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What should I feed my dog with kidney disease?

If your dog is diagnosed with kidney failure, treatment and feeding them the right diet will be essential. For dogs with kidney disease, our Pleasant Hill vets often recommend a therapeutic diet featuring restricted phosphorus, sodium, and protein combined with increased omega-3 fatty acids. Here's why.

What is kidney failure in dogs?

Chronic kidney failure, chronic renal failure, chronic kidney disease, CKD, and chronic renal disease are all names used to refer to conditions marked by failing kidney function in dogs. 

The kidneys play a crucial role in many bodily functions for healthy dogs, including removing toxins from the blood. Your dog's kidneys gradually lose their ability to function effectively as a result of chronic kidney disease. When a dog's kidneys fail, they are unable to completely remove toxins from the body, which results in a buildup of toxins in the blood of your pet.

While there is no cure for chronic kidney disease in dogs, in many cases, the condition can be managed with the assistance of a therapeutic diet, which may help your pet to enjoy a good quality of life for months, depending on their specific circumstances. 

How is kidney failure or disease treated in dogs?

If a serious illness is suspected, your dog will undergo a thorough physical examination from your veterinarian, which will include nutritional advice. If your dog is found to have chronic kidney disease, your veterinarian will evaluate the severity of the condition as well as your dog's health and age before recommending the best course of action. When treating kidney disease, dietary modifications or restrictions are frequently combined with medications. While medications are primarily used to treat disease symptoms, a therapeutic diet can help slow the disease's progression and lessen the strain on your dog's kidneys.

What dog food is best for pets with kidney disease?

A typical diet for dogs with kidney disease includes foods with reduced amounts of sodium, protein, and phosphorus, combined with increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Your veterinarian will advise you on the best foods to feed your dog with kidney disease. Your veterinarian might occasionally advise potassium as well.

Why reduce protein for dogs with kidney disease?

There are two main objectives behind this strategy, despite the fact that lowering the protein content of a dog's diet is still debatable. The first is to reduce the waste that is produced when proteins are broken down, and the second is to reduce the amount of protein that enters the kidneys' filtration system.

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.

It's important to remember that the amount of protein in dog food directly correlates with the phosphorus content of the food. It will be necessary to limit your dog's protein intake in addition to the phosphorus in its diet. The normalization of your dog's blood phosphorus levels through diet alone is usually only successful if the kidney disease is identified and treated early; medication will also be required during more advanced stages of the disease. This is another crucial fact to be aware of.

Why reduce sodium for dogs with kidney disease?

Dogs with chronic kidney disease may also benefit from reducing their sodium intake. Your dog's kidneys will work less hard if you cut back on the salt, and your dog's blood pressure will stay within the normal range. Beyond providing a therapeutic diet, lowering your dog's sodium intake requires special consideration of the treats you give him. Slices of cheese and jerky should be avoided because they frequently contain high levels of sodium.

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

By lowering the production of inflammatory substances that cause oxidative stress on the kidneys, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help slow the progression of chronic kidney disease in dogs. Salmon and other fish, which are favorites of many dogs, are frequently found in foods with higher omega-3 content. Fish oil or flaxseed oil may also be added.

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

Your veterinarian will recommend the best food to help your dog fight the progression of kidney failure or disease. While every dog is different, the food your vet recommends for your dog will depend on the severity and progression of the condition, in addition to your dog's general health and age. 

For dogs with chronic kidney disease, most regular dog foods will likely have phosphorus and protein levels that are too high. Having said that, your veterinarian might be able to provide therapeutic foods on prescription. Prescription diets that have been specially formulated to meet all of your dog's nutritional needs also provide limited amounts of sodium, phosphorus, and protein. Which is best for your dog should be discussed with your vet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

If your dog is showing signs of kidney disease or kidney failure contact Diablo View Veterinary Hospital to book an examination for your canine companion.

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