Predictably, dogs with kidney disease don't feel so great, causing diminished appetite and weight loss. There are foods that are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of a dog with kidney disease, but finding one that is appetizing enough to encourage your furry friend to eat is the challenge.
It is often recommended across the board to reduce the amount of protein for a dog with kidney disease, but doing so really depends on whether or not your dog has excess protein in her system. Her veterinarian will be able to perform a urine test to determine whether or not a lower protein diet is necessary and can tell you if the food you're feeding her has sufficient protein without having too much. If you want to make your dog's food yourself, eggs are a high-quality protein that she will most likely find appetizing. You should restrict or eliminate the number of yolks to whites that you feed her, because of their phosphorus content.
Specialized food for dogs with kidney disease will typically have reduced amounts of sodium and phosphorus compared to a regular diet. The sodium is usually decreased to alleviate the secondary condition of high blood pressure that many dogs with kidney issues face. It isn't necessary, however, to eliminate sodium altogether, as that can actually cause harm to your dog's already tenuous health.
For a healthy dog, phosphorus and calcium are usually in balance, but in a dog with kidney disease, phosphorus builds up in the body creating an imbalance. Reducing this element will help your dog's system retain a more natural state. Moderate to high amounts of fat are recommended for dogs with kidney problems as the fat will contribute calories that are low in phosphorus. When preparing your dog's food yourself, high-fat hamburger, lamb and the dark meat from chicken or turkey are all sources of fat that your dog should eat with little encouragement.
Vitamin D3 and Calcium
Dogs with kidney troubles have a difficult time converting vitamin D2 into vitamin D3, a component that is necessary for breaking down and absorbing calcium. If your dog can't utilize calcium, reduced amounts in her system can mean she is at risk of brittle and broken bones. Quality prepared dog foods for kidney patients should have increased amounts of vitamin D3 as well as increased calcium. When feeding a homemade diet, foods like liver, tuna packed in oil and salmon will supply vitamin D3. Adding 1/2 teaspoon of crushed eggshell to each pound of food will supplement calcium for your dog.
If your dog is suffering from kidney disease, make sure that she has access to ample amounts of water at all times. The importance of water to keep your dog's system hydrated is the reason that many veterinarians recommend a canned food diet over dry kibble. If you are cooking your dog's food yourself and providing a sufficient water supply, this won't be an issue, but if you prefer to feed your dog a commercially prepared food, look for canned food that is formulated for dogs with kidney issues. There are dry food formulas on the market for canine kidney disease, but feeding canned food will boost the level of moisture in your dog's diet and every little bit will benefit her.
Talk to your vet about supplementing your dog's diet with omega-3 fatty acids and a multivitamin. A dog with kidneys that are functioning inadequately will lose nutrients that she needs. Supplementing her diet will help replace the nutritional elements that are essential to supporting her health.
- Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats; Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M. and Susan Hubble Pitcairn
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.