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Kidney or Liver Disease

While kidney and liver disease can be a scary diagnosis, many dogs can live comfortably for years with kidney or liver disease if it is caught early enough and treated appropriately. Feeding the right diet can have dramatic effects on survival – studies have shown that dogs that eat diets designed for kidney or liver disease can live twice as long as those who eat more typical diets.

In general, dogs with kidney or liver disease should be fed diets reduced in phosphorus, protein, and sodium and supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil.

A low phosphorus diet to keep your dog’s blood phosphorus low slows progression of kidney and liver disease and improves survival.

As the kidneys and liver are responsible for getting rid of the waste products from protein in the diet, diets for dogs with kidney and liver disease have lower amounts of protein to minimize the buildup of waste products in the blood as the kidneys fail, which can make your dog feel quite sick. Lower protein diets also reduce the protein loss, which can improve survival time.

High salt (sodium) diets may increase blood pressure and may worsen kidney and liver damage, so diets designed for dogs with kidney and liver disease are low in sodium.

There is some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may have benefits for cats and dogs with kidney and liver disease, so many diets for dogs with kidney and liver disease contain added fish oil, or fish oil is added as a supplement if the diet doesn’t already have it.

Diets designed for kidney and liver disease are also designed to be non-acidifying whereas many commercial dog foods are designed to be acidifying. Dogs with kidney and liver disease often become too acidic, so it is important that the diet be designed to help counteract this issue.

All of these modifications can be found in these therapeutic diets listed in this section. Unfortunately, diets that you can buy at the pet or grocery store are going to be too high in phosphorus and protein for dogs with anything other than the mildest kidney disease and also are likely to be acidifying, so this is a time when you really do need to get a veterinary approved diet if you want your dog to have the best nutrition.