A good diet can help a dog with kidney disease live better and longer
Although kidney disease can be a scary diagnosis, it is possible for a dog with this condition to live in good health for years. Of course, this depends on whether the disease is detected early and the diets for kidney problems are applied correctly in sick dogs.
In the following lines we will talk about which elements of the diets usually consumed by domestic dogs are the most important to cope with these conditions.
Understanding kidney disease
General renal failure and other kidney conditions are becoming a common condition in dogs . One of the first signs of any of these conditions is that the dog drinks and urinates more than before and, therefore, asks to be taken out several times a day.
This is because dogs with kidney disease cannot concentrate their urine, which results in a large volume of fluid being produced – and urinated – and subsequent thirst and dehydration.
When kidney function decreases, the dog retains ammonia, nitrogen and other chemical wastes in the blood . A problem known as uremia. The degree of uremia is determined by measuring urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, and electrolytes in the blood.
How are the kidneys affected?
The kidneys are vital organs, as they have the main job of removing waste from the blood, balancing body fluids and producing urine. The kidneys work by filtering the body’s blood, regulating blood pressure and maintaining the concentration of red blood cells circulating in the blood.
When the kidneys are damaged and cannot properly filter the blood, kidney failure develops. Over time, the damage builds up and causes waste to be stored in the body. As the disease gets worse, the levels of toxins in the blood rise and the animal feels sick.
Kidney problems can also lead to high blood pressure , low iron content in the blood (anemia), weakening of the bones, nerve damage, and nutritional malabsorption.
The value of diets for kidney problems in dogs
Most medications used to treat pets with kidney disease serve only to reduce symptoms. On the other hand, the intake of a correct diet can have beneficial effects on the patient’s survival, hence its importance.
Clinical studies have shown that pets that eat diets designed for kidney disease can live twice as long as pets that don’t.
The nutritional changes that need to be made depend on the severity of the disease. In general, animals with kidney disease should follow diets that are reduced in phosphorus, protein and sodium. Equally important is the integration with omega-3 fatty acids, which come from fish oil.
Water, more vital than ever
If your dog has kidney disease, make sure he has easy access to water . The right level of hydration prevents the concentration of toxic compounds in the bloodstream.
As kidney disease progresses, your dog may not be able to drink enough water on his own. At this point, it may be necessary to administer the fluid intravenously, again at a veterinary clinic.
At home, encourage your dog to drink . Kidney disease can make a dog so sick that it takes away the urge to drink. To cheer him up, give him some low-sodium flavored broth. Many experts recommend making sure your pet’s water is fresh and free of contaminants if possible. Therefore, filtered water is the best.
Components of Diets for Kidney Problems in Dogs
In the early stages of kidney disease , the goal is to prevent further damage and compensate for increased urination. For most dogs, the idea is to feed them around 2% to 3% of their body weight.
If you decide to cook at home for your pet, remember that a high level of humidity is essential in a diet that is beneficial for the kidneys. Consult your vet to adjust the amounts based on your dog’s weight and size. As the disease progresses, as measured by the increase in the level of protein in the urine , meat intake should be reduced.
Diets for kidney problems in dogs: which ready-to-eat foods to buy
Quality commercial foods should consist of animal protein, whole fruit and vegetables, which are lightly processed and with a moisture content of between 80 and 85%. The proteins should be of the easily digestible type. Furthermore, it is necessary that everything the dog assumes respects the following premises:
- Low phosphorus level : To keep the phosphorus level in the animal’s blood low, which is believed to slow the progression of kidney disease and improve survival.
- Low Salt: Foods rich in sodium can raise blood pressure and worsen kidney damage, which is why diets designed for pets with kidney disease are low in this mineral. Low-sodium foods include fruits and vegetables, but be sure to avoid grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic.
- Low level of protein : Protein is a large and complex molecule that can be difficult to digest. They are broken down into amino acids, which are essential for your dog. Chicken, turkey or egg whites are recommended. On the other hand, nitrogen wastes also come from protein metabolism and their excess is unwanted in dogs with kidney disease. The key is to reduce, but not eliminate, the protein your dog is getting.
In addition to giving him a low protein diet, you should also avoid giving your dog high protein snacks. The delicacies you should avoid are the following: meat, cheese, raw skin, pig ears, etc.
What supplements are recommended in diets for kidney problems in dogs?
Here is a list of recommended food supplements for these dogs:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids : There is some evidence that these fatty acids in fish oil may be beneficial for dogs with kidney disease. Ask your vet if fish oil is right for your pet and if so, the optimal dosage and a brand that has high quality control.
- Potassium Citrate : Potassium citrate induces an increase in the concentration of bicarbonate in the blood. In kidney disease, the bicarbonate level in the blood decreases and makes the blood pH more acidic.
- Vitamins : due to renal dysfunction, the vitamins contained in the food are not reabsorbed in the kidney. Taking vitamin supplements will help compensate for the deficiencies.
Finally, whether it is a commercial or home diet , you should choose foods that are not exposed to preservatives, pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation. If you give your pet meat, it should come from animals that are not receiving antibiotics or growth hormones.
This distinction is important in diets for kidney problems in dogs because it means that the food does not contain toxins. This means that daily dog feeding will put less pressure on the current function of the damaged organs.
There is still a lot to learn about the nutritional needs of dogs with kidney problems. The challenge is to maintain adequate intake, as dogs with kidney disease tend not to have a large appetite. Therefore, it is advisable to monitor weight loss, vary the flavors and feed the dog several times a day.