Diet is a critical part of managing your dog's kidney disease. There's no cure for kidney disease but with medication, diet and supplements you can increase both the quality and the length of her life. Your veterinarian can provide you with a prescription kibble, but many people are more comfortable with a homemade cooked or raw diet. Consult with a veterinary nutritionist or veterinarian--many are supportive of homemade or raw diets. Work with your vet on all aspects of managing your dog's kidney disease, including formulating an appropriate diet.
Consult With Your Vet
Since there are several causes for kidney disease, it is very important that you work with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist on a homemade diet. Kidney disease and its symptoms can be very complex. The needs of a senior dog with kidney disease are different to the needs of a young dog. Your dog's blood and urine levels need to be monitored--some dogs with kidney disease benefit from a low protein, low fat high fiber diet, and others need a high protein, high fat, low phosphorus diet. There is no one-size-fits-all kidney diet. You may want to consult with a vet school nutritionist--some will do phone consultations. See Resources.
Elements of a Kidney Diet
All the ingredients should be as fresh as possible, without unnecessary preservatives, excess salt or chemicals. Damaged kidneys have a harder time filtering blood and urine, and the less work the kidneys have to do, the better for the dog. Feed your dog two to three times a day, and always provide fresh water. Give her between 2 and 3 percent of her ideal body weight in food per day. For instance, a 50-pund dog should get between 1 and 1 1/2-lbs of food daily, split into at least two meals.
The basic elements of a kidney diet are cooked or raw meat and cooked white rice or potatoes. Liver and other organ meats should be added sparingly. Optional ingredients include eggs and cooked vegetables. Green tripe--available either raw or canned--is a low fat, low phosphorus food that may be an excellent component of a kidney diet. Raw green tripe is available through most raw dog food companies, and many better pet stores carry canned tripe.
You will need to add calcium supplements. Other recommended supplements are fish oil capsules, vitamins B, E and C, digestive enzymes to aid protein digestion and salt substitute.
Buy supplies in bulk and cook large batches at a time. Separate them into containers for each meal or a day's worth of food, and freeze what you aren't going to use within two days. Every day, take the next day's food out of the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge. Add the supplements separately, since most will be damaged by cooking.