Stages of Kidney Failure in Dogs

Chronic kidney failure in dogs, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD) or chronic renal failure, is a common condition in dogs, especially as they age. Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in managing this condition and improving your furry friend’s quality of life. In this guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of feeding a dog with chronic renal failure, focusing on dietary strategies to support kidney health and overall well-being. According to a recent study, feeding a dog with CKD a renal diet survived three times longer than those without1.

Stages of canine kidney disease

Chronic kidney failure in dogs occurs when the kidneys gradually lose their ability to function properly over time. This can lead to a buildup of toxins and waste products in the body, along with imbalances in electrolytes and fluids. Common symptoms include increased thirst and urination, loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and vomiting. Read more about the signs and symptoms of kidney disease.

When designing a diet for a dog with kidney failure, the primary goals are to:

  • High Quality Protein intake: High-quality protein can help reduce the workload on the kidneys and minimize the buildup of waste products. Daily protein levels increase when a dog has CRF. As long as you keep phosphorus low you shouldn’t worry about feeding too much protein.
  • Control phosphorus levels: Elevated phosphorus levels can further damage the kidneys and worsen the progression of CKD. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose foods with restricted phosphorus content or utilize phosphorus binders as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Maintain hydration: Dogs with CKD are prone to dehydration due to increased urination and decreased water intake. Providing access to fresh water at all times and incorporating moisture-rich foods such as wet or homemade diets can help maintain hydration levels. Water should be fresh filtered or low mineral bottled water. Juices and broths may also be used to maintain hydration.
  • Monitor sodium and potassium: Dogs with advanced kidney disease often have high potassium. If their levels of potassium are high, you need to limit it in their diet. If potassium levels are low, you will need to supplement with potassium salts. Balancing sodium and potassium levels is essential for managing blood pressure and electrolyte balance in dogs with CKD. Ensure you speak with your veterinarian regarding the specific needs of your pet based on their findings.
  • Maintaining Interest: The most important thing for a dog with kidney failure is that they actually eat. Many dogs with CRF lose interest in food. It is more important that they eat than what they eat. Try to keep their interest in the foods that will benefit them the most, while limiting ones that will make matters worse. You can do this by trying different food combinations, trying foods at different temperatures, try cooking in broth or gravy rather than water (use sodium free), or add butter or meat juices to add flavor.

Fat

What to include:

  • Fatty meats
  • Coconut oil
  • Fish oil
  • Whole milk yogurt
  • Butter
  • Chicken fat
  • You can also cook with bacon fat, however ensure it is low or no sodium

What NOT to include:

  • Cod liver oil- it is too high in Vitamin D which can be tough for failing kidneys to process.
  • Polyunsaturated oils such as canola, corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, or flaxseed.

Protein

What to include:

  • Egg whites
  • High fat ground beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Bison
  • Green Tripe
  • Dark skin chicken or turkey with skin on
  • Duck

What NOT to include:

  • Bones or bone meal- they are high in phosphorus
  • Organ meats
  • Sardines
  • Liver
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Tofu
  • Lean white meat

Carbohydrates

What to include:

  • Aspargus
  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Green beans
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Peas
  • Cabbage
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Cream of wheat
  • Cream of rice
  • Malt-o-meal
  • Tapioca
  • Barley
  • White rice (lower in phosphorus than brown rice)

What NOT to include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Cornmeal
  • Bran
  • Soy beans
  • Lentils

  • Monitor sodium and potassium: Dogs with advanced kidney disease often have high potassium. If their levels of potassium are high, you need to limit it in their diet. If potassium levels are low, you will need to supplement with potassium salts. Balancing sodium and potassium levels is essential for managing blood pressure and electrolyte balance in dogs with CKD. Ensure you speak with your veterinarian regarding the specific needs of your pet based on their findings.
  • Maintaining Interest: The most important thing for a dog with kidney failure is that they actually eat. Many dogs with CRF lose interest in food. It is more important that they eat than what they eat. Try to keep their interest in the foods that will benefit them the most, while limiting ones that will make matters worse. You can do this by trying different food combinations, trying foods at different temperatures, try cooking in broth or gravy rather than water (use sodium free), or add butter or meat juices to add flavor.

Here are some practical tips to help you navigate feeding a dog with CKD a homemade diet:

  • Vegetables should be cooked and pureed so that they are easily digestible for your dog. Note: Cooking vegetables leaches out the phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. DON’T use the water you cook vegetables with in your dogs meal.
  • Offer multiple small meals rather than few larger meals.
  • Eggs are a great source of high quality protein, however yolks are high in phosphorus so feed 2 to 3 egg whites for every yolk.
  • If your dog has high potassium avoid; bananas, pumpkin, potatoes, pears, sardines, kiwi, beets, yogurt, winter squash, carrots, celery, and broccoli.
  • All grains should be cooked.

What to include:

Phosphate Binder

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phosphate binder for dogs with chronic renal failure

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Kidney Probiotic

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Coenzyme Q10

Try This:

coenzyme q10 for renal failure in dogs

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Affiliate Disclaimer: Many of the links below are affiliate links for products that I use and recommend to my clients. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Using the links will not cost you anything but we will earn a very small commission. For more details see our disclaimer page

What NOT to include:

  • Do not use multivitamins or mineral products with phosphorus or vitamin D.

Kidney Failure in dogs is a serious condition that needs constant monitoring. Keep these important tips in mind when dealing with a dog with CKD.

  • Consult with your veterinarian: Work closely with your veterinarian or a certified canine nutritionist to develop a tailored nutrition plan that addresses your dog’s unique needs and stage of kidney disease.
  • If you choose to go with a commercial dog food, Choose renal-friendly commercial diets: Look for commercial dog foods specifically formulated for dogs with renal failure. These diets are designed to meet the nutritional needs of dogs with CKD while minimizing stress on the kidneys.
  • Monitor your dog’s condition: Keep a close eye on your dog’s weight, appetite, energy levels, and overall well-being. Adjust their diet as needed based on changes in their condition or recommendations from your veterinarian.
  • Be patient and proactive: Managing chronic renal failure in dogs is a long-term commitment that requires patience and diligence. By staying proactive and following your veterinarian’s guidance, you can help optimize your dog’s health and quality of life.

Feeding a dog with chronic renal failure requires careful attention to their nutritional needs and dietary restrictions. By focusing on managing protein, phosphorus, hydration, and overall nutritional health, you can support your furry companion’s kidney function and enhance their quality of life. Remember to work closely with your veterinarian to develop a personalized nutrition plan that meets your dog’s individual needs and stage of kidney disease. With the right approach and dedication, you can help your beloved pet thrive despite their diagnosis of chronic renal failure.

For more information on how dogs with kidney disease read about Vet Approved Homemade Food For Dogs With Kidney Disease.

  1. Nutritional and laboratory parameters affect the survival of dogs with chronic kidney disease ↩︎

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