Around 1% of all dogs and cats in the United States will experience renal disease at some point in their lives. The sad fact is that while chronic renal failure cannot be reversed or cured, treatment through nutrition can be an effective way to reduce contributing factors and symptoms as well as slow its progression. This is where we come in; Bend Pet Express has long believed that nutrition can be a powerful and effective tool in not only staying healthy but also achieving a high state of health after almost any sickness.

Due to the fact that there are so many potential paths to renal failure there are a number of important things to consider when trying to achieve health through nutrition. Hydration, phosphate content, and types of proteins are major concerns and I’ll address each below.

Kidney failure is notoriously dehydrating, so a high moisture content food is ideal. A typical kibble will be comprised of about 10% moisture. Raw, canned or rehydrated food on the other hand are around 80%! Dogs have the ability to supplement their food based moisture intake by drinking water from a bowl. Cats on the other hand have evolved to get all of their water from the food they eat. So transitioning to a raw or canned food diet is going to a requirement for our feline friends.

A low phosphate content is also important to prevent further damage.

As for protein, we are starting to see a change in the generally accepted view that low protein diets are essential. The idea has always been that a high protein diet will cause a high nitrogen load on the kidneys. However, as more research is being done on this disease we are starting to see that some proteins are easier to digest than others. Its these tough to digest proteins that drive the load on the kidneys.

What Does the Staff @ BPE Suggest?

Raw Food Diet

My biggest recommendation would be a raw food diet. Fresh proteins are so much easier for dogs to digest and break down, and lack the binders (that create far more work for the kidney to filter) found in kibble. Even if it’s only a portion of your pup’s diet, I would highly recommend supplementing some raw! You may or may not know that we’ve got an excellent return policy, so please let someone here at either store know if you want to try something out. My personal recommendation would be Nature’s Variety or Primal. We do have a number of additional raw options but these two are my favorite due to the lack of added vitamins and minerals. Some of our dehydrated mixes have also come up as low phosphate options – adding Sojos or Honest Kitchen veggie mixes to a raw or lightly cooked poultry would be a great start.

Dehydrated or Canned

My second and third recommendations would be a low phosphate canned, and then dry food. In store we carry FirstMate brand Ocean Fish kibble, which falls under the lower phosphate threshold. It’s hard to do research on canned food to determine the phosphate levels because they are not usually listed, but a canned food that is mostly meat (and poultry as it is considered easier to digest) would be the best starting point. You can even start right away with things you have at home right now like eggs or unpasteurized dairy products.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, chronic renal failure can’t be reversed, but the progression can be slowed and we can reduce the severity of the symptoms through nutrition. While I hope you never have to experience renal failure in your furry friends at home know that we are here to help.

Come on in and let’s figure out a customized approach to your specific situation!

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Stephanie Wright

Westside Manager, Bend Pet Express