If your dog suffers from kidney disease and has elevated blood urea nitrogen levels, diet is very important. A dog’s diet routinely consists of high protein and contrary to previous beliefs, reducing protein in your dog’s diet is not always necessary. Other factors, such as phosphorus levels in the food, play a more important role. If you are creating homemade dog food, knowing these levels in the food is essential.
Begin by talking with your veterinarian. Your dog’s blood urea nitrogen level will determine what dietary changes must occur.
Create a diet that is balanced and low in phosphorus. According to Windy Hollow Veterinary Clinic, your dog’s diet should include about 1/3 fat, 1/3 high-quality protein and 1/3 carbohydrates.
Choose high quality proteins, such as eggs, chicken and meat, that are high in protein but low in phosphorus. A 1992 study published in the “American Journal of Veterinary Research” found that phosphorus levels in the diet were more important that the amount of protein eaten. Eggs are the highest quality protein for dogs. However, egg yolks are high in phosphorus. If you choose to feed eggs, feed two to three egg whites to every egg yolk.
In addition to fats from the meat, you may need to include additional fats such as whole-milk yogurt, cottage cheese and various oils such as canola, corn, soy, safflower, sunflower or flaxseed. Fish oil supplements may be an option as long as it is not cod liver oil. This is high in vitamin D and difficult for the kidneys to process.
Choose a variety of carbohydrates that are low in phosphorus. Vegetable choices include squash, carrots, collard greens, green peppers, green beans and sweet potatoes. Grains such as oats and rice are a low phosphorus choice. Cook the rice and vegetables before serving. Boiling vegetables reduces the phosphorus levels.
Make sure your dog has fresh water available at all times. Reduced kidney function causes more frequent urination. He will need to drink more to avoid dehydration.
Often with advanced kidney disease, potassium levels also will increase. If this is the case, foods such as pumpkin, squash, carrots and broccoli should be limited as they are high in potassium. If low potassium is a problem, these foods will increase potassium levels.
High blood pressure often accompanies kidney disease. If this is the case, limit foods high in sodium and do not add salt to any home-cooked meals.
Before changing your dog’s diet, consult with your veterinarian or a canine nutritionist. They will address your dog’s specific condition and kidney function and make recommendations for specific nutritional needs. How high your dog’s blood urea nitrogen level is and how his kidneys are functioning will determine any dietary changes. Additional supplements may be required.
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