Renal failure of kidney disease is a incurable loss of kidney function that unfortunately leads to sickness and death. It can strike at any age but usually appears in older dogs. This does not mean the dog can not live several more months to years semi comfortably.
Studies have shown that diet can help reduce the progression of the disease and prolong survival:
Several nutrients are important in the dietary management of chronic kidney disease:
1) Phosphorus – a mineral that is consumed in the diet and needed for all living cells in the body. It is present mostly in the bones and teeth, less so in soft tissues and extracellular fluids. It is excreted from the body through the urine. Studies show that restriction of phosphorus in dogs with Stage 3 (out of 4) kidney disease increases survival time.
2) Protein – Two schools of thought have duked it out with regards this nutrient.
Reduced protein diets result in less nitrogenous waste that needs to be excreted by the kidneys and lower phosphorus levels (because protein contributes to increased phosphorus levels).
Increased or normal levels of good quality protein help to maintain lean body mass (and maintain strength, coordination and good immunity) and have no adverse effects on life expectancy as long as phosphorus intake is restricted. Current recommendations are to provide adequate, good quality protein and reduced phosphorus levels.
3) Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids – essential fatty acids that are not made in the body and need to be present in the diet. In particular, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and reduce glomerular hypertension (glomeruli are part of the kidneys), consequently improving kidney function. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are most abundant in fish oil.
4) Antioxidants – substances that help neutralize free radicals. If not dealt with, free radicals can cause significant cellular injury and produce more free radicals. Renal diets that have both omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants combined are better at slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease than either one alone.
5) Fermentable Fiber – adding this type of fiber to the diet promotes the excretion of nitrogen in the feces and allows dogs to consume adequate amounts of protein. Renal diets that are supplemented with fiber from beet pulp, fructooligosaccharide, and gum arabic help increase the number of intestinal bacteria, which draws urea (a nitrogen-containing waste product) into the feces.
It is always important to consult a Vet prior to any drastic changes in diet, especially in a situation like kidney disease.
Have you dealt with an animal in this situation before and do you have any advice that could help?