Nutritional Needs of Your Pets - Part 4 Kidney Problems

We recently started a new series intended to take a deeper look at special diets for your pets. So far, we have examined:

  1. Dietary needs based on age
  2. Special diets for food allergies and overweight pets 
  3. Protein requirements for your pet. 

Today we’re going to turn our attention to special diets for kidney issues.

Kidney issues

Your pet’s kidneys perform many critical functions in their body, just like the kidneys do for humans. You can’t survive without kidneys and neither can your pet. The kidneys act as a filter of the blood, removing waste and toxins from the body. They also help regulate and manage blood pressure and stimulate the bone marrow to make more red blood cells. 

Your pet’s kidneys may get damaged or develop kidney disease and begin to fail from a number of factors:

  1. Ingesting toxins such as anti-freeze
  2. Lyme Disease
  3. Trauma such as broken pelvis or punctured bladder
  4. Genetics
  5. Advancing age
  6. Cancer

Early diagnosis is critical to survival rates from kidney disease. The most common early warning signals are a change in water consumption, more frequent urination, loss of appetite and general listlessness or depression. You should immediately see your vet if your pet displays these signs. Better to be safe than sorry. 

Your vet will do a CBC (Complete Blood Count) analysis and a urine test. The results of these preliminary testing may lead to additional test or a diagnosis of something simpler like a urinary tract infection.

If your pet is diagnosed with kidney disease, their nutritional requirements should be evaluated.

Nutritional Requirements

Treating a pet with kidney disease is about managing the build up of toxins in their body since their kidneys aren’t functioning properly. With that objective in mind, you need to be aware of and concerned with the following:

  1. Ensure they are getting the appropriate nutrients in their diet. Remember they may lose their appetite and may even vomit, but it’s critical that they get adequate nutrition.
  2. Monitor their hydration intake and make sure they get enough to drink. Feeding a canned or moist food and adding water to their food can help. Make sure they always have plenty of clean water available.
  3. Protein level adjustments may be called for. Proteins are processed by and excreted through the kidneys, so high levels of protein can build up and cause additional problems such as proteinuria. Decreasing the level of protein in their diet lightens the load on the kidneys but it can lead to other issues as our pets require a high level of protein in their diet for their general health. Any change in protein levels should be recommended and monitored by your vet.
  4. Phosphorous should also be restricted in their diet as it can build up if not excreted by the kidneys. This can lead to poor appetite and lethargy.

There are pet foods specifically designed for pets with kidney issues. These may be a good option for your pet but be sure and thoroughly discuss with your vet and READ THE LABEL so you know the ingredients. As always, the fewer, known ingredients the better to make sure it’s a good healthy food.


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