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Can High Protein Dog Food Cause Diarrhea?

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Are you noticing gastrointestinal issues with your dog? Are you feeding your dog a fresh raw diet that contains a lot of delicious meat? If so, you’re probably worried about the high protein content of your dog’s diet. Many dog owners ask: Can high protein dog food cause diarrhea? The answer is yes because too much protein without enough fiber can lead to watery stool.

Research: Can High Protein Dog Food Cause Diarrhea?

Studies indicate that an overabundance of protein in canine diets might correlate with a decline in fecal quality, even leading to conditions like diarrhea (Volkman et al, 2017) (Zentek, J. 1995). However, the overall implications of this finding are more intricate and require further examination.

Feeding dogs an excess of dietary protein beyond their requirements can trigger increased fermentation of this protein in their gut. This process can produce metabolites, potentially harmful to the organism.

The presence of these metabolites can lead to increased and more odorous flatulence in your dog, and may even result in inflammation and kidney dysfunction.

Research suggests that high protein diets can lower the gut pH in dogs, promoting an environment conducive for harmful bacteria (Zentek, J. 1995). This change can disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria, also referred to as the microbiome.

Why High Protein Dog Food Causes Diarrhea

Now you know that high-protein dog food can cause diarrhea, but you’re likely wondering why. It’s not the protein itself that is causing diarrhea, it’s the ratio of protein and fiber.

When the body receives too much of something it can’t use, it will try to get rid of the excess through urine and stool. If there’s not enough fiber to make the stool firm, it comes out of the body as loose stools or diarrhea.

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An example of this is when a dog ate rotisserie chicken. Eating a lot of rotisserie chicken can give a dog diarrhea because of the high amount of protein along with the fat, grease, and spices.

Learn More: Can Chicken Broth Cause Diarrhea in Dogs?

dog diarrhea high protein dog food

Understanding Why Dogs Need Protein

Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. Protein is made up of amino acids often referred to as building blocks. The amino acids are responsible for building and repairing muscles and bones and making hormones and enzymes. Protein is an energy source.

Most dogs are active, so they need protein in their diet to do what they want to do – run, jump, play, etc. When they don’t get enough protein, they may feel weak, lethargic, and fatigued. Getting too much may cause gastrointestinal issues as the digestive system tries to deal with the overabundance of it.

That’s why it’s imperative that a dog’s diet includes just the right amount of protein – adjusting only slightly for unique needs.

How Much Protein Should Dogs Consume

Dogs should consume 1 gram of protein for every pound of ideal body weight daily. If the ideal body weight of a dog is 50 pounds, he/she should consume 50 grams of protein a day.

Overweight dogs needing weight loss should eat the number of grams of protein needed to achieve a lower weight. For example, if a dog is 100 pounds but should be 75 pounds, the dog should consume 75 grams of protein a day.

Protein and Weight Loss for Dogs

Many diets focus on protein consumption because it helps curb hunger. Unfortunately, this is a common cause of diarrhea for both humans and canines.

It’s best to consume the recommended amount of protein instead of overconsuming it. Hunger is a problem when there isn’t enough protein consumed, which is why many people push high-protein diets.

high protein diet for dogs

How Much Protein Is In Dog Food

If you’re feeding your dog dry dog food that is marked as high in protein, it’s a good idea to switch to dry food that has a regular amount. Wet dog food may be an option, but be careful of it having high-fat content, which can cause other digestive tract issues.

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Be aware that switching to a new diet can cause your dog diarrhea as well, so give it enough time to assess whether the diet change was successful.

Dog owners feeding a fresh raw food diet, and reducing the amount of raw meat in the food. The following chart shows you how much protein a particular portion of meat has so you can easily give your pup the right amount of grams each day.

Beef – 3 ounces – 21 grams

Pork – 3 ounces – 22 grams

Tuna – 3 ounces – 17 grams

Turkey – 3 ounces – 25 grams

Chicken – 3 ounces – 26 grams

Salmon – 3 ounces – 22 grams

Lamb – 3 ounces – 21 grams

Read: Can Dogs Have Lamb?

A better way to give your dog the right amount of protein is to choose fresh raw dog food. Fresh raw dog food companies such as Only Natural Pet, Ollie, and Happy Dog Food work with veterinarians to ensure their recipes contain essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Did you know? In canine diets, beef and chicken are frequently identified as the proteins most linked to food sensitivities.

(Mueller et al, 2016)

Gastrointestinal Issues Causing Dog Diarrhea

Diarrhea or loose stool isn’t always because of high-protein dog food. There are many other causes of it, including diet change.

If your pup has recently had a diet change, diarrhea could be the cause of it. While you may have switched to higher protein, that may not be the cause. It’s really the change in diet.

A new medical condition could be the reason for the loose stool, especially in senior dogs. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian if you’ve noticed a change in your dog’s stool. The veterinarian will want to perform some testing to rule out any medical concerns before resulting to blaming a new diet.

It’s important to note that sometimes, it’s not the protein that’s the problem. It’s the quality of the protein that’s the problem. For example, potted meat is very low quality meat and while dogs can eat potted meat, it’s not good for them.

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Additional Causes of Dog Diarrhea

CauseBrief Description
Dietary IndiscretionConsuming inappropriate foods, like garbage or human foods, can lead to diarrhea.
Change in DietA sudden change in a dog’s diet can disrupt their digestive system, causing diarrhea.
Food IntoleranceSome dogs are intolerant or allergic to certain ingredients or types of food, leading to diarrhea.
ParasitesIntestinal parasites, like Giardia, roundworms, and hookworms, can cause diarrhea.
Bacterial or Viral InfectionsInfections caused by viruses (like Parvovirus) or bacteria (like Salmonella) can cause severe diarrhea.
Certain MedicationsSome drugs, especially antibiotics, can disrupt the gut microbiome and cause diarrhea.
StressJust like in humans, stress can cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs, including diarrhea.
Diseases and ConditionsCertain diseases and conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, or certain types of cancer, can cause chronic diarrhea.

The Problem with Your Dog’s Diarrhea

Besides messing up your house, there’s another problem with your dog’s diarrhea. Your dog’s diarrhea could lead to dehydration, which is life-threatening.

Pay attention when your pup goes outside. Be sure your pup is urinating regularly and drinking water throughout the day.

If your dog’s poop hasn’t firmed up within 24 hours, contact the vet immediately for advice. You may receive medication to stop diarrhea so dehydration is no longer an issue.

How to Treat Loose Stools in Dogs

The best dog food for dogs with loose stools is a bland one. A bland diet includes boiled rice with lean chicken breast. Do not include the skin or bones. As you can see, fresh dog food is the best dog food for loose stools as well as after your dog recovers from the issues in his/her digestive tract.

You can also give your dog plain fresh or canned pumpkin, as it can firm a dog’s stool.

Psyllium Husk Powder is also a great fiber supplement that works quickly to solve problems with dog diarrhea. Simply mix it with water and small pieces of meat to flavor it and within a few hours, your dog’s stool should be much firmer.

You can purchase Psyllium Husk Powder on Amazon.

How to Prevent Diarrhea from High Protein Dog Food

The best way to prevent diarrhea from high-protein dog food is to add plenty of fiber to the high-protein diet. This is easy to do when feeding fresh dog food. Simply add the following to your dog’s food:

Adult dogs do very well on fresh raw food. With so many companies offering fresh and raw dog food delivery, it’s easier than ever to feed your dog.

fresh raw diet for dogs

Overview: Can High Protein Dog Food Cause Diarrhea?

Yes, high protein dog food can cause diarrhea because a dog’s digestive system isn’t able to handle excess protein when there isn’t enough fiber available. Reduce the amount of protein in your dog’s diet or increase the amount of fiber to treat your dog’s diarrhea.

Always contact your veterinarian before your dog starts a new food, so you receive guidance tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

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