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Food & Nutrition

Why your older dog needs protein

Why your older dog needs Protein

As part of your dog's natural metabolic processes, they'll lose a certain amount of protein every day through loss and turnover of hair, skin, nails and bodily secretions.
 

Historically there's been a belief that reducing protein intake in older dogs will relieve ‘stress’ on their kidneys and may help to prevent or slow progression of kidney disease. More recent research has shown that this theory cannot be supported. Whereas older dogs have a higher incidence of kidney disease than younger dogs, not all older pets will develop kidney failure.
 

The routine use of protein restricted diets in all senior dogs is therefore not necessary unless kidney function is impaired. Very low protein diets may actually be associated with a risk of protein malnutrition and poor palatability. In general, healthy older dogs should have diets based on their individual needs, which will be related to bodyweight, health status, condition and physical activity.
 

There are really two main reasons why your dog requires protein. First to provide the essential amino acids that their own body can't make. Secondly, to provide nitrogen for making non-essential amino acids and other nitrogen-containing compounds.
 

As part of your dog's regular metabolic processes, they'll lose a certain amount of protein every day through loss and turnover of hair, skin, nails and bodily secretions. What's more, about 1% of body protein is broken down and re-synthesised every day. However, if the body isn't taking in enough protein, this process can break down and result in a protein deficiency.

 

Some signs of protein deficiency include:

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Dull coat
  • Fluid retention
  • Distended abdomen
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Lethargy

So how much protein does your senior dog require? To a certain extent it depends on their breed, environmental factors, and variations in the dietary source of protein. If your senior dog has special needs, consult with your veterinarian.

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