Kidney Disease in Dogs: A Complete Guide

sick dog
sick dog

Kidney disease is a common health issue in dogs that can have serious consequences if not properly managed. Understanding the common causes of kidney disease is essential for pet owners to take preventive measures and seek timely treatment. Additionally, providing the right diet can greatly support dogs with kidney disease. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the common causes of kidney disease in dogs and provide vet-approved homemade dog food recipes specially designed for kidney disease. These recipes are not only nutritious but also easy to prepare, ensuring your furry friend receives the care they deserve.

Common Causes of Kidney Disease in Dogs

Kidney disease, also known as renal disease or nephropathy, occurs when the kidneys become damaged and are no longer able to function properly. There are several common causes of kidney disease in dogs:

  1. Age: As dogs get older, their risk of developing kidney disease increases. Aging kidneys may not function as efficiently as they once did.
  2. Infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can affect the kidneys and lead to kidney disease if left untreated.
  3. Genetics: Some dog breeds are more predisposed to kidney disease due to their genetics. Breeds like the Bull Terrier, Shih Tzu, and Cocker Spaniel are known to have a higher risk.
  4. Toxic Substances: Ingestion of toxic substances such as antifreeze, certain plants, or medications can severely damage the kidneys.
  5. High Blood Pressure: Hypertension can damage the delicate blood vessels in the kidneys, impairing their function over time.
  6. Obesity: Obesity can strain the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney disease.
  7. Dental Disease: Poor dental health can lead to bacteria entering the bloodstream and affecting the kidneys.
  8. Dehydration: Chronic dehydration can put additional stress on the kidneys, making them more susceptible to disease.
  9. Autoimmune Diseases: Conditions like lupus or immune-mediated polyarthritis can cause the immune system to attack the kidneys.
  10. Urinary Tract Obstructions: Stones or tumors in the urinary tract can obstruct the flow of urine and lead to kidney damage.
  11. Chronic Diseases: Dogs with chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure are at a higher risk of developing kidney disease.

Detecting Kidney Disease in Dogs

Early detection of kidney disease is crucial for effective treatment. Some common signs that your dog may have kidney disease include:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Changes in urine color and odor

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian for a thorough examination and diagnostic tests like blood work and urine analysis.

Managing Kidney Disease with Diet

A crucial aspect of managing kidney disease in dogs is providing them with a suitable diet. The right diet can help reduce the workload on the kidneys and improve your dog’s quality of life. Here are some dietary guidelines for dogs with kidney disease:

  1. Low Protein: Restricting protein intake can help reduce the buildup of waste products that the kidneys struggle to filter. However, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian for the appropriate protein levels for your dog’s specific condition.
  2. Phosphorus Control: High phosphorus levels can further strain the kidneys. Specialized kidney diets are designed to limit phosphorus intake.
  3. Hydration: Keeping your dog well-hydrated is crucial. Encourage them to drink water regularly, and consider adding water to their food or offering ice cubes as a treat.
  4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids from sources like fish oil can have anti-inflammatory effects on the kidneys and support overall health.
  5. Low Sodium: Reducing sodium intake can help manage high blood pressure, which is often associated with kidney disease.
  6. Potassium: Some dogs with kidney disease may develop low potassium levels, so it’s important to monitor and supplement if necessary.

Vet-Approved Homemade Dog Food Recipes for Kidney Disease

Providing homemade dog food for a pet with kidney disease can be a loving and effective way to manage their condition. However, always consult your veterinarian before making any dietary changes. Here are two vet-approved homemade dog food recipes designed for dogs with kidney disease:

Recipe 1: Chicken and Rice Delight


  • 2 cups skinless and boneless cooked chicken
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked or frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked or frozen carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon calcium carbonate powder (as per your vet’s recommendation)
  • Water for desired consistency


  1. Shred the cooked chicken into small, manageable pieces.
  2. In a spacious bowl, combine the shredded chicken, cooked rice, peas, and carrots.
  3. Incorporate olive oil for essential fats.
  4. Sprinkle calcium carbonate powder in accordance with your veterinarian’s guidance.
  5. Thoroughly mix all ingredients, adding water as needed to attain the desired consistency.

Recipe 2: Beef and Sweet Potato Stew


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup cooked or frozen green beans
  • 1/2 cup diced squash
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon potassium chloride powder (as per your vet’s recommendation)
  • Water for desired consistency


  1. Brown the lean ground beef in a large skillet, draining any excess fat.
  2. Boil the sweet potatoes in a separate pot until tender, then drain.
  3. Combine the cooked ground beef, green beans, squash, and low-sodium beef broth in the skillet. Simmer until the vegetables become tender.
  4. Blend the cooked sweet potatoes with the beef mixture.
  5. Add canola oil to enhance fat content.
  6. Sprinkle potassium chloride powder in accordance with your veterinarian’s advice.
  7. Meticulously blend all ingredients, adjusting with water as necessary to reach the desired consistency.


Q1: What are the early signs of kidney disease in dogs?

  • A1: Early signs of kidney disease in dogs may include increased thirst and urination, decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, bad breath, and changes in urine color and odor.

Q2: Can kidney disease in dogs be cured?

  • A2: Kidney disease in dogs is typically not curable, but it can be managed effectively with the right treatment, diet, and veterinary care to improve the dog’s quality of life.

Q3: How is kidney disease in dogs diagnosed?

  • A3: Diagnosis often involves blood tests and urine analysis to assess kidney function. In some cases, additional imaging or biopsies may be necessary for a more detailed evaluation.

Q4: Is homemade dog food suitable for all dogs with kidney disease?

  • A4: Homemade dog food can be suitable for dogs with kidney disease, but it must be carefully balanced and approved by a veterinarian to meet the specific dietary needs of the individual dog.

Q5: Are there any foods that dogs with kidney disease should avoid completely?

  • A5: Dogs with kidney disease should generally avoid foods high in phosphorus, excessive protein, and high-sodium content. Specific dietary recommendations should be discussed with a veterinarian.

Q6: Can I prepare these homemade recipes in advance and freeze them for later use?

  • A6: Yes, you can prepare these homemade recipes in advance and freeze them in appropriate portions for later use. Be sure to thaw and reheat them properly before feeding your dog.

Q7: How often should I feed my dog with kidney disease?

  • A7: Feeding frequency and portion sizes may vary depending on the dog’s specific condition and dietary recommendations from the veterinarian. Typically, multiple small meals throughout the day are better than one large meal.

Q8: Can supplements be beneficial for dogs with kidney disease?

  • A8: Some dogs with kidney disease may benefit from supplements like omega-3 fatty acids or potassium, but it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian before adding any supplements to your dog’s diet.

Q9: What other aspects of care are important for dogs with kidney disease?

  • A9: Along with diet, it’s crucial to provide regular veterinary check-ups, manage hydration, monitor blood pressure, and ensure your dog’s overall well-being, including dental health.

Q10: How can I make sure my dog stays hydrated?

  • A10: You can encourage hydration by providing clean, fresh water at all times and considering adding water to your dog’s food. Ice cubes or low-sodium broth can also entice them to drink more.


Kidney disease is a serious health issue for dogs, but with proper care, early detection, and a well-suited diet, you can significantly improve your canine companion’s quality of life. Always engage with your veterinarian to develop a tailored treatment plan and dietary regimen tailored to your dog’s unique requirements.

You can make a significant difference in your dog’s health and well-being by diligently following vet-approved homemade dog food recipes like those presented in this guide, providing them with the love and care they deserve.

Scarlett Johansson

Hi there! I'm Scarlett, a passionate dietitian and nutrition enthusiast. Join me on a journey to discover the science of healthy eating and practical tips for a balanced lifestyle. Let's nourish our bodies, one bite at a time! 🍏🥑 #NutritionNerd #HealthyLiving

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