Diet for Dogs with Kidney Disease: Mini Guide for Pet Owners

Diet for Dogs with Kidney Disease

Some wise people say, “You are what you eat,” and there is nothing more truthful than this.

Each diagnosis or disease in dogs requires special food considerations and so do kidney diseases in dogs.

Dogs with kidney disease even have difficulties with their appetite depending on the progress of the disease, so some veterinarians’s first obstacle might be increasing the appetite of the dogs.

Let’s dig deeper and see what’s the best diet for dogs with kidney diseases!

Key Takeaways:

  • Kidney diseases might lead to decreased removal of toxins from the body of the animal.
  • Dogs with kidney diseases require a special diet regimen.
  • The best diet includes easily digestible food.
  • Low sodium and low phosphorus food is required for dogs with kidney disease.
  • The best types of meat that should be included in a dog’s diet are chicken and turkey.

What Are Kidney Diseases in Dogs?

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, kidney disease is any disease that leads to impaired renal filtration.

In chronic cases, the kidneys are unable to eliminate the toxins from the system and it leads to a toxin buildup in animals.

In most cases, there is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but it can be managed regularly with the needed medications and a therapeutic diet.

Dogs with chronic kidney disease should be properly diagnosed, and the medication and the therapeutic diet should be properly prescribed.

Medications are prescribed to reduce the symptoms of the disease, while the therapeutic diet is used to slow the disease progression.

Acute Kidney Disease

Acute cases of kidney failure occur suddenly and are secondary to toxin exposure, trauma, or infections. It can also be due to some primary health issues as a complication.

Since this type of kidney failure occurs suddenly, not all dogs survive, and those that do might develop chronic renal failure.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is a progressive condition that is mainly focused on managing symptoms and slowing disease progression.

Dogs affected with chronic kidney disease have an increased thirst and urination, as well as weight loss.

Chronic renal failure is a degenerative change to kidneys, and affected dogs need to be monitored constantly, especially the urea and creatinine parameters.

Pet parents need to provide their dogs with appropriate dog food that contains the needed nutrients.

The best kidney diet should be based on less protein, sodium, and phosphorus, as well as increased omega-3 fatty acids.

Diet for Dogs with Chronic Kidney Disease

Dogs with comprised kidney function should have a balanced diet containing the following:

  • Reduced amounts of sodium
  • Reduced amounts of protein
  • Reduced amount of phosphorus
  • Increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids

Veterinarians sometimes even recommend increased potassium levels.

Water Requirements

When the kidneys are not functioning properly, they are excreting less waste products through urine and this might lead to toxins buildup.

In some severe cases, dogs even have a decreased ability to concentrate urine.

So, what does this mean? Besides the thing that dogs need to have an unlimited supply of fresh water, they should even consume canned food. The canned food can help increase the dog’s intake of moisture.

One free advice from us to all pet parents: change the pet’s water as much as possible. Some dogs are even picky, and they won’t drink it unless it’s fresh water.

Protein Requirements

Food rich in proteins can increase the progression of chronic kidney disease. So, to avoid this, a homemade diet for dogs with chronic kidney disease should have a decreased amount of proteins.

This will allow the kidneys to excrete protein waste products during protein metabolism.

Also, decreased amounts of proteins will minimize the amount of protein that enters the kidney filtration system.

When the dog is on low protein diets, there is a decreased need for protein excretion through filtration which will preserve kidney function.

Veterinary nutritionists recommend a range of protein on a dry matter basis in the range of 14-20%.

Sodium Requirements

Normal or increased sodium level intake might lead to increased blood pressure in both animals and humans, which leads to decreased kidney function.

Decreased sodium levels are recommended to reduce the workload on the kidneys. This will lead to a reasonable kidney function.

According to D.S. Greco, special caution regarding sodium intake must be considered in cases with clinically evident kidney disease with azotemia and isosthenuria.

Phosphorus Requirements

The recommended range of phosphorus intake on a dry matter basis for dogs is 0.2-0.5%. Phosphorus is related to protein intake, so both these ingredients need to be regulated.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Requirements

Omega fatty acids are also known as healthy fatty acids and should be included in the pet’s diet. Healthy fatty acids lead to many benefits in dogs.

Due to the anti-inflammatory compounds, fatty acids are excellent for dogs with inflammation. These compounds can also improve kidney function and slow down the progression of a disease.

Fish oil is included in many prescription diets from professionals because it is one of the best ways to fatty acid intake.

What Are the Main Ways of Managing Chronic Kidney Disease?

The treatment process in cases of chronic kidney disease includes a few steps. Firstly, the clinical signs need to be addressed properly. This will reduce the accumulation of waste products in the blood.

Affected animals need to have a well-controlled fluid and electrolyte balance, which can be achieved with proper nutrition and supplements.

All of this will support kidney function and reduce inflammation in affected animals.

There are many available commercial diets for dogs with chronic kidney disease that can improve the overall health of the animal.

However, many dog owners decide on homemade diets for their pets. These pet parents should follow dietary guidelines from a professional.

How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Dogs With Kidney Disease?

Let’s make it clear! Choosing the best dog food for animals with kidney failure can be a true challenge for many pet owners, especially if they decide on commercial food.

Commercial dog foods are designated to be acidifying and this brings a risk of further kidney damage. Before purchasing, owners should check the labels of dog foods.

If you decide about wet food, make sure it is specifically intended for dogs with kidney disease because, very often, these foods contain a lot of preservatives and additives that might be harmful to the animal.

Many dogs don’t like the taste of commercial food, so to improve it, you can add a low-sodium chicken broth, tuna juice, or even fish oil.

Adding fish oil will also contribute to more fatty acid intake.

Each renal disease has various ways of treatments, and this should be consulted with a veterinarian. In some cases, a renal disease might lead to a decreased appetite and nausea, and choosing the best food becomes more difficult.

This doesn’t mean that a proper diet will make the dog’s kidneys function impeccable. A lot of medications are also needed throughout this process.

First of all, pet owners need to make sure the dietary protein is in the recommended range for the kidneys to process it properly.

According to Bovee Kenneth C., high protein intake can lead to serious adverse renal failure.

The food needs to have as little sodium as possible so the dog can maintain normal blood pressure.

Normal levels of phosphorus also decrease the chances of vitamin D deficiency and, therefore, lead to normal calcium metabolism.

According to DVM Wendy Brooks, restricting dietary phosphate can slow down the progression of renal insufficiency.

If the goal has not been achieved in 4-6 weeks after changing the dog’s dietary regimen, a phosphorus binder should be used.

Besides this, animals should have normal welfare and live without stress because stress can exacerbate kidney disease. There are many different approaches to treating kidney disease.

Even if everything is regulated as recommended by a veterinarian, owners should monitor their dogs regularly.

They should monitor the animal’s behavior, energy levels, appetite, and other symptoms that indicate condition changes.


Is chicken good for dogs with kidney disease?

Yes, chicken is a high-quality protein that can help in reducing the kidney burden. It is also easily digestible and delicious for dogs.

Commercial dog food intended for dogs with acute or chronic kidney disease that contains chicken is good for dogs.

What not to feed dogs with kidney disease?

Dogs with kidney disease shouldn’t eat high-protein food and dog food with excess sodium and phosphorus.

High protein treats might also lead to high blood pressure, which might lead to decreased kidney function. This includes treats like cheese, meat, pig ears, and rawhides.

What meat is best for dogs with kidney disease?

The best meat for dogs with kidney disease should be low in sodium and phosphorus and easily digestible.

Dogs suffering from kidney diseases should consume mostly turkey and chicken meat because these types of meat will lower the amount of waste produced during protein metabolism.

What is the best renal diet for dogs?

The diet depends on the severity and progression of the dog’s kidney disease.

There are many available prescription kidney diets since it is very hard to find a nutritionally complete balanced kidney diet based on recipes.

The dietary management should be focused on supporting the dog’s nutritional requirements when an impaired renal function is present.

To Sum Up

Dealing with a kidney disease is a true struggle for both the owner and the animal.

However, the treatment process does not only consist of medicaments and constant therapy. Pet owners can improve chronic renal disease with prescription kidney diets.

What prescription renal diets did your veterinarian recommend? Let us know in the section below!

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