What is the best diet for a dog with kidney failure?

If your dog is experiencing kidney failure, feeding them the right diet will be a key element of treating and managing their symptoms. For dogs with kidney failure and kidney disease, our Greensboro vets may recommend a therapeutic diet featuring phosphorus, sodium and restricted protein along with increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

What is kidney failure in dogs?

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

For healthy dogs, the kidneys perform numerous key tasks, including filtering toxins from the blood. 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. 

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

How is kidney failure or disease treated in dogs?

Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination (including nutritional consulting) for your dog if 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 disease and help to reduce the work your dog's kidneys need to perform. 

What should I feed my dog with kidney disease?

Recommended dog food for pups suffering from chronic kidney disease 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. 

Why reduce protein for dogs with kidney disease?

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.

Why reduce phosphorus for dogs with kidney disease?

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.

Why reduce sodium for dogs with kidney disease?

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 to 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.

Why increase omega-3 fatty acids in my dog's diet?

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 to 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 food to feed my dog with kidney failure?

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.

Do you suspect your dog is displaying symptoms of a serious illness? Contact our highly skilled Greensboro vets to arrange emergency care during our regular business hours, or visit local area hospitals after-hours. We have experience in diagnosing and treating kidney failure in pets.

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