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?

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!


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.

Home Cooking 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.

You can learn more about the book here.


  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.


  • Epakitan Binder is a antioxidant formula and a phosphorus binder. GIVE WITH FOODIf you use this, then don’t use the Natural Seaweed Calcium that we 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.  Some say it works well for dogs with kidney problems, but there are much better probiotics out there.  It is often used together with Epakitan.
  • 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.
  • 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 65 comments
  • Khanh Pham

    Hi everyone,

    My dog was diagnosed with KD in October 2016, we started to put him on a homemade diet back then and it went well until March 2017. He started to stop eating and drinking. We feed him and give him water with a syringe and he looked healthy. We were able to bring his number down to CREA 2.4, BUN 65, PHOS 11.5mg/dL. We didn’t give him any supplements but he is taking phosphorus binder that we got from the vet, we also give him IV fluid everyday. However, he’s been very tired recently. Last night, when we went out for a walk, he chased the ball one time and all most fainted. We took him back to the vet today and they said that his red blood cell count is low, only 10%. The vet said there’s nothing else they could do but we don’t want to give up. Does any of your dog have this problem before. Is it too late for me to give him these supplements to support the kidney?

    • janie

      Hi Khanh:

      I’m sorry to hear about your dog. I can’t say for sure if it’s too late or not, but I would try something that supports anemia and low red blood cell count. This is the one that we share here on our site. Blood and Endurance

      I wish you and your boy all the best. I hope he has many, many more days of ball chasing.


      • Bryan

        Hi Khanh,

        There is a synthetic version if erythropoietin (epo) called Darbepoietin. EPO is the hormone that the failing kidneys no longer produce that tells the body to make more red blood cells. I have a min pin in late stage 3/ early stage 4 kidney disease. Darbepoietin did increase his hematocrit. Unfortunately, he has glomerulonephritis that is killing his red blood cells (on top of ckd) so it only worked so well.. Hopefully it’s not too late for your dog. Also, it’s never too late to give supplements and learn about all you can do nutritionally.

        I strongly suggest looking into multivitamins, DHA/EPA (omega-3’s), and probiotics.

        Never give up,


        • janie

          Thanks for sharing Bryan. Excellent advice!


  • Amanda

    I”m so sorry Khanh. I hope whatever happens you find peace.

  • amanda

    oh dear…I mean Janie.

    • janie

      You were right Amanda in replying to Khanh….. 🙂


  • toiyabeview

    I have a 13 year old Lab, Key, diagnosed with Stage 2 Kidney disease.(Creatine 2.1) I have your recipes now and since she is allergic to poultry I will have to stay with the beef and salmon recipes. When you say “lean” beef, do you have a percentage in mind like 7%/93% or something like that? I also purchased some Dandelion root. Is it okay to use beef broth and do you just mix it with her food? You are so right about this being overwhelming. I live very rurally and have to drive 200 to see a vet so I am trying very hard to approach this holistically. Your site has been very helpful. Thank you for being here.

    • janie

      Hello toiyabeview:

      I will send you an email directly to your gmail address on Thursday okay.

      Thank you so much for your kind words too and you’re welcome …..


      • Tamie

        I’m very interested in this too because our dog is highly allergic to chicken and all things related…such as eggs. She is 12 years old and has renal failure.

        • janie

          Hi Tamie:

          I’m sorry, I answer many, many comments here daily. What exactly are you interested in? I don’t know which comment you’re referring to.

          Please elaborate what is going on what you’re looking to do. Explain what you feed, what supplements you give, when the dog was last vaccinated, etc. Are you willing to purchase supplements, etc from YourOldDog to help with your dog’s issues?


  • Joey

    I have a 13 year old Miniature Pinscher he was born with allergies now he had stage 4 kidney problems he’s on KD Science Hill can you give me some more ideas what I could give him does not like dry food found some treats milk bones for dogs with kidney problems more ideas will preciate it thank you

    • janie

      Hi Joey:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your old boy. Did you take a look at our Cookbook yet? It contains recipes for the crock pot for dogs with kidney problems. It also includes recommended supplements for the disease which is critical.

      Here’s what one of our readers just said the other day about the recipes she’s been using for her dog for over a year now:

      “Hi Janie
      Lovely to hear from you. You’ll be glad to hear we are both well. Maizy has had some bad times since I last contacted you but at the moment she is doing really well. The home-cooked diet is really supporting the kidney health proved by blood test results. She enjoys her food so much and I feel happy I am doing the best for her. Thanks so much for your support and enabling me to do the best for her.
      All the very best
      Lou, Tom and Maizy”

      You can see the book here Joey:
      Home Cooking for Sick Dogs

      You definitely need to move your little old guy away from kibble PERIOD! It is extremely hard on his already struggling kidneys. And the KD Hills diet is disgusting! He needs and will appreciate real, whole food!

      I hope this helps.


  • 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?


  • 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.


  • 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?


  • 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,

  • 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!


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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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