Dog Too Much Protein Symptoms

Are you among the dog owners that believe in feeding their pooches diets that are high in protein content? You might have heard about all the myths that surround these types of dog foods which is why I will be looking at high protein dog food problems today. Typically, these worries arise from the idea that high levels of protein can lead to kidney failure. The value of high protein dog food is a hot topic which vets, dog nutritionists, and dog owners offer different opinions.

Our canine pals need protein in their diets as it provides the building blocks for bones, muscles, and body mass. This calorie-dense nutrient also has an important role in nerve function, healing wounds, as well as the making of body cells. If your dog, therefore, eats a diet with an insufficient amount of protein, he or she will have a dull coat and lose weight. Most of us assume that our dogs are strictly carnivores. And yes, that can’t be further from the truth, but they are actually omnivores which is why they can’t survive on protein from meat alone.

How much your pooch needs, however, depends on his age, breed, activity level, and health. That is why you are recommended to consult your vet so you can understand your dog’s dietary needs before purchasing.

In my article today, I will look into these problems concerning high protein dog food as they are associated with the liver, skin, and kidney. In addition, I will share info on the recalls that have been made on high protein dog foods, if any, and wind up with the review of one product. But before that…

What does high protein dog food mean?

One of the most asked questions when it comes to this topic is: how high is high in terms of protein content in dog food? High protein dog food refers to those that contain more than 30% protein levels in their formulas. AAFCO requires dog food manufacturers to meet certain standards and showing the percentage of protein in the labels is one of them.

That is why I remind you to always read the dog food labels before you buy. For instance, adult dog food should have at least 18% crude protein while that of pups and pregnant or nursing dogs contain at least 22.5%. You can read more about AAFCO nutrient profiles here.

If the dog food, however, is within the20% range in protein content, it is categorized under moderate level. Any dog food with protein levels that are below 20% are often prescriptions from vets and are for pooches with specific health problems. Whether you choose dry or canned dog food, you need to check the level of protein, In many ways, however, wet dog food can have more meat content compared to their dry cousins which makes it better.

Is high protein dog food bad and symptoms?

The mantra “too much of something is poisonous” seems to apply to this case as well. How so you may ask. If your dog consumes too much protein, the excess amount is stored in his body in form of fat. As such, these foods contribute significantly to obesity in dogs especially when you overfeed your doggie. In addition, feeding your dog a diet that is rich in protein can lead to high levels of potassium in the blood (hyperkalemia) and acidosis.

And while listing the percentage of protein is important, you will need to consider the quality of this protein by looking at the sources in the ingredients list. You should consider dog foods with animal-based protein as the first ingredient since whole meats are rich in this content. Plant-based proteins are fairly good but add little value to your canine buddy.

High protein dog food recalls due to hig-protein

Despite the controversies that encircle these types of diets, no dog foods have been pulled out of the shelves for having high protein content. In that case, we can say that high protein dog diets are safe for your doggie as long as you feed in the correct quantities and when your dog needs it.

It is worth mentioning that most of the recalls often happen for common reasons such as possible contamination, packaging problems, and the presence of foreign materials like metals. Other brands and dog food recipes have also been pulled out of the shelves for nutritional imbalances.

Kidney Symptoms: High protein dog food problems for kidney

If you have a dog with kidney problems, feeding him or her excess levels of protein can escalate kidney workload which distresses the balance of nutrients. As a result, your canine friend is in a high risk of exacerbation of illness

As stated in an article, the Pet Obesity Prevention, approx. 50 million dogs are considered obese or overweight. This information follows 2018 pet population predictions provided by the APPA or the American Pet Products Association. A year before, in 2017, APOP discovered that obesity in dogs accounted for 19.6% while 36.4% were found to be overweight. You can read more about this here.

As dog owners, therefore, we are required to feed our doggie friends high protein diets if our vets recommended it and when they need it. This will help keep their kidneys healthy so they can get rid of waste materials from the blood. Kidneys also help maintain the normal balance of minerals and fluids in your dog’s body.

Liver Symptoms: High protein dog food liver problems

If your dog has liver disease, feeding him or her foods that are high in protein content such as fish, boneless chicken, and boneless turkey is recommended. These foods have sufficient amino acids that are easily digestible. So, they should be in your dog’s regime whether they are on prescription diets or homemade options. When your dog has liver disease, it means that a smaller amount of protein is being processed. Therefore, you should monitor his or her protein intake closely.

The liver is one of the most important organs in your dog’s body. Did you know that the liver is responsible for cleaning your dog’s system? Yes, it helps remove toxic substances from the body and generates bile that aid in their digestive process as well. That’s why your dog’s liver needs to always stay healthy by feeding premium protein and keeping the quantity at moderate levels.

You should also stay away from the ingredients that vets identify as culprits of liver problems in dogs such as ibuprofen, xylitol, blue-green algae, and sago palm. In addition, fungal, bacterial, and viral infections are also possible causes of liver disease in your dog,

Skin Symptoms: High protein dog food skin problems

Some proteins have been known to cause skin problems in dogs especially if they are suffering from food allergies. This, however, depends on whether you are feeding your doggie common or novel proteins. Food allergy refers to when your dog’s immune system mistakes certain food protein as an attacker instead of a food item. As a result, your dog’s body reacts to it which leads to itchy skin in some parts of the body like the ear. Some dogs can also have skin infections.

According to Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at TUFTS University, grains are rare causes of food allergies dogs (and pets in general) when compared to animal protein. If your dog is allergic to common proteins such as chicken, beef, lamb, and chicken eggs, try feeding him or her novel proteins like bison, kangaroo, venison, alligator, rabbit, and buffalo. However, you have to be certain that the skin problems result from consuming proteins by visiting your vet for diagnosis. 

Other concerns vets have with high protein dog food

As revealed earlier, high protein dog food is an exciting topic which dog owners, vets, and dog nutritionists have contradictory opinions about. 

When sharing her insights on high protein dog foods, Dr. Jessica Gore, a Certified Pet Nutrition Specialist, says that each dog has different nutritional needs. And even when dog food that is high in protein content is appropriate today, she adds, changes may occur with factors such as your dog’s age and lifestyle among others. For puppies, Gore continues, high protein diets offer increased wellness, health, and long life.

While speaking to NBC News, Dr. Jennifer Freeman, DVM, said that high-quality dog food must contain premium nutrients with premium protein as the first ingredient. In addition, the source of meat protein should be identified to ensure that your doggie thrives well. Freeman is a resident vet and pet care specialist at PetSmart. 

What is the best high protein dog food?

I have included one product review of the finest high-protein dog food in the market today based on customer reviews and vet recommendations.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food

If you are looking for quality dog food that is prepared with your dog’s vitality in mind, you can never go wrong with this product from Blue Buffalo. This salmon grain-free formula includes real salmon as the first ingredient to satisfy your dog’s craving for meat. He will definitely like it.

An animal-based protein source, salmon is rich in protein that helps build and maintain your dog’s lean muscle mass. The guaranteed analysis says that this recipe contains 34% crude protein which falls into the real definition of high protein dog food. 

Blue Buffalo is a reliable brand in the pet food industry, and I love this salmon grain-free formula specifically because it uses healthy ingredients. The list says carbs from sweet potatoes and peas as well as omega 3 & 6 fatty acids to help promote a healthy lifestyle with good skin and a shiny coats. The recipe includes antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits that help support immune system health and it contains no fillers or by-products.

You can read about high-protein dog foods here using this link.


  • Premium protein source
  • Great taste & kibble size
  • Healthy ingredients
  • Grain-free for pooches with intolerances


  • Includes controversial ingredients like pea protein
  • Caramel color is unnecessary for pooch diets
  • High price tag

Overall Review:

NameBlue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food #1 Choice in 10PetFood
Amazon Rating in 20214.7/5 stars rating in 10,626 customer reviews
Best-selling rank on Amazon #11 in Dry Dog Food
Why people like itExcellent protein source and healthy ingredients with great taste.
PriceYou can buy this high protein dog food at a competitive price depending on the bag size. Check availability, sale, and pricing on Amazon here.


Who needs more protein?

Typically, high protein dog food offers a lot of benefits to most pooches. Puppies, however, need diets that are high in protein more to help promote their growth and development. Expectant and nursing doggies also need more protein (25%-30%) as well as working and active canines, especially those that participate in sports, herding, and agility.