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Hi, all! I have a 10 year old Labrador that has been eating Orijen his entire life and has done very well on it, until recently. Luke's kidney enzymes came back ever so slightly elevated and my vet suggested a lower protein food before starting medication. Orijen had an insane protein amount at 39% so that could very well be why his blood tests came back elevated. He suggested something around 23-27% to see if that helps his kidneys from working so hard. I switched him to Fromm (which is 24% protein) about a week ago. He seems to do ok on it but I'm concerned about him losing muscle mass as I've read from other Fromm users experiencing. He is in excellent shape other than this kidney hangup. I just want to make sure I have him on the best brand of food out there that is still lower in protein content. Any suggestions?
 

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Honestly, there is no "best food", because every dog is different. Even if you take dogs with allergies out of the picture, you get some who thrive best on high-protein, high fiber, red meat based, fish based, grain inclusive, grain free, wet, dry, raw... heck, there's dogs out there who are in amazing health and condition even if they're on truly low quality supermarket brands.

Fromm worked great for Sam when I was still feeding it, the company has had very few recalls (one minor one to date I think?), and was safely in my budget. If Luke is eating it well and maintains good energy levels, coat, weight, etc. I'd keep feeding it, but it's usually impossible to say how a specific dog will do on a specific food until you trail it for a while. I'll be honest: I'd trade a little less well-defined muscle for better liver values, personally, particularly since my dog isn't a performance or show animal, but I never saw a decrease in muscle mass or definition while we were feeding it.
 

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Thanks for the feedback. Yes, his kidney function is much more important than his muscle mass, however I was hoping to at least maintain what he has since he's a senior and typically, more lean muscle mass= less potential hip problems/arthritis. Especially for a lab. Hopefully Fromm will do ok. Thanks.
 

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Fromm Classics Adult formula I assume? IMO, that is a very good choice for lower(ish) protein food that is very digestible, affordable, and from a reputable manufacturer.

While I currently feed a high protein Victor formula, I have often used Fromm Classic in the past for my dogs and my fosters dogs. All did well on it and it was easy on the stomachs of dogs that switched cold turkey from whatever they were eating at the shelter.

A healthy bit of lower impact exercise and being able to stretch throughout the day will help a lot with keeping him limber. You can also consider glucosamine or green lipped mussel supplements for joint health. Ask your vet if there are any kidney contraindications for those but overall they are considered quite safe; research in dogs is a bit lacking but there are supporting studies among other mammals like humans and racehorses.
 

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Go for lower phosphorus more than lower protein. Ideally use a food with exactly the phosphorus he needs. Most kibbles provide more than dogs need. The low protein is mostly because meat and bone are where most phosphorus is found in the diet and back in the 1930s when kidney disease started to be treatable it was found that limiting protein lengthened life. Nowadays it is found that moderate protein keeps the body going and proper amounts of phosphorus help with some of the side effects of the kidney decline. I cannot tell you how much phosphorus is appropriate for your dog but my 35 pound dog needed 800 mg of phosphorus a day in only 600 calories. I kept him on a raw diet and strangely while kibble companies haven't been able to put proper amounts of calcium and phosphorus into the formulas that raw diet was spot on. I truly fail to see why that isn't possible! It IS much better than it used to be. First time I put a kibble into a nutrient database I was shocked that calcium came to 300% what my dog needed. That same kibble no longer publishes the calcium but I did see it was down to about 150% my dog's requirement a few years ago. They are working hard but for some reason are still not there yet. They used to pump up protein by using a lot of bone as bone is 30% poor quality protein. I'm sure a lot of bone still goes into kibble and that's fine but they seem to be using less these days.

Fromm Classic is 1.01 gram phosphorus and 360 calories per 100 grams. No idea if this is spot on, an average, low or high, contact company.
Orijen Original is a minimum of .9 grams phosphorus and 390 calories per 100 grams. Could have a lot more phosphorus, contact company to see upper range. I wouldn't want to use either kibble for a dog with kidney problems, that 35 pound dog would be starving getting only the phosphorus he needed.

See dogaware.com's page on commercial foods for kidney disease. You can figure how to calculate mg P per 100 calories at least. Rather than go by lowest phosphorus also consider calories as clearly Fromm isn't far off Orijen as far as phosphorus content.
 

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He suggested something around 23-27% to see if that helps his kidneys from working so hard. I switched him to Fromm (which is 24% protein) about a week ago. He seems to do ok on it but I'm concerned about him losing muscle mass as I've read from other Fromm users experiencing.
Even that seems a bit too high. I don't know how protein levels over 30% became the norm, but I remember about 15 years ago I fed a 28% feed to a malnourished dog, and the company put up a warning on the formula that the high protein levels made it inappropriate for anything other than working/high energy or lactating dogs. The AAFCO guidelines suggest that around 18% protein is the minimum required for maintenance diets, so going above that by a few percentage points should be more than adequate for most normally active dogs. I have one young male that has never eaten an adult food above 21% protein, and he's pure muscle; 25lns but feels more like 40 ;) I think muscle mass depends more on exercise and bioavailability of amino acids in any given food than ultra high protein levels. It may just be that Fromm in particular might have an imbalance of amino acids or some other issue rather than it being too low in protein???
 

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Max, my first raw fed dog, doubled the thickness of his thighs on higher protein raw. 8 year old senior dog gained lean muscle mass. Seniors have trouble taking in nutrients and tissues fail quicker than young tissues. Definitely depends on the dog how much muscle gets built. Some need more protein than others. Kibbles with more meat meals are likely counting the poor quality protein in the bone contained in those meals. It wasn't easy but eventually I found that bone is 30% poor quality protein. That's far more than what is in wet meat.
 
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