CARE FOR DOGS & CATS WITH CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE
Dr. Michael W. Fox
First try my dog or cat food recipes posted on my website www.drfoxvet.net 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
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.
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.