If your dog is diagnosed with kidney failure, feeding them the right diet will be essential to their ongoing treatment. For dogs with kidney disease, our Glendale vets often recommend a therapeutic renal diet for dogs featuring restricted phosphorus, sodium and protein combined with increased omega-3 fatty acids. Here's why.

What is kidney disease 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. 

The kidneys perform a variety of important functions in healthy dogs, including filtering toxins from the blood. Chronic kidney disease causes your dog's kidneys to function less effectively over time. When a dog's kidneys fail, they no longer fully eliminate toxins from the system, resulting in a toxic buildup 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?

If a serious illness is suspected, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination (including nutritional counseling) on your dog. If your dog is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, the severity of your dog's case, as well as a number of individual factors such as their health and age, will be evaluated before the vet recommends appropriate treatment. Treatment for kidney disease frequently consists of a combination of dietary changes or restrictions and medications. While medications are used to treat symptoms, a therapeutic diet will help slow the progression of the disease and reduce the amount of work your dog's kidneys have to do.

What dog food is best for dogs with kidney disease?

Your veterinarian will advise you on the best foods to feed your dog with kidney disease, but a typical diet for dogs with kidney disease includes foods with lower sodium, protein, and phosphorus levels, as well as higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. In some cases, your veterinarian may also suggest potassium.

Why reduce protein for dogs with kidney disease?

There are two main objectives behind this strategy, despite the fact that lowering the protein content of a dog's diet is still debatable. The first is to reduce the waste that is produced when proteins are broken down, and the second is to reduce the amount of protein that enters the kidneys' filtration system.

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?

The level of phosphorus in your dog's blood rises as their kidneys start to fail. Phosphorus levels that are too high have been linked to a number of adverse effects, including vitamin D deficiency and a decreased capacity for your dog's body to metabolize calcium. Normalizing blood phosphorus levels in dogs with chronic kidney disease may help to halt the disease's progression through dietary changes.

It's important to keep in mind that the amount of protein and phosphorus in dog food are directly correlated. You will also need to limit your dog's protein intake if you want to lower the phosphorus in their diet. It's also crucial to understand that bringing your dog's blood phosphorus levels back to normal through diet alone usually only works if the kidney disease is identified and treated early; medication will also be required during more advanced stages of the disease.

Why reduce sodium for dogs with kidney disease?

Dogs with chronic kidney disease may benefit from consuming less sodium in their diet. As well as assisting your dog in maintaining normal blood pressure, lowering sodium can lessen the strain on the kidneys. Reduced sodium intake in dogs requires more than just feeding a therapeutic diet; it also necessitates being particularly mindful of the treats you give your dog. Slices of cheese and jerky should be avoided because of their high sodium content.

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.

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 unique, the food your vet recommends for your dog will be determined by the severity and progression of the condition, as well as your dog's overall health and age.

Most regular dog foods will most likely have phosphorus and protein levels that are too high for dogs with chronic kidney disease. However, your veterinarian may be able to provide prescription therapeutic foods. Prescription diets are specially designed to meet all of your dog's dietary needs while also limiting sodium, phosphorus, and protein. Consult your veterinarian 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. 

If your dog is showing signs of kidney disease or kidney failure, contact Limehouse Veterinary Clinic to book an examination for your canine companion.