Did you know that 10 percent of dogs will be affected by kidney disease at one point in their lives, especially as they grow older?
If you have a furry friend already with or at risk for kidney disease or renal failure, it is important to learn about the disease, its signs and symptoms, and how your pup may benefit from a special, renal-supportive diet. Remember, with good care and the right diet, your dog can live happily for years with kidney disease.
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What Is Kidney Disease And Renal Failure In Dogs?
The kidneys are two bean-shaped vital organs. Just like in humans, they are essentially the body’s filter. Their tasks include taking the waste out of the blood, balancing body fluids, and making urine.
If your dog is suffering from kidney (renal) disease, their kidneys cannot filter blood properly, which leads to a waste buildup in the body and additional health problems.
The functions of the kidneys in dogs include:
- Balancing water levels
- Regulating blood pressure
- Regulating red blood cells
- Regulating acid levels
Unlike some other organs, say the liver, kidneys cannot renew themselves. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) happens when your dog gradually loses their kidney functions, which is different from acute kidney disease or kidney failure that happens suddenly.
Acute kidney disease may develop from eating a poisonous plant, antifreeze, bad foods, or certain medicines. CKD develops over time as a result of diet, lifestyle, and aging. Certain underlying conditions, including dental disease, diabetes, Lyme disease, cancer, trauma, or severe dehydration can lead to kidney damage, making their disease worsen.
As waste levels build up as a result of CKD, your dog can experience various symptoms and health issues, including:
- High blood pressure
- Anemia (low iron)
- Nerve damage
- Bone weakening
- Poor nutritional uptake
When your dog is unable to remove enough waste through their kidneys, it means they have kidney failure.
While acute kidney disease and other kidney problems can be easier to diagnose and treat, CKD is trickier. CKD develops which makes signs less obvious. Symptoms may not show until your dog has lost 70% of their kidney function. Without enough signs, diagnosis is more difficult or delayed, and treatment can be challenging.
What Are The Signs Of Kidney Disease And Kidney Failure In Dogs?
Symptoms of acute kidney failure in dogs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme lethargy
- Excessive sleeping
- Problems urinating
Symptoms of chronic kidney disease in dogs include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Bad breath
- Lack of energy
- Increased sleeping
- Mouth sores and mouth ulcers
- Acute blindness
- Poor coat appearance
- Blood in urine
- Uncoordinated gait
How Eating Special Food For Dogs With Kidney Disease Can Make A Difference
Kidney disease sounds scary but with proper treatment, many dogs live for years and can live a happy life with your care.
Your dog’s kidney disease treatment would likely involve fluid therapy and supportive nutrition. Your dog would likely receive medication to decrease symptoms. Your vet can teach you how to administer subcutaneous fluid therapy.
Your vet may prescribe more electrolytes, such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphates to reverse the decreased organ damage from dehydration.
The Question Of Protein: How Much And What Kind
Whether a high- or low-protein diet is better for dogs is a controversial topic among vets and the dog food market.
Based on rat studies without conclusive evidence, some vets recommend a low-protein diet. However, low protein diets may decrease perfusion of blood flow which can lead to kidney cell death. Considering this, a high protein diet seems better for dogs with kidney disease. However, the quality of protein matters.
Whether you and your vet choose a low, high or medium-protein diet for your dog with kidney disease, you need to feed your dog high-quality protein they can digest and absorb easily, such as raw meat, eggs, and rice. A protein that has been highly processed cannot be digested by your dog at all. Soy protein also has little to no biologic value for your dog’s health. It is really not appropriate for them, even though cheaper brands may use it to lower costs. Dehydrated protein is also not the best for dogs with kidney disease, as it is simply hard on their body.
Dogs have a natural inclination towards meat. Some experts argue that dogs are actually omnivorous and can eat both grains and meat. While dogs can eat and need some plant-food, many get way too many grains. Their closest wild relatives, wolves, eat only 4-7 percent plant matter daily, while kibble consists of 30-60 percent.
If you consider how dogs would eat if they were left to their own devices, quality raw meat is a no-brainer.
Many scientists and vets believe that your dog’s diet should depend on the stage of their disease, and they should eat less protein as it progresses. However, dogs on dialysis need to increase their protein.
Before making any diet changes, consult with experts. Make sure to read up on current scientific recommendations, and most importantly, talk with your vet who diagnosed your dog with kidney disease to decide what is the best plan of action. No matter how much protein you and your vet decide on, choose a high-quality protein for your dog.
What Should Dog Food for Kidneys Entail?
As mentioned earlier, always talk to your vet first and decide on the best diet for your dog’s specific health needs.
The diet for a dog with kidney disease should consist of:
- Animal protein
- Whole fruits and vegetables
- Fresh foods
- Easily digestible proteins
- Moisture content between 80-85%
Generally speaking, dogs with kidney issues should abide by the following recommendations:
- High-quality protein, preferably raw meat
- Choose organic!
- Fresh food is the best
- Give them food with a high moisture content – raw diets are perfect for that
- Avoid kibbles (dried food) as they can lead to dehydration
- Canned food is better than kibble due to its moisture content, but raw is even better
- Mix in a good amount of veggies, such as bell peppers
- Supplement with omega 3s or feed them fish, flax, anchovies, or sardines to meet their needs
- Make sure their diet is low in phosphorus and sodium
- Keep starches low or non-existent
- For snacks, bell peppers and green beans are a good idea to correct vitamin deficiencies
- Some vitamins, such as zinc or vitamin E may be helpful supplements, talk to your vet about their recommendations
- Filtered water is the best (pro tip: use a pet fountain!)
For a high-quality, high-protein diet, the basic protein recommendations for a week may include:
- 12-15% meaty bone
- 10-30% organ meat
- 30-50% muscle meat
- 5% fish
How To Switch Your Dog To A Renal Supportive Diet
Some dogs eat everything while others are incredibly picky. Sick dogs with kidney disease may not want to eat at all. There are still some tricks you can use to get them to eat and switch to a kidney-friendly diet.
- Gradually mix in new foods and supplements to their current food.
- Slowly reduce their current food until you’ve switched over to the healthier option.
- Pick high-quality, organic foods that are more palatable to your dog.
- Give them their meds separately so they don’t associate feeding time with a yucky taste.
- Create a safe, comforting feeding environment; sit down with them and stroke them.
- Try different renal-support recipes, foods, and brands until you find what they love.
How To Find The Best Food For Your Dog With Kidney Disease
Raw food is the best option for dogs, especially those with kidney disease or other health issues that require top-notch nutrients. At our TruDog Shop, you can find high-quality organic raw dog food, raw treats, and supplements for your dog’s benefit. Our products are grain-free and free from GMO fillers and by-products. They are created with love by holistic veterinarians and canine nutritionists so your pup can get the best nourishment they deserve. Specifically for dogs with kidney disease, it’s highly recommended to add a little water to our raw food to help keep them hydrated and make sure the food doesn’t hit their stomach too harshly.
Do you have a dog with kidney disease? What diet has helped them with their condition? Has your dog tried our TruDog products? We would love to hear your doggy stories. Please, share them in the comments!