Kidney disease in dogs is a very common, very serious disease. It’s the #2 killer of dogs in the US after cancer …
… and your dog has a 1 in 10 chance of getting it.
Do you know what kidney disease is or how it affects your dog? What about the best course of treatment for kidneys disease in dogs?
Or even what role the kidneys play in your dog’s body?
What The Kidneys Do
The kidneys are responsible for several really important functions in your dog’s body:
- Waste removal – the kidneys filter out the waste products and excess fluid from your dog’s body.
- Blood pressure regulation – the kidneys need constant pressure to filter the blood so they produce a blood vessel-constricting protein that lets the body know when to increase and regulate pressure.
- Red blood cell regulation – the kidneys also need oxygen to function normally, so they send out a hormone (erythropoietin) to let the body know when more oxygenated red blood cells are needed.
- Water level balancing – the kidneys keep your dog’s water levels balanced by keeping water in the body when intake decreases and expelling it when intake increases.
Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys can no longer perform these functions.
Kidney Disease In Dogs
Early detection of kidney disease is really important, because once you start to notice symptoms, only about 25% of the kidney’s function remains.
Common symptoms of kidney disease:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Decreased appetite
- Clear urine
- Dry coat
- Flaky skin
- Dry nose
- Dry paw pads
- Bad breath
If you go to a conventional vet, the typical treatment path involves cutting down the protein and feeding a dry, low protein prescription kibble diet. This diet keeps the Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels in your dog’s body from increasing.
The problem with limiting protein though is that it really just suppresses and masks the real issue, rather than treating it and giving your dog what he needs to fight the disease.
It’s all about moisture in, moisture out. A dog with kidney disease needs more water to filter out the toxins, so dry kibble is so, so bad. Vets will push these dry prescription diets, when in fact a dog with kidney disease needs more moisture, not less.
So what’s the alternative? One solution is natural treatment from a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) perspective that’ll both protect and support your dog’s kidneys.
TCVM Treatment For Kidney Disease In Dogs
In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, the kidneys belong to the water element. The kidneys are considered the “flame of life” … the foundation of life.
And as our animals age, the flame of life tends to fade and the Qi (energy) of the kidney decreases. Eventually the organ starts to fail. This is why so many dogs start to develop kidney disease as they get older.
The kidneys store the life essence, so they can never be in excess. This means, if there’s ever a problem, it’s a problem of deficiency: too little, rather than too much.
There are 4 patterns of kidney disease:
1. Kidney Jing (life essence)
A Jing deficiency is usually characterized by:
- Congenital defects
- Developmental bone disease – born with hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, luxating patella
- Growth problems
- Generalized weakness
- Brittle bones
- Premature aging
2. Kidney Yang (heat, warmth)
A Yang deficiency is usually characterized by:
- A dog who is always cold
- Frequent clear urine or incontinence
- Poor teeth
- Hearing loss
3. Kidney Yin (cold)
A Yin deficiency is usually characterized by:
- A dog who is always warm, panting all the time
- Dry coat, nose, tongue
- Nighttime restlessness
- Noise sensitivity
- Scant, infrequent urination
4. Kidney Qi (energy)
A Qi deficiency is usually characterized by:
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Hind-end weakness
- Tongue pale, wet, thin and floppy
So how can you treat each of these specific deficiencies?
Food Treatment for Kidney Disease
Food treatment for kidney disease is an effective way to treat and manage this disease in dogs. Each deficiency requires a diet specific to the 4 patterns and their characteristics.
These recommendations from Dr Judy Morgan, TCVM veterinarian, are based on each of the 4 patterns. These diet requirements will help your dog whether he has a Jing, Yang, Yin or Qi deficiency.
If your dog has a Jing deficiency, feed:
- Anchovies or sardines
- Spouts – alfalfa, just a little added to the diet a day (buy organic alfalfa if you can as it’s a big genetically modified crop)
- Sesame seeds – either make a tea with them or grind them up in a coffee grinder and add a half teaspoon to your dog’s food.
- Eggs – feed raw or at the very least keep the yolk as runny as possible
If your dog has a Yang deficiency, feed:
Items to warm the body
- Foods at room temperature
- Lamb, venison, chicken as the main protein sources
- Warming herbs
- Ginger, cinnamon – 1/8 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight
- Basil – a pinch of chopped fresh per day
- Dill seeds, fennel seeds – Make a tea with 1 tsp in eight ounces of boiling water and steep until it cools. Give two to four tsp for every 20 pounds of your dog’s body weight
If your dog has a Yin deficiency, feed:
Foods that will cool and moisturize the body
- Rabbit and duck as the protein sources
- Asparagus, apples, pears, melon, string beans – use these as treats a few times a day
If your dog has a Qi deficiency, feed:
- Chicken or turkey gizzards
- Shiitake mushrooms
For all deficiencies:
- Seaweed or kelp
- CoQ10 – give your dog 1 mg per lb of body weight
- Kefir: give ¼ cup per 25 lbs of your dog’s body weight per day.
- Fermented veggies: add to food daily according to your dog’s weight:
- Up to 15 lbs – 1 tsp
- 16 – 30 lbs – 2 tsp
- 30 – 60 lbs – 3 tsp
- Raw goats milk: give daily according to your dog’s weight:
- Up to 20 lbs – 2 oz
- 20 to 50 lbs – 4 oz
- Over 50 lbs – 6 oz
Prebiotics (to feed the probiotics):
- Garlic: give up to 1 tsp of raw, organic garlic per 30 lbs of your dog’s body weight per day.
- Dandelion: give up to 1 tsp per 20 lbs of body weight.
- Bananas: give about an inch of banana per day for a 50 lb dog, or half a banana a couple of times a week. Bananas contain carbohydrates and sugar, so don’t overdo them. Use bananas that are still a little green.
Or, there are several high quality pre- and probiotic combinations that give you the best of both worlds.
You can also try this water kefir recipe:
[Related] Pre and probiotics – do you really need both? Check this out to see the answer.
Also, it’s really important to make sure your dog always has access to clean, fresh water. You don’t want to ever limit his ability to drink. Healthy kidneys make highly concentrated urine, which means large amounts of toxins are processed with a relatively small amount of water. Diseased kidneys, on the other hand, require a much larger amount of water to handle the same amount of toxins, so you want to give your dog the water he needs to allow his kidneys to do their job.
Protecting The Kidneys
While treatment for kidney disease is critical, it’s also crucial to protect and support healthy kidneys to avoid kidney disease in the first place.
- Feed a fresh, whole food diet. A balanced raw diet will give your dog the protein, vitamins and nutrients he needs to function well. Adding the following to your dog’s regular diet will also help support his system and protect kidney function:
- Small fish like mackerel, anchovies and sardines
- Small seeds – flax or sesame are great
- Herbs – dandelion and parsley
- Add some fresh chopped herbs to your dog’s food – a pinch per 10 lbs up to 1 Tbsp for a dog 100 lbs or larger. If you buy dried herbs, capsules or a tincture, assume the dose on the label is for a 150 lb human and adjust the dose for your dog’s weight.
- Avoid or minimize vaccines – since they’re a major cause of inflammation and the toxic adjuvants and additives can compromise your dog’s system. Since the kidneys flush toxins from the body, vaccines force the kidneys to work overtime anytime there’s a new toxin unreduced. Your dog’s kidneys don’t like those toxins and will work hard to flush them out.
[Related] Are annual vaccines even necessary? You need to read this before making that appointment.
- Avoid drugs and toxins – Antibiotics are really hard on the kidneys and drugs that suppress symptoms are not actually doing anything to heal the real issue.
[Related] There are several natural alternatives to antibiotics. Find them here.
Your dog’s kidneys are amazing organs that often don’t get the credit they deserve. If your dog has kidney disease, don’t deprive them. Using TCVM concepts, food therapy and a healthy happy stress-free life, treatment for kidney disease can help your dog magnate really well.