One of the hardest things to do as a dog owner is watching your furry friend go through a chronic illness. Unfortunately, it's a harsh reality many people face. While many health problems could affect your dog,
One that gets increasingly common with age is kidney disease.
It's estimated that one in ten dogs will suffer from chronic renal failure during their lifetime, and the risks increase the older dogs get.
This disease affects the function of the kidney, which is an essential filtration organ that flushes toxins, waste, and extra fluids from the body.
As the condition worsens, the kidneys have a tougher time working efficiently. That leads to a buildup of waste products in the blood, resulting in many other health concerns.
While renal failure in dogs is incurable, that doesn't mean you have to give up and wait for your pup to cross the rainbow bridge.
They have plenty of life to live! The key is to mitigate the effects of the disease by modifying your dog's diet according to your vet's advice.
How Dog Food Affects Kidney Disease
The first thing most veterinarians do after diagnosing a dog with kidney disease is discuss dietary options with the owner.
What your dog eats directly impacts the performance of the kidney.
The organ's primary job is to eliminate waste accumulated when they eat. As that functionality wanes, your dog will start to experience significant imbalances in the body.
It's not just in the blood, but symptoms can manifest themselves elsewhere, too.
For example, one of the key symptoms of kidney failure is too much acid in the body fluids, also known as metabolic acidosis.
When the acids accumulate in the belly, dogs can become nauseous and refuse to eat. That ultimately leads to weight loss and other problems.
More importantly, however, is the impact of specific nutrients.
Like humans and any other animal, dogs consume more nutrients than their body needs to survive.
So, the body breaks things down and completes many complex processes to excrete waste through the kidneys.
When the kidneys don't function correctly, your dog suddenly experiences an influx.
One of the worst offenders is phosphorus.
Renal failure reduces your dog's ability to retain calcium, which binds to phosphorus during kidney filtration. Over time, phosphorus can build up in your dog's blood and body tissue.
Eventually, your canine companion can experience multiple system failures and cardiovascular complications.
Dietary Restrictions for Dogs with Kidney Failure
There are several things to consider when cooking food for your dog.
Always speak with your veterinarian about dietary changes. Ask them about vet-approved homemade recipes for kidney disease.
They likely have many recommendations to help you out.
Every dog is different, and your pup's needs will fluctuate as the disease progresses.
Regular discussions with your vet ensure that you're meeting their nutritional needs while combatting the effects of kidney failure.
There's a delicate balance between providing all the good macronutrients your dog needs to survive while cutting out extra that can exacerbate their health problems.
Here are a few general guidelines.
Too much phosphorus can be detrimental to the health of dogs with kidney disease.
As we mentioned earlier, it accumulates in the blood and can wreak havoc on many critical biological systems. Ultimately, excess phosphorus will cause the disease to progress faster.
The abundant phosphorus may even lead to bone loss as it triggers hormonal "fight or flight" responses.
Avoiding phosphorus is trickier than most realize. Phosphorus is found in most meats and appears in other food items to some degree. Your best bet is to stick to lean meats.
Avoid high-phosphorus ingredients like egg yolks, organ meat, and bones.
Related: Best Low Phosphorus Dog Foods
Sodium is another mineral you need to be careful with when creating homemade dog food recipes. Sodium affects water retention and can impact blood pressure.
Renal failure often causes increased blood pressure, so you don't want to increase the risk of cardiovascular events.
Furthermore, dogs with kidney disease need as much water as they can get.
Meanwhile, too much sodium can lead to dehydration.
Decreased Vitamin D, Potassium, and Omega 6 Fats
These micronutrients are prevalent in commercial dog foods, but they can cause issues when renal failure is a concern. Vitamin D puts too much stress on already compromised kidneys.
In healthy dogs, the kidney will activate Vitamin D to control phosphorus and calcium in the blood. Kidney failure causes a couple of issues.
First, it becomes less efficient at putting Vitamin D to good use.
Secondly, the surplus phosphorus forces the kidney to use Vitamin D and overcompensate.
Overall, it's unnecessary stress that you can avoid by limiting Vitamin D content.
The same goes for Omega 6 fats. These fats promote inflammation that only makes the kidneys weaker. It's best to avoid it to decrease the adverse effects on the organ.
Omega 3 fats are a better alternative, and many vets recommend supplements for kidney disease sufferers.
Finally, there's potassium.
Kidney disease typically causes too much potassium in the blood.
Because the kidneys cannot filter it out, the potassium can affect the heart muscles and increase the risk of cardiovascular events.
What About Protein?
You might hear some people recommend low-protein diets for dogs with kidney disease. Popular prescription dog foods even have marketing highlighting their low protein content.
The truth is that protein isn't necessarily the bad guy in dog food. Canines need protein to survive, and depriving too much of it can have detrimental effects.
The issue is that most protein sources are also incredibly high in phosphorus.
That's the mineral you want to avoid.
With its abundance in meat, some think it's easier to focus on reducing protein. However, prioritizing low phosphorus levels help you get the best of both worlds.
You can choose low-phosphorus proteins to ensure that your dog gets the nutrients they need without the bad stuff.
Why Make Homemade Dog Food for Kidney Disease?
You may be wondering why you should even look for homemade dog food recipes for kidney disease. Why go the homemade route when commercial products are available?
Homemade meals provide far greater control over what your dog is eating.
That's the main perk.
When dealing with a chronic issue like kidney failure, every morsel of food matters. Creating meals from scratch gives you ultimate control, providing peace of mind.
You can work with your vet to create the perfect diet.
Another perk is that dogs are more inclined to eat homemade meals.Kidney failure can have a negative effect on a dog's appetite.
Good luck trying to get your dog to eat prescription food.
With homemade meals, you can incorporate flavorful ingredients that will entice your dog to start eating again.
3 Homemade Dog Food Recipes for Kidney Disease
We have a collection of low-phosphorus recipes that can address the unique needs of dogs with kidney failure.
But as always, we recommend having a thorough discussion with your vet before you do anything. Kidney disease affects dogs differently, and its impact changes as it progresses.
Heed your vet's advice above all else.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to the recipes!
#1. Beef, Rice, and Green Bean Mash
Here's a nutrient-rich dog food that has everything your pooch needs. It's flavorful and uses beneficial ingredients low in phosphorus and sodium.
The recipe even calls for winter squash, a complex carb that can control blood sugar and energy levels.
Cooking this recipe is relatively easy.
We recommend starting by preparing some of the ingredients.
The most important thing to separate the egg whites from the yolks. The yolks are far too high in phosphorus. Be extra careful here to limit shells and broken yolks.
You can also prepare the squash by removing the skin and seeds. Then, chop it up into small cubes.
Begin by cooking the rice according to the instructions on the package. The standard technique calls for about 20 minutes of cook time.
When it's done, add your fresh chopped parsley and give the rice a good stir.
Now, it's time to cook the squash.
Put the squash in a medium-sized pot and fill it up with water to the halfway mark. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cover the squash and let it cook for 20 to 25 minutes until it's tender. Drain the water.
To prepare the green beans, all you have to do is steam them whole for four to five minutes.
Cook the ground beef in a frying pan for about 10 minutes until all the pink is gone.
Turn off the heat and let the beef cook down with the oil. Do not drain the oil.
Once everything cools down enough, bring out your blender or food processor!
Add about half of the squash, half the green beans, and about a third of the squash.
Puree the mixture until everything is smooth.
The next step is to combine the remaining cooked ingredients.
Add the puree to the rice. Then, add the remaining green beans, beef, and squash.
Mix it all together until it's mixed evenly.
The final piece of this recipe is the egg whites.
Add a tablespoon of coconut oil in the same pan you cooked the beef and turn on the heat.
When the oil gets hot, add your egg whites and cook them to a scramble.
After the egg whites cool, you can add them to the rest of the mixture.
Voila! The recipe is ready to eat once it cools down to room temperature.
#2. Simple Rice, Turkey, and Beef Meal
This recipe is far easier to make than the last. It only has three ingredients.
You can add extras to beef up the nutritional content. Just make sure to ask your veterinarian about any supplements you should provide your dog.
Once again, start your recipe by cooking the rice.
For two cups, you'll need about four cups of water. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil.
As you wait, clean and prepare the turkey.
There should be no bones or skin. It's easier to use pre-cooked turkey meat for simplicity. Cut or shred the meat into small, bite-sized pieces.
After the rice has boiled for about 10 minutes, add the turkey. Continue to cook the rice until it's soft and fluffy.
This recipe calls for a healthier alternative to standard beef browning.
Instead of cooking the meat in a frying pan, boil it in a large stockpot.
Once the water is boiling, you can add the meat and cook it for about five minutes.
You'll know it's done when you can't see any more pink.
Remove any foam or fat that's floating on the water. Then, drain the beef and wash it in cold water. Give the beef a good chop and add it to the rice and turkey mixture.
Once it's cooled down to room temperature, it's ready to eat.
#3. Beef and Beets
This is a low-phosphorus recipe that includes many healthy vegetables.
In addition to ground beef, it uses vitamin-rich foods like beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. It's a human-grade meal that's good enough for even you to eat!
Begin by preparing all of the vegetables.
If you bought fresh vegetables, chop them up into small bite-sized pieces.
Frozen vegetable medleys work fine, too. However, check the ingredients list to ensure that there isn't any sodium, onions, or any other unhealthy food for dogs.
After you chop your vegetables, you can prepare the rice according to the instructions on the package.
As that's going, brown the ground meat until it's well-done without any pink.
Drain the fat and let it cool.
To cook your vegetables, you can either boil or steam them.
Boiling is usually the more straightforward option. Cook the vegetables long enough until everything is soft enough to pierce with a fork.
Once everything cools down, finishing the meal is as simple as combining the ingredients. The finished product should be a colorful mash of meat, rice, and veggies.
Creation portions and serve it up.
These recipes can go a long way in keeping your dog healthy.
Living with kidney disease isn't easy. But it's possible with your help and support. Your dog can continue living happily despite the chronic nature of renal failure.
Work with your doctor to discuss your dog's dietary needs. Be vigilant, and you may be able to keep the adverse effects of this horrible disease to a minimum.