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If your pooch is diagnosed with kidney failure, it means that his kidneys aren't functioning properly. Your vet may recommend some dietary changes as part of your pup's treatment plan, usually with the use of a prescription veterinary diet designed specifically for pups with kidney issues.
Limiting the Protein
Veterinary renal diets contain limited amounts of the ingredients that will heavily tax your pup's failing kidneys. One of the main functions of the kidneys is to filter out toxins from the body. Unfortunately, proteins produce renal toxins, including urea, when they are metabolized by the body. While your pooch needs enough protein in his food to maintain his bodily functions, high protein diets should be avoided. Most prescription kidney diets have a limited amount of protein, between 13 and 18 percent, according to the Whole Dog Journal. This is just below the amount of protein recommended by the feeding profiles of the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
Keeping Phosphorus Under Control
Phosphorus, a type of mineral, is found in most grains, meats, bones and dairy products. The kidneys normally filter excess phosphorus out of the blood and excrete it through the urine, but pups with kidney failure no longer have the ability to do this. The excess phosphorus can cause further damage to the kidneys, vitamin D deficiency and the calcification of your pup's bodily tissues, according to the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine website. Prescription foods, like Hill's k/d, Purina NF and Royal Canin's renal diets, contain low amounts of phosphorus to prevent health issues and maintain as much of the kidney function as possible.
Regulating Other Minerals, Like Sodium and Potassium
Most veterinary renal diets contain reduced amounts of sodium. Excess sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can further damage the kidneys. Other minerals regulated by the kidneys like calcium and potassium may also become unbalanced, depending on your pup's particular case; potassium is usually depleted in most cases. Veterinary renal diets contain at least the minimum amount of these minerals, as recommended by the AAFCO, but most contain extra potassium. In some cases, your vet may recommend additional supplementation of these ingredients if necessary. She may also recommend switching to a canned diet, which contains plenty of water, which is essential for healthy kidney function.
Vitamins, Supplements and Flavor
Pups with kidney failure tend to lose vitamin C and some B vitamins due to the increase in urination that occurs with the disease. Prescription diets contain more of these vitamins than other diets to account for this loss. They also contain ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids to help maintain kidney function. To make up for their reduced protein content, many of these foods contain higher amounts of fats to make the food palatable. This is important because of the reduction in appetite that occurs with kidney failure. If you plan on making your own food at home, consult with your vet to get the exact balance of ingredients recommended for your dog to keep up his kidney function.