I receive several emails weekly regarding kidney disease in dogs and I always feel so bad because I 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….
Your 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?
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……
Eliminate feeding kibble, and focus on feeding 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. If you do this – your dog has a chance. It’s also critical that you completely understand what stage of kidney disease your dog is in. Ask your dog’s vet.
Here’s a list of recommendations with regards to diet and some of the best supplements for dogs with kidney disease and chronic renal failure:
- 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. Again, a home cooked meal, raw or both is BEST! If interested, Home Cooking for Sick Dogs offers 5 many simple home cooked crock pot recipes for dogs with kidney disease. A combination gives the dog variety and this is critical to their diet. Plus, they like the taste of warm food. They get the best of both worlds. 🙂
BE SURE TO READ: 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 another phosphorus binder such as Natural Seaweed Calcium which naturally contains magnesium. DO NOT USE BONE MEAL or ANY ANTACIDS THAT CONTAIN MAGNESIUM AS WELL.
- Epakitan is a antioxidant formula and also a phosphorus binder that seems to work well for dogs with kidney issues. GIVE WITH FOOD. If you use this, then don’t use the Natural Seaweed Calcium I mentioned above.
- 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. A shout out goes to Nicky for sharing with me that Vetriscience makes a great kidney support product. Typically, I would recommend some of the ingredients individually for dogs with kidney issues, but this product includes them all.
- Azodyl is a supplement that is really just a probiotic that slows down toxins in the blood stream. Works well for dogs with kidney problems. Often used together with Epakitan.
- Repair and Strengthen is truly an amazing herbal blend that is very helpful for digestion; which is often a big problem for dogs suffering with disease. Besides digestion, it helps with muscle wasting (skinny and not gaining weight) and yeast problems. This product works very well for stomach ulcers.
- Multivitamin with Kidney Glandular is a multi wholefood nutritional supplement for dogs and cats. It DOES NOT contain calcium. Glandulars are used a lot in holistic medicine. It is based on the theory that when an animal has a problem with a kidney or the liver, you include some of that organ into the diet. I wouldn’t recommend buying organ meat and adding it due to the fact that you don’t know how toxic the organ meat is that your including. This is a pure, whole food supplement that includes a number of foods, probiotics and enzymes to help with digestive issues that often accompany the disease.
- Rehmannia8 is a Chinese herb recognized for its incredible ability to help dogs with renal disease and other kidney issues by eliminating toxins in the blood. According to TCM, it tonifies the kidneys.
- 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)
Treating Jenna’s Kidney Disease
When my Doberman “Jenna” was diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 7, this came as quite a surprise to me since I hadn’t seen any symptoms other than a frequency to urinate.
Jenna’s holistic veterinarian was the one to make the diagnosis. Jenna received home cooked meals and supplements as far as treatment goes. Kidney disease in dogs is serious business, and you NEED help with managing it.
Seek out a holistic veterinarian in your area for long term care.
References: DogAware.com, Wikivet.com