Renal Diet for Dogs: Canine Guide for Renal Health

Raw food for dogs with kidney failure should not be the same as the food you
Anna Smith
Written by Anna Smith

As pet owners, we all wish health and fitness for our four-legged buddies. But keeping in view the unpredictability of life, a healthy pet today can turn ill tomorrow. The situation gets worse when it is some chronic or potentially fatal health condition like kidney disease. However, a dedicated pet owner can undo or at least lessen the effects of the renal disease by giving them the appropriate renal diet for dogs.

When your dog is diagnosed with renal disease, there is nothing more significant than his diet. Feeding him the right kind of food with some much-needed nutrients can not just relieve the condition, but it can also double the recovery rate. Even if your dog hasn’t been diagnosed with a renal disease, preventive measures should still be taken especially as your dog grows older.

Image showing a labrador getting rest on the floor

The best renal diet for dogs may vary according to the stages of the disease. To make things easier for you, here we have compiled a comprehensive and research-based guide to help you in picking the best food that can support your dog’s renal health. We have also enlisted some additional info such as foods to avoid so that pet parent can better care for their beloved dog in their time of need. Before we get to the recommendations, however, we would first like to give you a better understanding of a dog’s renal health.

What Role Does the Kidney Play?

Some common functions of the kidney in a dog include:

  • Balancing the amount of sodium consumed by the pooch. Thus, it helps in maintaining normal blood pressure.
  • Storing good substances in the blood.
  • Managing the quantity of water in the blood. The kidney can save your pet from getting dehydrated.
  • Regulating calcium and vitamin D, which ensure strong bones for your doggie.
  • Producing the necessary red blood cells in your pup’s body.

But more than anything, the kidney’s key role is that it acts as a natural filter that purifies the blood from any waste material. When your dog suffers from renal disease, it affects the overall function of his kidneys.

Image showing little dog jumping to get a ball

Consequently, the kidney will be unable to filter waste materials. This pile-up of waste and toxins may lead to a total kidney failure.

The Most Common Symptoms of a Kidney Disease

There are some alarming signs that pet owners must never ignore (especially in elderly dogs) because they are indicative of a kidney disease:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive shedding
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should take him to the vet immediately. Your vet will instruct you to change your dog’s diet to a renal-friendly one.

What Kind of Diet is Considered Renal-Friendly?

A renal diet is all about managing the amount of various essential minerals in food items. The basic minerals include protein, phosphorus, and sodium. Read on to understand how these minerals are linked with renal disease and how managing their quantity helps in battling the ailment.

Renal Diet Criteria #1: Lessen the Amount of Low-Quality Protein Intake

Protein is considered one of the most essential minerals for a healthy lifestyle. But rules change when your pooch is suffering from a renal disease. First of all, you need to lessen the amount of protein your dog takes in. Most of the waste and toxins that kidneys have to remove come from proteins. The less your dog consumes it, the better it is for the overall health of his kidney.

Image showing a dog laying down on the floor

Secondly, we emphasize on the usage of high-quality protein. High-quality protein generates fewer waste substances. Never think of skipping protein consumption from your pup’s diet completely. The body needs protein to repair damaged tissues and cells. So, opt for the edibles enriched with high-quality protein, i.e., poultry, red meat, and eggs.

If your dog seems to lack an appetite, you should focus on giving him poultry instead of red meat. Poultry is an easier to digest option. Just remember that commercial foods are a big no. Most of these commercial dog foods contain poor-quality proteins. Low-quality proteins not just place stress on the kidney, but they are also hard to digest.

Renal Diet Criteria #2: Low Phosphorus Diet

Phosphorus is an essential mineral required by the body for the maintenance of bones and tissues. It is also involved in maintaining the muscles. Phosphorus filtered from food sources is absorbed by the small intestine until it finally gets stored in the bones. So how is phosphorous connected to the kidneys?

Image showing a dog eating food from a bowl

Healthy kidneys perform to drain out elevated levels of phosphorus from the blood. If the kidneys stop doing that, the pile-up of excess phosphorous may damage the bones by pulling out naturally stored calcium from them, leaving your dog at risk of bone fractures.

When your dog faces renal disease, his kidneys are no longer capable of removing the extra phosphorous. This is a threatening condition for your pooch’s health. To confront these alarming conditions, lessen the amount of phosphorus in your dog’s diet.

Image showing a dog eating and looking at the camera

As proteins are the biggest source of phosphorous in our body, decreasing protein intake (as mentioned above) automatically controls phosphorous levels in the body. Egg yolk, meat, bones, dairy products, and fish are some of the things you should avoid giving to your dog too often while his kidney is recovering.

However, all the edibles mentioned above are essential for good health. Therefore, instead of stopping the consumption of such items completely, simply give them to your dog in moderation.

Renal Diet Criteria #3: Moist Food

Your four-legged friend should be fed moist foods instead of dry food while his kidney is recovering. When kidneys are not functioning properly, the body needs extra moisture to flush out toxins like phosphorous, nitrogen, creatinine, and other metabolic wastes. Therefore, you should pick food with high water content. Dry foods that dogs usually eat only contain 10 to 15% of moisture, which is not enough. Contrary to that, canned dog foods are rich in water content (about 70 to 80%).

Image showing a bowl full of Wet Dog Food

Vegetables are also a good option. Carrots and green beans are good veggie options for occasional use as both items are good natural sources of vitamin, but make sure to feed them these veggies in moderation. When in doubt, getting your vet’s advice is always recommended.

Renal Diet Criteria #4: Low Sodium Diet

High blood pressure is a big threat for canines with kidney damage. To maintain normal levels of blood pressure, it is essential to provide your dog with a diet that has reduced levels of sodium. Sodium consumption should be mild to moderate.

Image showing a bowl full of low sodium dog food

Some of the foods that must be avoided include salty food such as deli meat, cheese, and bread. The safe quantity of sodium for your dog is 1 mg of sodium per calorie. Fruits and veggies generally contain a low level of sodium. But raisins and grapes are excluded from the list as they can be toxic to your furry friend.

Renal Diet Criteria #5: Fats

Unlike humans, dogs don’t usually suffer fat-related issues like high cholesterol, so fats are a safe option for dogs with renal disease. Feel free to feed your dog with fatty products (as long as the source is low in phosphorus, protein, and sodium).

Image showing a dog stealing a fish from the table

The only exception for a higher fat intake is if your dog is overweight. To digest fat, one needs to be active. If you believe your dog to be heavy and inactive, he should not be fed too many calories. But you can feed him fatty foods occasionally in low to moderate quantity. The best sources of fat for dogs are lamb, pork, beef, chicken, and turkey.

Renal Diet Criteria #6: Proper Water Intake

As a victim of renal disease, your dog is always at risk of dehydration. So, it is your responsibility to provide him with fresh water all the time. How do you know whether he is dehydrated or not? If your dog is vomiting and not eating regularly, take it as a cause for alarm.

Image showing a dog drinking water

Not just plain water, flavored broths can also help in sustaining the amount of water in the body. Just make sure that the broth for your dog does not contain any ingredients that can intensify his kidney condition (particularly sodium).

Following a specific diet plan helps in cutting down waste from the dog’s blood, so it lessens the kidney’s workload and allows it to recover. One other thing we’d like to tell you about is that the kind of renal diet you should adhere to differs depending on how far the kidney disease has progressed. Each stage requires a different diet plan.

Renal Diet and the Stage of Kidney Disease

There is a deep connection between the stages of renal disease and a dog’s diet. If you want to give him the best diet, make sure it is in accordance with the stage of the kidney disease he is passing through.

For example, dogs that have advanced to stage 3 and 4 of renal disease should be given foods that contain phosphorous of no more than 0.2% to 0.5%. In some cases, vets recommend low phosphorus even for dogs in stage 2.

Image showing a dog to a vet

However, if your dog is in the early stages of the ailment, prescription kidney diets with restricted protein and phosphorous are not going to help. Using them might even lead to trickier conditions like muscle loss and protein malnourishment.

So, it is highly recommended that you understand the exact stage of the renal disease your dog is going through before landing on any specific diet plan. You should ask your vet’s opinion regarding the amount of nutrient that is safe for your dog to consume and can help him regain his kidney health.

Image showing little pet visiting the vet

Just make sure not to feed your dog with commercial dry food. Pet stores are flooded with dog foods. When it comes to renal disease, you can’t rely on any of them. Most of these dog foods are too high in phosphorus and proteins. Chances are they are going to worsen your dog’s condition.

Points to Ponder!

When picking edibles for your ill furry friend, keeping these points in mind would help you make the healthiest choices:

  • To fight any pet disease, your dog must have great immunity. Work to improve the overall health and immunity of your dog. Adding more antioxidants to your pet’s food is a great solution. The most helpful antioxidants for canines suffering from kidney disease are beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
  • Suffering from renal disease, your dog might lose essential water-soluble vitamins while urinating. To compensate for that loss, enrich your dog’s food with vitamin B.
  • To improve the overall health of your dog’s kidneys, prefer diet enriched with omega three fatty acids. It helps in decreasing kidney inflammation.
  • To survive the renal disease, your dog must eat. So, make sure your dog is getting what he loves to eat.
  • Canines with renal disease should have several small meals over the course of a day rather than one or two large meals.
  • Avoid dietary items that contain acidic elements.

Wrap Up

Nothing could be more distressing for a pet parent than the shocking revelation that his canine is not doing well. Ending this article, we hope that the compilation of useful info regarding the best renal diet for your ailing dog would be helpful for you in making the right dietary choices.

We believe that the health tips and suggestions made above would not only make it easy for you to prepare healthy homemade food for your pet, but it would also help you steer clear of the edibles that are not suitable for your dog.

Bigal dog looking at something while is playing outside

Prevention is better than cure. By paying attention to the nutrients that your dog is consuming well before he shows signs of any renal diseases, you can help ensure that he has a long, healthy life free of the threat of kidney failure. If you still feel confused, get assistance from your vet and ask them to prescribe some healthy and safe therapeutic diet according to the stage of your dog’s renal disease.

How did you find this piece? Was it informative and helpful? We would like to hear your take on it. We would also welcome any health tips or suggestions you have regarding renal diet for dogs. Please share them with us in the comment box below.

About the author
Anna Smith
Anna Smith

Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna's passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed.