energy from the 365 kcal/cup calories per serving. It won’t be long before you see your best friend running around like before.

Many dog owners appreciate how you can use this diet for a wide range of health problems.

What We Like
  • Unique S-shaped kibble encourages eating
  • Helps improve kidney function
  • Chicken by-product meal is the main source of protein
  • Controlled phosphorus and sodium levels to reduce the concentration of minerals that kidneys have to filter
  • Can combine with any other Royal Canin formula
  • Packed full of extra energy sources for fussy eaters
  • Blend of antioxidants and omega fatty acids to improve overall well-being
What We Don't Like
  • Meat is not the first ingredient on the list
  • Some pups don't like how oily the kibble can be


Protein

Low Protein Dog Food Buying Guide

There could be various medical reasons why you’re considering a low protein diet for your pup.

Before switching your dog onto a low-protein diet, you should speak to your veterinarian to establish a safe and nutritional diet for them. 

Why Do Dogs Need A Low Protein diet?

Dogs need protein to grow blood cells and tissue and support their daily activities. And several body organs play a crucial role in processing protein.

For example, a dog’s small intestines turn protein into amino acids. Then the protein by-products are sent to the liver for processing. The kidney then removes nitrogenous waste materials, which is the waste from protein metabolism.

If your dog suffers from chronic kidney disease, they’re unable to filter blood urea nitrogen from your dog’s blood, leading to kidney failure.

High amounts of protein can overload the kidney, which will prevent them from removing harmful waste. And if these by-products build up, it can lead to other severe health problems like hepatitis or reduced liver function. [16]

Most low protein diets will have about 18% protein content. Other low protein dog foods made for dogs without health problems will usually have 20% protein instead.

Some veterinary-prescribed diets will contain even lower amounts of protein to manage their extreme health problems.

Non-prescription dog food is helpful for elderly dogs at risk of suffering from liver or kidney conditions. These diets offer tailored nutrition that limits the stress on tired organs and slows down other diseases forming.

Advantages of low protein dog food

There are several advantages of a low protein diet for some canines. Lowering the protein intake allows metabolic organs to rest. 

Plus, low amounts of protein means low amounts of nitrogenous wastes. These by-products can cause other risks to your dog’s health, such as encephalopathy.

High protein amounts can cause crystals to build up, causing urinary bladder stones. A low protein diet helps prevent these types of health problems and limits toxins. [17]



Dog Eating

Health Conditions That Need a Low Protein Diet 

There are a number of health conditions that need a low protein diet. Otherwise, they can progressively worsen and cause other serious health problems.

Protein-Losing Nephropathy

This condition is not always linked with renal disease. However, it is capable of speeding up kidney decline. It happens when the filter inside the kidney becomes so badly damaged that it allows large molecules to pass through. 

These holes can gradually become worse, causing the loss of protein in the urine. This is otherwise known as proteinuria. 

So, reducing protein intake means reducing any gaps in the filter and increasing protein absorption.

Liver Disease

The liver is a crucial organ. It processes any by-products and toxins during protein digestion.

If your dog’s liver isn’t working correctly, it can lead to a build up of these by-products in your dog’s blood. And eventually, this can make its way to your dog’s brain, causing hepatic encephalopathy.

Urinary Bladder Stones

The digestion of protein can result in urate crystals accumulating in the urinary tract, causing bladder stones.

Some studies have shown that urate crystals respond well to a low protein diet, especially when they contain natural acidifiers like cranberries. Low protein dog food can help dissolve crystals, so your dog can return to their original diet.

Renal Failure

Scientific studies have shown that reducing protein intake in your dog’s diet slows the progression of renal failure. 

Renal failure happens when the kidneys can’t remove waste in the blood and make urine. High concentrations of protein mean high amounts of nitrogenous waste, which risks kidney overload.



What to Look For in Low Protein Dog Food

Even dogs with health problems that need low protein levels need it to perform essential bodily functions.

To find your dog the best low protein dog food, there are a few things you need to consider.

Amount of Protein

Recommendations state that your dog’s diet should have at least 18% minimum protein content.

But, if your fur baby doesn’t suffer from any health problems that need low protein intake, then they’ll need about 20% crude protein in their dry food instead.

Dogs at risk of conditions like liver disease or renal failure may need a veterinary-prescribed diet to give them more support. Such a diet can have as little as 10% crude protein content.

Remember, it is best to compare dry food and wet food on a dry matter basis. Wet food has lower crude percentages because of its high moisture content.

If you’re considering a wet low protein dog food for your dog’s diet, then 4% protein is fine.

Protein Source

It is crucial to find pet food with a high-quality protein source. Many high-quality protein ingredients have plenty of nutrients, amino sugars, and omega fatty acids needed to support muscle growth. [18]

We always recommend real meats as a primary source of protein. But, some low protein recipes won’t have meat as the first ingredient. If that’s the case, this is fine, provided it has real meat as a source of protein.

A dog’s digestive system is optimized for the digestion of meat because they’re omnivores. And while plants can be an excellent alternative protein source, your dog can struggle to digest them.

Balanced Nutrition

Like most good dog food, low protein food still needs to be complete and balanced for your dog. It should have the correct ratios of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients needed to manage health conditions that need a low protein diet.

Whole fruits and vegetables, and real meats are ideal for high concentrations of micronutrients.

If your dog is suffering from liver disease or reduced kidney function, then try to find a diet with low amounts of phosphorus.

Our Verdict

A low protein diet can be particularly effective in managing health conditions such as liver disease or renal failure.

By switching to a low protein diet, it reduces stress on essential organs that filter metabolic wastage. Which can then lead to other severe conditions like proteinuria or hepatic encephalopathy. 

This is why we recommend Hills Prescription Diet L/D Liver Care Dog Food as the best low protein dog food. Prescription dog foods offer canines a safe diet that gives them nutritional support.

Many low protein dog foods have high-quality, meat protein sources that will give your dog plenty of essential nutrients. 

So you can’t go wrong with any of our 10 recommendations. But before choosing, speak with your veterinarian to discuss the next steps to control your dog’s existing health problems.

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James Fuller and Mollie

James Fuller

Founder & Chief Content Creator

I’ve owned a pet most of my life. In fact, I currently have both a cat, Milo, and a Jack Russel, Mollie! I’m the founder of Honest Whiskers. And my mission is to deliver a reliable, trusted website that only uses evidence-based information.

Dogs and Cat
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We have partnered with Chewy.com to give you the best deals on top brands of pet food. Simply click the button below and we’ll take you to their exclusive discount page!