The 8 Best Dog Foods For Kidney Disease

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

If you have a dog with kidney disease, you have to feed them a diet specially formulated for their unique needs.

Compounding the fact that you need a specific diet is…

…It can be hard to focus when your pet is sick. So, we’ve created this post to help you with the diet part; so you can provide your dog with a comfortable and happy life, even with kidney disease. We want you to stay calm and determined so you can make the best decision for your four-legged friend.

The first thing you need to understand is that you are not alone. Kidney disease is quite common for dogs, especially in certain breeds.

But this does not mean your pet can’t live a healthy, long life. With the right diet, you can manage your dog’s symptoms and organize a treatment plan responsive to their needs. Sudden changes in diet can be challenging, but if you find a brand that your dog likes and is healthy for his kidney condition, transitioning to the right food gets easier.

To that end, we have compiled a list of top 10 best dog foods for kidney disease to give you the most reliable food options for your dog.

The Best Dog Foods For Kidney Disease

Top ProductsTop Ingredients
1. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Urinary SO Dog Food
(Best For Adults)
Brewers Rice, Corn, Chicken Fat, Chicken By-Product Meal, Rice Flour
2. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support Dog Food
(Best For Seniors)
Corn, Brewers Rice, Wheat, Chicken Fat, Corn Gluten Meal
3. SquarePet VFS Low Phosphorus Dog Food
(Best Budget Pick)
Brown Rice, Whole Egg, Turkey, White Rice, Turkey Fat
4. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Dog Food
(Best Canned Food)
Water Sufficient For Processing, Meat By-Products, Rice, Corn Grits, Beef
5. Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Chicken Dog Food
(Best For All Breeds)
Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Pork Fat, Cracked Barley, Chicken

1. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Urinary SO Dog Food

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Brewers Rice, 2. Corn, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Chicken By-Product Meal, 5. Brewers Rice Flour

Compromised kidney health often leads to urinary problems in dogs. And if that’s what your dog is suffering, provide him a nutritionally supportive diet that helps with bladder and urinary tract health. The recipe is formulated with Relative Super Saturation (RSS) to dilute excessive minerals that cause stones and crystals in the kidney by increasing the amount of urine your dog produces. Also, specialized nutrition has low levels of magnesium to maintain the urinary system health of your pooch.

The recipe has low levels of protein extracted from animal-base sources, which makes it a good solution for most dogs with kidney disease. Serve it on its own or mix it with a wet food combination or water to increase the moisture intake of your dog. This veterinary diet is rich in other essential nutrients as it includes important ingredients such as chicken fat, eggs, and fish oil. The minerals and vitamins included in this formula are great for maintaining the overall health of your precious pooch.

Supportive diet for bladder and urinary tract, limited animal-based protein, specialized veterinary diet.


2. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support Early Consult Dog Food

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Corn, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Wheat, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Corn Gluten Meal

Royal Canin Renal Support Dog Food is one of the few formulas designed for senior canines in the early stages of kidney diseases. It’s a balanced diet with appropriate quantities of protein, carbs, and fat to keep your dog muscular and energetic. However, the phosphorus levels are slightly reduced to reduce the progressions of kidney illnesses.

Your dog will also benefit from a unique antioxidant blend that kills free radicals and strengthens immune health. Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA, are also added to improve kidney function and cognitive health. The food also has a delicious taste that increases the appetite of canines suffering from kidney diseases and ensures that they receive proper nutrition.


3. SquarePet VFS Low Phosphorus Formula Dog Food

Ratings:

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Brown Rice, 2. Whole Egg, 3. Turkey, 4. White Rice, 5. Turkey Fat

While most veterinary diets cost over a hundred bucks, SquarePet provides a low-cost diet for canines that are suffering from kidney ailments. It has the same great qualities as other prescription diets — including lower phosphorus, protein, and sodium levels — all of which lower the burden on your canine’s kidneys and enhance the filtration process.

The recipe itself is also made from high-quality ingredients like turkey meat, brown rice, and sweet potatoes. It’s also fortified with probiotics and prebiotic fibers that support digestive health and improve nutrient absorption. Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants are also added to the formula to further promote kidney function while improving your canine’s quality of life.


4. Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Chicken Dog Food

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Brown Rice, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Pork Fat, 4. Cracked Pearled Barley, 5. Chicken

Hill’s Veterinary Diet needs no introduction when it comes to making prescription diets for special needs. This ‘kidney care’ formula is specifically designed for pooches with kidney problems and improves the symptoms by boosting organ function. It contains highly nutritional foods like egg product, chicken, and pork fat, and also includes a range of essential vitamins and minerals to provide your dog optimal nutrition for kidney care. The crunchy kibble has an excellent flavor making it easier for your pet to transition to a new diet.

The formula features Enhanced Appetite Trigger technology and includes key benefits like low levels of phosphorus, protein, and sodium, and therapeutic levels of L-Carnitine and Omega-3 fatty acids. A great choice for delivering proper nutrition without stressing your dog’s kidneys.


5. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Formula Canned Dog Food

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Water Sufficient for Processing, 2. Meat By-Products, 3. Rice, 4. Corn Grits, 5. Beef

If your dog prefers kibbles over wet food, make sure you offer him optimal nutrition that provides excellent kidney care. Rich in whole grains, this diet does not contain any meat-based protein sources and has limited sodium and phosphorus content to make it an ideal blend for dogs with kidney problems. The special veterinary diet is a holistic diet that helps manage the symptoms while slowing the progression of the disease.


6. JustFoodForDogs Renal Support Low Protein Frozen Fresh Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Lamb, 2. Rice, 3. Cauliflower, 4. Carrots, 5. Brown Rice

If you’re finding fresh food for canines with kidney diseases, JustFoodForDogs Renal Support Formula is a worthy option. It has a mouth-watering taste and is made from human-grade ingredients like lamb meat, brown rice, blueberries, and spinach. The formula is fine-tuned with reduced phosphorus, protein, and sodium levels to reduce the load on your pup’s kidneys.

To further boost kidney health, JustFoodForDogs uses a blend of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B. The recipe is also 100% free from fillers, preservatives, BHA, and artificial colors to prevent digestive problems and allergies. Many owners have also praised the delicious taste of the food and how it increased the appetite of their sick pups. 


7. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support Grain-Fre Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Potato Starch, 3. Pea Starch, 4. Peas, 5. Potatoes

The digestible kibble features perfectly balanced nutrition for dogs suffering from kidney disease. Formulated under expert guidance, this recipe by Blue Natural Veterinary Diet is one of the best and safest dry food options, and it delivers great taste. The formula is low in protein, sodium, and phosphorus content, but it is rich in other essential micronutrients to boost your dog’s overall health and vitality.

The restricted protein comes from high-quality animal-based ingredients, including deboned chicken. Other primary ingredients include sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, pea protein, and other holistic vegetables. The diet is also rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids along with a variety of minerals and vitamins to also support good digestion, skin, and fur quality. The grain-free recipe is a specialized veterinary diet formulated for your dog’s condition.


8. Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Kidney Renal Support Diet Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Rice, 2. Pea Starch, 3. Vegetable Oil, 4. Hydrolyzed Fish Protein, 5. Hydrolyzed Potato Protein

The limited-ingredient Forza10 Active Renal Support Dog Food is our top pick for canines with weak kidneys and sensitive stomachs. It’s suitable for all breed sizes and has reduced protein, phosphorus, and sodium levels to lower the burden on your canine’s kidneys.

At the same time, the food only uses hydrolyzed protein, rice, and vegetable oil as the main ingredients. It’s also completely free from fillers, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives — all of which make the food highly digestible and reduce the risk of allergies. Omega fatty acids are also present in the formula to support kidney function and enhance coat and skin health.


9. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet NF Kidney Function Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Whole Grain Corn, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Dried Egg Product, 4. Animal Fat Preserved, 5. Fish Oil

Dietary management is crucial for proper treatment of your dog, and if you’re looking for a wet-food blend that offers everything your dog needs for improved kidney function, you cannot go wrong with this option by Purina. This specifically formulated diet in minced consistency is great for minimizing further damage to your dog’s kidneys, which helps to slow the progression of the disease.

The formula has reduced protein and is low in sodium and phosphorus to avoid stressing the kidneys and improves your dog’s health. What it’s not low in is essential nutrients; the dietary benefits of this meal provide optimal nutrition for your pooch without compromising on their special needs. The quality ingredients and savory flavors make this an excellent food option for hounds with hepatic disease, renal failure, or any other condition related to the kidney. Serve the palatable meal and keep your dog’s symptoms in control.


Buyer’s Guide

Just like humans, kidneys are the most important organs of a dog’s body. They contribute to your pooch’s overall optimal health by maintaining normal concentrations of salt, water, and phosphorus levels. Also, kidneys help with calcium metabolism and help control blood pressure. And that’s not all the reasons why these bean-shaped organs are so crucial. They also play a vital role in getting rid of toxins and waste from the body.

As it is easy to guess by now, that changing your dog’s diet and providing them with the best kidney care for optimal function is the best way you can help your pet. And if that’s the information you’re looking for, this article’s got it all.

Let’s start with the common symptoms and proceed with how you can buy the best dog foods for kidney disease.

Highlighting the Common Symptoms of Renal Failure

Problems associated with kidney diseases can be difficult for your dog. The symptoms can directly affect their quality of life. However, there is a difference between acute and chronic renal issues. Let’s look at each of them in detail.

Acute

As the name suggests, acute renal failure has a sudden onset. It can result from things such as poisoning and ingestion of forbidden foods like raisins or grapes.

More reasons that could cause acute renal failure include infection, dehydration, trauma, or certain medication. As a pet parent, you must consult your veterinarian immediately if you notice the following symptoms:

  • Change in urination or more frequent urination
  • Change in water consumption
  • Increased lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty in coordination
  • Change in behavior
  • Vomiting

The overall result of the diagnosis may vary based on how advanced the disease is. Some dogs in the early stages may make complete recovery with a changed diet and proper treatment, while others may progress it into chronic renal failure. Therefore, it is important to immediately seek professional assistance as soon as you detect the symptoms.

Chronic

Chronic renal failure is more common in older dogs, but direct poisoning or certain congenital defects can affect the younger ones too. Chronic renal disease often advances at a slow pace, making it difficult to see through the symptoms.

Even though it’s slow, it is still a progressive disease and will only worsen with time if not managed properly. If your dog breed is prone to the disease, it is best to keep an eye for these symptoms:

  • Drastic weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in urination
  • Change in water consumption
  • Lack of coordination
  • Pale gums
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain

We advise that you take your dog for a full-body examination if you detect these symptoms.

Kidney Disease and Other Health Complications

It’s hard to come to terms with the problems your dog has to go through. Kidney failure itself is a painful condition, and there could be further health complications that could make it more challenging. It is, however, important to remember that these health problems may appear together with kidney issues but not necessarily.

Congestive Heart Failure

Kidney and heart problems are often related; this is called Cardiorenal Syndrome. It means that kidney failure can cause heart conditions and vice versa.

Anemia

Anemia can result from kidney failure and has symptoms such as depression, weakness, rapid breathing, apathy, weight loss, fatigue, or heart rate. Treatment for kidney failure also usually include hormone therapy and medications to reduce the symptoms of anemia.

Liver Failure

Chronic kidney failure is often associated with bacteria entering the bloodstream; it can also cause damage to the heart and liver over time. It is one of the major reasons why kidney problems are often accompanied by liver failure as well.

Acidosis

Chronic kidney failure can also cause acidosis due to the diminished ability of the kidney to filter out blood acidity and toxicity. Treating acidosis can help slow down the advancement of renal failure.

Hypertension

The bean-shaped organs are responsible for maintaining blood pressure. If the kidneys stop working properly, it can lead to hypertension. If left untreated, the symptoms can damage the brain, blood vessels, heart, and eyes.

The Best Dog Food for Kidney Disease – Everything You Need to Know

Arm yourself with the following information before heading out to choose the best food for dogs battling kidney disease.

Wet/Canned Food Formulation

The extra moisture in wet/canned food formulation is beneficial for dogs with kidney disease. Water is essential for the successful filtration of toxins from the bloodstream. Transitioning to a wet food diet can be difficult for dogs who have eaten kibble are their lives. To help your dog with the transition, we recommend combining a wet food diet with dry food to keep your dog hydrated. Also, don’t forget to provide your dog with plenty of fresh water along with food.

Low Protein Level

Kidneys work to remove the toxins produced from protein breakdown. When kidneys are not functioning well, this can lead to a buildup of these toxins and put stress on the organ. Therefore, it is crucial to offer your dog food with reduced levels of protein.

Also, limited protein content should come from high-quality sources. Improved quality guarantee fewer toxic byproducts and doesn’t strain the kidneys as much.

Decreased Phosphorus

Phosphorus is considered as an important mineral to maintain your dog’s teeth and bones, but if your pooch has kidney problems, high levels of phosphorus can be poisonous.

The excess level of the mineral is taken care of by the kidneys, but when the kidneys are failing, the excess amount continues to build up. Extra phosphorus can cause vitamin D deficiency and loss of bone density.

Increased Levels of B-Vitamins

Even though there are no direct benefits from Vitamin B to the kidneys, it can help with the symptoms. It is best to choose a diet with high levels of B-vitamins. You can also add it from the tap by dissolving it in water for increased water intake.

Enriched with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are not only great for your dog’s fur but also reduce inflammation, which reduces pressure in the kidneys. It also helps remove toxins from the bloodstream.

Added Antioxidants

Powerful antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are great for preventing cell damage and combat free radicals. These antioxidants play an important role in contributing to the overall health of your pooch and slow down the progression of failing kidneys.

Organic

Food options that contain cheap ingredients, artificial flavors, preservatives, added color, and other unnatural ingredients are bad for a dog with failing kidneys. Organic food from natural sources also ensures a renal-supportive diet has good flavor.

Reduced Sodium Levels

High levels of sodium can affect blood pressure and be harmful to the kidneys. Controlling the sodium level through food will not only help your pooch’s kidney but also prevent other life-threatening diseases like heart problems.

What Not to Feed Your Dog with Kidney Disease

We recommend a specialized diet designed for renal care for dogs diagnosed with kidney disease. However, you can stick to a normal, low-protein formula if the condition is in the early stages. The key is to avoid certain ingredients, and that would include:

  • Excess protein
  • Formulas rich in phosphorus
  • Food rich in sodium
  • Fruits and vegetables such as onions, garlic, grapes, and raisins
  • Avoid wheat gluten

Tips on Switching Your Dog to a Renal-Supportive Diet for

If kidney disease is discovered at an early stage, it may not be necessary to place your dog on a restricted diet. However, certain considerations need to be taken into account. For starters, switch to formulas made with limited ingredients.

Consult your vet to find out if it is the right time to change to a specified renal diet. Make sure the transition is very slow, as most options with restricted protein levels may not be as tasty for your pup. Rotating the formula and gradually adding the new food to his meals will encourage him to eat.

In case you are having a hard time with your pooch, consider seasoning the food with natural additives or delicious wet food options to make it more enticing. Just make sure you do not counter the benefits of special renal diets by adding foods high in sodium or other harmful ingredients.


FAQs

Is it important that I change the diet of my dog suffering from kidney disease?

Yes, it is important to switch to a diet that supports kidney care. The food you feed needs to provide proper nutrition, absent the ingredients that can worsen the condition. Changing your dog’s diet not only supports better organ function but helps control symptoms and prevent other health issues that are associated with kidney problems. Tailoring the formula is crucial for your dog’s health and long life.

Can I give homemade dog treats to my dog with kidney disease?

Just because your dog has been diagnosed with kidney disease doesn’t mean you should stop rewarding or treating your dog. Avoid treats that contain high levels of phosphorus, protein, and sodium, so don’t feed your dog things like cheese, dry meat, or bread. The best treats are natural vegetables and fruits but avoid grapes, raisins, garlic, and onion.

What do I feed my pooch who refuses to eat?

Not every kidney-supportive diet available in the market offers great flavor. Picky eaters might give you a very hard time switching to a specific healthy diet. While you can always try home-cooked meals, the products I have reviewed in this article are savory and palatable and entice your dog to eat.

Are there more risks for senior dogs with kidney disease?

Kidney disease is more common in older dogs and can affect up to 4% of dogs. However, even younger dogs are prone to the disease if they live in an unhealthy environment, and bacteria enter their bloodstream through food.

Can my dog survive with kidney failure?

Although chronic kidney disease has no cure, your dog can survive with the disease. By switching to a renal-supportive diet, you can make the condition more manageable by controlling the symptoms and offering a more comfortable life to your dog.

Is it possible to reverse the damage that kidney disease has caused in my dog?

Unfortunately, there’s no way you can reverse the condition or the damage of kidney disease. However, it is possible to control the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease with a good diet, regular checkups, and proper hydration.

What’s the best way to diagnose kidney disease in dogs?

Identifying the symptoms, in this case, is not enough. A vet may recommend urinalysis and a complete blood profile to conduct a proper diagnosis. Dogs with kidney disease may also have high blood pressure, abnormal electrolyte levels, and even anemia. Some vets may also recommend an ultrasound for accurate results.

What should I expect from my dog if he has kidney disease?

While you can ensure a long and comfortable life for your dog even with kidney disease, it can cause certain problems. In addition to changing your dog’s diet, you must also consider your pet’s lifestyle and water consumption. Also, you can expect different behavior and mood from them. Kidney disease can lead to poor appetite, which causes lethargy and constant tiredness. Maintain your pooch’s muscle mass and keep up with weight maintenance by adding food toppers on his regular food such as fish oils, tuna juice, and chicken stock.

What should I do to switch my dog’s food to a more renal-supportive diet?

The key is taking a gradual approach to switching your dog’s diet. To start with, mix only a bit of the new, renal-supportive food with the regular food your dog already loves. Increase gradually and let your dog take its time adjusting to the new diet. You can always add to the palatability of the new diet by adding delicious, healthy toppers.

How long would my dog live with kidney failure?

According to a study, the average life expectancy of a dog diagnosed with kidney failure can range between 112 to 326 days. However, as bleak as it may seem, the right diet and proper care can show the progression of the disease and your dog may live several years if the diagnosis and treatment are taken care of on time.

How can I improve my dog’s kidney function?

One of the best ways to control the progression of renal disease is to provide a diet that low in protein, sodium, calcium, and phosphorus. Eliminating the excess protein and minerals can stabilize your pooch’s system and improve kidney enzymes, leading to a longer, healthier life span.

Is kidney disease painful for my dog?

When the kidney is damaged, whether through poisoning, infection, or any other cause, abdominal or back pain is one of the most significant symptoms of it. So, unfortunately, kidney disease can be painful for dogs.

What symptoms do I need to watch out for at the end-stage of kidney failure in dogs?

The tell-tale signs of chronic kidney disease in dogs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Urine incontinence (leakage)
  • Reduced appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Oral ulcers
  • Bad breath with a chemical odor
  • Pale appearance

Is it normal for my dog to throw up if he has kidney disease?

Vomiting is a common symptom of kidney failure in dogs.

Is protein bad for dogs with kidney disease?

Protein is a calorie-dense nutrient, and feeding too much of it can increase the workload on the kidney as well as the liver.

Should I take my dog for exercise if he has kidney disease?

In addition to giving a renal-care diet to your dog, exercise is great to improve general health, fitness, and overall quality of life. Also, it can reduce the risk of other diseases associated with kidney failure such as cardiovascular risk.

What are the possible conditions that could lead to kidney failure?

Acute kidney failure can result from an abrupt decline in the organ function that happens over time from ingesting toxins, certain medications, tainted foods, etc. Other conditions include urinary obstruction, infections, and decreased flow of blood or oxygen to the kidneys.

What foods should I avoid feeding my dog with kidney disease?

First of all, whatever diet you chose should be low in protein, sodium, and phosphorus. Also, avoid giving high protein treats to your dog, such as cheese, jerky treats, meat, pig ears, rawhides, etc. Similarly, treats with a high level of sodium can increase blood pressure and worsen kidney damage. If you are picking up a readymade meal, make sure you read the labels to be sure about what you are feeding your pooch.

Are certain breeds more susceptible to kidney disease?

Based on a study, the breeds most prone to kidney failure include:

  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Boxer
  • Bull Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • Lhasa Apso
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Shih Tzu
  • Golden Retriever
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

Is wet food a better option for dogs with kidney problems?

Because of their moisture content, wet food options are preferable. But in addition to being low in protein content, some wet food diets may be limited when it comes to other essential nutrients. Therefore, it is best if you give your pooch a combination of both to keep up with their special dietary requirements.


Final Thoughts

While kidney disease is not reversible, with proper diet and management, your dog can live years past diagnosis.

If you suspect your dog is experiencing problems related to their kidneys, you should immediately consult with your veterinarian. With a little help, you can provide a happy life to your dog despite the disease. And when it comes to picking the best dog foods for kidney disease, you can refer to the options we have shortlisted in this article. The recommendations I have made are mostly veterinarian prescribed, renal-care diets with all the characteristics that are favorable for your dog’s continued health.

Read the list and pick the perfect food for your little guy!

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