Food, Health

What Protein Is Good for Dogs with Kidney Disease?

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Author: Jacob Kay

Kidney disease is a common health problem for dogs, especially as they age. When kidneys aren’t functioning properly, they have trouble removing waste products from the blood. This causes these waste products like urea to build up to dangerous levels in the body. One way to help manage kidney disease in dogs is through dietary changes, particularly by adjusting the amount and type of protein in their diet.

Nutrients play a major role in the management of dogs with kidney disease. Pet parents of digs with kidney issues must strike a balance between meeting their dog’s protein needs, while not exhausting the kidneys.

The type and digestibility of protein also matter when dealing with compromised kidney function. Fortunately, several healthy protein options are suitable for dogs with kidney disease that can help them thrive while supporting kidney health.

What Protein Is Good for Dogs with Kidney Disease

Importance of Protein for Dogs with Kidney Disease

Protein is a crucial nutrient for all dogs to maintain healthy muscles, immune function, and organ functions. But, for dogs with kidney disease, dietary protein takes on an even more complex role. While protein is still important to preserve lean muscle mass and stamina in dogs with kidney issues, excessive amounts can lead to kidney decline.

Importance of Protein for Dogs with Kidney Disease

Damaged kidneys have difficulty removing waste products like urea and creatinine that increase in the blood as a byproduct of protein metabolism. As kidney function diminishes, these waste products build up to risky levels with too much dietary protein. Therefore, finding the optimal level of high-quality, digestible protein sources is important when making diets for dogs with kidney disease.

Choosing the Right Diet

Choosing the Right Diet

Reducing the overall dietary protein is recommended to support failing kidneys. However, the specific “low protein” allowance depends greatly on the extent of kidney damage. In the early stages of chronic kidney disease, dogs can often still tolerate normal levels of high-quality protein. As the disease progresses to more advanced stages, a certain protein restriction in the diet is beneficial.

An example of a nutrient profile for good kidney diets for dogs is as follows[1]:

NutrientGrams/1000 kcal
Protein31-41
Phosphorus0.5-0.8
Sodium0.4-1.2
EPA and DHA0.4-1.2
In most kidney diets for dogs, switching to canned food and restricting phosphorus is a good early strategy.

The Best Types of Polypeptides for Kidney Health

Whenever you’re selecting the right protein sources for dogs with kidney disease, focus on edibility and quality. Some types of protein are easier for compromised kidneys to metabolize and put less strain on kidney function.

1. HIGHLY DIGESTIBLE ANIMAL PROTEINS:

  • Eggs, dairy, chicken, fish, and some meats put less strain on kidneys.
  • More potent proteins mean less waste byproducts for kidneys to eliminate.
  • Egg protein is arguably the gold standard, with near-complete digestibility.

2. LIMITED PLANT PROTEINS:

  • Soy, corn, and wheat are less digestible and usable for dogs with kidney disease.
  • Stick to well-cooked grains like white rice if including plant proteins.
  • Provide them with cooked quinoa seeds.
Limited Plant Protein

3. MIXTURES OF BOTH PROTEIN AS THE CONDITION ADVANCES:

  • Combine highly digestible animal and plant proteins.
  • Egg whites, dairy, with a small amount of plant proteins.
  • Provide amino acids with Omega-3s, and B-vitamins.
  • Ultra low-protein therapeutic kidney care diets (8-13% DM protein)

Providing your pet with high-quality proteins, especially those from animal sources, supports kidney health by:

  • Preserving its lean muscle mass
  • Supplying maximum nutrition with minimal metabolic waste
  • Slowing the progression of kidney disease
  • Maintaining quality of life for dogs at any stage of kidney decline.[2]

Possible Conditions That Can Lead to Kidney Failure

The Best Types of Polypeptides for Kidney Health

There are often underlying conditions that lead to kidney failure in dogs. These conditions are usually long-term and progressive. Kidney failure is not the predominant condition but is often an after-effect of other conditions or diseases. These probable conditions or diseases can be from the following:

  • Congestive Heart Failure – a long-term condition in which your dog’s heart can’t pump blood well enough to meet its body’s needs.
  • Hyperphosphatemia – a condition in which you have too much phosphate in your blood
  • Liver Failure – when the liver has shut down or is shutting down.
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy – a nervous system disorder brought on by severe liver disease
  • Acidosis – a condition in which there is too much acid in the body fluids
  • Anaemia – a condition that develops when your blood produces a lower-than-normal amount of healthy red blood cells
  • Bone Pain/Increased Fractures – a condition in which your bone mass is reduced below what is considered normal.
  • Uremic Crisis – the terminal clinical manifestation of kidney failure (also called renal failure).
  • Hypertension – when the pressure in your blood vessels is too high (140/90 mmHg or higher

Symptoms of CKD

Symptoms of CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) are pretty common to notice. Consult with your veterinarian if your dog is showing symptoms of CKD. The general symptoms for your dog getting sick with kidney disease can be listed as follows:

  • Increased thirst and urination – Your dog might go for urination as frequently as it drinks water, and this could be a sign that it might be suffering from CKD.
  • Weight loss – Your dog could be losing weight abruptly without showing any sign of illness, this could be a sign that it might be suffering from CKD.
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea – Vomiting and diarrhoea are the most common symptoms that a pet parent always misunderstands, whenever this happens, consult with your veterinarian.
  • Weakness – Weakness can be a symptom of anything, but weakness after potty breaks or urinating suggests that there is something wrong with your pet.
  • Poot Coat Appearance – You can tell if a puppy is healthy by looking at its coat, a poo coat appearance is a sign that your dog is suffering from a disease.
  • Constipation – Your dog could be constipated for a long time because of the weak kidney, make sure you get it checked by the veterinarian.
  • Blood in the urine – It is hard to notice this happening, but if you see blood in the urine, rush to the veterinarian immediately.
  • Bad breath – If you take care of your dog’s oral hygiene, this will not go unnoticed. Bad breath directly indicates problems with the stomach.
  • Sore mouth or mouth ulcers – A sore mouth or swollen gums can be another sign of stomach issues or ultimately CKD.
  • Acute Blindness – Your dog could have partial blindness because of an infection in the eyes or even because of bad kidney conditions.
  • Swelling of bone structure – If your dog’s bone structure is swelling then you already know there is something wrong with its food habits and digestion patterns.

FAQs

What happens if my dog with kidney disease eats too much protein?

Excessive protein puts strain on the kidneys by increasing metabolic waste products like urea and creatinine. This can accelerate kidney damage and cause complications like uremic poisoning.

What level of protein is right for my dog with chronic kidney disease?

The optimal protein level depends on the stage of kidney disease and health status. Getting veterinary guidance is key, as most dogs need gradual protein restriction as kidney function declines.

Should I feed my dog with kidney disease a homemade diet?

Home-cooked kidney diets allow control over protein and nutrients. However, working with a vet nutritionist is extremely important to formulate complete, balanced meals tailored to your dog’s changing needs.

What are some good plant-based protein options for dogs with kidney failure?

Some plant proteins like soy and wheat gluten are too high in phosphorus for failing kidneys. Options like egg whites, low phosphorus grains like white rice, and potato protein may be better tolerated.

Can I supplement amino acids if my dog’s kidney diet is very low in protein?

Yes, adding certain amino acids helps support muscle mass and vital processes while restricting dietary protein. Work closely with your vet on supplementation.

Conclusion

Optimizing your dog’s protein intake is an important part of managing kidney disease and supporting their health. While protein needs change depending on the stage of kidney dysfunction, finding the right proteins remains key throughout the disease process. Prioritizing highly digestible, proteins – especially from animal sources like eggs, dairy, and certain meats – can help meet nutritional needs while avoiding excess waste byproducts.

Pairing reduced protein therapeutic kidney care diets or balanced homemade foods with amino acid supplementation aids dogs with advanced kidney disease. No matter the degree of decline, working closely with your veterinary team ensures your dog’s protein intake allows them to thrive while protecting their kidneys.

References:

  1. Feeding the Dog with Kidney Disease | petMD
  2. Nutrition for Dogs with Chronic Kidney Disease | VCA Hospitals
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About
Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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