We receive several emails weekly regarding kidney disease in dogs and  always feel so bad because we know that the dog owner feels helpless.

Most often the emails mention that the vet wants to place the older dog on Hills K/D food and the owner is struggling with this decision.Diet should and must be your top priority if your dog has been diagnosed with Kidney failure.

Your dog will need a highly nutritious diet made up of whole foods.  The diet must include a high quality protein and remain low in phosphorus. Since diet is critical for this disease in dogs; the dog owner is forced to make a decision on how to proceed nutritionally and this can be very overwhelming.

What is Kidney Disease?

There are two types of kidney disease:

  • Acute comes on suddenly and is often caused by a bacterial infection, kidney stones, an injury, shock, heart failure or poisoning.
  • Chronic kidney failure happens when kidney function simply deteriorates with time. This can be the result of the dog never fully recovering from his battle with acute kidney failure problems such as infections never fully healing, unknown heart problems, injury or shock, and/or poisoning (which can come from long term use of chemical flea and tick products, vaccinations, etc.).

How those bean shaped organs work and what they do….

using the herb bee balm for dogsYour dog’s kidneys are responsible for making sure that his body tissues receives enough water, while disposing of waste and excess water from the blood.

It does this by turning the waste and excess water into urine and moving it through the ureter tubes to the bladder, to store until your dog finally urinates.

Waste is derived from what your dog eats as well as the breakdown of active muscle tissue.  After the body has taken any nutrients it needs from the food, the waste is moved to the blood and then filtered through the kidneys as urine.

But, if your dog’s kidneys can’t remove the waste for whatever reason, that waste continues to back up up into the blood at dangerous amounts.

What the Urine Sample Shows….

By providing your dog’s vet with a urine sample, he or she can determine if there is blood, protein, white blood cells or glucose in the urine. If any of these are present, this can indicate that your dog may have an infection, an injury is present, the kidneys are inflamed or your dog is a diabetic.

What To Do in Kidney Disease?

It used to be that once a dog was diagnosed with kidney failure; the dog would be placed on a low protein diet. However, that theory has changed quite a bit over the past decade, although most traditional veterinary websites still claim that this is necessary.

It is now believed that dogs in the early stages of kidney disease do better with a moderate amount of high quality protein in their diet. Once the disease progresses and renal failure is in the severe or final stages (dog becomes uremic), then protein restriction does become very important.

Relax and Take Note……

relax with dog

Eliminate feeding kibble, and focus on feeding a diet consisting of high quality protein in moderate amounts, either a raw or home cooked diet, or a combination of both.  Provide ONLY fresh filtered or bottled water, a few supplements AND herbs, and avoid pesticides and vaccinations.

It’s also critical that you completely understand what stage of kidney disease your dog is in.  Ask your dog’s vet so that you know!

DIET for Dogs Suffering form Kidney Disease

Traditional vets treat kidney disease with Hills K/D diets or other prescription diets, which are not only disgusting with regards to ingredients, they completely lack nutrition.

Homemade Recipes for Sick Dogs is a cookbook consisting of recipes for dogs with different diseases/illnesses.  It’s an option for those that want to home cook for their dog with ailing kidneys.

SOME of what you’ll find inside the cookbook:

  • Four specific recipes for kidney disease.
  • Non phosphorus binders that are natural to eliminate toxins in the stool vs building up in your dog’s blood.
  • Best Chinese herb(s) for renal issues.
  • Recommended herbal blends and supplements for kidney disease and others.
  • Specific diet advice on what can help.



    1. When home cooking, it’s important that you add calcium to the diet. However, for dogs with kidney disease, you really want the calcium to bind with the phosphorus.  If your dog’s calcium levels are elevated (according to his or her blood test – again ask your dog’s vet); avoid adding calcium to the meal.  Instead, look to a natural phosphorus binder such as Bentonite Clay to eliminate toxins in the stool vs building up in your dog’s blood. Bentonite clay is recommended to help with the symptoms associated with the disease as well as prevention.  You can read more about it here.
    2. You should feed QUALITY sources of protein (organic meats and high grade fish).  You should feed in small quantities frequently.

Are there any natural phosphate binders for dogs?


    • Bentonite Clay is one of the best natural phosphorus binders for dogs with kidney issues. The clay must be wet to be activated. This means that you should feed it with wet food (whole food and not junk dog food). You should also give it two hours away from other meds or supplements if possible, so that they don’t bind to the clay. If adding it to the food proves to be too hard, you can use a syringe to give the clay. Simply add a little water to the clay to make it into a liquid and syringe it into your dog’s cheek. DO NOT FEED FROM A METAL BOWL OR USE A METAL SPOON TO STIR THE CLAY. The clay will absorb the metal and you do not want the metal to go into your dog’s body. We use and recommend Earths Natural Clay.  
    • Supplementing the Diet is Critical: Your dog needs a HIGH QUALITY form of omega 3 such as Flaxseed Oil or GUARANTEED TOXIN FREE Fish Oil.  You can also include coconut oil (in addition to the omega 3 oils mentioned above.
  • Multivitamin with Kidney Glandular is a multi wholefood nutritional supplement for dogs and cats.  It also contains the necessary probiotics that kidney patients need and it’s NOT NECESSARY to include any additional probiotics with the multivitamin. It DOES NOT contain calcium.  Glandulars are used a lot in holistic medicine. It is based on the theory of “like equals like”.  An example would be that when an animal in the wild has a problem with his own liver, he seeks out the liver from prey.  We don’t recommend buying store bought organ meat unless it is organic and grass fed.  The Multivitamin with Kidney Glandular is a pure, whole food supplement that includes a number of natural whole foods, probiotics and enzymes to help with digestive issues that often accompany the disease. While the multivitamin contains kidney glandular, it doesn’t really contain enough to support failing kidneys due to disease. We recommend adding additional kidney glandular.
  • Drinking Water: Either filtered or distilled water is recommended for dogs with kidney disease.
  • Avoid chemical flea and tick products as well as vaccinations.

Different Stages of Kidney Disease

There are four stages of kidney disease that determine how advanced the disease is.  Your dog’s protein, blood pressure and creatinine level in the blood are the determining factors of the stage of the disease.  According to wikivet.com, the following levels of creatinine explain the stage of renal failure your pet may be in:

Stage 1: Creatinine 125
Stage 2: Creatinine 125-250
Stage 3: Creatinine 181-440
Stage 4: Creatinine 440 and above with or without symptoms of uraemia (blood toxins)


References: DogAware.com, Wikivet.com


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Showing 80 comments
  • Allie

    I wanted to start off by thanking you for such valuable information. I’m also at peace knowing that although the situation is difficult to deal with, there seems to be a tight knit community where we can support and encourage one another during these difficult times for not only our pups but for ourselves. I wanted to ask you if you had any treat recipes. My vet suggested I make little balls out of the food I prepare for his meals and put them in the oven, but I know the portions I feed him are exact and wouldn’t want to overexceed the exact amounts the nutritionist suggested I feed him. My boy tends to be a little picky when it comes to plant based treats. He loves peanut butter but I’ve been very strict on cutting off all ingredients that don’t do his kidneys any good. It has however been difficult to find alternatives to the things he loves. I was thinking about making home cooked applesauce to fill up his kong, or some banana chips, but I know he loves the crunch in cookies and wouldn’t want to deprive him from his faves. Would you have any recommendations? And regarding supplements, would it be okay to add these exclusively to the treats for an extra boost? Again, thank you so much!

    • janie

      Hi Allie:

      You’re very welcome and I’m so glad you like our site.

      We offer some of our own treat recipes for liver disease. This should be okay for him. You can view the recipes here.

      Also, Mattie’s makes some low phosphorus, low protein treats. You can purchase those here on Amazon. Not quite sure what supplements you are referring to with regards to adding to the treats, but I would stick with including them with his meals after the meals are cooked.

      I hope this helps.


  • Lesley A

    Any food suggestions for a 15 y/o female dog with diabetes and the beginning stage of kidney disease?

  • Alice Hart

    I find the whole issue to be overwhelming. I have always cooked for my dogs: beef stew meat or chicken in broth and vegs, string beans, carrots or peas. the meat gets processed thru a food processor. Now, my Sugar who is 20 y/o bichon is in renal failure (25% kidney function). I have two senior dogs. Canned dog food to me is disgusting and to my dogs as well since they will not eat what my vet recommended would be beneficial. Any suggestions? I, so, want to do the right thing for my beautiful companions.

    • janie

      Hi Alice:

      I’m sorry to hear about your little ones, but you’ve really done a good job if they are 20 years old! Nice…

      I assume that you have NOT vaccinated or used chemical flea and tick products on them recently, correct? The canned foods are disgusting.

      Let me know of any changes. Do you or have you fed any grains? How are you cooking the meat?


  • Circus

    So if I’m giving my dog the Vetri-Science Laboratories Renal Essentials Supplement, which of the other supplements you listed would I need to give him? Thank you for this information!

    • janie

      Hi Circus:

      What are you feeding your dog?


  • Mary Ann Cowan

    Hi, I am so happy I found your website. I have a 15 month lab mix who delighted himself with a bottle of Advil. His kidney level is elevated by 1/10th, but the lab results have not lowered so they want Dickens on a KD diet. I bought an 8lb bag just to see if he liked it but I added some canned meat because that is how he is used to taking his meals. I would prefer to add my own cooked meals to the KD dry if that is what he needs for management. My question is, do I need to alter any of your ingredients or supplements due to his young age?

    • janie

      Hi Mary Ann:

      I would follow the recipes in the book and include the supplements recommended in the book for kidney disease as well. I WOULD NOT FEED A DRY FOOD PERIOD, INCLUDING KD. His kidneys will appreciate a natural diet. Once his numbers start to normalize (hopefully), I recommend continuing a one of the recipes in the book once a day and then use a dehydrated formula for his second meal.

      I hope this helps. P.S. I would stay away from vaccines and chemical flea and tick products!


  • Karen ketchell

    My 1 yr old Australian Cattle Dog Domino has just been diagnosed with end stage kidney disease on Friday. Creatinine 1100 ; BUN 47; Hb 7.0 ; Protein in urine. He became unwell quite suddenly over about 2 weeks. Ultrasound shows renal dysplagia (congenital). I know he is not much longer for this world 🙁 As he is still interested in limited foods, I am wondering if I can keep giving him BBQ chicken (his favourite) or should I switch to raw Kangaroo meat (high value protein, which he likes too) or do I have to be very restrictive with his protein? He does not want to eat the Royal KD foods… Any other advice would be appreciated ASAP. I have added Flax seed and Omega 3 oil to his food starting today and also apple cider vinegar with applesauce for his nausea. (trying instead of Maxalon).
    Thank you in advance.

    • janie

      Hi Karen:

      Did you take a look at our cookbook by chance that includes simple recipes for dogs diagnosed with kidney disease? It also includes many recommended supplements and other helpful tips. I would also definitely look into including COQ10 daily and AVOID ROYAL CAIN KD foods like the plague. Here’s a recent testimonial about the cookbook from Betty; one of our customers:

      “Kinsler continues to do very well. We are now giving him fluids every other day to help flush out the toxins. His recent blood work report came back BUN- 74 /Creatinine 1.3. On October 2nd The BUN was at 72 and the Creatinine was at 1.6. To us, the report came back a good. We feel as thou he is maintaining his numbers. Our Vet said we were doing a good job and Kinsler should have blood work done in 2 more months just to see how he is coming along. Kinsler has so much energy and eats 3 times a day. I’m constantly cooking for him.. Thank you Janie for all your help and your cookbook.
      I truly believe Kinsler wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.”

      You can learn more about the cookbook here which is an instant download after purchasing.

      Besides the cookbook and supplements recommended in the book along with the COQ10, I also recommend adding our Kidney Glandular or one that you can purchase where you live that is organic from grass fed animals. This is often used in holistic medicine and called “glandular therapy”.

      There’s a balance Karen with regards to feeding your dog with kidney disease and it’s more than just raw kangaroo or BBQ chicken. The book will help to guide you and I highly recommend that you look into it for the long term health of your kidney patient.

      Warm regards,

    • Heather

      HOPING THIS WILL HELP U, as well as ANYONE with A DOG SUFFERING FROM KIDNEY PROBLEMS/DISEASE. So sorry 2read about ur pup Domino.. he’s so young, I’m so sorry ur going thru this. My prayers are with you. I know u posted back in Jan. & were saying then he probably didn’t have much longer, so I apologize if this reply is no longer helpful to u. Though I’m hoping Domino is hanging in there,& hopefully u can help ur pup feel a little better. My pups going thru kidney failure right now, so I’ve spent HOURS researching&talking w/my vet about this disease.
      First of all kidney problems cause the dog to have very delicate systems&stomachs. They get nauseas because of the high acidity levels in their stomachs&the backup of toxins in their blood. NORMALLY in a healthy dog, apple cider vinegar would be great, but NOT for dogs with kidney problems! ANYTHING that’s acidic is BAD for them! The apple cider vineger is too acidic which is only going to make his tummy even more upset. Instead u could give him 2tablespoons of 100%pure canned pumpkin with a little powdered ginger &cinnamon mixed in(about 1/8of a teaspoon of each) via a baby medicine plastic syringe. Squirt it down his throat.
      ALSO and even MORE IMPORTANTLY give him the acid reducer/heartburn reliever called “FAMOTIDINE”(brand name Pepcid AC), one time EVERY DAY. ( You can Google what the correct dosage is, but I believe its 1mg per pound) I give my 7lb. Yorkie a little over A QUARTER or 1/4 of a 20mg pill. Its VERY safe& u can get it in most “dollar” stores. Famotidine is the pharmaceutical name of the medicine &is the exact same thing as the BRAND name “Pepcid AC” for a A WHOLE LOT less money($3-$4package) rather than if you buy it from your local pharmacy under the brand name Pepcid AC (for $19-$23package)!
      In terms of what u can feed him, all the research says WET FOOD THAT’S FRESH, RAW, HOLISTIC &NUTRIENT RICH! You want to feed HIGH QUALITY PROTEINS(meaning grass-fed, antibiotic free, LOW FAT& preferably LOW PROTEIN like Fish,turkey, lamb,chicken,veal, etc.) and then preferably ORGANIC VEGGIES&FRUITS(pesticide free), PREBIOTICS &PROBIOTICS, &FISH OIL are what is best for your dogs kidneys. Can you feed him BBQ chicken?; I’d say NO WAY! BUT Plain RAW or boiled chicken breast ; YES! PLAIN is what’s going to help his belly stay happy& his kidneys calm. My dogs a SUPER PICKY eater, but she goes crazy over plain boiled chicken and plain baked Salmon! Try boiling a plain chicken breast with all the skin removed til cooked thru, sometimes I cut the breast into small pieces so it cooks super quick. At same time in another pot boil 2 cups water &1cup rice with 1or 2tablespoons coconut oil, once it starts to boil immediately turn down to LOW, COVER it&leave it for15 mins. Once rice is done mix chunks of chicken in with &serve with a little cold water poured over it(make sure it’s not too hot!, u may run chix under cold water til it cools. Occasionally I add a tiny bit of pumpkin puree&/or baby veggie puree for added nutrients/vitamins) You have to think about it like he has a SUPER ACIDIC OR UPSET STOMACH ALL THE TIME. Also remember that his kidneys aid in the job of FILTERING all the “unnecessary extras & all the unnatural “poisons” out of EVERYTHING he eats. So the more additives &”crap” he eats; the harder his kidneys have to work essentially. So that’s why u want to keep his diet as ORGANIC&PURE, &MOIST as possible. That’s another thing, u MUST be making sure he’s getting a lot of filtered or bottled water in his diet, so NO DRY FOOD. Keep his food wet &FULL OF MOISTURE. &Keep a lot of water bowls around(changing water often to not only keep clean but appetizing as well!) You want ur dog to be drinking as much as possible to help flush out the toxins from his body, which really helps the kidneys.
      For a more consistent everyday meal, “Nature’s Variety” makes an awesome RAW food that my dogs love!

  • Krista Shumake

    I would love to order your cookbook, but my dog w/o t eat anything that’s remotely good for him. He likes ham and vanilla ice cream. That’s about it. I did recently start with Vetri Science Renal Essentials. He’ll eat those. His phosphorus is sky high (11.6) but every binder I’ve tried, I can’t get enough into him.

    • janie


      Have you ever home cooked for him? Or, what do you or have you typically fed him as far as diet goes?


    • Heather Potz

      Krista Shumake,
      I know it’s extremely hard to get your dog to eat the healthy foods and supplements you need him to, but don’t stress about it too much because I’ve discovered with my SUPER PICKY dog whatever she won’t eat on her own I can easily just make her eat it…& it’s quite simple. Go to any pharmacy and usually in the baby medicine section you’ll be able to find what’s called an ORAL SYRINGE(it does NOT have a needle attached to the end), it’s made for giving liquid medicines ORALLY(by mouth) to small babies. If they have a couple different sizes, get the biggest one if you have a large dog, or smaller for small dog. Then when you get home just make anything you’d like him to eat like organic high quality canned dog food w/low protein & low fat or your own home recipes into a slush or soup like form by adding filtered water/herbal dandelion tea or any liquid supplements you’ve been recommended, and mushing it all up. I usually add organic baby food “mush” that contains beneficial for kidney failure veggies, fruits,grains,etc. & Whatever other supplements or even meds you have for his condition. DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT IT TASTES LIKE! (I mean obviously try to keep it somewhat appetizing, but don’t worry if it’s kinda gross! The benefits of getting it in his system far outweigh whether he likes the taste! Then take your concoction in a small cup over to the couch have the dog lye on your lap and begin sucking it up into the oral syringe, opening his mouth or raising his top jaw up and quickly but GENTLY as to not poke the top of his mouth, put the syringe as far back in the mouth as you can and just as quickly squirt it all out into his throat (ideally you want to make it a very quick &easy motion, 1, 2, 3, and DONE!) PRAISE him with lots of soft happy phrases and lots of kisses! Then on to the next dose very quickly, repeat the process over again and again until you’ve administered all of the “small meal”. Once he gets used to it, and realizes your not hurting him, he will begin to be more cooperative and you’ll be SO HAPPY YOU’VE GOTTEN ALL THOSE SUPER HEALTHY FOODS ETC. INTO HIS SYSTEM!!! IT’S SO SO CRUCIAL THAT YOU DO THIS!! YOU CAN NOT GO ON FEEDING HIM “CRAP” food & DEFINITELY NO ICE CREAM OR HAM EITHER-ICECREAM HAS GOT TOO MUCH SUGAR AND EVEN THOUGH HE MAY NOT SHOW ANY OBVIOUS SIGNS OF IT, MOST ALL DOGS ARE LACTOS INTOLERANT AND CAN’T DIGEST DAIRY EASILY AT ALL! HAM HAS WAY TOO MUCH FAT &SALT CONTENT(which is exactly why it’s so tasty to him. PLUS I don’t know what kind of ham your giving but on top of the two reasons I just mentioned, deli ham is also packed with preservatives &a bunch of chemicals, it’s just really bad & hard on his digestive system) I know it’s hard not to give it because he loves it & it’s the only thing he’ll eat but your in a crucial time right now, and can’t give in! IF HE’S SUFFERING FROM KIDNEY OR SOME SORT OF DIGESTIVE DISORDER, U ARE ACTUALLY MAKING IT WORSE BY GIVING HIM ICE CREAM, AND HAM. IM JUST TRYING TO HELP BUT I’M ALSO IN A HUGE RUSH RIGHT NOW, BUT I WANTED TO WRITE TO YOU BECAUSE I FELT SO BAD FOR YOU &I KNEW I COULD MAKE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS SO PLEASE DON’T BE OFFENDED BY MY TONE! I wish you and your baby boy the best of luck!!
      P.s. you can try Gerber baby food CHICKEN STICKS, to entice him into eating (dogs LOVE it) It’s by no means a long term food you can give though cuz it does have a lot of sodium but drain the jar, rinse off the sticks w/water mush it up and put it on top or mixed in with his meal. Try to give only small amount (like 3sticks) each day. Good luck!

  • Janet Bostian

    Hi Janie, I have 13 year old min pin with lowish signs (urine creatinine 68.4) of kd. Vet put on meds and I bought Sojos a natural dehydrated pre-mix food that lists all fruit veggies cranberries flax parsley carob kelp alfalfa ginger garlic sunflower oil and D3. The one questionable ingredient is tricalcium phosphate. Do you know if this is a bad thing for my kd dog. Looking at trying cookbook but do have this food on hand that I can’t return. Thanks

    • janie

      Hi Janet:

      I’m sorry for the delay in responding.

      I’m not exactly positive about tricalcium phosphate and it’s effects on a dog with kidney disease. With that said though, I definitely would not include it in just to be on the safe side.

      I would use and recommend natural alternatives to meds and prescription diets. Everything we recommend is in the cookbook along with recipes for the disease.

      I hope this helps and I hope your little old timer’s numbers return to normal and he lives a long, happy, healthy life.


  • gwen

    Hi my cookie toy poodle at age 15 has been diagnosed with kidney failure. we have changed her diet and know deep inside its those horrible dog foods. My mom dog never ate dog food and ate only moms food which was salt free. she never had vaccine except rabies and lived healthy to age 16. my second dog had severe allergies so it was pure dogfood and she died young and cookie took both world. now she is super healthy looking even if her kidney is failing due to homeotherapy . she has cognitive heart problem so her homeo gives her lachesis mutus, crataegus oxycantha for heart and for lungs kali carbonicum diuretic lycopodium clavatum for pleural effusion. and arnica for circulation. she is giving two kidney and ill share once i know what it is. the vet gives me azodyl and vetamidin. we do hydro therapy or hot/cold compress. the rest is prayers. we are worried as her blindness is near.

    • janie

      Hi Gwen:

      Are you in the U.S.? Are you giving her a binder? What is she eating now? Are you including Rehmannia 8?


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  • […] Helpful Advice for Dogs with Kidney Disease | Your Old Dog – Since diet is critical for this disease in dogs; the dog owner is forced to make a decision on. There are two types of kidney disease:. Your dog's kidneys are responsible for making sure that his body tissues receives. an injury is present, the kidneys are inflamed or your dog is a diabetic. Stage 2: Creatinine 125-250 […]

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