Dog Food for Specific Health Problems


The following items represent some of The Dog Food Advisor’s most frequently asked questions about specific health problems.

My dog has been diagnosed with bladder or kidney stones. Is there a specific food that can help?

There are many different kinds of urinary tract crystals and stones. Whether or not a specific food can help all depends on the type of stones your dog has.

To prevent urinary stones, my vet recommends foods low in oxalate content. Where can I get this information?

Unfortunately, other than contacting each company, I know of no easy way to obtain information about the oxalate content of all the different dog foods on the market.

Can you suggest a good dog food with low oxalate content?

Look for a 3, 4 or 5-star dog food that containing no ingredients known to be high in oxalates.

Where can I find a list of ingredients high in oxalates?

You can find an excellent article written for humans afflicted with these same types of bladder and kidney stones. It’s published by a major medical center1 and entitled, “Low Oxalate Diet“.

Can you suggest a quality low fat dog food?

Dogs diagnosed with fat-sensitive health conditions like pancreatitis or obesity can frequently benefit from a low fat diet. For help, be sure to visit our article, “Suggested Low Fat Dog Foods“.

Can you suggest a dog food for pets with joint problems?

Once diagnosed by your vet with joint problems or hip dysplasia, your dog may benefit from a recipe containing omega-3 fatty acids as well as glucosamine and chondroitin.

What dog foods are most likely to be high in omega-3 fats?

Recipes with fish or fish oil as well as those containing flaxseed or canola oils are naturally high in essential omega-3 fats.

However, not all omega-3 oils are created equal. From a standpoint of biological availability, fish oil is far superior to plant-based sources of omega-3 fats.

How can I find a dog food that contains enough chondroitin and glucosamine to help my pet?

Unfortunately, manufacturers rarely publish the actual amount of these two nutritionals contained in their dog food recipes.

Just seeing the words chondroitin and glucosamine on a marketing piece or the ingredients list itself doesn’t guarantee there’s enough present to be clinically effective for your pet.

Is there any way to be sure my dog gets enough omega-3 and chondroitin or glucosamine in his diet?

You may wish to consider using a quality fish oil or chondroitin and glucosamine supplement. There are many on the market. But quality can vary based upon the purity of the brand.

In any case, check with your vet to determine an appropriate dose.


  1. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • Rochelle Wilder

    you can just soak kibble for 20 minutes in water and it turns soft

  • Jodie Whiteley

    disqus_SBl7sCuYS7 Don’t worry about it. I just wanted to be clear, that all I wanted was more info on this “KIDNEY DIET” so that I could review all his options. I have learned from my own health that sometimes, not every Doctor has all the answers, so u need to do ur own research & ask questions, rather than just do what u r told. Sometimes, they just give u one option cuz it’s the only one THEY r familiar & comfortable with, but when u do some research, u may find there r many other options available, ur Doctor just didn’t know about them to offer them to u.

    I just didn’t want u to think I was delusional about his age, or trying to keep a sick & unhappy dog alive for my own benefit. I monitor his health closely & just always want the best for him, because he sure does deserve it.

  • Jodie Whiteley

    Thank u very much, that is a great idea. I had not heard of that website before.
    I just want the best diet for him, if the Hills is the best fine, but if it’s just a popular go to brand name, & does not contain the most healthy ingredients out there for this type of diet, then I would like to know what my options r.

    I appreciate ur help!

  • Pitlove

    Hi Jodie-

    If you want a very detailed answer as to why Hills K/D is the preferred diet compared to OTC foods go to and go to the “Ask the Nutritionist” section and pose the question to Dr.Remillard.

    She is a board certified veterinary nutritionist, so in the same way that the Cardiologist that you saw is a heart specialist, she and her staff are nutrition specialists. She might be able to give you a better explaination of why K/D is preferred.

    Also for a fee of course, she can put together a recipe for a homemade cooked diet for a kidney patient for your pup.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    I didn’t mean to sound harsh (regarding his age) I can think of a lot of foods that might put weight on him. However, if he is receiving treatment for the medical conditions you mentioned, they would be contraindicated. So, I would discuss with your vet how strict you need to be with his diet. I hope you have a few more good years with him. He’s a lucky dog to get such good care.

  • Jodie Whiteley

    disqus_SBl7sCuYS7 Let me try to be a little more clear.
    Yes, I do realize that my Bambam dog is no young pup these days, u r correct in that he is well over 100 yrs old, (since small breeds, like Minpins, age 6 dog years, for every 1 human year) technically, he would be 105 years old this month actually. However, his age had little to do with my question.

    For the record…..For a dog his age, he is in remarkably good health. He has no heart problems what-so-ever, his medical issues that he does have, r very easily managed w/medication, which has very few negative side effects, and which he takes willingly, (without being tricked by having it snuck into food or treats).

    All in all, he is still a pretty happy dog, who is extremely spoiled, & loved more than u can imagine. In fact, since I am retired due to disability, & he is considered my emotional support dog, he is lucky enough to have me with him every moment, of every day, at his beck & call 24/7, as I rarely leave my house these days, (less than once a month) and when I do, he always gets to come with me. As much as I love & need him in my life, if & when the day comes, that his quality of life is just not what HE deserves it to be, I will make the difficult decision of letting him go. Being a chronic pain patient myself, has led to depression issues as well, which has made me a STRONG ADVOCATE for the right to choose QUALITY of life, over quantity of life. I beg my family to promise me, that when & if the time comes, that I decide, this is just not fun anymore, that the bad outweighs the good in my life, they will let me go ON MY TERMS, despite how they may feel, so I will definitely give my little guy the same courtesy.

    According to his Cardiologist he see’s every few months for check ups, this time around, he just happened to have some elevated values on his urine panel, which can indicate he may have some kidney disease starting to progress, which is not uncommon in older animals. In fact, it is generally what animals who die a natural death due to old age, actually die from. As we age r kidneys function less & less due to overall wear & tear on the body, in most dogs his age, the kidneys would be functioning at probably 25% of what they once had been. Which is why it becomes more difficult for them to properly filter the way they should. That is why, changes in diet, is the suggested course of action at this stage. Simple changes can help prolong quality of life, like making it easier on the kidneys, by not making them work so hard to process the food we eat.

    There is no major, life threatening, painful, emergency happening with my dog at this point, that I am trying to use food to solve. So we r not in a place where he needs comfort meds or sub-q fluids, there r no unrealistic expectations that a diet will cure him, and there is definitely no aggressive treatment happening in an effort to prolong my dogs life.

    Right now, I simply have a happy, fairly healthy, elderly old man dog, whose body is starting to show signs of wear & tear from all his years. Due to a few (newly elevated) stats on a random urine screening, which he has done several times per year, as part of an overall geriatric wellness check. His Doctor has advised that the best course of action at this point, is to simply make some changes to his diet, then keep an eye on things via follow up visits. By simply switching him over to a restricted diet, (what is known as the “Kidney” diet) which will allow him to eat less protein for example, and the protein he does eat, will consist only of types that r easy for the kidneys to process. In doing this we will lesson the burden or workload on the kidneys, which will allow him to stay healthy & happy longer. Whereas if he were to continue eating as is, it becomes only a matter of time until the workload just becomes too overwhelming for the kidneys to handle & he could go into renal failure. By not changing his diet, there is no saying whether that burden becomes too great in days, weeks, months, years or maybe it never becomes an issue at all. We just simply know this, old dogs generally, all have some stage of kidney disease, the elevated numbers are a predictor that things may be getting progressively worse. By changing his diet, we r simply being proactive.

    My Vet suggested Hills Science Diet Prescription k/d formula, only because she has seen good results with it in the past. When I asked, what specifically a kidney diet referred to she said she honestly did not know, she only knew to recommend that brand. This left me at a loss, I couldn’t investigate my choices & make an informed decision on which brand I felt was best for him.

    Generally, I do not 2nd guess my vet, however, being a constant patient myself, I have learned to do my research & not be afraid to ask questions or even challenge answers at times. So for me to hear, “I don’t know what the dietary requirements r, I just always use this one brand we happen to carry” practically made my head spin. As I researched Hills Science Diet Prescription k/d formula, not everything I found was good. My dog has been on a 5 Star High Quality Healthy Diet his entire life, I don’t want to now, put him on a lesser quality, less healthy brand of food, simply because my Vet always uses the one they carry in the office, if there may be other, better quality options out there. I get that he needs to follow the dietary plan of a kidney diet, but there has to be more than one brand that offers this prescription type of diet? Or maybe even another, non-prescription brand, whose ingredients happen to follow the kidney dietary guidelines, (whatever they are exactly – I still haven’t totally figured that out) whatever they r, u would think, if most elderly dogs have some stage of kidney disease, then healthy, 5 star, high quality grade, dog food diets geared toward geriatric, senior citizen dogs, would aim their recipes towards diets that take some of the burden off the kidneys, right?

    So again I ask…

    FYI: Just in case anyone was curious, I know of several Minpin Mom’s & Dad’s whose babies lived to be 18, 19, even as old as 22 yrs old. This is an AMAZING BREED, which u cannot help but fall in love with, & spoil rotten, (which is probably why they live so long). Before u know it, they r in charge of the show, & u gladly cater to their every need. Besides, hell after 10, 15, 18 yrs together, they r pretty much like ur damn child. By this point u have put just as much time, money, love, effort & patience into raising them as u do ur own children who hopefully move away at age 18, whereas these little fur babies stay to keep u company, which makes u only love them that much more.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Prescription Food. That would be your best option, imo.
    You do realize that at 17 1/2 years of age he has well exceeded his life span, and if he was a human he would be over 100 years old.
    Please talk to your vet regarding your expectations of what diet can do. Discuss comfort meds? Sub-q fluids?
    I would go into care and comfort mode vs aggressive treatment if it were my dog.