Kidney disease in dogs can be a common development as they get older so it is important to understand the canine kidney disease diet and how it can help your dog have a better quality of life.
Table Of Contents
- Kidney disease in dogs can be a common development as they get older so it is important to understand the canine kidney disease diet and how it can help your dog have a better quality of life.
- The Role Of Diet In Disease Progression
- Here is a list of things to look out for when choosing a renal diet for your canine companion:
- How Do Different Foodstuffs Affect Your Dogs Diet
- Other Nutrients to look out for in Renal Diets Include:
- Some Top Tips For Introducing A Renal Diet To Your Dog
Kidneys are pretty important pieces of kit inside of us and also our dogs.
The role of a Kidney is to primarily regulate water, acid-base and electrolyte balance along with the excretion of metabolic waste products such as urea, creatine and uric acid.
CKD or Chronic Kidney Disease and sometimes referred to as Chronic Renal Disease is characterized by irreversible and progressive loss of kidney function.
The loss of kidney function means that they cannot perform the main duties that they need to in order to keep the body healthy and we see this quite a lot in our dogs as they get older.
Common in initial signs can be increased water consumption and as a result, your dog needing to go to urinate a lot more.
This can result in your dog having to get your attention more to go out or indeed more accidents around the home.
Another sign can be loss of bladder control when sleeping.
Nausea and vomiting can also be a sign of kidney illness or failure and you can add that to a reduced appetite and weight loss.
It is important to state that these signs can often not be seen in your dog until around 75% of the kidney’s functions are lost and that the disease has taken a real hold.
Renal disease can, of course, occur in a dog of any age but as stated earlier, it is more prevalent and frequently diagnosed in an older dog.
The Role Of Diet In Disease Progression
Once you have a diagnosis of kidney disease from your vet, it is vitally important to discuss the changes you need to make for your dog’s diet.
There are many diets available for a dog with chronic kidney disease and you often see them referred to as “special, Renal or Therapeutic” diets.
To avoid confusion in this case, it’s best for you to concentrate on a “Renal Diet” as this is perfectly worded for the condition that is being cared for.
The main goals of a renal diet for dogs with chronic kidney disease are:
- To Slow The Progression Of The Disease Down
- Maximise The Quality Of Your Dogs Life By Keeping The Symptoms At Bay
- Improve The Clinical Symptoms So Your Dog Feels Much Better
Specially design renal diets can have several important features that distinguish them from standard dog foods.
Here is a list of things to look out for when choosing a renal diet for your canine companion:
Diets that are high in protein can produce an accumulation of urea and other nitrogenous wastes that can not be excreted efficiently. This accumulation can result in a clinical condition called uremia.
Diets that don’t have enough protein, however, can cause body muscle to break down as a source of protein and this can cause weight loss and muscular wastage.
How Do Different Foodstuffs Affect Your Dogs Diet
Adding extra fat to a dog’s diet can improve the taste and the palatability as well as adding much-needed non-protein calories that can reduce strain on the kidneys, but interestingly it is the kind of fat that may affect the progression of the renal disease.
It is advised that dogs that are suffering from renal disease should NOT receive fatty acid supplements containing omega 6 fatty acids.
Omega 3 supplements, however, should be given as they have been proven to actually slow down the progression of the disease.
The Omega 3 supplements can be given in addition to a renal diet but are usually included in the actual meal plan.
The inclusion of carbs is particularly beneficial as it helps to provide a source of calories which reduces the need for the body to make glucose from protein and fat. They should always be carbs that are easy to digest and again, palatable for your dog.
Another approach is to manage the workload of the kidney is to provide fibre to your dog’s diet. This is because it alters the way nitrogen is excreted from the body.
There is good evidence to point to the fact that the amount of fibre in a diet can influence nitrogen excretion and urea excretion concentrations in the blood.
If you are thinking of adding extra fibre to your dog’s diet then try to look for fermentable fibre. as this increases good bacterial growth and activity in the large intestine. Look for foods that contain FOS (fructooligosaccharides)
In dogs with chronic renal failure, there is a reduced ability to excrete phosphorous. This leads to the element being retained and this, in turn, can lead to further progression of the disease.
This can have an effect called demineralisation and this causes bone loss.
Therefore you want to achieve a goal of dietary therapy that will aim to normalise the concentration levels of phosphorus in the blood and prevent this demineralisation and bone loss.
Renal diets will have restricted phosphorous levels and therefore effective in reducing this occurring.
Fruit & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are very low in phosphorus and also protein so they can be included in a renal diet but it is worthwhile consulting your vet first for clarification as they are high in potassium and sometimes a degree of potassium reduction is needed in renal failure.
Other Nutrients to look out for in Renal Diets Include:
Dogs that have renal failure (CKD) will pass more urine. and this means that water-soluble Vitamin B can be lost quickly. Many renal diets will include B Vitamin supplements because of this.
Antioxidant vitamins (E and C) and betacarotene can also be beneficial to a dog’s renal diet too.
Many renal diets contain either normal or slightly reduced sodium levels as this affects blood pressure but this is usually in the sort of medication that your dog will be on rather than an actual diet, but it would be advisable to avoid or drastically reduce any kind of salty treat or tidbit that you may be giving your dog as well.
Dietary potassium may be adjusted on an individual basis but again this needs to be on the solid advice of your vet.
Some Top Tips For Introducing A Renal Diet To Your Dog
Try the new renal diet once your dog is feeling better and your dog’s symptoms have subsided somewhat. This may be as a result of medication that your vet has prescribed.
A dog that is feeling better will be more likely to try a new diet but a poorly dog really isn’t up to change as easily.
It’s important not to overload your dog when they are feeling at their lowest.
Feed your dog 2 to 3 smaller meals of the new renal diet daily at first until they get used to it.
This is a good indicator of how much they are eating especially with a dog that has a reduced appetite.
Try a variety of renal diets to see which one is best for your dog especially if your dog isn’t too keen on the first one you try.
Make sure that there is always plenty of freshwater for your dog to enjoy. A dog with renal disease will be urinating a lot more and they need to drink to replenish the lost fluids.
Try wetter foods as well to help with fluid intake in preference to kibble style foods.
Dogs choose foods on how they smell particularly meaty or fishy foods so try to make sure they are at least at room temperature or a bit warmer in order to make the food more appealing especially if your dog has been off their food and you are concerned that they are not eating enough.
You can add additional flavouring to the food but please make sure it is low in salt. It’s ok to add the water from a can of tuna or the juice from meat, but again make sure it’s low in salt.
One your dog is settled on a renal diet that has been advised by your vet, stick with it and keep the vet in the loop as to how it is going in terms of how your dog is performing.
They will often want to see your dog regularly to make sure they are doing ok.
If your dog doesn’t eat for a couple of days it is vital that you let the vet know immediately.
Illness is all part of a dog’s life unfortunately and it does happen all too often and all too soon too.
Always try to make sure you are doing your best for your dog and by always giving them healthy food choices, fresh water, plenty of exercise and love then you know that you are doing the very best you can to ensure they have a wonderful life with you, albeit far too short most of the time.
It’s a cruel twist of fate that many of our greatest friends in life are dogs that are only with us for a few years, so it’s heartwarming to know that you can make those few years the very best of their lives and in return, you will know that you made a real difference to them.