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What food is best for dogs with kidney disease?

Updated 01 March 2024
Read time: 10 mins
article author
Written by Corinne Homer
Copywriter

If your poor pooch has dysfunctioning kidneys, perhaps because of kidney disease or kidney failure, you’ve probably been recommended they go on a renal diet. It’s not only vital that a dog with kidney conditions eats a diet that is perfectly suited to their needs, they need to want to eat it - as their illness can mean that they’re turned off from food. We know this can be worrying for pooch parents, who only want what’s best for their dog - so how do you make sure you’re feeding your dog the best food for their kidney problems? 

 

Read on to learn the attributes of a renal diet for dogs, so you can feed the right food for your dog’s kidney dysfunction and ensure they live the happiest life possible. 

 

Nutrition and diet for dogs with kidney disease

Just like all dog’s vital organs, the kidneys are important for many reasons - they filter toxins from the blood, regulate levels of potassium and sodium, conserve water and produce urine. When a dog’s kidneys start to malfunction, they can get very ill. You can read all about the causes and symptoms of kidney disease in dogs right here. However, if your dog’s already been diagnosed with kidney issues, you’ve probably been instructed to put them on a renal diet

 

It’s essential that you feed your dog with kidney problems a renal diet so that they can live a happy, relatively stress-free life with alleviated symptoms from their poorly kidneys. It’s actually the most important part of your dog’s treatment and could significantly improve their life expectancy.

 

What foods are good for dogs with kidney failure?

So, what does a renal diet mean? Renal, or kidney-friendly food for dogs has special attributes, and it can be confusing for a worried dog owner to understand all the various weights and restrictions involved. Put simply, a renal diet for dogs supports the kidneys while providing a dog with all the nutrition they need to live and function happily. 

 

Generally speaking, a renal diet has: 

  • High water and moisture content. Staying hydrated is important for the kidneys, which don’t function well without a lot of water to produce urine.  
  • Low protein levels. Protein creates waste products that are tricky for damaged kidneys to process, so monitoring protein intake takes the pressure off.
  • Low phosphorus levels. The kidneys are fundamental in filtering phosphorus in urine, so dogs with kidney disease tend to get a build-up of phosphorus. Reducing the amount of phosphorus in the diet significantly helps.
  • Low sodium. Salt can worsen symptoms of kidney disease in dogs.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids. The vital AHAs and DHAs found in fish oil, for instance, reduce inflammation in dogs and improve their kidney function.
  • Delicious flavours. Pooches with kidney failure feel too ill to eat sometimes. A tasty fat booster (such as chicken skin) makes the food irresistible!

 

Best dog food for kidney disease

So now you know what constitutes a sensible renal diet for a dog, what is the best food to feed a dog with kidney disease? 

 

  • Firstly, bear in mind that relying on cheap commercial dog food to support your dog’s ailing kidneys is doomed to fail. Cheap brands of dog food tend to contain preservatives, artificial flavourings and ‘filler’ ingredients that will put stress on a dog’s kidneys and provide little nutritional value. It’s important to look a bit further for a nutrient-rich specialist food that supports your dog’s health condition.

 

  • Some pooch parents opt for a homemade or raw food for dogs (sometimes called the BARF diet), as they like to know exactly what goes into their dog’s meals. Though this can be successful for dogs in good health, it’s more difficult when your pooch has specific dietary requirements. Preparing a renal diet from scratch is time-consuming and harder to balance than choosing a high-quality, specialist dog food that has been created for that purpose. If you’re dead-set on sticking to a homemade diet, chat to a pet nutritionist first for some expert advice on preparing it. 

 

  • A premium quality, specialist dog food that comes prescribed or recommended by vets is the best route if your dog has kidney disease or failure. This food will be specially prepared to support a renal diet, and should boost your dog’s overall health as well as protecting them from getting more unwell than they need to be. It should also be simply delicious for a dog, so that even if they’re off their food, they can’t help but lap it up.

 

 

Best non-prescription dog food for kidney disease

Some premium quality vet-recommended foods on the market are just as effective as prescription dog foods - our Pooch & Mutt Veterinary Renal Food, for instance. It has been specifically formulated in accordance to a renal diet, containing salmon, peas and eggs for protein rather than meat, as meat has high levels of protein which is tougher to digest. It contains chicken fat, for a super delicious taste they’ll love to eat every day - and salmon oil for those essential Omega 3 fatty acids. 

 

A lot of renal dog foods on the market contain grain, making life difficult for dogs with kidney disease and a grain allergy, or difficulty digesting grain. For this reason our vet-recommended renal food is also entirely grain-free

 

food comparison infographic

 

Can my dog eat renal dog food for kidney disease and problems? 

If your vet has instructed that your pooch eat renal dog food, then a specialist renal food such as our Pooch & Mutt Vet food is a great choice - but chat it over with your vet first to be sure. It’s typically given to dogs with chronic kidney insufficiency, especially those in the late to end stages of the disease.

 

If your dog doesn’t have kidney problems, do not feed them renal dog food - it doesn’t contain the right balance of ingredients to support a dog with regular health. 

 

Dog food for kidney disease FAQs

You’re almost fully clued up on how to feed your precious pooch a renal diet. To finish, let’s go over some commonly asked questions about feeding a dog with kidney disease.

 

 

What foods can cause kidney failure in dogs?

Foods aren’t necessarily the cause of kidney failure - there can be many causes including genetic factors, toxins, underlying health conditions etc. However there are foods that may exacerbate symptoms which tend to contain high protein, high salt or high phosphorus levels; all of which are hard for damaged kidneys to tolerate. For this reason it’s best for your dog to avoid foods such as red meat, jerky, pigs’ ears, rawhide and bones.

 

 

Is cat food bad for dogs’ kidneys?

Even for dogs with regular health, it’s generally not a good idea to feed a dog cat food as both cat and dog food is made to different requirements. This is particularly true of dogs who are unwell or have health issues such as kidney disease. Cat food contains a very different balance of food groups that makes it suitable for a cat’s digestive system, not a dog’s. It usually contains high levels of fat and protein and therefore shouldn’t be fed to a dog with kidney dysfunction.

 

 

Is tuna good for dogs with kidney disease?

Tuna might be a favourite fishy snack for some dogs, but for dogs with kidney disease it’s a big no-go. Tuna contains high levels of phosphorus, which is damaging for a dog that needs to be on a renal diet. 

 

 

What vegetables are good for dogs with kidney disease?

Let’s not underestimate the wonders of vegetables on a dog’s kidney health! Plenty of veggies contain nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are kind to kidneys. 

These include: 

✔ Carrots, which help promote good digestion; cucumbers for their high moisture, high fibre and low salt content; peas as a tasty and digestible source of protein; and potatoes and sweet potatoes for being starchy carbohydrates and a great source of B vitamins. 

Vegetables you should avoid: 

X Tomatoes, as dogs with kidney issues need to avoid high levels of potassium, and tomatoes contain a lot of it. Tomatoes also contain oxalates, which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Best to keep tomatoes in your salad bowl, but not your pooch’s.

 

 

Can dogs with kidney disease have peanut butter?

Lots of dog parents feed their pooches peanut butter and see no issue, but when it comes to dysfunctional kidneys, you’ll definitely want to steer clear. Peanut butter contains harmful trans fats, which aren’t nutritious at all and tough for a dog to digest. Many peanut butters on the market also contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol, which, though fine for humans, is toxic for dogs and can cause or worsen kidney failure. Unsurprisingly, we recommend you avoid feeding your pooch peanut butter altogether.

 

 

Which fruits are good for dogs with kidney disease?

Eating healthy fresh fruits is a great way for a dog to nourish their kidneys, in moderation as part of a specialist renal diet. 

  • Blueberries and strawberries are perfect options, as they both contain antioxidants to battle toxins that may further damage the kidneys, and fibre to aid gentle digestion.
  • Watermelon can also be a juicy treat for a dog with kidney disease, as it’s deliciously hydrating but low in phosphorus.
  • Apples cut up into munchable pieces are fine for your pooch to eat in moderation. Apple is rich in pectin to absorb damaging toxins. 
  • Bananas are fine to feed your pooch in small amounts as they’re relatively low in phosphorus, protein and potassium - however, whether it’s low enough depends on what else your dog is eating. Some dogs also have difficulties digesting bananas, so make a decision based on what you know about your dog, and always ask your vet. 

 

When your dog has been diagnosed with a serious health condition, it can be nerve-wracking deciding what to feed them, but it needn’t be. With the right choice of expertly-prepared, vet-recommended food, you’ll know you’re doing the best you can for your dog’s long and happy life. As always, if you aren’t sure about what exactly you should and shouldn’t feed your dog, ask your vet during regular check-ups.

If your dog has been instructed to eat a renal diet for kidney disease, our Pooch & Mutt Veterinary Renal Food is your dog’s dream choice. Our specialist vet range has a specialist recipe for all kinds of health conditions - browse the full collection here.

 

vet alex on a pink background

 

If you're worried your pooch might be suffering with kidney problems, take a look at our blog post all about kidney disease in dogs.

References 

  1. “Healthy and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Dogs Have Differences in Serum Metabolomics and Renal Diet May Have Slowed Disease Progression”, 2021 - National Library of Medicine
  2. “A longitudinal study on the acceptance and effects of a therapeutic renal food in pet dogs with IRIS-Stage 1 chronic kidney disease”, 2017 - Wiley Online Library.

Comments (25)

Hi, Do you provide small samples of the kidney treats please? My 157
year old poodle dog subi has chronic kidney disease is very fussy!

is very fusdy
Debbie Bescoby-Chambers - Jun 13 2023

Hi. My toy poodle did have crystals in her urine. We have cleared this with specialised dog food. I have been reading about your renal dried dog food. Could I give this to prevent a reoccurrence or is it only suitable for dogs that have kidney disease? My dog is 5 and otherwise very healthy. Thank you

Ann Baxter - Jun 13 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Debbie, we don’t have any treats that are specifically for Kidney Disease but I will get this feedback passed onto the team! :)

Team Pooch - Jun 13 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Ann,
With our vet range we would always advise checking with your vet first, to confirm they are happy for this food to be fed to your pooch :)

Team Pooch - Jun 13 2023

Our 7 nearly 8 year old King Charles has crystals in her urine , she’s has tablets for it which she has nearly finished, but still is weeing blood, she’s on special food for it but can she use Pooch & Mutt after this is finished ?

Anne - Jun 28 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Anne, we would advise checking with your vet on whether they would be happy for your pooch to be on our food :)

Team Pooch - Jun 28 2023

Hi
My bitch had renal failure she’s 14 she likes wet food and busuits what do you recommend please

Gail - Jun 30 2023

I need to find a renal diet for my dog.,My vet suggested Royal Canin but it upset my dog. he is used to a wet diet and biscuit. does Pooch and Mutt do a wet renal diet please?

Jacqueline Mary Rockey - Jul 12 2023
Pooch Admin

At the moment we don’t currently have a wet food specifically for those that follow a renal diet, but this could be something we look into for the future! :)
should you have any questions please reach out to the team on [email protected]

Team Pooch - Jul 12 2023

Are any of your treats suitable for a dog with chronic kidney disease?

Ellen - Jul 20 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Ellen, I am very sorry but currently none of our treats would be suitable for a pooch with Kidney disease. If you have any questions please get in touch with the team at [email protected] :)

Team Pooch - Jul 20 2023

My dog is on stage 4 of kidney failure I can only give her chicken or white fish what treats are available for her ?

Louise - Aug 03 2023

My dog has stage one of kidney disease I cook for her and give hills diet dry food is cooked broccoli carrots and boiled chicken good for her diet she’s been a stage 1 for 2 years now

Joan - Aug 07 2023

Do you have any treats for dogs that have abnormal kidney function?

Florence Gardner - Aug 10 2023

I have a dog at stage 3 kidney failure
What can I do he doesn’t like kidney What cani put on top of it

Sharon Couldrey - Sep 13 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Sharon, you could try adding some salmon oil to their dry food and they might find this more enticing. Unfortunately we have no wet food available currently that would be suitable, as these are all too high in protein for your pooch. If you have any further questions, please reach out to the team on [email protected]

Team Pooch - Sep 13 2023

What treats can I give my whippet Ben who has kidney disease

Jill - Sep 18 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Jill, unfortunately all our treats are quite high in protein and wouldn’t be suitable for your pooch. However, our Peanut Butter dental sticks are low in protein content and could make a nice little treat :)

Team Pooch - Sep 18 2023

My dog Suzie had stones removed from her bladder when she was 2yrs old and has been on a special diet since but she has a propensity to put on weight . Could tell me is your kidney and renal diet safe for her

Dawn King - Sep 22 2023
Pooch Admin

Hi Dawn, We would recommend checking this with your vet, as they may prefer them to stay on a prescription diet specifically for this condition, to prevent any further issues. If you have any further questions, please reach out to the team on [email protected]

Team Pooch - Sep 22 2023

My Scottie is diagnose with kidney failure and i dont know what kind of food to make for her. We do get Hill’s k/d dry food here in Namibia. Where can i get recipies for food to cook for her. Thank you in advance

Marijke De KOCK - Oct 30 2023

Hi my dog is a pomeranian and he is 8 years old and have kidney disease i give him every day 15 minutes iv fluids and he is eating hills k/d dry food but sometimes i boiled some chicken legs do you think im doing good

Jacqueline - Jan 10 2024

You may want to specify in the section for fruits that grapes are highly toxic to dogs and will destroy their kidneys

Jasmine - Jan 09 2024

My 14 year old cattle dog may have kidney disease. What is the correct amount of phosphorus for an overweight cattle dog? She currently weights 50 pounds should weight 40 or less. The last few days the only thing she will eat is hand fed tuna fish.
Thank You

Darlene Taglione - Feb 08 2024
Pooch Admin

Hi Darlene, We would advise speaking to your vet regarding this and they will be best to advise here. :)

Team Pooch - Feb 08 2024

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