Suggested Low Protein Dog Foods

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Low protein dog foods can be controversial. Even though many veterinarians advise against feeding higher protein diets, recent research appears to support their safety — even for senior dogs with minor kidney issues.

Prescribing Low Protein Dog FoodIn two published studies of dogs with kidney disease, researchers concluded…

“Results do not support the hypothesis that feeding a high protein diet had a significant adverse effect on renal function”.1

In another study, older dogs were divided into two groups.

One group was fed a low protein diet and the other a high protein diet for the next four years.

“Results of this study indicated there were no adverse effects from the high protein diet and mortality (death rate) was actually higher in the low protein group”.2

Does a High Protein Diet
Cause Kidney Disease?

The Veterinary and Aquatic Services Department of Drs. Foster and Smith addresses what it refers to as a false rumor regarding high protein diets:3

“High protein pet foods are NOT harmful to a normal animal’s kidneys. As an animal’s body digests and metabolizes protein, nitrogen is released as a by-product.

“The excess nitrogen is excreted by the kidneys. A high protein diet produces more nitrogen by-products and the kidneys simply excrete the nitrogen in the urine.

“While you may think this would ‘overwork’ the kidneys and lead to possible kidney damage, this is not true. The kidney’s filtering capabilities are so great that even one kidney is sufficient to sustain a normal life.”

Better Quality Protein
Fewer Nitrogen By-Products

So, then, why do so many veterinarians still believe a high protein diet is dangerous to older dogs and kidney health?

“The myth that high protein diets are harmful to kidneys probably started because, in the past, patients with kidney disease were commonly placed on low protein (and thus low nitrogen) diets.

“Now, we often put them on a diet that is not necessarily very low in protein, but contains protein that is more digestible so there are fewer nitrogen by-products.”

Restrict Phosphorus
Not Protein

Animals with impaired kidney function are reported to do better by restricting phosphorus intake. However, limiting phosphorus on a preventive basis is not likely to delay the onset of kidney disease or benefit healthy older dogs.4

Drs. Foster and Smith conclude:5

“Unless your veterinarian has told you your pet has a kidney problem and it is severe enough to adjust the protein intake, you can feed your pet a high protein diet without worrying about ‘damaging’ or ‘stressing’ your pet’s kidneys.”

Apparently, one of the few justifications for a restricted protein diet is very high urinary nitrogen and elevated urinary protein.6

Or certain types of liver disease, such as hepatic encephalopathy.

The Bottom Line

Due to our respect for a dog’s natural carnivorous bias, it’s no secret the Advisor openly favors dog foods rich in quality meat protein.

However, we also recognize there are special situations or medical conditions where a high protein diet can have a negative impact on kidney health.

For this reason, we have prepared a list of suggested low protein dog foods.

To make the list, suggested products must meet two conditions.

They must be rated three stars or higher by the Advisor. And they must contain no more than 23% dry matter protein.

Please be aware we have made no effort to determine the actual phosphorus content of these products.

Did We Miss One?

Of course, this list should not be considered a complete catalog of all the low protein foods on the market.

For there are many others.

We only provide this group as a starting point for your research.

As a matter of fact, if you know of a specific dog food you believe we should have included on this list, please feel free to share your recommendations in the Comments section below.

Or if you’re looking for some suggestions yourself, be sure to look through our readers’ Comments to find more good ideas.

Suggested Low Protein Dog Foods

A Final Word

This article is designed to help you make a more informed decision when choosing dog food. However, it is certainly not our intention to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific health benefit for your pet.

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt consult a veterinarian for help.

  1. Bovee, KC, Influence of Dietary Protein on Renal Function in Dogs, Waltham International Symposium on Nutrition of Small Companion Animals, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, on September 4–8, 1990
  2. Finco DR, Brown SA, Crowell WA, et al, Effects of aging and dietary protein intake on uninephrectomized geriatric dogs, Am J Vet Res 1994; 55:1282
  3. Drs. Foster and Smith, “Are High Protein Diets Harmful to a Dog’s Kidneys?
  4. Thorpe-Vargas S, Cargill JC, Fortify the Food Bowl for the Aging Canine
  5. Drs. Foster and Smith, Ibid
  6. Straus, Mary, Is a Low-Protein Diet Desirable or Necessary for Dogs with Kidney Disease?
  • Michelle Gullion

    Thanks for this. I am in a similar situation. My Shih Tzu has kidney problems since birth. My biggest struggle has been what food to feed him. Its frustrating. I had one Vet trying to sell me the food they get kick back. I have him on Buffalo now & my current Vet told me to switch but didn’t make a suggestion at this time to what. He just had his eye removed and she doesn’t want me to change his food until after he is healed. Thanks again.

  • Michelle Gullion

    Science Diet kept my dog alive for many years. I understand your concern though. This has been one of my biggest struggles as a dog owner, which food to feed them. I have my new dog on Buffalo and I was told to switch. Ugh.

  • Ann

    I have 3 out of 4 of my dachshunds on the Royal Canin SD formula….it stinks of corn but they like it. I’m using the lower calorie formula and don’t follow the suggested feeding amounts because my dogs started gaining weight. I feel like I am starving them! I hate that they have to eat this crap! But it cost me close to 4K in vet bills and bladder stone surgery so I’m sticking with it but I will try the berries. I used Solid Gold Berry Balance from Chewy.com in the past, along with cranberry capsules (from my local pharmacy) so maybe I should get back with that, along with look for some of that d-mannose. My dachshunds don’t take sudden food changes well at all but I would like to try them back on a good 4/5 star food and the supplements but I worry because they are doing really well on the Royal Canin (except for not losing weight)

  • Meg Forrest

    Those are pretty good. The weight one has just about what I want with the .6% phosphorus and 21% protein. But the K/D still has lower numbers, so even my holistic vet recommended that plus kidney support from standard process. I wish I could find something better than K/D, but so far no luck. Wellness comes pretty close so thanks for the link.

  • sue66b

    Hi Stacey, If you scroll up a bit I posted a link to Wellness foods, The “Wellness Simple” Duck & Oatmeal & Lamb & Oatmeal is low in Protein & low fat also has higher calories to gain weight..& it is easier on their stomach as it digest easy, I soak in water for 2-3 mins then drain the water it soften the kibble..

  • sue66b

    Hi Meg, Have you looked at the Wellness range, Wellpet makes Eagle Pack, Holistic Select & Wellness…Im trying the “Wellness Simple” Lamb & Oatmeal, here’s a link to have a look at the Wellness Complete Health, Small Breed, Core-(Grainfree) & Simple…
    http://www.wellnesspetfood.com/recipes.aspx?pet=dog&ft=1#Complete

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Yeah I know what you mean. However, they are merged because all the formulas are similar enough to have earned the same rating therefore it doesn’t make sense to break down each individually. If any individual formula differs enough from the others in the product line that it merits a different rating that rating will be in parenthesis after that formula or, if the difference is significant enough, it will have an entirely different review.

    So, in the case of Eagle Pack, you can see that as a whole the line is 4 stars. However, the lamb meal & brown rice and large & giant breed puppy have earned slightly lower ratings of 3.5 (likely due to lower protein content) and the small breed and power adult have earned slightly higher ratings, 4.5 and 5 stars respectively (higher protein).

  • Meg Forrest

    Ok, I see what you’re saying. It’s not entirely helpful to have them merged because they are only breaking down one food and I need the other two. But I looked on Eagle Pack’s website and my bag to get info on those two specific foods.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    If you click on the link in the above article (which I’m assuming is what you were referring to in your OP) it takes you to an outdated review. At the top of that outdated review you’ll see it says: “This Review Has Been Merged with Eagle Pack Dog Food (Dry).” Eagle Pack (Dry) appears as a link and if you click it you’ll be taken to the current review. :)

  • Meg Forrest

    Are you talking about reviews on here or on Eagle Pack’s website? I got a little lost in your comment :) I wasn’t sure what you meant by “read the top” – after I click on the link here, or on Eagle Pack’s website?

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Meg –

    The link above is to an outdated review. If you read the top you’ll see that the Eagle Pack Reduced-Fat formula was merged with the other Eagle Pack reviews (there’s a link that takes you to the latest review). Eagle Pack reformulated their products fairly recently, these changes are reflected in the updated review.

  • Meg Forrest

    I was just on Eagle Pack’s website, and according to their information, there is 24% protein in the reduced fat diet, although you list 23%. However, the lamb and rice diet lists 23% protein, so it seems that is a better choice for less protein.

  • Doris Klein Wiles

    My Dals did very well on Nature’s Recipe Vegetarian, but the formula has changed over the last 7 years. Check for the latest info on http://www.thedca.org/dal_book.pdf

  • Stacey Asbell

    Our 16 yo poodle is suffering both from renal failure (likely stage 3–we’re about to start sub-Q fluids) and pancreatitis and has been prescribed a low protein, low fat homemade diet with rice as the base and very small portions of chicken, corn oil and fish oil. We toss in pieces of apple, too and occasionally add sweet potato. Unfortunately she’s just not happy, seems bored, and has lost considerable weight. She has also been prescribed a mineral powder (Balance IT) but hates it, so we’re leaving that out of her diet just to get her to eat. Are there any low fat AND low protein commercial foods on the market? Any other ideas for her? She is on an intense drug regimen, too, treats with a skilled internist whom we trust but we don’t want to presume he knows it all. We want her to be as happy as possible while preserving her health at s long as we can. Thank you.

  • Carrie varnell

    We have a silver lab and when she had a litter of puppies, she delivered half and then had to have an emergency c -section. In the process the vet found she had only one kidney. She has always ate science diet. Can you tell me the best food for her or does it matter?

    Thank you
    Carrie

  • April Diette

    Hello,

    I am having similar trouble with my dog. He is a Dalmatian mix but is having all the problems of a Dalmatian. His body cant break down uric acid so he gets bladder stones. He is on allopurinol for it but he also has allergies which is giving him bacterial problems with his skin that they call bronzing. The vet recommended the Science Diet food as they seemed to do for many of you but the stuff is not acceptable to me. It may help his condition but I dont think it is nutritionally acceptable and it smells bad. If anyone knows of a food that I can buy over the counter please let me know. I really cant afford $80 a bag as he is a 90lb dog and I dont have the time to cook for him. Any suggestions are appreciated.

    Thanks

  • Shawna

    Unfortunately the sales person at your dog food store gave you incorrect information. Canned foods show a lower protein amount than kibbled foods because of the increased water content. However to compare apples to apples, you have to convert the wet food to “dry matter basis”. When this is done canned foods almost always have more (and sometimes significantly more) protein than do kibbled foods. In Mike’s review of Whole Earth Farms canned Chicken and Turkey recipe the protein amount, when converted to dry matter, is actually pretty high at 43%. http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/whole-earth-farms-dog-food-canned/

    That said, canned (or wet) foods are much better for the kidneys then dry foods. Also, restricting the protein in a kd dog’s diet won’t do anything to help the kidneys but it does help with symptom control.

    If you like to read, dogaware.com has some really great info on helping kd dogs. There’s a list of dry, canned and dehyrated (that you add water to before serving) and frozen foods that are lower in phosphorus w/ varying amounts of protein. Even though the author lists kibbled foods, I again have to highly recommend avoiding them. My pup, the one in my avatar, has had kidney disease since birth. She is now eight years old and has been on a high protein, raw diet since coming to me at nine weeks of age. In that eight years she has rarely shown any symptoms other than drinking and urinating lots but if I give her kibble she has does get ill and I have to give her supplements for several days after to help clean her blood.. Anyway, here’s the link to the list of foods :) http://www.dogaware.com/health/kidneynonprescription.html

  • Drew Sanders

    My dog has recently been diagnosed with kidney disease with a very high creatinine and BUN. He’s not been given very long to live, but as long as we can keep him eating and happy, we’d like to keep him going. The animal hospital recommended a K/D diet, which is low in protein and phosphorous, but when I went to our dog food store, they argued that Science Diet and other K/D dog foods had alot of grain and weren’t really good. Her recommendation was to use a grain-free canned food, which she claimed had less protein than the K/D stuff. We ended up with Whole Earth Farms canned food, which had only an 8% or 8.5% protein on the can, but it doesn’t say much about phosphorous. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • Shawna

    Dr. Barbara Royal created a raw dog food for kd dogs that is sold through Darwin’s. I would highly recommend looking at this food (at least as things progress). Veterinary nutritionist Dr. Meg Smart has some info on her blog (the protein amounts are quite a bit less than my Audrey has eaten for her eight years and less than I’ve seen recommended by others) http://petnutritionbysmart.blogspot.com/2013/02/home-made-diets-and-renal-disese-in.html

    Nutritionist Lew Olson fed her Rottie with kd a raw diet and has info on her site b-naturals. http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/kidney-diet/

    And Mary Straus has some great info on her website dogaware. http://dogaware.com/health/kidney.html

    Of course there is risk in any situation but if you are feeding quality meats and if your pup has a strong immune system the risks are significantly lessened.

    The BUN shouldn’t increase any more on raw than on cooked (and in theory should increase less than when eating the same amount of cooked protein). As the BUN rises, no matter the diet, you can add a HIGH QUALITY probiotic and an appropriate prebiotic which will help clean the BUN out of the blood via the colon (this is referred to as “nitrogen trapping”). I use Primal Defense probiotic and Sprinkle Fiber by Fiber35 for the prebiotic. Works really well for Audrey. :)

  • http://mgdd.pl/blog Magda

    Hello again! I keep feeding my dog homemade food which contains cooked meat, rice and vegetables. I remember to keep the phosphorous low. My dog feels very well, BUN and creatinine is still normal. Now I wonder if 100% raw food would be better for him… Could you recommend any useful articles about raw food for CKD dogs that I can prepare by myself? Are there any dangers? What to do when the BUN began to increase while eating raw? Thank you very much!

  • Dawn Vipond

    Can you make suggestions for a low phosphorous diet?

  • Shawna

    Hi Ann,

    Blueberries are also good at helping prevent UTI’s if you ever need to mix things up for your pups. And a product called d-mannose is very good at removing UTI causing e-coli from the urinary tract. D-mannose is one of the active ingredients in cranberries but in a more concentrated form. A vet I know recommends “pulsing” with d-mannose in dogs that have recurring UTI’s. Give it with food for one week each month.

    If the UTI’s are the only reason for feeding a prescription diet, you likely could feed a regular higher protein 4 or 5 star food using the cranberries, blueberries and at least pulsing with d-mannose.

    If you can find a canned food they like that would be ideal as the extra moisture will help flush the urinary tract. Since they have mobility issues they may not get enough fluids??

  • Kimberly Nordaune

    Royal Canin DOES make a urinary tract kibble. I just started my rat terrier senior girl on it. I’m with you regarding science diet – I HATE it!!

  • robertaruth

    My vet recommended, and I have found that Royal Canin works best as a temporary fix for digestive problems, so I’d check out whether they make one for urinary tract.

    For my collie’s regular diet, though, I feed Orijen — expensive, but I haven’t been to the vet for any more digestive problems since starting it, so money saved. Besides, you use less because it’s better food.

  • Ann

    I need an alternative to Hill’s Prescription Diet for urinary tract issues. I own 2 dachshunds with spinal issues…one is paralyzed from the waist back and every time I put him on any dry kibble, he gets a UTI. My other dachshund has a spinal injury, underwent surgery and has function but is very “wonky” in her rear legs, as if she doesn’t have a rudder or balance for her back end. She has begun peeing around the house, as if needing to go surprises her and she will squat and go before she gets outside. She had a UTI and that’s clear now but I have her on cranberry to help keep her urine clear.

    Hills PD is against everything I feel is important and healthy in a dog’s diet. Besides being extremely expensive to feed, I hate feeding them corn and this gloopy mess out of a can. Both enjoy kibble. I just can’t find one that fits the bill.

    Help?

  • Shawna

    Hi Kay,

    Things besides chronic kidney disease can cause elevated values — such as dehydration. Were any other tests done (like urine specific gravity or a urine culture)? Was just BUN on the high side of normal or was creatinine a bit high too? Are you seeing symptoms like excessive drinking and urine output? Was there protein in the urine? Did your vet do just the one blood eval or did you go back for a recheck? What food were you feeding before the blood eval? Raw diets can cause a slightly elevated BUN due to the higher protein and this is normal and not a problem with the kidneys. Dr. Jean Dodds DVM has some info on it.

    The pup pictured in my avatar started showing symptoms of kidney disease (excessive drinking and urine) when she was about six weeks old. She was officially diagnosed a month after her one year birthday. Her BUN and creatinine were above normal and all the other tests were done. She, Audrey, has been on high protein raw since she was weaned. She also gets a small amount of canned food — I use Weruva, Merrick, Earthborn Primitive Natural Tubs, tripette and a few others. I also use some dehydrated foods and dehydrated premixes with raw meat. The only food I would try to avoid at all cost is any kibble or dry diet.

    If there really is something going on with the kidneys, you’ll want to avoid ALL vaccinations, flea/tick meds and heartworm preventatives. You’ll want to make sure she ALWAYS has access to filtered water. You’ll want to give enzymes with her meals as well as give her a very high quality probiotic and a specific kind of prebiotic (they act as a “nitrogen trap” and help eliminate some of the BUN via the colon. There is also a fantastic supplement for kd made by Standard Process called Canine Renal Support. It is something Audrey has been on since her diagnosis. There is really A LOT you can do to help your girl but first I would make sure she really is in the beginning of chronic kidney disease. I would also get copies of ALL of her vet records and have them on hand. If you ever need to see an emergency vet (for any reason) or if your vet is on vacation and you need to take her in or you decide to switch vets or whatever — get copies and keep them.

    My Audrey is also 9 pounds and is 1/2 Chihuahua, 1/4 Boston Terrier and 1/4 Poodle. Oh, and she’ll be 8 years old in 6 weeks and still going strong.

  • sharel mitchell

    I really need help! I am so confused and overwhelmed with everything I am reading, and contradictory opinions.
    My sweet baby girl, Sophia has had elevated readings indicating potential kidney disease. I can’t recall the exact readings, but I know that she is still in the normal range, but it is the high normal (if that makes sense). So the vet prescribed the awful prescription kibble, which I found out was awful, and then I switched her to raw. She loved it at first, gulping it down in two seconds flat, but then she began to not want to eat it. I switched brands to find something she would eat, and still, she was not eating well. I even found someone locally that ground up a balanced diet for his dogs, and he gave me some to try…she absolutely didn’t like it!
    So now I want to find an alternative that would be almost as healthy as the raw, but I don’t know what to try because she is very picky. Since last week, i have been giving her canned food, which she seems ot love- Weruva and Castor and Pollux – but I don’t want to keep her on these foods because I am not sure they are the best for her potential kidney issue. And this is the other issue – some people have told me that maybe her elevated readings are “normal” for her. This may be true because her readings are stable and haven’t declined, but i don’t want to take the chance of feeding her something that will have longterm negative effects on her kidneys.
    It’s been so stressful and frustrating trying to find a food that is good for her that she will happily eat, and not get tired of. Oh, I have tried SoJo’s and Grandma Lucy’s dehydrated foods that you just add water to, and she didn’t seem to be terribly pleased with these options either. She is a 4 year shih tzu, 9 pounds and is truly my little love, so I would really appreciate any ideas or guidance you can provide. Thanks!

  • monika

    My Chihuahua has liver/kidney problems & the vet recommended Hills prescription diet which is not a quality dog food. After a lot of research just today we bought Honest Kitchen Keen Turkey dehydrated food to which you just add water, reviews are great and i checked their Nutrition labels: low protein, low phosphorus, etc. I gave it to her for dinner and she went nuts crying for more :)
    Eggs (egg yolks) are extremely high in phosphorus so i wouldn’t give your dog any at all, maybe a little bit of the egg whites only.
    We’ll give it a try and see how the results turn out in a couple of months but i have a good feeling about this one.

  • monika

    My Chihuahua has liver/kidney problems & the vet recommended Hills prescription diet which is not a quality dog food. After a lot of research just today we bought Honest Kitchen Keen Turkey dehydrated food to which you just add water, reviews are great and i checked their Nutrition labels: low protein, low phosphorus, etc. I gave it to her for dinner and went nuts crying for more :)
    Eggs (egg yolks) are extremely high in phosphorus so i wouldn’t give your dog any at all, maybe a little bit of the egg whites only.
    We’ll give it a try and see how the results turn out in a couple of months but i have a good feeling about this one.

  • Shawna

    What stage of the disease is she in? This is important to know, to determine what the appropriate diet for her is. One food that most dogs seem to like that is good for most stages of the disease is green tripe. Raw is best but can be hard to find. Canned is the next best option.

    Will she eat home cooked or raw foods?

    Do you give her any type of probiotic and prebiotic (maybe something prescribed from the vet like azodyl and epikatin (sp?). When my pup with kd starts to feel ill I give a probiotic called Garden of Life Primal Defense and a prebiotic called Fiber 35 Sprinkle Fiber (both human products) for several days. This helps to clean the BUN etc from the blood which helps alleviate symptoms. I’ve found it VERY useful. My pup has had kidney disease for eight years (had it since birth).

    Do you give her reverse osmosis filtered or bottled water? It can really help if not.

    If you can, I would contact Mary Straus. I think her info can be found on her website http://www.dogaware.com You may be able to find some useful info on her site as well.

    If your girl is in the earlier stages(??) she may be a candidate for a diet created by Dr. Barbara Royal DVM that Darwins sells http://www.darwins.com

    PS — my dog has NEVER been on a prescription food and I personally think she is healthier for it. I would NEVER feed a kd dog dry kibble either.. If you are feeding the kibble, consider trying the KD canned diet.

    If she won’t take anything but human foods (which is what I feed my pup), give meats higher in fat which helps keep the phosphorus down and give grains like cream of wheat and sushi rice which are also both low in phosphorus. More about this can be found on Mary’s site http://www.dogaware.com/health/kidney.html

    Some have had good luck with a product made by Five Leaf Pharmacy. I haven’t used it but have personally spoke with some that have. http://caninekidneyhealth.com/

    I use, and HIGHLY recommend, a product made by Standard Process called Canine Renal Support. Their Canine Hepatic Support can be helpful too.

    I’m praying for you and your girl!!!!

  • Amy Gaskins

    I really need some help!! My precious dixie (8 year old) chocolate Lab is in Kidney failure. We have know since January. She has been battling hard and having mostly good days with a few bad ones. She has been eating the K/D food precribed by the vet. for the last week she is refusing to eat it. I don’t know what to do. We fixed her some rice and she ate that but now its like she don’t wnat to eat anything. She use to eat 2 eggs a day (vets orders) and now she won’t even eat them. She will however eat people food when offered. She is not really throwing up all the time (maybe onece a wweek) . I am desperate for some adivce. Please!

  • Gary Alan

    This article clarifies the controversy regarding low protein diets for dogs. Personally, I feed my dogs with food that is rich in protein because it is highly needed in a dog’s development. Proteins are one of the most important nutrients in a dog’s diet. They are necessary for all aspects of growth and development, and are very important in structural make up and the immune system. Plus, proteins are burned as calories and can be converted to, and stored, as fat. Fat is also needed for normal kidney processes, and to help your dog maintain a healthy coat and healthy skin.

  • maryalice1945

    richard1932

  • Fingerlerster

    The ham caused all the spamz

  • Fingerlerster

    They mock4 and bloc9k around the clock8

  • Ch

    Shawnas 47% protein diet is proven wrong I could sing a song

  • Ch

    Shawnas 47% protein diet is proven wrong I could sing a song
    Read the boove kornfeld stdy don’t believe this body.
    They misconstrue it all your dog will take the fall

  • http://mgdd.pl/blog Magda

    Thank you very much for your comment, it helped me a lot! I’ve decided to feed my dog homemade food and those articles truly helped me to compose the diet. Although I’m definitely not an expert and still have a lot to learn on this topic.

    All the best for you and your pup!

  • Shawna

    You are very very lucky that his BUN and creatinine is still normal. I don’t think that is very common. Audrey’s has always been elevated.

    In the early stages of the disease, as you’ve read, it is not important to restrict protein. In fact, they have discovered that restricting protein too much can have negative consequences. With KD it is more important to watch phosphorus but even that may not be necessary in the early stages.

    Some FANTASTIC information can be found on nutritionist Mary Straus’ website. She talks about when it is important to start restricting protein as well as phosphorus, gives some diet information etc. http://dogaware.com/health/kidney.html

    Nutritionist Lew Olson has some recipes on her website but I believe they are for later stages of the disease and may not be appropriate for your boy right now. Google “b-naturals kidney disease” if interested in checking them out.

    There are two main reasons why kibble is not good for kd dogs/cats.

    1. Kibbles are dehydrating which is not good for the kidneys. They also require more effort for the body to process making digestion harder.

    2. Dogs with kd, especially if BUN is higher than normal, should only eat “high quality” protein. Proteins that are high quality will have a better amino acid ratio and more of those amino acids will be used by the body versus becoming BUN. You’ve probably avoided abnormal BUN due to the low protein but at what expense to the rest of the body? The more protein you feed the more the BUN will likely increase but the better the “quality” of the protein the less BUN still while supplying adequate protein for the needs of the body. Read the research articles on dogaware.com about low protein.

    Anyway :), kibble has the lowest quality protein you can feed due to the extrusion process (or baking) damaging amino acids in the original protein — which lowers the overall quality.

    Darwins has a raw K/D prescription food that was designed by a holistic vet. It is HIGH protein and lower phosphorus and may be suitable for you pup.. It can be very lightly cooked as it has no bone in it if you would prefer. Even if you aren’t interested in using the diet you may find the data provided helpful as well as get an idea of what might go in to a home made diet. http://www.darwinspet.com/kidney-health/

    There are some “premixes” that could be used as well. You mix them with the meat you supply to make a complete and balanced diet.

    Good luck to you and LONG health to your boy!!!

  • http://mgdd.pl/blog Magda

    Thank you for your comment. My dog came to the shelter at the age of 2 and already had polidypsia and poliuria. He was diagnosed via ultrasonography. I feed him low protein dry food because my vet recommended that. But after reading that article I know it may be wrong… So how often can I feed him kibble and what kind? If it is so dangerous I think I can feed him homemade food, but I completely don’t know how to balance homemade diet properly…

  • Shawna

    How did they diagnose him? My pup is seven and a half and has had kidney disease since birth. Polydipsia and polyuria were recognized at six weeks of age. Kibble is the thing I will absolutely not feed her regularly. She eats raw and has since nine weeks old. The only time her symptoms get worse is if I feed her kibble more than VERY infrequently. I don’t mean to be an alarmist but I truly believe if you feed him kibble regularly you will shorten his life span considerably.

  • http://mgdd.pl/blog Magda

    My dog is 4 years old and suffers from polycysic kidney disease. I adopted him when he was 2 and he was diagnosed at this time. He has polidypsja and poliuria, but his blood tests are very good. He never had the BUN and creatinine above the normal range. Blood tests are made every three months and they are very good by now. He feels very well. What should his diet look like? I would like to feed him dry food, what do you recommend?

  • Shawna

    Sorry, yes I mean Hills. Hills makes both and I tend to just call them all SD.. Sorry again…

    So she has tried the canned food then? It is different then the kibble. For what it’s worth, I would NEVER feed a dog with kidney disease a kibbled food. Kibble is hard on already damaged kidneys. Not just the dehydration factor but also the “quality” of the protein.

    Most dogs LOVE tripe. Might be worth trying to mix tripe (which is higher in protein but lower in phosphorus) together.

  • femmedunord

    Do you mean Hill’s? Because their Science Diet line does not have kidney food. She hates the k/d.

  • aimee

    It is often referred to that way. I didn’t take the time to read this article just skimmed the conclusion but it hit the highlight of what I know about PTH

    http://www.mmh.org.tw/taitam/kid_int/Blog/Entries/2009/12/14_Dec_2009_Schedule_files/parathyroid%20hormone,%20a%20uremic%20toxin.pdf

    Your explanation isn’t bad… but not quite how I understand it. It is very very complicated I know a bit about it but details sometimes get a bit foggy. I’ll give it a go…

    There are so many feedback mechanisms and interactions involved in this so this is simplified. It was thought that the primary cause of high PTH was a decreased Ca.

    Elevated Phos complexed with ionized Ca leading to a decreased ionic calcium level which triggered a subsequent increase PTH. This draws Ca out of the bones and promoted phosphate loss in urine and stimulates calcitriol formation. Calcitriol promotes ca absorption from gut and activate osteoclasts in the bone, to elevate Ca. But kidneys can’t make calcitriol as they normally would because they are damaged. Calcitriol would normally feedback shutting off PTH secretion but this mechanism is lost. It is also thought that high Phos directly inhibits calcitriol synthesis contributing to the lack of calcitriol that causes an increased PTH.

    PTH causes increased intracellular ionic Ca which activates enzymes which damage the cell. Its effects are widespread throughout the body.

    Ok so we use binders to decrease Ph but calcitriol replacement is a key part of treating the renal patient. Because calcitriol increases gut absorption of Ca using Ca containing phos binders poses a problem. In dogs/cats using AlOH gets around this as Al doesn’t pose all the problems in dogs/cats as it does it people.

    So if chitosan was a good Ph binder I think we would have a bunch of info on its use in people but we don’t. Which is why I originally said I think it is a poor phos binder.

  • losul

    Lol, Shawna. It’s a good thing they have E-books nowadays or I imagine your library would be overflowing., like some folks dog food storage, hee.

  • Shawna

    LOL!!! No, I like where you are going with this all Losul.. I’ve don’t understand how chitosan would bind phosphorus but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t — either by itself or in conjunction..

    I liked your data on egg shell and calcium acetate also.. Googled it and got side tracked down a whole different road with the end result —- downloaded ANOTHER book that I don’t have the time to read… Ughhh It’s on vitamin k2. Something you and aimee were discussing caused a aha moment in my head and off I went… :) I still need to pull some data but the gist of it is whole foods active forms of vitamin D and some (grass fed proteins and fats as well as some fermented foods) supply k2. K2 is important in how the body uses vitamin D and calcium etc. Still more to look at but the direction it’s pointing is — eat species appropriate, whole foods. This may all be a dead end but I still believe in eating/feeding sa/whole foods.. :)

  • losul

    I’m not so sure PTH is a toxin per se. It’s my understanding that parathyroid hormone is the body’s Ca and P regulator and balancer and the body will attempt to balance high serum P levels by producing PTH, which in turns signals the body to increase serum Ca levels, even if that means “pulling” calcium from the patients’s bones. It’s the hypercalcemia (high serum Ca levels) that then so additionally damaging and “toxic” to the kidneys not to mention other organs, etc.

  • losul

    No, no don’t get my wrong. I agree with you and Aimee. Darwin’s and/or Dr. Royal chose to refer to Chitosan as a phosphorus binder in the ingredient list, which piqued my curiosity. After investigating I’ve seen no real or solid evidence of chitosan acting by itself to effectively and significantly bind phosphorus, it doesn’t mean that it does not, just that the studies are not in evidence.

    What I have seen is some decent evidence that chitosan might work in conjunction with other some substances to lower serum P, and without as many unwanted effects, i.e. the rise in PTH and the subsequent, damaging rise in serum Ca as one would expect to see with some P binders used by themselves.

    Calcium acetate by itself, has been shown to be more effective as a P binder, than calcium carbonate by itself. It would be interesting to see how a product such as Epatikan (calcium carbonate + chitosan) stacked up in performance against a product such as PhosLo (calcium acetate only)

  • femmedunord

    Don’t know about those. Thanks.

  • Shawna

    Unfortunately soy protein, even hydrolyzed, would be a really bad choice for kidney disease.. :( How is she with egg whites or tripe? Can she have Science Diet’s canned K/D food? They use egg whites as the protein source.

  • femmedunord

    Yes, I know about the proteins. Sophie has had IBD for 8 years now. However, since she was fine for years on z/d Ultra, which is made with hydrolyzed soy protein, it is a source of protein we know she does well on. She is sensitive to most proteins as far as we can tell, but she we don’t think she’s had elk or bison those years ago when she was at her worst. And now her results for her kidneys are in and it is worsening.

  • Shawna

    You don’t NEED a hydrolyzed protein with IBD. You simply just need to figure out what ingredient your dog is reacting to. Chicken causes colitis, a form of IBD, in my Pomeranian.

    Also, kidney diets are designed for the later stages of the disease. My dog has had kidney disease since birth and will be eight years old this coming June and has never yet eaten a diet for kidney disease. She’s actually eaten high protein raw her whole life.

  • femmedunord

    It turns out that there is no commercial food that is for kidney disease and with the hydrolyzed protein for IBD, but I will be able to consult with a vet. nutritionist and hopefully get a diet plan for her that will work.

  • aimee

    I agree there are no reports of chitosan alone lowering phosphorous.

    I did find those studies but they both have confounding variables.

    In the iron/chitosan I don’t see how we can conclude the chitosan bound any phosphorus. It serves as a Fe doner which binds P, just as Ca, Mg and Al do.. all cations. Preceding the part you copied is this: “Because iron(III) chitosan had a high phosphorus-binding
    capacity of 308 (mg P) per gram of Fe3+ … Note phos bound / gram Fe..

    In the other study was the effect from the DAC or the chitosan or both?

    Most telling to me is the renal study in which patients were taking 45 chitosan tablets a day…. no mention of the treatment effect on phos. You’d have to buy the article to see if it was measured but I can’t imagine that it wasn’t as phos measurement is standard in renal patients.

    Chitosan may lower Bun/Creat, blinded studies are the gold standard in research. Bun/ and less so creat can vary with diet so Hawthorne effect could play a role???

    I could “but into” chitosan lowering bun/creat more that I see it as a phos binder.

    Also note that all the minerals that chitosan bound as reported in the piece I linked to are all cations…. which gives a clue as to it’s chemical tendencies.. Hmmm

  • aimee

    PTH is a uremic toxin. As I recall it increases intracellular Ca leading to cell death. Kidney cells are especially sensitive to PTH. Goal is to control PTH to prevent further cell death in the kidneys along with other reasons why PTH control is critical to kidney patients. Calcitriol is used in renal patients to control PTH but can only be used if P is controlled.

  • Shawna

    Good finds Losul!!

    I get how chitosan works to clear BUN / creatinine as it is a prebiotic acts as a nitrogen trap when utilized with the right probiotics. But I really had no idea it also acted as a phosphorus binder….?

  • losul

    we know about calcium as a phosphorus binder, not as much about chitosan, at least not by itself. Info on that is harder to come by.

    Iron/chitosan complex is effective phosphate binder in rats.

    “it is an efficient phosphate binder for lowering serum phosphate levels without increasing serum calcium levels.”

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1211/0022357001774552/abstract

    —————

    Pharmacological properties of chitosan-coated dialdehyde cellulose (chitosan DAC), a newly developed oral adsorbent (II). Effect of chitosan DAC on rats with chronic renal failure induced by adriamycin.

    ” In contrast, chitosan DAC-treatment showed marked prolongation of the survival period and decreases in blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, and serum phosphate.”

    http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/7557738/reload=0;jsessionid=6rCAdp5kMrfQlQqAFdbV.2

    ——————–

    Aimee, In the link you gave they say this;

    “People with kidney failure experience numerous health problems, including anemia, fatigue, and loss of appetite. In one open study , researchers tested chitosan supplements in 80 people with kidney failure receiving ongoing hemodialysis treatment. Half the participants were given 45 mg tablets for a total of about 1,500 mg of chitosan daily for 12 weeks; the other half were not given a supplement. 32 Those in the treatment group showed a significant decrease in urea and creatinine levels. Further, they had a rise in hemoglobin levels and reported improved overall strength, appetite, and sleep.”

    But the piece poo pooed it, saying double blind studies were not done. I don’t see how any placebo effect could really affect measured decreases in urea and creatinine and increase in hemoglobin. The subjects reports of improvement yes, I could completely discount that. I could not find the report they speak of though.

  • losul

    Also it’s said that calcium acetate is even more effective a binder than calcium carbonate. Calcium acetate can be prepared by soaking/dissolving calcium carbonate/eggshells in vinegar. I do this sometimes. Darwin’s already contains some ACV.

    there should be lots of info or studies on this, here is one;

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8897570

  • losul

    I couldn’t say how much effect could be contributed to each component.

    I’m not sure what normal serum PTH numbers are, but it looks to me like the calcium carbonate/chitosan lowered it (PTH) some 65%.

    I believe that the concerns with elevated PTH are higher serum calcium levels (hypercalcemia). I think this study showed no increased serum Ca.

  • aimee

    That is the study i was referring to on my comment to Shawna that Epakitin did lower Phos levels. Was that a chitisan effect or a Ca carbonate effect or both??

    An important point though is that the reason phos control is important is to prevent elevation of PTH. In that study all PTH levels remained above normal.

  • losul

    It may bind with phosphorus as much or even more so as the other minerals. In the piece you linked, it talks yes about binding other minerals as a CONCERN for deficiency. It might not mention phosphorus specifically in this regard, as phosphorus is usually way overabundant in the diet, at least the prominent human diet in this country) Phosphorus deficiencies are rare, I believe.

    Below is a study from the University of Georgia. It used the Epakitin as a phosphate binder. It appears the Epakitin was effective for cats in stage 1 and stage 2. Not so for later stages, if I’m reading correctly (the diet needed to be changed to a lower P diet). There is also supposed to be a study from the University of Vienna, haven’t found that one yet.

    http://jarvm.com/articles/Vol6Iss3/BrownVol6Iss3155-160.pdf

    Here is epakitin’s claims to fame

    http://www.vetoquinolusa.com/PDF/Epakitin_sheet.pdf

    On another note, I talked about calcium’s antagonizing action with phosphorus (binding) and vice versa last week in replies to Phosphorus Joe. It’s one very good reason the calcium must be supplied in the proper ratios to phosphorus. I cringe everytime people post their homemade recipes with no mention of bone or added calcium. There’s actually a complex of minerals/vitamins that work either synergistically or antagonistically, (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, boron, vitamin D and K, potassium, even sodium.)

  • aimee

    Whats weird is that in regard to minerals I found safety concerns about calcium binding but not much on phosphorus binding. http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21656

    Were vets misled?? …It does have Ca carbonate as the main ingredient which is used as a phos binder and there is a study supporting that it lowered phos levels.

    If using Epakitin, ike anything in kidney management I’d guess you have to monitor the effect on the individual in front of you.

  • Shawna

    From the above link to the manufacturers website —

    “How it works:

    Epakitin’s active ingredient, chitosan, is a natural polysaccharide derived from shells of shrimp and crab. This ingredient naturally binds phosphorus, which limits the absorption of phosphorus from the intestines. This limitation helps pets with chronic kidney (renal) disease by slowing down damage caused by the disease.”

    I’m not sure how it would bind with phosphorus either but they seem to think it does.?

    Edit — oops, 1-800-petmeds is not the manufacturer. I’m checking their site to see what they say too. I looked in to Epikitin for Audrey but opted for a different product for the nitrogen trapping effect.

  • aimee

    If you look at the ingredient list you’ll see that calcium carbonate precedes chitosan. Calcium carbonate is in the IRIS list as a phos. binder.

    Not sure what the role chitosan plays. In people it was reported to bring down BUN/ Creat numbers but no mention of lowering phos was made.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9255718

  • itasara

    about hills, I just wanted to say Hills was the only food for kidney disease in my older kats that they would even touch!! My dog is another situation, She is spilling protein and has a high alkaline urine count but she is 13.5 years old, cannot walk with back legs and refuses now to eat anything with dog food in it. My prognosis at this point isn’t great… but I am helping her along until that final decision must be made.

  • Shawna

    Sorry, I should have said — Darwins refers to its KD diet as “Low phosphorus formula” however it likely isn’t low enough for all stages of the disease. That is likely why they require “veterinary approval”.

  • Shawna

    Chitosan is the active ingredient in the supplement vets sell for renal disease… If it’s not a reliable phosphorus binder then vets recommending the product need to be questioned.

    Edit — http://www.1800petmeds.com/Epakitin+Powder-prod11134.html

  • aimee

    I don’t know that they wanted the phos at AAFCO as that kind of defeats the whole purpose of it being a “renal diet”! I think that is just where it ended up!

    Chitosan is pretty low in the ingredient line up and doesn’t even make the list for phos binders at the International Renal Interest Society. I think its efficacy is likely poor compared to other binders. Egg shell however is primarily Ca carbonate which is on IRIS as a binder.

    I think the high phos levels in this food are going to be a stumbling block for any vet managing any but the earliest renal insufficiency cases.

    Using high quality protein sources at this level will generate a fair amount of waste. Once the AA need is met the rest are broken down and the N is excreted. Normal animals on high protein raw diets have higher kidney values than pets on commercial foods for this reason.

    The goal when feeding a renal patient is to match AA needs to intake so that AA are not being broken down and go to waste. It is tricky! To evaluate a diet you need to get the full N.A. have digestibility data and then compare the intake to the needs. Plant proteins can be used most successfully in renal patients when blended with animal proteins. It is the overall AA profile supplied that is important.

  • losul

    I’ve wondered that too about Darwin’s phosphorus level meeting the AAFCO minimum. It looks like they wanted to keep the level within AAFCO standards for whatever reason.

    But it appears to use very high quality meat, organs and glandular, end result being less waste product vs a lesser quality plant product?

    Also they use chitin in the formula as a phosphorus binder.

    Edit: I assume Dr. Royal has much expertise in this field.

  • losul

    Yes, I do too.

    I think it would be much more accepted by ordinary vets though if it were possible. That way a person could inquire to the vet about Darwins “fresh” food instead of setting off most vet’s stigma with endorsing “raw”. Then it could be discussed whether to cook or not, hopefully not beyond “rare”?

  • aimee

    I have to say that I’ve never really considered Darwins “kidney” diet to be low phos. It meets AAFCO which is about 3 times the rec amount by the NRC. I think of low as being below accepted AAFCO maintenance.

    I think AAFCO has a cushion to account for any of it being bound by phytate. In this instance though, most the phos is meat based and likely highly available vs plant based phos.

    IMHO this diet does not meet the needs of a kidney patient except those in stage 1 which is a stage at which no dietary are changes are really needed.

  • aimee

    I’d wonder about the B vits. That sounds like a question that the manufacturer hopefully would have the answer to

  • Shawna

    Yeah, I think it could.. Good thought.. It would change the bioavailability if not careful but if raw isn’t an option seems like lightly cooked would be a good alternative… It should be noted though that apple cider vinegar is added which would help with any bacterial contamination…. That said some still might find raw gross versus a concern about the bacterial content…??

  • losul

    I wonder Shawna, if someone didn’t want to feed raw for whatever reason, or if the vet didn’t agree with raw (good chance, IMO), whether the Darwin’s for KD could be cooked lightly, with out loosing too many nutrients, since they don’t use any bone in that formula.

  • Shawna

    What stage of the disease is your dog in? Vets often recommend the prescription diets WAY TOO early in the disease.. Is she uremic — horrible breath, vomiting etc.

    Darwins has a raw food that is low in phosphorus and quite palatable but it is not suitable for a dog in the later stages of the disease that NEED low protein due to symptoms. It was formulated by a vet specifically for kd but my guess is it is only suitable for those in the earlier stages. Can’t hurt to ask if interested though…

    Has your vet talked with you about “nitrogen trapping” or probiotics/prebiotics? Certain ones can be used to help clean BUN from the blood which will help decrease symptoms and may, if symptoms decrease enough, help her feel well enough to eat. Canned green tripe is often used for dogs that are not wanting to eat (such as those with kd or cancer). Most dogs LOVE tripe but it smells absolutely horrible to most humans. It is lower in phosphorus but higher in protein so may not be an option unless, like you said you simply need to get her to eat.

    Is she on any medications that may be making her nauseous? Maybe they can try another that won’t have the same side affect?

    I sure hope you can get her to where she’s feeling better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Pattyvaughn

    Homemade diets are usually much more palatable. Your vet should be able to help you find one.

  • Betsy Greer

    Oh no femmedunord,

    I’m so sorry. Your situation sounds positively desperate. Prayers for your pup.

    Maybe you can look at this information regarding a diet developed by Dr. Barbara Royal for Darwin’s and discuss with your vet tomorrow if it’s appropriate for your dog: http://www.darwinspet.com/kidney-support-for-dogs/

  • femmedunord

    This is my experience. Our dog is wasting away. She cannot tolerate the renal disease diets, either, because of inflammatory bowel disease as well. It’s heartbreaking. Vet visit tomorrow.

  • Callen

    Of course none of this information is of any use if your dog will not eat any of the food recommended for a dog with chronic renal disease. Sometimes you have to feed then whatever they will eat just to keep them alive. It’s so frustrating because a bad appetite goes along with the disease.

  • Lou

    I already think that my golden female was lazy but finally , it was a thyroid problem so maybe it would be good to check for that …

  • Shawna

    PS — check out coconut oil as an additive to the diet. I believe it is liver friendly and will add extra calories without putting an undo strain on the pancreas (coconut oil is primarily absorbed in the stomach sparing the pancreas the extra workload).

  • Shawna

    Hi Starr,

    That’s a tough one without knowing a lot more history, previous diet (if any), breed etc..

    There’s a couple things I personally would do though.

    1. Get a second opinion from a holistic vet if there is one available. Elevated liver enzymes are not always a bad thing.

    2. Just in case the liver is having issues and you can’t see a holistic vet, I would lower the protein AND feed a liver friendly diet until more is known. Dr. Jean Dodds has one. It’s home made if you can swing that. Nutritionist Monica Segal has a slightly modified version of the diet here http://www.monicasegal.com/liver-friendly-diet.html

    Using white fish in the diet instead of other proteins helps as white fish creates less ammonia for the liver to have to convert to urea. This puts less strain on the liver while still supplying adequate protein to help the liver regenerate.

    3. Look into a product made by Standard Process called Canine Hepatic Support. I highly recommend this companies products. I use them, give them to my grand babies and my dogs (including my dog born with kidney disease). This will also give the liver the nutrients it needs to regenerate (if that is the issue vs a shunt or something like that).

    4. If a holistic vet is not an option or you are not confident in the advice from one / or in conjunction with the vet — consider discussing your pups issue with a nutritionist like Monica Segal, Lew Olson, Cat Lane or Mary Straus (all have websites with contact information etc).

    5. Mary Straus has some fantastic information on liver and diet on her website. http://www.dogaware.com/health/liver.html

    6. A Yahoo canine liver support group may have some valuable information for you.

    GOOD LUCK!!! I hope it ends up being something as innocuous as a detox. This happened to a friends dog — dog intolerant of oats. Removed oats from diet and dog’s liver enzymes and triglycerides shot up but dog showed improvement despite the elevated liver enzymes. So vet, Dr. Dodds, had her give herbal support but stayed on same diet (high protein raw) and within three months the liver enzymes were back to normal and her pup felt MUCH better, happier, more energy, friendlier etc.

  • Starr Chumard

    Shawna – do you have any food suggestions for possible liver disease? My 2 year old dog is a big eater and needs to gain more weight, but while we are trying to figure out exactly what’s wrong with her liver I’ve been told to switch her to low protein (she currently eats Orijen). I’m trying to research but it’s hard to know what to even temporarily change her to. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • berta

    My 7 year old min poodle has high BUN count 42 mg/dl and high CREA 2.0 mg/dl. An x-ray also showed some cloudiness/fluid around her lungs indicating heart issues.
    Our vet carries only HILL’s food and has put her on the r/d prescription food with a lower protein. I am not a fan of Hills food, but my next closest food alternative is 20 miles away. She also is missing about 4 teeth , but manages her kibble food ok. I would like to switch her to something else. I can honestly say that I probably wouldn’t take the time to make home made food for her. I am at a loss on what to do for her because in all honesty, she doesn’t act sick. I’m just going by what the vet said. PLEASE HELP ! ! ! !! !

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  • Kim

    Did anyone respond to your request? I am looking for the exact same thing for my 13 year old Bichon. I think I will look into the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior to start with.

  • Bexx

    P.S. Shawna is absolutely correct though about canned being better than kibble and so on. In fact, I learned from her when I first started having the worries about my own dog. :) I did raw for quite some time, but then my boy got pancreatitis so I worried about the fat content in meat and started boiling his meat instead. Either way, making your own food is definitely the best way to go if you can.

  • Bexx

    My vet wanted to put my boy on Science Diet KD. I said no and went with homemade instead. I feed rice, meat (different kinds), and add in veggies and powdered calcium or ground up eggshells as a phosphorous binder. He’s had perfect bloodwork twice in the past year since I switched him. It’s definitely more pricey to go that route so if you can’t afford it, I would suggest finding a kibble that is lower phosphorous but still maintains high quality proteins.

  • Shawna

    The Hills prescription diet designed for severe liver disease has only 17.8 percent protein. None of the foods on this list would be that low as that is below the minimum amount set by the AAFCO to be complete and balanced.

    In addition to that, dogs with liver shunts should only eat “high quality” proteins and many suggest low in purines as well. Not all “low protein” foods meet these criteria.. Someone owning a dog with a liver shunt should do a lot of research before picking a food or work with their vet or a nutritionist.

  • HeywoodJa

    Milk thistle and SAM-E. YOu can buy this in an overpriced combo for pets called DENAMARIN and they make it in a chewable that is more palatable than the massive pills. Or you can buy the two items and give them to the dog individually. Best to give the SAM-E without food (or just enough to get it down)–it works better on an empty stomach.

  • HeywoodJa

    Low protein diets are prescribed for this condition. It’s not always about the kidneys.

  • Pattyvaughn

    What about liver disease, etc?

  • HeywoodJa

    What about LIVER disease? Portosystemic shunt, e.g.?

  • Shawna

    Definitely NOT any kibble including Science Diet KD.

    Canned tripe, if complete and balanced, is usually a good option. Most vets are a bit behind on the current research about protein and the kidneys. Most will recommend protein restriction at the first signs of renal issues but science proved some 20 years ago that protein restriction can do more harm than good if done too early. Protein restriction helps symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy etc but does nothing to help the kidneys themselves. What DOES help the kidneys, as well as symptoms, is feeding proteins that are highly digestible with amino acid profiles that are well utilized by the body. That is why kibble is a no no. The quality of the protein needs to be HIGH. Canned is better than kibble, home cooked is better than canned and raw is better than home cooked.

    Giving a HIGH quality probitoic and certain types of fiber prebiotics can help even more with symptoms by helping to keep the blood clean of BUN and creatinine. This is called nitrogen trapping.

    There are LOTS more things you can do to help your fur baby depending on how much time and funds you have available such as reducing kidney unfriendly stuff in your home (floor cleaners etc), giving supplements/vitamins and more.

    My puppy was born with kidney disease and is now 7 and 1/2 years old and still in good health — not medicated, no special diet, rarely feels ill (only gets sick if I feed kibble too often) etc. She’s been eating a high protein raw diet her whole life (protein ranges from 45 to 54% on a dry matter basis).

  • Pattyvaughn

    Canned food is less processed and has an appropriate moisture level.

  • BGreen

    I have a two year old fur baby shin tzu. She has excessive thirst and the vet did some blood work. Her BUN is 38 and creatinine 2.5. He wants to change her diet and recheck in 30. Anyone have a renal health food they recommend?

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Charlene –

    I’m sorry to hear about your dog’s condition.Has your veterinarian given you a specific protein percentage to shoot for? You should avoid kibble, because you need to limit the amount of protein fed it’s crucial that the protein that is fed is of the highest quality. Honestly your best option would be to speak with your vet about formulating an appropriate homemade diet, if your vet can’t do this he may be able to refer you to a veterinary nutritionist. If homemade isn’t an option, there are a few dehydrated foods made with lower protein levels that I’m familiar with. Dehydrated foods are basically a fresh diet with the moisture removed (much less processed and high quality than kibble). You add water prior to feeding and it becomes about the same consistency as canned food. Dehydrated foods are more expensive to feed than kibble but for a single small dog the cost shouldn’t be too outrageous.

    Addiction has several varieties with different protein sources, grain-inclusive as well as grain-free that range from 18% – 22% protein.

    Sojo’s makes two varieties (turkey and beef) that both have 23% protein.

    The Honest Kitchen’s Keen formula has 21% protein and their Verve formula has 22.5% protein.

    Nusentia’s Full Life formulas have 22% protein.

    Only Natural Pet sells their store brand of dehydrated food called “EasyRaw” which ranges from 22% – 23% protein.

    There are also many nutaceuticals and herbs that can be beneficial to dogs with liver shunts. Supplements like Sam-e, Acetyl L-carnitine, milk thistle and dandelion can help with detoxification. Two great combination supplements to consider would be Standard Process’ Canine Hepatic Support or Wysong’s Hepticene. If you do decide to supplement, just run it by your vet first – you want to be sure none of the ingredients will interact with her medications.

    Good luck!

  • Charlene

    I have a chahuahua/rat terrier who was diagnosed 3 years ago when just a puppy with liver shunt disease and was told to put her on a very low protein diet, because high protein intake causes her to have seizures. I am looking for a good low protein food, since she is picky and does not like to many hard pieces in dog food. She prefers soft pieces. She is also taking two types of medicine for this disease.

  • Mherring

    My Yorkie-Tiny 10 yrs old, is currently having liver problems, enzymes very high ALP 1936 ALT 1278 and elevated white count (supposed liver infection-hepatitis) He is currently on two antibotics. We in on day 4 of treatment, fever gone and just starting to eat alittle. Vet suggested milk thistle may help and a low protein diet. He is a PICKY eater, any suggestions from anyone on diet or suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

  • wafflesmama

    I”m currently in the process of rehabilitating an aggressive dog. My behavioral vet has conducted studies into the use of low protein foods for these dogs and has found that they do much better with low protein diets. Thank you for this list!

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  • the3stooges

    Once again, the focus should be on the quality and digestibility of the protein, rather than the amount of protein. Highly digestible protein coming from “Real food” is what will put the least amount of stress on the organs to process…..high quality eggs, real meats, etc.

  • Read the ingredients

    Hills food ia crap! Period! Most of hills food uses soybean oil which is a danger to animals it is a hormone. Excess soybean tips estrogen which causes problems in animals and people. Do not buy hill’s the only line of theirs that is decent is ideal balance it is natural. The Vets recommend it because they get money from Hill’s that is a known fact. If you care about your animals do not feed them hills.

  • highroller

    I found this site looking for dog food to help my dog with his recently diagnosed Kidney disease. I have just finished reading comment by Julia-Suzanne Hill recently we had been giving our dog chicken jerky treat Waggin Train purchased at Sam`s Club manufactured in St. Louis, Mo. USA – – – – – but very well disguised was product of china.
    I discovered about 5 or 6 yrs ago when Diamond dog foods were finally being recalled that these manufactures of pet products cannot be sued for some reason. even though a long time passed since about 21 of their 27 test dogs had died they continued to sell it containing a deadly bacteria my dog at that time about 2 or 3 yrs screamed with pains in his stomach a few days & which I believe would have killed him also, before discovering from our Vet of the recall. The only punishment these companies pay is if they loose customers due to this – I purchased Diamond dog food for about 10 yrs for my dogs prior to this- then I turned in the 2 bags I had to them & have not bought from them in past 5 or 6 yrs since and I am happy to tell others of this also. – Mike

  • Millie

    Dear HOB,
    The blood panel of our 6 year old choc lab girl was similar to your dog’s. I researched online what natural foods I can give my dog in a homemade dog food, if they had poor kidney values. There is a list of ingredients out there online, (sorry misplaced the link). Search for homemade diet for dogs with kidney failure! I worked off that table and slowly, very slowly, our dog got better.

    When the kidneys don’t filter toxins, the toxins enter the blood stream and make the dog nauseated. So, our vet gave us anti nausea pills. With those, we were able to give her very small amounts of baked sweet potato slices, sauteed in a little bit of butter. She also ate very thin slices of apple and banana. Once a day we gave her a table spoon of whipping cream with a few drops of raw honey. That was not much, but it sustained her until her kidneys recovered enough to not make her feel nauseated. She is now eating 20% fat hamburger meet with equal amounts of cooked sushi rice. We add carrots, blueberries, zucchini, beets, cabbage (not all at once). We feed her small amounts of food (1/2 cup) four times a day. Large amounts strain the kidneys. Also, we give her distilled water, not water from the faucet. As a rule of thumb for our dog: 1/3 raw meat, 1/3 rice, 1/3 cooked vegetables.

    It is important to “bind” the phosphorus from the meat. So we give her 1/2 a Tums with every meal. Tums is made of calcium carbonate, which binds phosphorus in the stomach. The whipping cream and butter was important in the first few weeks to give her some energy. We now don’t give it to her anymore.

    In the mornings we give her two 1/2 cup portions of low protein, high quality kibbles and we add one egg white each. She needs protein of high biological value, like egg whites, and raw meat. I’m concerned that she is not getting enough vitamins, but I have not yet found a suitable supplement.

    Discuss with your vet. Maybe homemade food will get your dog better, too.

  • k8did

    you know, Shawna, they never even mentioned a kidney infection. I am second guessing my current vet so much lately. I am going to switch food to a high protein (slightly) just to see what happens. It does need to stay low fat because she has had pancreatitis twice in her little lifetime. In a few months when I have to retest blood and urine I’m going to see if there is a difference – AND – I am switching vets.

  • Shawna

    I think the proteinuria could be caused by the Purina HA. HA is made by “hydrolyzing” soy protein. When proteins are hydrolyzed it breaks them down into amino acids which makes them non-allergenic. However, there are a few amino acids that can accumulate in the body and cause damage when hydrolyzed. Free glutamic acid is one. It is the same as MSG (monosodium glutamate) but without the salt. MSG has been shown to cause kidney problems which can then lead to proteinuria.

    Also, some foods have a protein called a lectin in them. Lectins are not broken down and digested and dogs and people can be intolerant of lectins from different foods. I can’t use cow dairy due to the lectins. I have a dog that reacts to the lectins in chicken and another that reacts to the lectins in gluten grains. Soy tends to be a problematic lectin for many. Hydrolyzing the soy will not break down lectins. Lectins can get past the gut and stick to organs causing organ damage — organs including the kidneys. Which could in turn cause proteinuria.

    Kidney infections can also cause proteinuria. Was an infection ruled out?

  • Shawna

    Hi Connie,

    In the “early” stages of kidney disease it is not necessary to feed a lower protein diet. In fact, it can cause more harm than good. It is also not wise to feed a kibble as it can cause minor dehydration which is damaging to the kidneys.

    Some EXCELLENT information can be found on nutritionist Mary Straus and nutritionist Lew Olson’s websites. Both Mary and Lew were (if not still are) moderators on one of the yahoo kidney forums.

    Here’s a blurb from Mary’s website

    “Following are links to a series of articles and studies on the roles of protein and phosphorus in the diet of dogs with kidney disease, supporting the idea that reducing protein in the diet does not slow the progression of kidney disease nor prolong life, and is unnecessary unless it is needed to relieve symptoms of uremia (very high creatinine and BUN), or if your dog has significant proteinuria (protein in the urine, in which case moderate but not severe protein restriction is indicated).http://www.dogaware.com/health/kidneyprotein.html

    My dog has had kidney disease for 7 years and has been on a high protein raw diet the whole time (she was born with kidney disease).

    Phosphorus does need restricted but it is based on the stage of the disease. The earlier the stage of disease the less restriction is required.

    Ask the people on your kidney forum about nitrogen trapping — it can REALLY help.

  • Connie Langford

    I have never heard of proteinuria. I just found out the my Basenji has early stage kidney disease. I started her on Low Protein/Low Phosphorous diet about 9 days ago. My dog likes Purina NF food. I also belong to a group on Yahoo. It’s called K9KIDNEYS I have gotten alot of info from them. There is someone there that you can ask ?’s But, you do need to sign up to it and be OKAYed. Well Good Luck with your dog. Purina NF is even lower than 18%

  • k8did

    Hi Connie, they do not think she has fancone disease but said they think its proteinuria. Now I’ve read high proteins is good even for senior dogs but now that proteinuria was thrown in the mix I guess I have to stock with low protein

  • HOB

    We have a 14.5 yr old and his senior blood panel showed elevated bun, alk phos and creatine. He possibly has early stage renal or it may be a previous food. We have to take him in a few weeks for a new panel. The vet recommended hills k/d and he reacted bad to it. Possible pancreatitis. Any recommendation for a food or diet that his both beneficial for both renal and pancreas health? – low in both phosphorus and fat? We want to ensure he doesn’t lose weight and gets proper nutrients. Thanks!

  • Connie Langford

    Hi K8did, Ask your Vet about Fancone Disease. This disease is where protein is spilled into the urine. I have a friend that has a Dog with Fancone Disease.

  • K8did

    my senior dog has protein in urine, protein/creatanine ratio came back fine. Vet says stay on low protein diet (currently 18%) took to a different Vet and he said that protein does not matter. Does it? She has gallstones and 2 occurrences of pancreatitis in 2006 and 2009. she has allergies too and I really just want to try to keep her comfortable the last few years of her life – don’t want to rock the boat and make her ill by switching dog food but she is on a prescription purina ha diet and the reviews on here are horrible.

  • Ashley

    Thank you very much for all of the help, I appreciate it :).

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    You can find them online and at retailers. sometimes I use petflow.com. Go to the dog food’s website and use the store locator and you should be able to find a store near you unless you live in the middle of nowhere.

  • Ashley

    I had her on 4health for about 6 months and she liked it a lot then she started to hate it, she wouldn’t eat it AT ALL. So I took her off it and put her on TOTW, but it’s high in protein in the other flavors. Where can I buy Fromm and Nutrisource at?

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    Nutrisource grain free is around $50 for the large bag, and the new 4Health grain free at Tractor Supply is supposed to be budget friendly and maybe Fromm.

  • Ashley

    Woah, fast reply :3. Well I mean I don’t want to be stuck just feeding her that flavor because I’ve looked at all the other flavors and kinds like wetlands, etc and they’re higher in protein. My dad always says I should just feeds her iams and beneful and stuff because this stuff is “too expensive” and all dog food is “the same” but I want to take care of her. Is there any other food around the same price of TOTW with around the same protein? I feed her 1 cup in the morning ( around 11 – 1 pm) half in the middle of the day ( 5-7 pm) half before bed (10-11 pm). So she only eats 2 cups a day because of how lazy she is. I live in Kentucky and it gets humid and hot and she get exhausted and gives up.

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    TOTW is not too high protein when you compare it against a raw diet. Just feed her at what her “goal weight” should be. And for a lazy dog I even feed less than the recommended amount on the bag. I have lazy dogs too and they eat mod-high protein all the time including a raw diet. It’s too hot and humid down here for pugs to exercise so mine only get exercise from October to April.

  • Ashley

    Hello, my dog is a LAZZZY american staffordshire Terrier, she weighs 71 pounds and is 2 years and 7 months. We got her right after she had puppies so she still has that weight on her. I feed her TOTW pacific stream canine. I’m a teenager and I buy her own food so I’m somewhat on a budget. She’s overweight, has skin allergies and is super lazy, so is bad to feed her higher protein? I walk her about 2-3 times a week for about 35-45 minutes. Is TOTW not a good dog food for her? Any ideas of what to feed her? The dog food stores near me are : Pet smart, Tractor suppy, and petco.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Consider having your vet go to Balanceit dot com and have a recipe for homemade food made up for your dog. You can make it in large batches and freeze it for convenience.

  • serindae

    Hi , My dog has hepatic microvascular dysplasia, and he should eat low protein and vegetable or egg/dairy based proteins. He doesn’t like hills l/d at all. He has epilepsia but we don’t know if it’s related to his hepatic disease, because epilepsia is not very common with dog with mvd. So we can’t give him too much protein, but he needs good quality protein, 2,5 grams/kg/day

    thank you for helping (please)

  • Roger Richard

    Human best friend is dog and i never compromise with their diet not all…… blogshop.co.uk