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Managing Canine Kidney Disease

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Recently we learned that our Old English Sheepdog who is 13 years of age, has Stage 1 Kidney Disease. The news is difficult in and of itself but when the Vet said that there is nothing in terms of medication that we can do to help her that's a hit to the heart of the matter. What the Vet did recommend is a managing her diet which could slow the disease's progress.

Although younger dogs can get kidney disease the percentage of incidence is small. Researchers say that less than 1% of the younger dogs develop CKD. The disease tends to be more prevalent in dogs 7 and older so Sydney falls right into the category. I've read where many times the disease will go undiagnosed but in our case we were lucky, if you want to put it that way. The solution here is to modify my dog's diet, but what exactly does it entail? She is a fussy eater already and now to have to change her foods this will not be an easy undertaking. We all know the consequences of changing over a dog's food, and it's not pleasant. We have to do our best to mitigate the effects.

Let's start with the canned food sold by the Vet, Hills CKD. If you are short on time then this may be a suitable alternative. However, since I have a heightened awareness regarding ingredients, this was not the road I was looking to venture down. For my liking, there were too many chemicals and not enough nutrients in the processed food. This may be a right solution for you, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to find another alternative. I researched which foods are beneficial for a dog with CKD and thought that I could start making her food. I learned that a diet low in phosphorous is important, the reason being it's important to keep your dog's blood pressure low and not have the kidneys work too hard. I also learned that protein & sodium intake should be reduced. Medical researchers believe that keeping the blood phosphorous low will slow the disease's progression. Phosphorous is found in meats, nuts, milk, beans, lentils and whole grains. Basically the diet should be grain free and light on meats (which she loves). CKD dogs should be fed smaller meals several times daily, so their kidneys do not have to work so hard to digest the food. Their foods should be moist and cut into smaller pieces (I use the Cuisinart to finely chop Syd's food) so as to not stress the kidneys when they are breaking down the food.

Sydney is now fed breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to two/three snacks in between. Remember, foods low in phosphorous, protein and sodium are the important foods for managing a KD diet. Here is an example of some of the foods we give her: Within the protein group, we tend to go for a low fat protein, Pork. I buy a lean pork roast and cook it up for the week. Each day I cut off a few slices, put in the in Cuisinart together with a handful of cranberries (cranberries are good for urinary tact health) and now she has a healthy protein. I will often combine this with cooked veggies. Vegetables should be cooked in order to reduce the phosphorous . The beneficial veggies I use are string beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, and cabbage. Generally, I will chop, combine and cook them up for the week. Veggies are a healthy accompaniment to the protein and contain lots of vitamins and minerals. Fruits are also an excellent source of nutrition. Blueberries, apples, pumpkin and cranberries are my go to staple since they are available year around. For some carbs I cook up a serving of Cream Of Wheat and add blueberries; I also cook up some white rice or tiny pasta. I combine this with unsalted beef broth. We she is fed she usually gets tastings of each food group. There are plenty of food alternatives available you just have to find the right one that works for you. In addition to managing her diet we also increased her vitamin supplements. Omega 3 vitamin fatty acids twice daily, a Renal support vitamin which helps kidney function, and a Cranberry vitamin, which benefits urinary tract support.

You should know that this is not as difficult as it sounds, once you get your routine established and find out what foods your dog likes it all gets easier.

As always before embarking on any change you should consult first with your Vet.

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