If your dog or cat has been diagnosed with kidney disease, don’t despair. These kidney-friendly foods and supplements will help support his health and well-being.
Kidney problems are common in dogs and cats, especially as they get older. Let’s take a look at how these conditions manifest – and how certain foods and supplements can help support your dog or cat’s kidney health.
Signs of Kidney Disease
If your animal companion is drinking more water than usual (polydipsia), or urinating more frequently (polyuria), he may be exhibiting signs of kidney disease. Other symptoms may include dilute urine, which means his kidneys may not be concentrating the urine as they should. Urine that lacks color or odor is also a telltale sign of a kidney problem.
Less frequent but still important symptoms include loss of appetite and weight, and even discolored teeth. Your dog or cat’s breath may have a chemical odor, and he may have sores in his mouth, or pale gums, which are an indicator of anemia. Episodes of vomiting and diarrhea may occur. If your animal is repeatedly licking his nose, chances are he’s feeling nauseated, another possible indicator of kidney disease, along with muscle weakness and exercise intolerance.
Note: Any of these symptoms warrant a trip to the veterinarian for a check-up. Complete blood work, a urinalysis and urine culture are important, because only these tests will let you know if you are dealing with an acute or short-term kidney problem, or a chronic ongoing one.
Feeding Animals with Kidney Problems
Cats: When it comes to cats and kidney disease, a common question is whether protein should be restricted in their daily diet. Generally, decreasing protein levels lessens the kidneys’ workload. Since many cats are picky eaters at the best of times, yours may simply walk away from a restrictive diet, so it’s important to ensure that you look not only at the percentage of protein, but the quality of the protein. If a cat receives insufficient protein, he may lose muscle mass, develop other issues, and have an overall compromised quality of life.
It is very important to ensure your cat is fed a moisture-rich diet. Consider a homemade diet, along with special supplementation recommended by a holistic vet, to further support your cat’s kidney function.
A variety of simple recipes can be prepared for cats with chronic renal problems. Try combining 3 ounces of canned wild tuna with ½ ounce of canned clams, ½ cup of cooked long-grain rice, a sprinkle of salt substitute, 600 mg of calcium from eggshell powder, and a vitamin-mineral supplement suggested by your veterinarian. A little vegetable mince can be supportive too. Try beets, carrots and green beans. Other vegetables that support kidney health are zucchini, celery, squash, and turnips.
Dogs: When it comes to our canine companions, proteins such as meat, milk, and eggs are higher quality than plant proteins. Consider high-fat, moderate amounts of high-quality proteins, and use low phosphorus carbohydrates to fill in the gap. Beef, lamb, pork, turkey, dark chicken with skin, beef heart, green tripe, white rice, sweet potatoes, and winter squash can all be combined in a variety of ways to provide your dog with a nutritious and delicious meal that meets his special needs.
Note: Dogs with kidney problems often do better when fed smaller meals throughout the day, rather than one or two large meals.
- Supplements that have a positive impact on both acute and chronic kidney problems include wild salmon oil, an Omega-3 essential fatty acid that’s helpful for fighting inflammation and supporting your dog or cat’s immune system; it may even slow down the progression of renal failure. Vitamin E is the perfect partner to a fish oil supplement.
- Cranberry helps stop bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, and aids in the prevention of further infections, while vitamins B and C also work together to support kidney function.
- The humble dandelion is rich in vitamins, including A, B, C, D, and K, and also contains iron, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and protein. Consider adding a little bit of minced dandelion greens to your animal’s meals. If fresh greens that have never been sprayed are not available, dried greens are readily available in health food stores. Dandelion leaf tea can also be made or can be added to a variety of broths.
- Recent studies have demonstrated that astragalus, an immunogenic herb, can slow the progression of kidney issues in animals. Try adding a sprinkle of astragalus root powder to daily meals; the dosage is 4 to 6 grams daily for a dog, and 2 to 3 grams daily for a cat. Always check with your vet before starting your animal on a new supplement.
- Other supplements provide antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, soothing and tonifying properties through a combination of wild-crafted certified organic herbs, including Echinacea purpurea root, marshmallow, and horsetail.
- Share a cup of decaffeinated green tea with your cat or dog. Green tea contains a variety of vitamins and is a rich source of flavonols. Principal among these are the catechins, including catchin, epicatechin, gallate, epigallocatechin, and eipgallo catechin gallate (EGCG). Green tea supports kidney and liver health.
Kidney Care Cookies
- 2½ cups whole flour (e.g. brown rice, barley, kamut, spelt, or a combination)
- ½ cup home-prepared or store-bought bone broth
- ½ cup filtered water
- 1 cup puréed carrots and green beans
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients well in a food processor or blender, until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured cutting board or counter and knead a few times. Roll out the dough and cut into desired shapes, or place it on a lightly-greased or parchment paper-covered cookie sheet, roll it out to the corners of the sheet and lightly score with a sharp knife. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the treats cool completely in the oven. Remove and store in a Ziploc bag or airtight cookie jar.
Switch it up: Other vegetables you can use in this recipe include zucchini, parsley, celery, dandelion greens, collard greens, squash, and turnip.
Kit Kat Salmon Bits
- 2 cups whole flour (e.g. barley, oat, spelt, or a combination)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh catnip or 1 tablespoon dried catnip (for dogs, catnip can be replaced with oregano)
- 1 whole egg
- 1 can wild salmon or wild tuna, packed in water
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or cover with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until the mixture forms a ball that pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn dough out onto the cookie sheet. Using a rolling pin or even a glass, ensure that the dough reaches the corners of the cookie sheet. Then score the dough with a sharp knife, to make tiny “bits” (or bigger pieces if you are preparing this recipe for a dog). Scoring makes the treats easy to break, once baked and cooled. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the oven off and allow the treats to continue to bake, removing when the oven is cool. Break and store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
Switch it up: If you want a softer treat, remove the cookie sheet from the oven as soon as the 20-minute timer goes off.
Bison Cranberry Crunch
- 1 pound grass-fed bison liver
- ½ cup finely minced fresh cranberries
- 1 teaspoon Acadian Sea Kelp
Preheat oven to 200°F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender, until smooth. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, add liver paste and spread with a spatula. Place cookie sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake for three hours. Take a sample and break it — you should hear a great “snap.” Cool completely before storage — this step is essential! Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bags.