Your dog's kidneys help to filter toxins out of their blood in order to help keep them healthy and their organs functioning properly. But what happens when their kidneys aren't working as they should? Here, our Perry vets discuss kidney failure in dogs and what you should feed them to help manage their condition.
Kidney Disease / Failure in Dogs
Kidney failure in dogs may also be referred to as chronic kidney failure, chronic renal failure, chronic kidney disease, CKD and chronic renal disease.
Your dog's kidneys are crucial to the health of your pet by filtering toxins from their blood along with many other key functions. Chronic kidney disease leads to a gradual decline in the effective functioning of your dog's kidneys. When a pooch's kidneys fail, they no longer fully eliminate the toxins from the system, causing a buildup of toxins in your pet's blood.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for kidney disease in dogs. However, 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.
Treating Kidney Failure in Dogs
Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination (including nutritional consulting) for your dog if serious illness is suspected. If your dog has been diagnosed with kidney disease or kidney failure their treatment options will vary depending on the specifics of their condition. Treatment for kidney disease often includes a number of 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 progression of the disease and help to reduce the work your dog's kidneys need to perform.
What should I feed my dog with kidney failure?
A dog kidney failure diet typically includes a therapeutic diet containing reduced amounts of sodium, protein and phosphorus, combined with increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids. In some cases, your vet may also recommend potassium.
Decrease the Protein Levels in Your Dog's Diet
Although reducing the amount of protein in a dog's diet remains controversial, there are two main goals behind this approach. The first is to help lower the amount of waste produced during protein metabolism and the second is to minimize the amount of protein entering the filtration system of the kidneys.
What this means is that feeding a diet with reduced levels of protein may help to reduce the workload placed on your dog's kidneys, in turn possibly helping to preserve kidney function.
Reducing the Amount of Phosphorus in Your Dog's Diet
As your dog's kidneys begin to fail, the concentration of phosphorus in their blood becomes elevated. Elevated concentrations of phosphorus have been linked to a number of negative side effects such as vitamin D deficiency and reduced ability for 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. In order 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 in more progressed stages of the disease.
Reduce Your Dog's Sodium Intake
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 the amount of 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.
What is the best dog food for kidney disease?
Your veterinarian will recommend the best food to help your dog fight the progression of kidney failure or disease. While every dog is different, the food your vet recommends for your dog will depend on the severity and progression of the condition, in addition to your dog's general health and age.
Most regular dog foods will probably contain phosphorus and protein 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 while also offering restricted sodium, phosphorus and protein. Consult your vet about which 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.