Managing Chronic Canine Kidney Disease with Low Protein Dog Food

Low protein dog food can help manage the symptoms of chronic canine kidney disease by reducing the work load facing the kidneys as it filters waste products from your dog's body. Though there is no cure for chronic kidney disease, the symptoms can be more easily managed this way.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is often caused simply by the natural aging process. As your dog gets older, his kidney doesn't function as well and isn't as effective at removing the waste products from your dog's digestive system. Once your dog's kidney function has reached less than 75 percent, it's called chronic renal failure.

Chronic kidney disease can also be caused by infection, heart disease, diabetes or trauma. Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, weakness, vomiting, depression, diarrhea or constipation, dark tongue, ammonia smell in breath or pain around the kidneys.

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, visit a veterinarian for a definitive diagnosis since these symptoms can also be caused by other illnesses. Kidney disease is usually diagnosed through a blood panel and urinalysis.

Treatment of Kidney Disease

Since there is no cure for kidney disease, treatment is based on relieving your dog's physical symptoms. This could be done with steroids, pills that reduce nausea, supplements and/or a diet change. It's also important to change your dog's water frequently and make sure he has access to fresh water at all times.

When changing your dog's diet, veterinarians often recommend a diet low in protein, phosphorous and sodium, which will help your dog more easily process food and eliminate waste products. However, many veterinarians find this counter-intuitive because dogs need a certain amount of protein in their diet.

The most important thing to remember is to select a high-quality diet, many of which are available with reduced protein. Many low-protein foods make up for the calories with cheap fillers that your dog can't process. This will make your dog's kidneys work even harder since those foods have very little nutritional value.

Instead, seek foods that have high-quality protein and grain sources in the first three ingredients. Avoid foods that have corn, wheat and meat byproducts, which can't be digested even by healthy dogs. Also avoid foods with preservatives and food coloring since those need to be removed through the kidneys anyway.

High Quality Senior Food

Many dog food companies provide high quality foods that are high in protein, usually through their senior formulas. Though there are many quality varieties, look for brands such as Orijen, Innova, Canidae, Solid Gold and Natural Balance.

For example, Solid Gold produces Holistique, which consists of 18 percent protein and only 6 percent fat, much less than many quality foods. The top ingredients are oatmeal, barley, millet, ocean fish and potatoes. It also contains healthy oils, herbs, kelp, lentils and fruits such as blueberries, cranberries and apples.

Natural Balance's reduced calorie formula has 16.5 percent protein and 6 percent fat, consisting of brown rice, chicken, salmon meal, lamb meal, barley, potato, carrots and other supplements and healthy oils.

Reducing the protein and improving the quality of your dog's food can reduce the amount of work his kidneys have to do, which can ease the symptoms of chronic kidney disease and help your dog feel better.