If your dog has been diagnosed with kidney failure, the right diet will be a key element in treating and managing their symptoms. Here, our Stroudsburg vets explain the dietary guidelines your vet may recommend if your pooch has kidney failure or kidney disease.
Your Dog's Kidneys
Chronic kidney failure, chronic renal failure, chronic kidney disease, CKD, and chronic renal disease are all names used to refer to conditions characterized by failing kidney function in dogs.
When a dog's kidneys are healthy, they perform a variety of important functions, including filtering toxins from the blood. Chronic kidney disease causes your dog's kidneys to function less effectively over time. When your dog's kidneys fail, they no longer fully eliminate toxins from the system, resulting in a toxic buildup in your pet's blood.
Although there is no cure for chronic kidney disease in dogs, in many cases the condition can be managed through a therapeutic diet. Keeping your canine companion on a strict therapeutic diet may help your pet to enjoy a good quality of life for months, depending on their specific circumstances.
Diagnosing & Treating Kidney Disease in Dogs
Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination for your dog if a serious illness is suspected. If your pooch is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, the severity of your dog's case and a number of individual factors such as their health and age will be assessed before the vet recommends appropriate treatment. 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.
Dog Food For Kidney Disease
A therapeutic diet containing reduced amounts of sodium, protein, and phosphorus, combined with increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids, is typically recommended for puppies suffering from chronic kidney disease. In some cases, your veterinarian may also advise you to take potassium.
Why reduce protein for dogs with kidney disease?
Reducing the amount of protein in a dog's diet is still controversial, but there are two main reasons for doing so. The first is to reduce the amount of waste produced during protein metabolism, and the second is to reduce the amount of protein entering the kidney filtration system.
What this means is that feeding a diet with reduced levels of protein may help to reduce the workload placed on your pup's kidneys, in turn possibly helping to preserve kidney function for longer.
Why reduce phosphorus for dogs with kidney disease?
As your dog's kidneys fail, the concentration of phosphorus in their blood rises. Phosphorus overload has been linked to a number of negative side effects, including vitamin D deficiency and a decreased ability of your dog's body to metabolize calcium. Normalizing blood phosphorus concentrations in dogs with chronic kidney disease through the diet may help to slow disease progression.
It's important to note that the amount of phosphorus in dog food is proportional to the amount of protein in the food. In order to reduce the phosphorus in your dog's diet, you must also limit their protein intake. It is also important to understand that normalizing your dog's blood phosphorus levels through diet alone is usually only successful if the kidney disease is diagnosed and treated early on; medications may be required for more advanced stages of the disease.
Why reduce sodium for dogs with kidney disease?
Sodium restriction in the diet of dogs suffering from chronic kidney disease may also be beneficial. Reducing sodium can help your dog's kidneys work less hard and help your dog maintain normal blood pressure. Aside from feeding a therapeutic diet, lowering your dog's sodium intake will require you to pay special attention to the treats you give your dog. Jerky and cheese slices contain a lot of sodium and should be avoided.
Why increase omega-3 fatty acids in my dog's diet?
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in studies to help slow the progression of chronic kidney disease in dogs by lowering the production of inflammatory compounds that cause oxidative stress in the kidneys. Higher omega-3 foods often contain salmon and other fish that many dogs enjoy, or they may be supplemented with fish oil or flaxseed oil.
Choosing The Right Food For Your Dog
Your dog's vet will recommend the best food to help your pooch fight the progression of kidney failure or disease. Like people, every dog is different and 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 commercial dog foods have phosphorus and protein levels that are far too high for dogs with chronic kidney disease. However, your veterinarian may be able to provide prescription therapeutic foods. Prescription diets are specially formulated to meet all of your dog's dietary needs while also limiting sodium, phosphorus, and protein. Consult your veterinarian about the best food 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.