Kidney Disease in Pets
It’s estimated that over half of all pet cats over the age of 10 suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is also often referred to as chronic renal disease or chronic renal failure.
The following information is meant as a general guideline, and has been researched from other sources.
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.
Generally speaking, kidney disease involves any insult (do harm) to the kidneys. If the insult continues, the kidneys can experience failure. Kidney failure can be divided into either acute or chronic failure.
As stated by Dr Messonnier [ref], acute failure can occur in dogs and cats of any age, although most commonly younger pets are affected. Acute failure can occur from a number of causes. Prerenal causes (not directly involving damage to the kidney) of acute failure include low blood pressure, low blood volume, heart failure, and certain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and ACE inhibitors such as enalapril.
Renal causes (involving direct damage to the kidneys) include intrinsic kidney diseases, toxins that directly attach the kidneys (such as antifreeze poisoning or aminoglycoside antibiotics), cancer of the kidney, kidney trauma (kidney stones, direct trauma), congenital disorders (polycystic kidney disease, renal cortical hypoplasia), and infections (leptospirosis in dogs, feline infectious peritonitis in cats). Postrenal causes (involving a blockage or urine outflow from the kidneys or bladder) or acute failure include bladder stones, urethral stones, bladder cancer, and feline lower urinary tract disease (including urinary tract obstruction that is most commonly seen in male cats).
When kidney failure is acute, symptoms come on quickly and are often severe. The top three to watch for are:
- Complete loss of appetite
- Marked lethargy
Other symptoms you might notice:
- Straining to urinate and decreased urine production
- Physical weakness; loss of coordination
Acute renal failure is a very serious, life-threatening situation and fast action is required if there is to be any hope of saving your dog’s life.
Please Note: As stated by Dr Becker, the food you feed your fur kids with chronic renal failure is critically important for disease management and overall well-being. A reduced amount of high-quality protein and high moisture content are essential, but phosphorus intake must be restricted. Since phosphorus is found primarily in high protein food sources, you can quickly see the need for expert guidance on how to best nourish your pet.
Your integrative / holistic vet [see our independent directory] is your best resource for advice on the right diet for your pet’s condition, and also what supplements, medications if necessary, and other therapies will help sustain your dog’s health and quality of life.
Not every cause of canine kidney failure is known or understood, nor can every case of acute renal - or chronic renal failure be prevented. However, there are a number of things within your control that can go a long way toward promoting the health and longevity of your precious pup’s vital kidney function.
- Many situations of acute renal failure can be prevented by ensuring dogs are kept safely away from toxic substances like antifreeze, heavy metals, rat poison and other pesticides, common household medicines, and certain foods and plants.
- Any dog with a bacterial infection, urinary obstruction or other illness that could lead to compromised kidney function should receive proper treatment, the sooner the better.
- Limiting the drugs, vaccines and surgical procedures your pet is subjected to throughout her life will reduce the amount of toxins her liver and kidneys must process. Kidney failure in elderly dogs is usually the result of worn out organs. The less stress on your pet’s kidneys, the longer they’ll do their job effectively.
- Feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet instead of commercial pet food will supply your dog’s body with the fundamental nutrition he requires for the health of every organ and system in his body, including his kidneys. Low quality, highly processed pet foods – in particular dry kibble, which lacks the moisture content and quality protein pets need -- are being linked to many of the degenerative diseases seen in pets today.
The information provided in this article does not provide or offer medical advice for you or your fur kids. The content we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your doctor or veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition for your fur kids. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site, in this document or those we reference.
Before feeding a pet with a medical condition one of our natural diets,
please check with your veterinarian first to make sure the diet does not
compromise your pet’s health care.
Principle Natural Solutions
- Natural diet, omega-3 fatty acids
Supporting Natural Solutions
- Astragalus, burdock, dandelion leaf, echinacea, garlic, Ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, hawthorn, marshmallow, B vitamins, glandular supplements.
Additional Articles and Videos
Good reference articles & videos further reading available at:
- Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, by Dr. Shawn Messonnier (Amazon) or Google Books (Google);
- Dr Peter Dobias wrote an excellent blog article (Dr Pet Dobias) regarding holistic approach to kidney disease treatment.
- A collection of articles by Mary Straus (Dogaware)
- Canine Diet For Kidney Failure by Dogs Naturally (Dogs Naturally Magazine)
- Canine Kidney Failure: Causes, Treatment and Prevention, by Dr Karen Becker (Mercola)
- Two Innocent Mistakes That Could Set the Stage for Kidney Disease, by Dr Karen Becker (Mercola)
- Your Pet's Kidney Failure — Where's It Really Coming From?, by Dr Karen Becker (Mercola)
- This Slow Progression of Dying Is Often Masked Till It's Too Late, by Dr Karen Becker (Mercola)
Dr Karen Becker discusses chronic kidney failure in pets (YouTube)