Kidney disease and failure are becoming a common occurrence in dogs. One of the first signs is that your dog drinks and urinates more and asks to be let outside several times a day. This is because dogs with kidney disease are unable to concentrate their urine, meaning a large volume of urine and subsequent thirst and dehydration.
As the kidney function declines, the dog retains ammonia, nitrogen acids and other chemical wastes in his blood and tissue. This is called uremia. The degree or uremia is determined by measuring blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine and electrolytes.
Protein And The Kidney
Traditionally, vets have recommended restricting protein consumption because protein is poorly metabolized by dogs with kidney failure. Protein creates a high nitrogen load that can further stress the liver and kidneys.
The problem is, that most commercial pet foods are made of poor quality protein that is not easily digested or utilized and this is what places the stress on the kidneys. To get quality proteins that are easily digested into your dog, a fresh food diet should be fed. Kibble is not a good option for these dogs.
The second reason kibble can further stress dogs with kidney failure is that dry food is very low in water (15 to 20% compared to 80 to 85% in fresh foods). Kidney disease dehydrates your dog and the dehydration causes him to feel ill – just like a hangover. He will have much better luck at staying hydrated if fed a fresh diet.
Finally, kibble is laden with preservatives, artificial colors, synthetic additives – all of which need to be excreted through the kidney, creating even further stress. Like the skin, the kidneys are an integral part of cleansing the body from toxins.
If your dog suffers from kidney failure, one of the most important things you can do for him is to get him off kibble and on to fresh foods. As for reducing the protein content of the diet, homeopathic vet Dr. Don Hamilton offers the following:
It is commonly thought that when there is any evidence of kidney disease, the protein level should be reduced. This is not correct for most animals. Protein reduction has little impact upon the progression of kidney disease. In fact, reducing the protein level in the diet may reduce the effectiveness of the kidneys (the glomular filtration rate) is tied to protein in the diet, and reducing the protein reduced the filtering thus decreasing the excretion of toxins. (In rats, extra protein induces excessive glomular filtration, and restricting dietary protein prevents progression of renal failure. Though this has not been shown to occur in dogs or cats, this data is used to support protein restriction in these animals. I believe this is not correct, as dogs and cats are carnivores, whereas rats are primarily herbivores; this difference would account for different protein needs).
Easily Digested Proteins
Eggs are highly digestible proteins and should form a good part of your dog’s diet. Dairy sources of protein are also highly digestible – if giving dairy, it should be from unpasteurized sources if possible. Poultry is also more digestible than red meats.
Once again, it seems that fresh foods win out over commercial foods, especially in the face of chronic disease.