While there's no cure for canine kidney disease or renal failure -- unless your veterinarian believes your dog is a candidate for a risky and super-expensive kidney transplant -- dietary changes can improve your dog's health and prolong his life. Your vet can work with you to plan the best diet for your dog's situation.
The typical canine diagnosed with kidney failure is an older dog. He and his kidneys are the same age, and body parts are breaking down. Kidney failure doesn't mean these organs no longer produce urine. Dogs with renal failure might pee more than ever before, but their kidneys are no longer efficiently removing waste from their bodies. For smaller dogs, the initial signs of kidney problems might become evident by the age of 10, although larger dogs might suffer from renal disease by the age of 7.
Dogs diagnosed with renal failure require a low-protein diet consisting of high-quality ingredients. Low but quality proteins produce less waste, so there's less stress on his kidneys. These diets also contain less sodium, to decrease the risk of high blood pressure. However, these diets often aren't that palatable, so your dog might not appear pleased with the changes. For best results, make gradual dietary changes over a period of approximately two weeks rather than switch abruptly, expecting your dog to adapt to a new diet overnight.
Your vet might prescribe a commercial prescription diet for your kidney-impaired canine. Available in canned and dry food versions, these diets are not only low in protein and sodium, but they contain additional omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. The former helps maintain a healthy blood flow to your dog's kidneys, while the latter replenishes vitamins he loses through excess urination. These balanced diets make it less likely that your dog will need supplementation, as might be necessary if feeding a homemade diet.
If you decide to cook for your dog, consult your veterinarian beforehand to ensure your homemade diet is safe for your pet. Your dog's diet must be developed according to his specific nutritional requirements. In general, it means little or no cereal or grain, as their proteins are of low quality and cause additional waste. Lean meats and eggs are examples of low proteins of good quality that you can include in your homemade renal diet. Your vet might recommend adding supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants.
- Veterinary Partner: Dietary Therapy of Renal Failure
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Chronic Kidney Disease and Failure (CKD, CRF, CRD)
- Hill's Pet Nutrition: k/d Canine Renal Health
- University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine: Nutritional Management of Chronic Renal Disease
- Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images