A lot of vets will prescribe low protein dog food in response to certain medical conditions.
This is a form of dietary dog first aid that can help them when certain foods and ingredients might aggravate their illnesses.
Just like you might think, low protein dog food contains significantly reduced quantities of protein. These are only available with a prescription, because in normal circumstances your dog needs as much protein as he can get.
Certain medical conditions, especially those involving organs that deal with filtering and eliminating waste, require a diet that's easier to digest.
Some of these conditions are kidney failure, kidney issues, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney stones, and glomerulonephritis.
The reason conditions like this require a low protein dog food is that protein creates several different types of toxins when it is digested. If these toxins stay in the body and circulate through the blood stream they will eventually build up and may even kill your dog.
Normally, the liver and the kidneys filter out these toxins so that they are released in the urine.
With the conditions mentioned above, these organs aren't working at their full capacity, and thus have a diminished ability to filter those toxins. The only possible way to limit the amount of toxins produced is to limit the types of foods that your dog eats that produce these toxins.
Since protein is one of the main toxin-producing foods in a normal dog's diet, this is the first thing that has to go.
Your vet may or may not prescribe a specific brand of low protein dog food, and if he doesn't you should always get a high quality brand. Lower best quality dog food will use inferior ingredients that will do a lot of harm to your pup's already damaged kidneys.
Only food with human grade ingredients and very few additives are acceptable for use with kidney diseases.
You should also ensure that the food doesn't have high levels of phosphorous and other minerals. Phosphorous can be easily retained when the kidneys can't filter out the excess, and the result is a dangerous mineral imbalance between potassium and calcium.
One of the biggest problems that dog owners usually have with foods that are low in protein is that their dogs just don't want to eat them.
A lot of the flavor of dog food comes from the protein, and when you take that out you're left with a bland, tasteless food that doesn't look very appealing to most dogs.
If you have a picky eater on your hands, you may have to get creative to convince him or her to eat at mealtimes.
Eventually your dog will eat out of necessity, but you might want to ask your vet about a brand that tastes better as well. There are always other options available. These are some of the reasons why you might have to feed your dog a low protein diet.