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Older Animals and Protein
Over the years there has been much debate about how to feed older animals
especially in regards to protein levels. Not much more than a decade or so ago, it was felt we
should restrict protein intake in our seniors and geriatrics to protect organ functions, especially
Recent data has proven out exactly the opposite. Our aged companions very well may need
similar protein levels as puppies and kittens, or about 50 percent more than what a
middle-aged pet might need. This helps maintain muscle mass, supports the immune
system and protects against various stresses.
Now, of course if an older pet does have kidney disease especially due to leaking of protein
through the kidneys, then a lower amount of high quality protein is appropriate.
Any pet at any age with liver disease will require special protein, and restriction of protein
intake, as well.
It is a fallacy though that protein, in and of itself, causes kidney disease or failure. Aggravation
of existing conditions is true though.
This is fairly new data to me and I suspect as pet food companies continue to make more
and more specialized diets, we will see this changed in senior pet foods.
Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before making any diet change to ensure there is
no medical reason against it. Certainly yearly blood work and urine tests are appropraite
for all pets 7 years or older to make sure the correct diet is fed. Also, if changing foods,
do so gradually over 3 to 5 days mixing the old food with the new so to prevent diarrhea
or other stomach upsets.