One of the toughest parts of being a dog owner is battling long-term medical conditions. You can’t really communicate with dogs and sometimes that leaves you feeling helpless when your little furry companions appear to be in discomfort. The number one course of action should always be visiting a medical professional. Don’t wait to see if your dog is going to get better on their own. A vet will typically be able to diagnose them and promptly have your pup on the road to recovery. If it turns out your dog’s ailment isn’t temporary, things become a little more complicated. Kidney disease is a common condition that dogs can develop at any stage of their life, but it’s most common as they get older. For owners, it means a lot of changes. On a daily basis, you have to ask yourself, “What should I feed my dog with kidney disease?” To answer this, you’ll need to understand the disease itself.
What is Kidney Disease?
The kidneys are responsible for balancing out substances in the blood and filtering out waste. They help regulate sodium, blood pressure, phosphorus, they contribute to the metabolization of calcium and the stimulation of hormones which produce red blood cells. When the kidneys are not doing their job, toxins are allowed to run rampant in your dog’s body.
Kidney disease in dogs can be induced by ingesting toxic substances, contracting infections or by not getting enough oxygen and blood flow to the kidneys. In older dogs, chronic kidney disease is more of a natural process and even with a healthy diet, it can be tough to prevent.
Symptoms to look out for:
- Frequent and/or excessive urination
- Blood in urine
- Loss of appetite in dogs
- Canine vomiting
- Weight loss in dogs
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Discolored gums
What to Feed A Dog With Kidney Disease
The good news is that most vets will tell you that even with kidney disease, your dog can still live a long and happy life, especially if it’s caught early enough. Chances are your vet is going to prescribe some kind of pet medication and lifestyle change. The most important part of a lifestyle change is what they eat. Dietary management is the number one line of defense against a failing kidney. Medicine is great for reducing symptoms, but the right diet can prolong a dog’s life by double.
- Feed him foods low in protein, phosphorus, and sodium. Protein compounds can be very tough for a weak kidney to break down which in turn creates toxic buildup in the body. Keeping phosphorus out of the bloodstream slows the progression of the disease. Avoiding sodium will keep blood pressure low.
- Feed him foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil. This is an excellent supplement for protein.
- Avoid high protein treats such as jerky, meat, cheese, pig ears, etc.
- Avoid salty foods such as bread, cheese, meats, and big brand commercial food/treats.
- A good rule of thumb for sodium is to look for foods with less than 1mg of sodium per calorie.
- Dogs with kidney disease have increased amounts of acidity, and many dog food brands will only worsen this. Be aware that kidney disease diets should be non-acidifying.
- Once again, avoid big supermarket brands of pet food. They are typically high in phosphorus, acid, by-products and preservatives — all of which are damaging to the kidney. Consult your vet to determine where and what to feed your pup.
- Stick to moist foods. Kidneys thrive on water to help remove waste from the blood.
- Feed your dog moderate portions, multiple times a day — it will help him keep weight on.
- Avoid proteins that come from grains, as they are high in phosphorus.
Best Foods for Dogs With Kidney Disease:
- Ask your doctor about specific fruits and vegetables like carrots and green beans. They are low in calories, but high in fiber and vitamins. Be careful because some fruits such as grapes and raisins are toxic.
- Egg whites are an easily digestible source of protein. Dairy, in general, is highly digestible, but be sure that it is unpasteurized.
- Ask for your vet’s recommendation on specific brands of pet food geared towards dogs with kidney disease.
- Omega oils such as flax, fish, borage, olive, or hemp.
- Raw or cooked protein such as beef, poultry, and fish.
The words ‘kidney disease’ can be scary for a dog owner. But the good news is if you’re monitoring your dog’s health closely you should be able to notice the symptoms in the early stages. The earlier you start treating kidney failure, the better the chance your pup has of living a long and happy life.