If you’ve looked into high-quality dog food, you know there’s a wide world of different types of dog food out there. If you own a dog with a medical condition, then you definitely know the importance of feeding quality foods with specific nutritional content in mind. Dogs with kidney issues need a carefully crafted diet to slow the progression of their disease, and finding a food with low phosphorous content is essential. But What’s all the fuss about this mineral anyways?
Phosphorous and a Dogs Diet – The Basics
Phosphorous is essential in a dog’s diet, but they don’t need a significant amount to be healthy. Puppies need more phosphorous (and calcium) than adult dogs because they’re still growing new bone, and phosphorous is essential to building bone. The necessary amount decreases as your dog gets older, however, and senior dogs have the smallest dietary requirements.
Dogs with kidney issues are the ones who require a very restricted amount of phosphorous. Phosphorous has been shown to contribute to the progression of renal disease, and decreasing how much phosphorous they’re consuming through their diet goes a long way towards slowing the disease’s progression.
When Phosphorous versus Protein Gets Tricky
Research used to indicate low protein diets slowed the progression of renal failure, but that isn’t the case anymore. Unless there’s a physical indication your dog is doing poorly with a moderate to high amount of protein or they’re suffering from uremia, there’s no reason to decrease their protein. Dogs with uremia present with vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and lack of appetite, and these are the dogs who fare better on low protein foods.
However, phosphorous is highest in meat and grains, both of which are found in regular dog foods. How are you supposed to reduce their phosphorus level without depriving them of protein? Most commercial dog foods have one to two percent phosphorous, but dogs in the early stages of kidney failure shouldn’t be getting more than 0.6 percent phosphorous per day. These numbers drop as the kidney disease progresses.
What Should You Feed Your Dog?
Prescription kidney diets are tailored to suit this disease’s nutritional needs, but not many dogs love the taste of these foods, causing more problems than there were before you switched their food. In these cases, there are some non-prescription foods that have the proper amount of phosphorous, but they’re not very high-quality foods.
Some vets recommend feeding a high-protein diet and then supplementing it with fresh foods that are low in phosphorous to reduce the amount your dog gets. Suitable foods for dogs on a high-protein food are white carbs (white rice, pasta, and potatoes). Canines on a low- to average-protein food can have fatty meats low in phosphorous, but run this by their veterinarian first. This isn’t suitable for every dog.
The Importance of Calcium in a Dogs Diet
Calcium is a phosphorous binder, so dogs eating fresh foods can combat phosphorous intake if you provide plenty of calcium. Calcium should be given at 500 mg per pound of added food, so 1/4 tsp of ground eggshells would be sufficient.
Balancing the nutrition of a dog with a serious and lifelong disease is tricky, and it’s something that should be planned with your dog’s veterinarian. Never try to alter their diet without professional input. The wrong balance of minerals can quickly exacerbate kidney issues and send your dog into a health crisis. Use caution, because after all, isn’t this dietary change supposed to extend their life?