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Diet for Dogs With Kidney Failure

If your dog is diagnosed with kidney failure, feeding them a proper diet will be essential to their ongoing treatment. Today, our Danbury vets discuss kidney failure in dogs and what type of diet they should be fed.

What is kidney failure in dogs?

Chronic kidney failure, chronic renal failure, chronic kidney disease, CKD, and chronic renal disease are all terms used to refer to conditions marked by failing kidney function in dogs. 

A dog's kidneys perform numerous key tasks for their health, including filtering toxins from the blood. Kidney disease causes a gradual decline in the functioning of your dog's kidneys. When the kidneys fail, they aren't able to completely eliminate the toxins from the system, causing the toxins to build up in your pet's blood. 

While there is no cure for kidney disease, in many cases, the condition can be managed with the assistance of a therapeutic diet, which may help your pet enjoy a good quality of life for months, depending on their specific circumstances. 

How is kidney failure or disease treated in dogs?

Your vet will conduct a thorough physical examination (including nutritional consulting) for your dog if a serious illness is suspected. If your pup is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, the severity of your dog's case and several individual factors such as their health and age will be assessed before the vet recommends appropriate treatment.

Kidney disease treatment often includes several dietary changes or restrictions, combined with medications. While medications are used primarily to reduce symptoms of the disease, a therapeutic diet will help slow the disease's progression and help reduce the work your dog's kidneys need to perform. 

Which dog food for kidney disease is best?

Your vet will recommend the best food option(s) for your dog's particular scenario. Below, our team has shared some tips and advice regarding a diet for your dog if they are experiencing kidney failure.

Keeping Your Dog Hydrated

A dog's kidney failure diet should contain plenty of water. Fresh food diets can be quite beneficial in adding moisture to your dog’s diet. Always be sure your dog has access to fresh, filtered water at all times. Even if they have plenty of access to water, keep an eye on your dog to watch for signs of dehydration.

If your dog seems lethargic and/or has hard, dry stool, they need fluids. You can do this by making sure there is enough moisture in their diet. If your dog does appear to be dehydrated, ask your vet to teach you how to administer subcutaneous fluids at home. If you don't feel comfortable doing this yourself, you can always go to your local veterinary office and have them do it for you.

Reduce Phosphorus

As your dog's kidneys begin to fail, the concentration of phosphorus in their blood becomes elevated. Elevated phosphorus concentrations have been linked to several negative side effects such as vitamin D deficiency and reduced ability of your dog's body to metabolize calcium. In dogs with chronic kidney disease, normalizing blood phosphorus concentrations through their diet may help to slow the progression of the disease.

One important thing to note is that the phosphorus level in dog foods is directly related to the amount of protein in the food. To reduce the phosphorus in your dog's diet, it will be necessary to also restrict their protein intake. It is also important to know that normalizing your dog's blood phosphorus levels through diet alone is typically only successful if the kidney disease is diagnosed and treated early, medications will also be necessary during more progressed stages of the disease.

Reduce Sodium

Reducing sodium in the diet of dogs with chronic kidney disease may also be beneficial. Reducing sodium can help to reduce the workload on your pup's kidneys, as well as to help your dog maintain normal blood pressure. Beyond feeding a therapeutic diet, reducing your dog's sodium intake will also mean paying special attention to the treats you offer your dog. Jerky and cheese slices are typically very high in sodium and should be avoided.

Increase Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help slow the progression of chronic kidney disease in dogs by reducing the production of inflammatory compounds that create oxidative stress in the kidneys. Foods with higher levels of omega-3 often contain salmon and other fish which many dogs enjoy or may be supplemented with fish oil, or flaxseed oil.

High-Quality Protein

Avoid kibble and commercial diets, including diets prescribed for the kidneys. Alternatively, feed your dog a fresh, whole-food diet with easily digestible protein. Most dogs have an easier time digesting raw diets. 

Feed high-quality protein to maintain muscle mass. As well as the low phosphorus foods shown above, eggs are a great source of digestible protein for your dog. Your dog also needs high-quality fat for energy.

What should I feed my dog with kidney disease?

Your veterinarian will recommend the best diet to help your dog battle the progression of kidney failure or disease. While each dog is different, the food your vet recommends for your dog will depend on the severity and progression of the condition and your dog's general health and age. 

Most regular dog foods will probably contain phosphorus levels that are too high for dogs with chronic kidney disease. That said, your veterinarian may be able to offer prescription therapeutic foods. Specially formulated prescription diets are designed to meet all your dog's dietary requirements, but as dogs may need more or less of an ingredient than others, it doesn't mean they will be right for your dog's situation. Consult your vet about which diet is best for your dog. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Are you looking for the right diet for your dog with kidney failure? Contact our Danbury vets to book an examination for your canine companion.

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