It’s scary having your dog diagnosed with kidney disease. Unfortunately, the disease isn’t reversible, but it is manageable, meaning your dog is able to live a normal life if they get the care and diet they need. What your dog eats is going to be incredibly important when they have renal issues, so knowing what’s good for your dog’s new lifestyle will add years to their life.
The Basics of a Canine Kidney Disease Diet
Protein is a pretty important aspect of your dog’s diet when their kidneys aren’t functioning properly. You truly won’t know the best diet for them unless you have a copy of their current bloodwork letting you know exactly how their kidneys are functioning.
Many sources insist that kidney disease requires a low protein diet, but newer research has shown this isn’t always true. The only time your dog will benefit (i.e. feel/function better) from a low protein diet is when they are uremic or their blood urea nitrogen levels are high. When these levels are high, they’re usually exhibiting signs of high BUN like vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite, and ulcers. You’ll know if your dog’s BUN is excessively high with their bloodwork, again stressing the importance of regular blood tests.
In most other cases of kidney disease, your dog will benefit from a moderate amount of high-quality protein. This means the ideal protein probably won’t come from chicken, and you should consider a higher quality food or a food designed especially for dogs with renal disease.
Research shows low phosphorous diets slow kidney disease progression. The ideal amount of phosphorous shouldn’t exceed 22.25 mg/day in animals with advanced kidney failure. However, dogs in the early stages of kidney disease can have anywhere from 15 to 40 mg/day (or 30mg/lb). This is where choosing the ideal food gets tricky. Foods naturally high in phosphorous are found in fairly significant quantities in some brands of dog food. These include bones, fish (with bones), organ meats, and egg yolks. Unfortunately, these items also have other nutrients and vitamins essential for their health, so it truly becomes a balancing game in what your dog should and shouldn’t have on a daily basis. See our full list of low phosphorous dog foods here!
Sources of fat give your dog low-phosphorous calories, so a diet healthy in quality fats is excellent for any stage of renal disease. This doesn’t mean you can give your dog bacon fat or other fatty foods on a regular basis, however. Dogs with kidney disease are more prone to getting pancreatitis (a painful inflammation of the pancreas), and a very high-fat diet could prove to be detrimental over time. If you aren’t sure of a good balance, consult with your vet or a canine nutritionist for the best recommendation.
Best Dog Foods for Kidney Disease
Before you settle on a food, talk to your veterinarian about what’s best suited for your dog’s current health and blood work. In general, though, you want a food low in phosphorous and moderate in fat and protein. There are prescription diets that could fit your dog’s new dietary needs to a T, but if they’re out of the budget or ill-suited to them, you can purchase “over the counter” foods that won’t progress their kidney disease.
The following list of foods with less than 0.6% phosphorous. They aren’t as high quality as a prescription diet, but if budget is a concern (and it often is because kidney disease becomes expensive), these should be suitable choices. As always, run the nutritional label by your veterinarian first!
- Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Active Longevity Small Bites dry dog food helps restore youthful energy in dogs age 7 and older
- Contains omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E and other nutrients for healthy skin and coat
- Mature adult dog food made with natural ingredients plus vitamins, minerals and amino acids, and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
- This premium dry food for Adult 7+ dogs comes in a smaller size kibble
- Made in the USA with U.S. and imported ingredients
- Optimum protein and fat levels for large breed, overweight dogs
- Balanced calcium and phosphorus for strong bones
- Natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals
- 10-percent less calories than NUTRO NATURAL CHOICE Large Breed Adult Chicken and Rice Dinner Chunks in Gravy dog food
- Natural sources of Glucosamine and Chondroitin for healthy joints
- Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed Light Chicken Meal & Barley Recipe dry dog food is recommended for adult large and giant breed dogs who weigh more than 55 pounds at age 1 and need a light, healthy lifestyle
- This premium dry dog food contains 18% fewer calories than Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed dog food plus L-Carnitine helps transform fat into energy
- Provides natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health and mobility
- Made in the USA with U.S. and imported ingredients, including high-quality protein to maintain lean muscles and a healthy weight
- Clinically proven antioxidant blend with vitamins C + E help support a healthy immune system
This food has between 0.6% and 0.7% phosphorous, so feed these diets with more caution than the others.
- Hill's Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness dog food provides precisely balanced nutrition for a visible difference in adult dogs ages 1-6
- Contains an exclusive blend of omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E and other nutrients that nourish the skin and promote a noticeably shiny coat in 30 days (vs. previously fed grocery foods)
- A clinically proven antioxidant blend with vitamins C and E helps support a healthy immune system
- This premium dry food for dogs is made with real chicken to help maintain strong, lean muscles and an ideal body weight
- High-quality, easy-to-digest ingredients provide a flavorful, nutritious meal with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
Veterinarians are your best source for deciding what brand/type of food is ideal for your dog. Homemade diets may seem like a good idea because you can balance their phosphorous/protein/fats, but it’s impossible to ensure they’re getting the rest of their vitamins and minerals with homemade food. Stick to commercially produced foods for overall health, not just kidney health.
Last update on 2018-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API