Low protein or high protein diet?


New Member
:dogunsure:Can anyone tell me if it is better to put my dog on a low or high protein diet for
good digestion? I have a 4 month old german shepherd and sometimes when she gets too excited or plays she upchucks her food. Even afew hours after she eats this will happen.Not all the time,just sometimes.It's almost like she doesn't digest her food. I once heard that this could be caused by protein in diet, but,I cannot remember if I need to put her on high or low protein to avoid this digestive problem. Does anyone know? :msniwonder:


New Member
I have a shepherd that sometimes does this. We changed his food to Vitalin gold for fussy eaters, put it in one of those stands so he has to stand up to eat his food, and it seems to have done the trick. He hardly throws up at all now. We also feed twice a day to break up his meals.

We always stick to the rules of not feeding him directly before or after exercise/games for at least 45 mins to an hour.

As far as high/low protien goes I'm not sure as we also give small amounts of carbs about 2 hours after his meals.

Hope you manage to sort it out as I know how frustrating it can be for both you and your dog.


New Member
Thanks! I hope I can find that brand of food in my area. And,what a great idea about the food stand!:ylightbulb My dog always lays down when she eats! I never considered that could be a problem....thanks for the advice!:dogsmile:


New Member
Some thoughts about dogs that vomit or regurgitate their food even hours after eating:

You may want to talk to your vet about this problem, since it might be important to differentiate whether or not the dog is actually vomiting, or is regurgitating.

1. Some dogs suffer from delayed gastric emptying. This can be a serious risk for later gastric dilatation and torsion, so if this condition is present, appropriate treatment should be instituted.

My standard poodle had a problem that sounds similar to the one you describe. As a 6 month old pup, I could feed her at 8 am, and if we went for a car ride at 3 pm, she would vomit up kibble that was whole and scarcely changed by digestion. This is not normal, food should move through the GI tract faster than that! I fed her twice daily because she would not eat more frequently (probably because there wasn't room in her stomach for more until much later than usual.)

It is possible to do some specialized diagnostic radiography with barium, but I felt that I wanted to simply try some treatment options myself first. (Since none of the things I tried would be harmful even if she did not have delayed gastric emptying.) I consulted my employer (a great vet) and my best friend (a veterinary criticalist) prior to treatment.

The first thing I did was to change her diet to an optimal protein, high carb, low fat diet.
Fat slows movement through the stomach, so you don't want to use it for an energy source. Protein levels should be enough to meet a growing dog's needs, but there is no reason to turn to protein as a major energy source. Protein that is not needed for growth and repair is simply deaminated and burned for fuel, the body cannot store it. Carbohydrates are a more ready form of energy and produce less waste material for removal by the kidneys. (There are several schools of thought on whether or not excess protein actually causes harm to kidneys, but at any rate, feeding excess protein is wasteful and expensive.)

Then we ground her kibble up and fed it as a liquidy slurry. This also speeds gastric transit time and increases digestibility. At this point, she had improved about 75%, and in order to increase the response, I eventually began giving her a medication to improve GI motility
30 minutes before each meal. She is also fed smaller meals but fed 3 times daily. This seems to have solved the problem. She hasn't vomited since we began this protocol, and it had made life much easier! Before, I could not easily take her in the car, or out in public. Now, at 19 months, she goes to class with me, makes therapy dog visits, goes shopping, whatever, with no embarrassing messes.

Because delayed gastric emptying is a risk factor for bloat and/or torsion, when she was spayed at 7 months, I had her stomach wall tacked into place to prevent torsion.

2. Another possible reason for frequent regurgitation/vomition is mega esophagus. This is a much more serious problem, and can be congenital or acquired. It is truly life threatening, since the sufferer can aspirate gastric contents, which will cause a life threatening pneumonia. Again, your vet should be consulted. Radiography can show an enlarged esophagus, and then steps can be taken to minimize aspiration risk. Mega-e dogs should be fed in a totally upright position (sitting up in a special chair) and they should receive a low fat, easily digestible, slurry type diet for the same reasons listed above.
Just raising the food dish might help, but usually it is better to feed the dog in a more upright position.

3. Food sensitivities can cause dogs to vomit frequently, and you might need to try a hypoallergenic or sensitive stomach food. Again, consult with your vet for instruction in how to try to figure out what ingredient(s) is/are causing the problem. It takes time and care to use a process of elimination, but your vet can tell you what dietary items are more commonly implicated.

Final note: The Purdue University Veterinary School did a study for risk factors for GDV :dogsmile:(gastric dilatation and volvulus) that found that feeding dogs from an elevated food bowl (in the absence of conditions that require elevation) was one of the top 5 risk associated with GDV. It is never recommended that you elevate the bowl (especially in dogs that are already prone to GDV, like shepherds (and standard poodles!!) unless there is a specific, known reason for doing so.

Good luck with your puppy. I strongly suggest that you discuss this with your vet at the next visit, before trying anything different, unless it would be to switch to a highly digestible, low fat food. (But it has to one that supports the growth of a GSD pup!)
And remember that sometimes pups simply outgrow the problem, given time.

I hope this info is of use.:dogsmile: