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Canine Diet for Dogs with Kidney Disease

It’s no less than a nightmare to know that your pet has been diagnosed with kidney disease. Many cats and dogs can survive through kidney problems if they are diagnosed at an early stage and get treated properly.

Medicinal cures can only help to reduce the symptoms of kidney diseases, but care needs to be taken regarding pet diets. Studies show that dogs or cats recover quite dramatically if they are given specially designed diets for kidney problems. They live longer than other pets who continue to have the usual diet.

The specially designed foods for kidney diseases differ by ratios of various nutrients. The diets also depend on the stage of kidney disease. Usually, the dogs suffering from the renal disease are fed foods that have reduced protein, sodium, and phosphorus ratios. The diets should be supplemented with omega-3 fatty acid that’s commonly found in fish oil. Low phosphorus level is believed to keep the progress of kidney disease slow.

How do Kidneys function?

Kidneys function by performing some essential body functions like filtering the waste products and removing excess water and salts from the blood in the form of urine. Kidneys produce several hormones like renin, erythropoietin, calcitriol which function as:

1. Renin: It’s involved in regulating blood pressure.

2. Erythropoietin: It is essential for red blood cells production.

3. Calcitriol: It’s a form of active vitamin D, which is necessary for the utilization and absorption of phosphorus and calcium.

Kidney problems like kidney stones and kidney failure are common. Kidney stones can form due to precipitation of excessive salts in the kidneys. Kidney failure involves improper functioning of kidneys like the production of concentrated urine and incomplete removal of waste products.

Kidney Diseases:

Dogs can suffer from kidney stones and kidney failure.

Dogs with kidney problems have to urinate more often, and, therefore, drink more water. The fluids help to remove waste products naturally when the kidneys have stopped functioning correctly. But, at an advanced stage of kidney disease, excessive water intake will do no good.

Chronic kidney problem is progressive and causes long-term damage to the dog’s kidneys over a period of months or years. The damage is irreversible, and kidneys continue to lose their power of performing their functions. Chronic Kidney Disease should be diagnosed as early as possible to avoid the detrimental effects later on.

At an advanced stage of kidney disease, the dog will show symptoms like nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy.

Stage of Kidney Disease and Diet Requirements:

The diet requirements change at different stages of kidney disease due to a difference in nutritional needs of the body for normal functioning and long-term survival.

For example, if your dog is at an early stage of the renal issue, prescribed diets can be limiting for the dog, and may lead to malnourishment regarding protein and, therefore, muscle or bone loss. For an advanced stage of progressive kidney failure, some modifications in diet are helpful for the survival of the pet for long.

So, it’s a necessity that your vet identifies the stage of kidney disease and the severity of the problem before you choose a particular canine diet for your furry pooch.

No standard diet for kidney diseases has been figured out yet, but many diets have shown positive results for the improvement or hindering the progress of kidney problems.

Best Canine Diets for Kidney Issues:

Here are some canine diet tips for dogs suffering from kidney problems. However, we recommend that you consult the vet before deciding for a diet plan.

According to PetMD, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, owner of California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness, says, “In kidney failure, the body is not properly excreting toxins through the kidneys. As a result, more moisture is needed to flush out nitrogen, creatinine, phosphorous, and other metabolic wastes from the body. Therefore, my primary recommendation is to feed a diet that is moistened by water or low-sodium and free from vegetables of the onion and garlic varieties.”

Always check the food labels to get an idea of its nutritional content, including salts, proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, etc.

1. Canned Dog Food Vs Dry Food:

Canned foods have 70 to 80 percent of water content which is highly required for dogs having kidney problems. Dehydration plays a great part in causing kidney problems.

In case of dry dog food, you have to fulfill the water needs of the dog. The body needs moist food for removal of toxic substances.

2. Sodium Level:

The sodium levels in dog foods should be low, so check the food labels before buying them. Restrict the sodium intake of the dog to around 0.5 percent. During kidney problems, dogs may also suffer from hypertension, that’s indicative of high blood pressure, so sodium intake has to be controlled. High salt content leads to further damage to the kidneys. Common food items like bread, cheese, and commercially prepared dog treats are highly stuffed with salts.

Fruits and vegetables based diets are the best options to avoid salty processed foods. Be sure to avoid adding garlic, raisins, onions, and grapes in canine diets.

If the blood tests have revealed that potassium level is less than normal, then supplement the dog’s diet with potassium-containing foods.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to decrease inflammation and promote kidney health. You can supplement your dog’s diet with fish oil to add flavor to it and enhance the chances of survival. You can talk to the veterinarian about the dose and brand that’s best suited for your pooch according to the dog’s specific stage of kidney disorder.

4. B-vitamins:

Canine food can be supplemented with a high level of vitamin B complex that helps to compensate for the loss of water-soluble vitamins through excessive urination. Vitamin B complex contains different B vitamins including niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, folic acid, pantothenic acid, biotin and B 12. They are vital for proper functioning of muscles and nerve cells and creating energy for the body via proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

5. Antioxidants:

Antioxidants aid in boosting the immune system and controlling cell damage. Common antioxidants used for dogs having kidney disorder are vitamin E and C, lutein, CoQ10, and beta-carotene. Vitamin E benefits the dog’s overall health by providing him enough energy and strength to stay active during the day.

6. Phosphorus:

At the initial stage of kidney disease, phosphorus levels should be decreased as it has shown to have improved kidney health. Studies have shown that decreased intake of phosphorus by dogs is linked with the longevity of dog’s life in spite of the severity of the kidney problem.

At an advanced stage of kidney disease, the research has shown that the optimal intake of phosphorus should lie between 0.2 to 0.5 percent. Protein is the primary source of phosphorus, so low consumption of proteins will directly impact the phosphorus levels in the blood. Raw food diets or home-made high protein diets should be skipped entirely. Dogs suffering from the initial stage of kidney disease can be given foods with moderate protein levels so that the body requirements are adequately fulfilled.

7. Proteins:

The protein levels should also be decreased according to the stage of kidney disease. The kidneys are involved in the removal of waste products from protein contents in the diet. Therefore, the protein intake, through bones, meat, jerky treats, beef and dairy products, is lowered in dogs that are suffering from kidney problems. Check here whether dogs can eat eggs or not. The waste products of proteins are otherwise build up in the blood and kidney fails to clean them properly.

Restricting protein in dogs having the first or second stage of kidney problems can lead to protein malnourishment, and other bone and muscle problems.

The optimal protein requirement for a dog having kidney issues is still controversial. But, the standard prescription for dogs is a commercial food containing 13 to 18 percent of protein. Some studies have given no final approval of the conflict that whether protein restriction has an impact on improved kidney health or not, so dogs having an initial stage of kidney disease can be given digestible-protein diets.

Protein has to be restricted at a later stage of kidney disease. When urea concentration increases in the blood, the dietary protein has to be reduced.


Diets prepared for kidney problems are ideally required to be non-acidic, but most of the dog foods contain ingredients that cause acidity. Sick dogs have to be kept away from foods that cause acidity to prevent its harmful impacts on the kidneys.

The veterinarians can prescribe you where the best canine therapeutic diets are available or which food brands are well-suited for your dog. Most of the processed dog foods that are commercially available are high in protein, sodium, and phosphorus content, which are the cause for acidity in the stomach. So, it’s best to get the canine diet prescribed from the vet. You can supplement the diet with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, and antioxidants.

Author Bio:

Fiona Appleton is a Labrador owner. She is the manager of that has been developed to help people solve the troubles of pet ownership. She is an active advocate of animal protection campaigns. She wants people to understand that dog-behavior is reflective of our behavior.