Dear Daisy Dog
My dog is 12 years old. A friend told me that older dogs should eat low-protein diets, because protein can damage their kidneys. At what age should I begin to restrict protein?
Your friend is mistaken. Healthy older dogs actually need about 50 percent more protein than their younger adult counterparts.
Moreover, numerous studies have confirmed that excess dietary protein does not damage the kidneys of healthy dogs, even seniors.
Older dogs should receive at least 25 percent of their calories from protein, which means they should eat a diet containing at least 7 grams of protein per 100 kilocalories.
Restricting protein in a healthy older dog is harmful, because it can increase age-related muscle loss and cause premature death.
On the other hand, protein restriction is appropriate in dogs whose kidneys are already damaged. Regardless of age, dogs with significant kidney dysfunction can benefit from a diet low in protein and phosphorus.
If you are unsure about your dog’s kidney function, ask your veterinarian to do a urinalysis and some blood work. The results will guide you on the amount of protein he should ingest.