What to Feed a Dog With Chronic Kidney Disease

If your dog has chronic kidney disease, feeding them the right diet is going to be a key element of their treatment. For dogs with kidney disease, our North Memphis vets may recommend a therapeutic diet with restricted protein, phosphorus and sodium combined with increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids. 

What is chronic kidney disease in dogs?

Chronic kidney disease, CKD, chronic kidney failure, chronic renal disease, and chronic renal failure are all names used for a condition characterized by failing kidney function in dogs.

In a healthy dog the kidneys perform a number of key tasks including filtering out toxins from the blood. Chronic kidney disease is the gradual decline in the ability of your dog's kidneys to work effectively. When the kidneys fail they are no longer able to fully remove toxins, leading to an accumulation of toxins in your pet's blood.

Although there is no cure for chronic kidney disease in dogs, in many cases this condition can be managed with the help of a therapeutic diet, allowing your pet to enjoy a good quality of life for a number of months.

How can chronic kidney disease be treated in dogs?

If your dog is suffering from chronic kidney disease your vet will recommend appropriate treatment based upon the severity of your dogs case, your dog's age, and your pet's overall health. Treatment for kidney disease often includes a combination of dietary restrictions and medications. Medications are primarily aimed at reducing the symptoms of the disease whereas a therapeutic diet is designed to help slow the progression of the disease and help to reduce the workload placed on your dog's kidneys. 

What is a therapeutic diet for chronic kidney disease?

Typically a therapeutic diet for dogs suffering from chronic kidney disease will contain reduced amounts of protein, phosphorus and sodium combined with increased amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and in some cases potassium.

Why reduce protein for dogs with kidney disease?

Although reducing the amount of protein in a dog's diet remains controversial, there are two main goals behind this approach. The first is to help lower the amount of waste produced during protein metabolism and the second is to  minimize the amount of protein entering the filtration system of the kidneys.

What this means is that feeding a diet with reduced levels of protein may help to reduce the workload placed on your dog's kidneys, in turn possibly helping to preserve kidney function.

Why reduce phosphorus for dogs with kidney disease?

As your dog's kidneys begin to fail, the concentration of phosphorus in their blood becomes elevated. Elevated concentrations of phosphorus have been linked to a number of negative side effects such as vitamin D deficiency, and reduced ability for your dog's body to metabolize calcium. In dogs with chronic kidney disease, normalizing blood phosphorus concentrations through their diet may help to slow the progression of the disease.

One important thing to note is that the phosphorus level in dog foods is directly related to the amount of protein in the food. In order to reduce the phosphorus in your dog's diet it will be necessary to also restrict their protein intake. It is also important to know that normalizing your dog's blood phosphorus levels through diet alone is typically only successful if the kidney disease is diagnosed and treated early, medications will also be necessary in more progressed stages of the disease.

Why reduce sodium for dog's with kidney disease?

Reducing sodium in the diet of dogs with chronic kidney disease may also be beneficial. Reducing sodium can help to reduce the workload on your pup's kidneys, as well as to help your dog to maintain normal blood pressure. Beyond feeding a therapeutic diet, reducing your dog's sodium intake will also mean paying special attention to the treats you offer your dog. Jerky and cheese slices are typically very high in sodium and should be avoided.

Why increase omega-3 fatty acids in my dog's diet?

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help slow the progression of chronic kidney disease in dogs by reducing the production of inflammatory compounds that create oxidative stress to the kidneys. Foods with higher levels of omega-3 often contain salmon and other fish which many dogs enjoy, or may be supplemented with fish oil, or flaxseed oil.

What is the best food to feed my dog with chronic kidney disease?

If your dog is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease your veterinarian will recommend the best food to help your pup fight the progression of the disease. Each dog is different, and the food recommended for your dog will depend on the severity of the disease, how far it has progressed, as well as your dog's age and overall health.

Most standard dog foods are likely to contain levels of protein and phosphorus that are too high for dogs with chronic kidney disease, however there are a number of prescription therapeutic foods available from your veterinarian. Prescription diets have been specially formulated to meet all of your dog's dietary requirements while also offering restricted protein, phosphorus and sodium. Ask your vet which food is best for your dog.

If your dog is showing symptoms of kidney failure, contact our vets at Stage Road Animal Hospital in Memphis. Our compassionate vets have experience in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney failure in pets.

What to feed dogs with chronic kidney disease, Memphis Vet

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