What to feed dog with protein deficiency


My dog is 18 years old and vet said he has a protein deficiency. I need to increase his protein intake – first step find a grain-free dog food that has lots of protein. Please give me several brands that you recommend. Thank you.


Hi, Shirley!

WOW! 18 years old! First off: congratulations on reaching that milestone. Second: did you get a diagnosis as to what the cause of his protein deficiency is?

If we’re looking at:

  • gastrointestinal disease in which proteins are broken down and fail to be reabsorbed in the intestines,
  • kidneys that just aren’t keeping up like they used to, OR
  • lymphatic disease in which the proper enzymes to break down the protein just don’t exist in the system,

increasing protein intake will only give a slight assist to a deficiency. Increasing protein can help, but most of it will still be lost. In these cases, by all means, increase the protein in the food, but consider adding in a digestive enzyme that’s heavier on the protease (we’re less concerned with amylase and lipase in this case) to help break down the protein to a more absorbable form for your dog. Optigest prebiotics/digestive enzyme powder is the highest, Fidobiotics Good Guts coconut/peanut butter is the next highest and adds in probiotics.

If we’re looking at a heart condition that’s causing the deficiency, increasing protein while sticking with a lower fat and low sodium can be of benefit. In a dry kibble, one of the best for this is Nature’s Logic Sardine (36% protein and only 8% fat!). Orijen Senior is another great option as is Wellness Core Reduced Fat.

Any of the above foods would be of possible benefit for the GI/kidney/lymphatic issues, but not without a good digestive enzyme. The digestive enzyme could also help if the cause is cardiac.

For GI issues specifically, consider also adding bone broth (The Honest Kitchen makes a dehydrated one you just add water to if you don’t want to spend a day or two making it) or Primal Raw Frozen Goat’s Milk (with turmeric and ginger) to help the intestinal tract bounce back a bit. Stop in to your local Chuck & Don’s to look at some of the wonderful herbal options for tummy soothing and balance.

I hope this is helpful and that you have many more good times ahead with your dog. Senior dogs are the best!