Care For Dogs & Cats With Chronic Kidney Disease

First try my dog or cat food recipes posted on my website A highly digestible, good quality animal protein ingredient, often lacking in manufactured pet foods and the special diets prescribed for animals with kidney problems, is important, especially when the animals are losing weight (in part because their kidneys are shedding protein).

Giving thiamine (in raw meats) or vitamin B Complex is very important for animals with kidney disease, as is potassium gluconate supplement. A broad spectrum, daily multi-mineral and multi-vitamin supplement is called for. You need to aim at a lower phosphate diet, especially when meats are preserved with sulfur dioxide. Your vet may want to prescribe a phosphate binder, and a specific diet for chronic renal failure. Unfortunately, many animals, especially cats, do not like these processed dietary formulations. Some additional potassium in the diet may also be of benefit.

Giving dogs about 1 teaspoon daily per 30 lb body weight of safflower oil will help support kidney function. A teaspoon daily of fish oil is good for cats with this malady. Herbal tinctures like dandelion, couch grass, and a little chopped parsley in the food, or made into a tea and added to the animal’s drinking water—only if they like it— will also help. My dogs like these teas, and took only a few laps before they decided that it was good. Cats can be more finicky, and anything that stops them from drinking plenty of water is bad when they have chronic kidney disease.

The sick animal will not feel like eating (kidney disease causes much nausea). Vitamin B complex helps stimulate appetite. Extra mineral supplements are very much needed when sick animals drink and urinate more than normal. Coax the sick animal to eat whatever she or he likes, with caution. Animals’ nutritional wisdom is not perfect. Some may just want a little pasta and scrambled egg, or Gerber’s chicken, turkey or beef baby food, until they feel better and their kidneys, and also possibly their challenged livers, repair. Getting in some nutrition by hand-feeding, and even injecting replacement fluids and nutrients under the skin in animals who feel too sick to eat or drink and who are dehydrated, can save many a life. This is a low-cost equivalent to routine dialysis for human patients with similar kidney problems.

Dietary restriction of protein does not benefit cats and dogs with progressive renal disease. Small daily feedings of high -quality animal protein is called for such as egg, calf liver, cottage cheese, a little yogurt, chicken, and tilapia fish.

Complications can develop, such as anemia that calls for ferrous sulfate supplement or more costly Procrit injections. Many animals develop hypertension, and that calls for a low salt diet and medications like a beta antagonist such as propanolol, or a diuretic like Furosemide. Peritoneal dialysis also helps.

For ethical reasons, and the fact that cats with kidney transplants are more prone to develop diabetes mellitus and infections, I do not advise cats being given kidney transplants to prolong their lives—and their suffering.

Chronic renal failure can bring on a host of complications, from blood clots, (thromboembolism), dental, eye, heart and joint problems, to impairment of the immune system, pancreatitis, and seizures. Regular veterinary check-ups for cats and dogs with chronic renal failure are therefore called for. The patients are often dehydrated and benefit from injections of nutrient and hydrating fluids under the skin which also serves as a cheap quasi-dialysis treatment.

Treatment with Vitamin D3 (Calcitrol) is extremely important because the kidney cannot activate this essential nutrient that leads to low blood calcium levels and stimulation of the parathyroid gland that in turn can cause bone loss (osteomalacia), loose teeth, ‘rubber jaw, lameness, and increased susceptibility to fractures.


. Various dog treats have been implicated in thousands of dogs coming down with acute renal failure over the past few years. Many such treats, notably beef and chicken jerky for dogs manufactured in China have been linked with the Fanconi syndrome. According to the Update on Fanconi Syndrome and Cystinuria - WSAVA 2015 Congress by Dr. Urs Giger and associates “As many as 10% of Basenjis are affected, and they typically develop signs in middle age (4–7 years). A mutation in the Fan1 gene has recently been discovered. Recent studies indicate that Labrador Retrievers with copper-associated hepatopathy develop Fanconi syndrome. More recently Fanconi syndrome has been associated with the ingestion of chicken and duck, and even veggie pet jerky treats of different brands that contain Chinese products. Currently no specific ingredient or contaminant responsible for the intoxication has been identified, but the FDA and state governments are actively investigating the jerky treats. Nearly all the dogs affected are from North America and Australia and, recently, also Europe. Affected dogs mostly include toy to small breed dogs, such as Chihuahuas; Maltese; and Yorkshire, Jack Russell and West Highland White Terriers, but not brachycephalic breeds (except Shih Tzus). Their predisposition may be related to the proportionally larger amount of jerky treats ingested by small breeds compared to large-breed dogs, or may reflect a broader hypersensitivity of the smaller breeds.”