Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?
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    Arrow Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    I know questions about protein in the diet have been talked to death, but this question is a bit different. My dogs are on Canidae, and also given small amounts of raw, as well as EVO treats and some high protein canned foods mixed with the dry. Three of them have had their urine tested -- Callie, Blue, and Bo. All three of them have elevated levels of protein in their urine which was not there prior to switching the better, higher protein diet.

    I asked the vet and he said trace amounts of protein are fine, elevated is okay too however it shows that there may be too much protein in the diet. Now he's a big 'dog chow' fan and not a big fan of better foods or raw feeding.

    He said that over time, this elevated protein could cause issues and put a strain on their kidneys (I know, I've heard about dog with kidney probs shouldn't have high protein, but healthy adults are fine).

    My question is, has anyone else using a higher protein diet had their dogs urine tested and had the protein level come back high? Was the vet concerned?

    Is elevated levels normal? We took Blue off higher protein and put him on a sample of lower protein for a few days and had him tested again. His protein level went from elevated to just trace amounts.

    I'm a bit concerned and not sure if this is normal, or am I stressing their organs with their diet.

    On top of this, of those three, all three have bad pH levels. Blue's level was extremely low, Callie and Bo had really high pH. In fact, Callie's was off the chart, at almost 10.0. Is this related to the food as well?

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    i dont know about the protein in the Urine I am researching that my self but there is a supplement that helps but thier PH back to ur normal. Its made by wysong. the PH is mainly caused by the water they drink.
    [COLOR="Indigo"][FONT="Arial Black"][SIZE="4"]Megan

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    Senior Member briteday's Avatar
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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    Noramlly, pH with reference to diet...meat based protein diet would produce an acid (low) pH and vegetable based diet would produce more alkaline (high) pH.

    It's really too hard to tell without a lot more details why your dogs have the results they did. And quite frankly, (I'm a medical biochemist and have analyzed THOUSANDS of urines) a lot depends on the quality of the specimen. I would not go on the results of a single urinalysis.

    That being said, the specimen should be fresh, and most vets collect a urine by aspiration with a needle directly into the bladder. It is also not wise to go by the results of a specimen from the first morning urine (too concentrated since they don't drink while sleeping) or if the dog has been restricted from water such as being crated during the day...pick them up...go to the vet...hasn't had water for hours, again too concentrated. Also, since a vet is not a human medical doctor and they probably don't run a ton of urinalyses each day, I have to wonder about the quality of their dipsticks that they use for the test. They don't have long shelf life and they must be stored with very specific requirements. Even in a human medical lab, with dipsticks not expired, we would run across problems when we ran controls before starting patient specimens. Don't know why, maybe someone left the jar open or too near a heat source. But the test just didn't work.

    Also the age, general health, breeds, hydration level, time of day...on and on...are important when considering the results of a urine test.

    I think you need to trust your vet, work with him, and possibly repeat the tests. And if your dogs are having problems with a high protein diet you need to consider a change. There is no one "correct" food for every dog.
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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    Hey, thanks so much briteday, that helped a lot. I think I will have the urinalysis ran one more time just to see. I just found it odd that all three had high protein. My others haven't been tested. There are differences in just about everything with each dog -- Blue is a 70 pound, 10 year old pit bull, while Bo is a 28 pound, 8 year beagle, and Callie is a tiny little 7 pound, 3 year old dachshund. So there is a big difference in all of their sizes, weights, and ages.

    Each sample was taken in the morning, right before leaving for the vet. I held a cup under their wee wee (hee hee!) to collect the urine.

    All of them eat a different amount of food, different amount of raw (Bo loves the meat off the raw beef bones, as well as boiled eggs, and raw lamb and chicken medallions) while the others eat very little raw, usually just what is on the beef bones and sometimes a boiled egg.

    I just wasn't sure if this was an indication that they ALL should be taken off the Canidae, raw, ect. or what. Blue was having high protein just on kibble, without anything else, so I'm at a loss.

    I'm considering a diff. vet for the urinalysis. I love my vet (heck, I even work for him now) however he's a bit... old school. He sticks with dog chow, doesn't know much about the better foods and believes they are a waste of money, and doesn't like raw, period. So when I mention the high protein in the urinalysis, he's a bit like, "Well, it's high. It needs to be lowered. Change the food." When questions on how high is too high, he gives a vague, general answer. Don't get me wrong, he's a great vet, I've used him for years, but I may get the urinalysis done at a diff. vet who can give me a bit more in detail answer.

    I don't have the numbers or anything, so I can't tell you how high it was. However, your statement on the dip sticks shelf life, area of storage, handling, ect. does make sense and I never really considered that, however it does make me think.

    I will say that during a different urinalysis right after I adopted Blue, we did a urinalysis and it showed he had a high 'billyrubin' (correct spelling?) and the vet got concerned. We did a full CBC, sent it off to the LSU labs and it came back that his blood was completely fine and everything was perfect. So that right there showed that the strips were off.

    The more I type, the more I think I may get a diff. vet to do the urinalysis. Do you recommend that? If so/if not, what else do you recommend, if anything, that I do?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by MyRescueCrew; 05-30-2008 at 07:10 PM. Reason: spelling error

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    I always think a new set of eyes will see things from a different perspective and is worth a shot.

    Also, since you work for the current vet, take a peek at the dipstick container and see if they are past the expiration date, see how they are stored.

    The dogs mentioned, except for Callie, are considered "older" and compromised kidney function goes along with heart health and age. I would also be curious about "how" high the values were. Most dipsticks are gauged to do 1+, 2+, etc. (there is a color chart on the container to match the dipstick against) Trace or 1+ would not concern me in a first morning urine, pretty concentrated even if they have eaten breakfast and had a bit to eat by then. Also if the weather is hot where you live that will affect the urine as well.

    In the meanwhile, I wouldn't do anything drastic, perhaps be sure that fresh water is always available for your dogs. And if it were me I would re-test the urine a couple of times to see if you get different answers and try getting the view of a different vet. If the results are not normal then I would opt for a chem panel and CBC. Also ask the vet how he/she feels the heart function on each dog is, relative to their age.
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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    Quote Originally Posted by MyRescueCrew View Post
    Three of them have had their urine tested -- Callie, Blue, and Bo. All three of them have elevated levels of protein in their urine which was not there prior to switching the better, higher protein diet.

    I asked the vet and he said trace amounts of protein are fine, elevated is okay too however it shows that there may be too much protein in the diet. Now he's a big 'dog chow' fan and not a big fan of better foods or raw feeding.


    Is elevated levels normal? We took Blue off higher protein and put him on a sample of lower protein for a few days and had him tested again. His protein level went from elevated to just trace amounts.


    On top of this, of those three, all three have bad pH levels. Blue's level was extremely low, Callie and Bo had really high pH. In fact, Callie's was off the chart, at almost 10.0. Is this related to the food as well?

    I will start off by saying, no, I've never had one of mine have protein in the urine. Beagles are prone to urinary/kidney problems though, and so I have been there with the "off" pH levels (too alkaline, in my case). My cousin's Lab had protein in his urine several months back, and in his case, diet change was the answer. She had been feeding him Iams, a brand I was having problems with myself over the past few years, particularly in regards to urinary/incontinance problems. He is on a bland food now, I believe on of the Science Diet senior formulas (he's 10yrs) supplemented w/ boiled chicken.

    RULE #1 when it comes to dogs that have a tendency for alkaline urine or other urinary system issues is NO FISH. Fish will alkalize the urine faster than anything and should NEVER be one of the main ingredients in the diet. This is after several years of experience raising a breed that is known for dropping dead at 4, 5, 6, 7 yrs of age from kidney issues. So yeah, I check the pH of their urine frequently as that is the best way to keep the kidneys in good health. NO FISH.

    I am sorry, but I've been saying for years about foods such as EVO that the protein levels are ridiculous. Especially for non owrking dogs.
    Consider this - in the summer, sporting/hunting dog owners switch our dogs to a lower protein feed even if we continue to work the dogs. First, they are never worked as often in the summer, so they don't need the portein & calories, secondly, high protein diets combined with heat can kill a hunting dog. It will burn out their kidneys faster than anything. Dehydration + high protein = fatal. My dogs are on a 21% protein feed right now, and in the winter will be moved to a feed that contains around 28-30% protein. I also use the higher protein foods for lactating bitches. They are just not necessary for your average dog, and yes, anything abouve 32-35% protein will be flushed out in the urine. It's not useable to the dog.

    What this does is place a strain on the kidneys, hence why those who have working dogs will switch to low protein in the off season, to make up for the excessive amounts they eat in the winter.

    Elevated levels of protein are not normal in the urine - it means that the dog is now having problems filtering out the excessive amounts of dietary protein it is taking in. That combined with the off urine pH levels should be a sign that something is wrong. The urien should have a pH of about 6ish. So 10 is a concern.

    You mention that your Vet is for Dog Chow and not the "better feeds" or raw, but honestly, if Dog Chow is formulated to produce a specific healthy pH level (which it is), and raw/"better" diets are causing problems that have the potential to cause long term, irreversable kidney damage if left untreated, then which one is really better? My dogs are on Dog Chow and their urine is at normal pH, we have no incontinance or alkaline urine issues the way we do on other some othjer diets, so it's a healthy, well tolerated feed for dogs ...

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    So after reading this thread I have to ask a question. When I switch to a high protein/grainless food in a few months when I feel my puppy is full grown and is ready should I have a urinalysis done a few months after switching to make sure she doesn't have elevated protein levels in her urine?

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    I have easy access to lab testing since I spent most of my career there. So my perspective is probably different than other members here. However, a urine dipstick shouldn't cost very much and I don't think it hurts to have some basic tests done to establish baseline values.

    I waited about 18 months after I started feeding raw to run basic blood work (chem panel, CBC, thyroid) and urine screen. But to have a good idea how the food change has afffected your dog you would need to have baseline results BEFORE and AFTER to make the comparison. (my dogs were all adults when we switched foods and they all had recent blood and urine results previous to the food switch)

    Also, a urine alone will not tell you the whole story. That's why I suggested previously on this thread that if the urine results are still abnormal upon repeat, then blood work would be indicated. Personally, I like to have baseline values for blood and urine. It is easier to spot a trend later on if the dog has problems.
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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    briteday and UB, thank you guys so much. You have both given me tons of information to go on.

    briteday, I will definitely have the urine re-tested at a diff. vet, and I will also check the exp. date on the dipsticks, and their storing methods, come Monday morning at work.

    Let's me explain one thing about feeding my dogs. I had them on dog chow. I loved the dog chow. Then I started reading about all the blah blah in dog chow, and I changed (I've read your posts UB on dog chow, and I do see your side as well) to Canidae. However, I was happy with dog chow, but wasn't sure if I was feeding them proper food. BUT, Blue was on dog chow at the clinic I took him from for 10 years. When we ran blood work on him, his blood was quote, "healthy as a puppy"! The whole dog food issue is so confusing -- I'm spending a fortune trying to do good, but I MAY be actually hurting them.

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    Quote Originally Posted by MyRescueCrew View Post
    The whole dog food issue is so confusing -- I'm spending a fortune trying to do good, but I MAY be actually hurting them.

    Don't think like that You're not hurting them, just trying to do what's best ... we're all in the same boat on that issue. If there is fault to go around, it's these greedy food manufacturers. They will say and do anything, they will knock everyone else's ingredients and come up with oddball diets of their own just to make a buck. THEY are the ones hurting dogs.

    All I can say is just feed what works. Whatever that may be. It could be Dog Chow or Canidae or Nutro or homecooked, etc. Nevermind those stupid "5 Star" ratings sites and just feed what you can afford & what the dogs look and feel well on.

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    So Briteday I have a question for you. I work at PetsMart and I often like to recommend Blue Buffalo to customers, but say I recommend their wilderness food (42% Protein, No grains) should I recommend that have blood work done before they switch their dog to it if those choose too?

    Also I want to say thanks for the great advice I am going to take it and talk to my vet before I switch my puppy to a high protein, no grain diet when she is ready.

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    My five year old lab, Summer, became incontinent about three weeks ago. I took her to the vet with a urine sample, and he said that her urine looked normal (tested for UTI), and put her on a 10 day course of Proin 50 and antibiotcs, to see how she would respond. She immediately regained control of her bladder, but two days after completing the med's, she began leaking again. (Leaking's not the word! My couch & carpet now stink despite numerous cleanings, and laundry from soaked sheets & blankets was never-ending!) The vet prescribed 30 days of Proin 50, and said sometimes that's enough to get her body back on track itself; if not, she may have to be on it forever.

    A bit of Summer's history: She was on a good quality kibble, which I supplemented with boiled chicken (no other human food, no snacks), up until about six months ago. About a year and a half ago, Summer started to develop skin issues: hot spots, bald patches, scratching & bleeding), which seemed to be worse in the summer. My vet at the time prescribed prednisone (several courses), and some topical cream, which seemed to relieve her only slightly while on medication. During this time, I switched her to a weight management version of the same kibble, as she was above the ideal weight range at 86 lbs. The condition progressively worsened, to the point that he said we'd probably have to change her to prescription food.

    I happened to go into a natural food store about six months ago, and after speaking with the staff, decided to try her on a grain-free, raw diet. It's very expensive, but her coat cleared up within 2-3 months, became very soft, and she's now at 70 lbs and looks wonderful. She also loves the food. But after reading this thread, I am wondering if it's the protein that is causing her to be incontinent. I am concerned about her being on Proid, as it seems like her respiration becomes very quick after she's taken the pill.

    I found this thread to be very informative, and welcome any additional input you can provide.

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    My vet never mentioned anything abnormal about urine tests, but I did find that my dog's pre-neuter blood work showed elevated ALT (a liver enzyme) levels. At the time he was on a very high protein kibble (Orijen). The vet retested a week or two later to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and again, high ALT. A couple months later (at that time he was on grain free Acana, which is lower in protein than Orijen but still very high compared to most foods) he was tested, and yet again, high ALT. The vet ran a bile acid test to rule out liver damage and thankfully, the results of that test were good. She decided to have me bring him in for a blood test every six to twelve months, just to monitor his ALT. I began to suspect that the high protein diet might be playing a role, so I switched him to a rotation diet of moderate protein kibbles. Last month I took him in for his first test since switching to a lower protein food, and sure enough his ALT had dropped and was within the normal range.

    After reading the following from the dog food project website, I began to suspect that such high levels of protein in such a dry form (kibble) might be putting too much strain on the liver and kidneys. It's just a sort of theory of mine; there's no way of knowing for sure. But it does seem to make sense.

    The liver needs water to process protein and as a medium to carry waste products to the kidneys, where they are filtered out and most of the water is reabsorbed. The less concentrated the waste products in this primary filtrate are, the easier it is for the kidneys to do their filtering work - that's why it is unhealthy to feed dry food only and so critical that dogs eating mostly or exclusively dry food and dogs with liver disease get lots of extra water. Dogs who eat mostly canned food or a home prepared diet automatically take in more moisture and do not need to compensate as much by drinking. Contrary to what many people think and pet food companies claim, dogs (and cats) do not know instinctively how much extra water they have to drink to make up for what is lacking in the dry food. This is why I so highly recommend that people always add water to the kibble at feeding time.
    Even though his blood work was great on the moderate protein food, I decided it would still be a good idea to add moisture to my dog's diet. I now supplement with canned food or raw eggs on occasion, and add water to his food when it's just plain kibble. I figure the added hydration certainly can't hurt him.

    I think it's really counter-intuitive to stick with a food that is potentially causing a real problem for the dog just for the sake of being able to say I feed the "best food on the market." If my dog isn't doing well on it, then that food, regardless of its good ingredients and all of the hype from dog food review websites, is not the best food for my dog.
    Last edited by Porphyria; 08-10-2011 at 12:39 PM.

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    Thank you, Porphyria - also very interesting and informative. I agree, "the best" food certainly doesn't have to be the most expensive (although I think the Nature's Variety & Stella & Chewy's she's on might actually BE the most expensive!!) Summer's health seemed to have improved in every way once we switched to the raw meat: beautiful coat, slimmed down, and most important, all the skin issues resolved. She drinks plenty, too. In fact, I asked the vet if we should consider testing for diabetes, but he ruled it out. However, this new incontinence issue is a real concern - and she's still pretty young! So if she's allergic to grains, and can't eat a high protein diet, then I'm not sure what diet I should move towards to see if lower protein will alleviate her incontinence.

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    Quote Originally Posted by Porphyria View Post
    My vet never mentioned anything abnormal about urine tests, but I did find that my dog's pre-neuter blood work showed elevated ALT (a liver enzyme) levels. At the time he was on a very high protein kibble (Orijen). The vet retested a week or two later to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and again, high ALT. A couple months later (at that time he was on grain free Acana, which is lower in protein than Orijen but still very high compared to most foods) he was tested, and yet again, high ALT. The vet ran a bile acid test to rule out liver damage and thankfully, the results of that test were good. She decided to have me bring him in for a blood test every six to twelve months, just to monitor his ALT. I began to suspect that the high protein diet might be playing a role, so I switched him to a rotation diet of moderate protein kibbles. Last month I took him in for his first test since switching to a lower protein food, and sure enough his ALT had dropped and was within the normal range.

    After reading the following from the dog food project website, I began to suspect that such high levels of protein in such a dry form (kibble) might be putting too much strain on the liver and kidneys. It's just a sort of theory of mine; there's no way of knowing for sure. But it does seem to make sense.



    Even though his blood work was great on the moderate protein food, I decided it would still be a good idea to add moisture to my dog's diet. I now supplement with canned food or raw eggs on occasion, and add water to his food when it's just plain kibble. I figure the added hydration certainly can't hurt him.

    I think it's really counter-intuitive to stick with a food that is potentially causing a real problem for the dog just for the sake of being able to say I feed the "best food on the market." If my dog isn't doing well on it, then that food, regardless of its good ingredients and all of the hype from dog food review websites, is not the best food for my dog.
    I'm just curious, what was the protein level range that worked for you?

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    Honestly, I don't know! This is my first dog, and I'm on a learning curve, here! I'll let you know when I figure it out!

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet?

    Quote Originally Posted by kafkabeetle View Post
    I'm just curious, what was the protein level range that worked for you?
    The food he was on when he was tested was 22%, so actually pretty low. The ones he has been on since then are around 25-26%. He hasn't tested while he's been on the 25-26% foods, but I don't think there would be a problem since these are really moderate protein levels. The next time he gets tested I will make sure he's been on a food that's around 26%, or maybe even higher, so I can figure out a sort of "safe range."

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    Re: Protein levels in urine -- too much protein in diet? How much protein is too much

    What is a normal protein range for a dog, i.e. an 8 year old golden retriever? She has been on Blue Buffalo forever, but maybe I should make a food change. Her CBC was excellent, but the vet wanted to run another test on the urine for $124. I asked the vet if the elevated protein (which was +2) was to high, would her blood test show issues with her kidney or other organs? I decided to wait and re-test her urine and I am going to add some wet food to her diet. But I would never have known feeding her a high-quality/protein food could be the cause.

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