Choosing your dog's diet is an often under-researched but crucial decision to your dog's health. This choice only increases in importance when your dog experiences kidney disease. You've trusted us with your dog's dietary choices so far, so let us guide you through canine kidney disease (CKD) and how to adjust your dog's diet to their needs.
The Effects of Kidney Disease
Kidney disease comes in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute kidney disease develops in a few days to a week, while chronic kidney disease (CKD) develops slowly, often as a result of old age. Both disease types have different causes, but their symptoms are practically identical.
Symptoms indicative of kidney disease include the following:
- loss of appetite, (nausea and ultimately emaciation from not eating)
- dehydration, and
- increased urination.
These symptoms are a result of the kidney slowly breaking down. The kidney is made of nephrons which help balance the essential nutrients and process the waste out of your dog's body. These nephrons can't be regenerated, which is why your dog will need a diet that aids its functions. Your dog can function using only 25% of their kidney so let’s start feeding the dog to support the kidney and slow the progression of this disease as soon as we can.
As you can imagine, nutrition plays an important role in managing CKD in dogs. There are four core goals for managing CKD in dogs:
- Control the clinical signs associated with accumulating waste products in the blood.
- Minimize problems with fluid and mineral balance.
- Sustain adequate nutrition.
- Modify/slow the progression of CKD
Unique Kidney Disease supportMet with Volhard Diets
Further research has indicated that 100% dry diets are not a good choice for a dog with kidney issues. Dogs with CKF (Chronic Kidney Failure) cannot conserve water by concentrating their urine, therefore, their water intake is critical to prevent dehydration. A diet with high moisture content like Volhard diets are necessary for maintaining hydration.. Once your dog has been diagnosed with a kidney issue - 100% dry processed diets should never be fed.
A hydrated diet keeps your dog from being in a constant state of dehydration and helps meet your dog's needs by flush the body of toxins.
Instead of waiting for your dog to drink water, you can measure your dog's water intake with a hydrated diet. This can look as simple as adding a half cup of water to your dog's meal. All of our Volhard diets require adding water to our nutritious mixes, so you can know precisely how much water your dog is consuming per day.
2.)High-Quality Protein and High Enough Fats
Your dog's next need is high-quality protein and high enough fat. Often low protein diets are recommended because less protein in the dog's diet means less nitrogen in its waste. One of the major issues with other pet foods on the market is that the protein to fat ratio is not in balance. The protein is too high and the fat is too low. You want your dog to use protein to rebuild and fat for energy. The bi product for using fat for energy is water- so it is a very easy metabolic process. Ideally you are looking for a 1:1 fat : protein ratio.
It is important to make sure that your dog’s nutrition plan includes proteins that can be easily absorbed and higher in fat, such as raw meats, or eggs, while staying away from protein sources, which your dog cannot digest at all, such as soy. Although soy has no nutritional value for your dog, most of the dog food manufacturers include soy into the dog food as an inexpensive way to replace high-quality protein.
The types of fats in the diet are important. We do not want to create inflammation in the body. We want to provide enough Omega 3 fatty acids to allow for a proper Omega 6:3 ratio. The ratio of Omega 6:3 Fatty acids is more important than the amount of each of them alone in the diet. They are relevant to each other. We are wanting to support the kidney here so follow a guideline of 1 part Omega 3 to 9 parts of Omega 6s and lower. You want to be somewhere on that scale. If your dog has CKD you will want to be closer to 1 part Omega 3 to 2 parts Omega 6 on that scale. If you choose a diet that is improperly formulated, you are going to get constant stress not only on the kidneys but the entire body itself because there is a constant state of inflammation present.
It is important to understand that the protein you add to the diet will change the Omega 3:6 ratio. If your dog will only eat certain proteins or has other issues that preclude the use of a higher fat protein, then the addition of the Volhard Krill oil can be used to reset the Omega 3:6 ratio to where it needs to be. EPA and DHA amounts can be found on the krill oil webpage.
You can use bone broth to hydrate the Volhard foundation mixes and that will really help your dog stay interested in eating, add a good source of protein and stay hydrated at the same time. Bone broth or fish stock- in the nature of its processing- breaks down proteins into their amino acids which are more easily digested by the dog’s body and provides little waste for the kidneys to process. This way you can introduce protein in a very digestible way and use a lower source of primary protein but still reach the same goal in diversifying sources.
The AM/PM Volhard Diet
By feeding the Volhard diet you are able to maintain hydration, lower blood pressure, introduce Omega 3 Fatty Acids, provide quality proteins, provide enzymes and antioxidants and fresh natural digestible nutrition. The Volhard AM/PM diet suggested is a separation diet (meaning that carbohydrate and protein are separated into different meals to allow for easy digestion) and is low in phosphorus and sodium. The benefit of the AM/PM diet is that it is very kind to healing or sick dogs and the digestibility is very high. The AM/PM diet allows the dog's body to focus digestion on types of food separately allowing the body to produce the enzymes needed and breakdown the carbohydrates in the diet at a separate time from the protein. Protein is digested at a much slower rate and when fed together, the fruits and vegetables will “push” the protein through the GI tract much quicker than the nutrition can be absorbed. Feeding fruits and vegetables separately in the day allows them to have a chance to be well on their way out of the body before you introduce the protein for the day.
In conclusion, what your dog eats can cause, prevent or aid in managing kidney disease symptoms. The protein choice is important because the wrong choice can create high amounts of nitrogen which can place stress on the kidneys. Poor quality proteins and kibble foods are not easily digested, do not contain enough moisture and create stress on the kidneys.
Choosing the Volhard diet allows you to tailor the diet to meet the needs of your dog. Using certain raw diets can be high in protein if they are formulated without the adequate amount of fat to maintain a 1:1 ratio. The fact that you add your own quality protein source to every Volhard meal, means that you can change that protein without having to change the diet. This makes the Volhard diet ideal for you and your dog. You can make sure that fat is the primary source of energy, while high quality fresh protein that you add at the time of feeding can provide the materials for making hormones, muscles, enzymes and supporting other biological functions. The bi product of the metabolism of fat in the dog’s body is water and therefore minimizes the stress on the kidneys. Metabolizing protein for energy creates the following bi products: Phosphorus, urea and sulfur which put strain on the kidneys. Urea in the blood is a natural diuretic and causes dehydration. All the ingredients must work together to create a healing environment for the dog. We recommend doing a 21 day kidney cleanse prior to starting the Volhard diet to eliminate toxins as best that you can so the body is ready to accept a fresh diet.
Free Kidney Cleanse
We'd love to send you off with our 21-day kidney cleanse, which you can access here for free. This cleanse doesn't revolve around our Volhard products and was created so you can quickly get ingredients from a store near you or online. It's a simple way we can help you help your pup.
You can learn more about our Volhard raw diets here and more about kidney disease in dogs here.