Kidney Disease In Dogs

Kidney Disease In Dogs

Dealing with a diagnosis of kidney disease for a dog can seem overwhelming at first. Your list of questions that need answers to are endless. What does that mean? Will my dog die from this? What caused it? What can I do now to help her/him? These questions and more are what I asked my veterinarian when my 13 year old Border Collie mix, Eliot, was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2006. I also had another problem. I had another dog, as well as cats and they were all covered by pet health insurance but Eliot was not. Eliot could only be covered for “accidental” because of his age. Even though I voted Eliot “most accident prone” of the bunch, he never had one.

My vet bill that day just for the blood work & exam was $224. Now they are telling me that he needs to stay 3 days for IV fluid treatments, medication, etc. They estimated that cost to be $400 – $500. I decided to take him home and call around for more quotes. This was my regular veterinarian and he was considered “reasonable” in his rates so I didn’t expect to find anyone less but I did find a veterinarian who quoted $100 less so off he went. The final bill came to $264 and Eliot was on the mend . . . temporarily.

Now, the fun part started. I was given (included in the bill) a bag and cans of Hill’s Prescription K/D to feed him. Since kidney disease is not reversible, he had to be on a low phosphorus & low protein diet in order to keep the kidneys functioning and prevent further damage. He ate that for a month and then no more. I went back to the vet and he gave me a bag and cans of Purina N/F also for kidney disease. He ate that for a month and then no more. I was out of options and started to think maybe I was going to have to put him down. But I have never been known as a quitter. So, I simply freaked out until I was exhausted (not recommended) and poured through as many websites as I could find on the subject.

I printed out every single tidbit I could find on kidney disease in dogs. I found some amazing websites filled with their trials, stories, and research on the subject. In 2 days, I had 3 inches of paper stacked in front of me. I studied and compared proteins, phosphorus, & anti-oxidants until I finally had 2 recipes I could make him for his new diet. First, I narrowed down my protein choices: Chicken Thighs (skinless) are the lowest in phosphorus, next is Turkey Thighs (skinless), and Ground Beef 90% lean is my third choice. I buried myself in the “marked down” meat section of the grocery store and bought chicken thighs in bulk at Costco. Sometimes I baked the thighs in the oven and other times I boiled them.

Eliot preferred the baked, but either way I had to debone them afterwards. Then I educated myself on the use of a Pressure Cooker and put them all in a pressure cooker for an hour and a half and didn’t have to debone them! The bones come out safe and ready to eat. I usually boiled the ground beef but sometimes I made a tasty meatloaf for him. Variety is the key but he ate every single morsel regardless what I fixed him. Here are some of the recipes in his new diet:

  • Chicken Thighs (1 pkg. remove skin)
  • 6 Potatoes (medium, peeled & chopped)
  • Broccoli (1 pkg. frozen)

Boil, bake, or put in pressure cooker the chicken thighs. If you are boiling or putting it in the pressure cooker, add the potatoes and broccoli. If you are baking, cook the potatoes and broccoli separately. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 or until brown; Boil for 1 hour. Remove bone. Put in pressure cooker for 1 1/2 hours. Ready to eat after cool down.

  • Chicken Thighs (1 pkg. remove skin)
  • 2 cups Rice (uncooked)
  • Green Beans (1 pkg. frozen)

Boil, bake, or put in pressure cooker the chicken thighs. If you are boiling or putting it in the pressure cooker, add the rice and beans. If you are baking, cook the rice and beans separately. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 or until brown; Boil for 1 hour. Remove bone. Put in pressure cooker for 1 1/2 hours. Ready to eat after cool down.

  • Ground Beef (Lean, 1 lb.)
  • 4 Sweet Potatoes (peeled & chopped)
  • Broccoli (1 pkg. frozen)

Boil everything for 1 hour. Ready to eat after cool down.

  • Ground Beef (Lean, l lb.)
  • 2 cups cubed bread or oatmeal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup peas or carrots (small vegetable)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Put in a loaf pan. Bake at 375 for 1 hour.

SUPPLEMENTS: With each meal (I fed him twice a day), add:

  • 1/2 tsp. crushed egg shells (cleaned and dry) — High in calcium
  • 1,500 mg fish oil capsules (3 @ 500 each) — Omega 3 to help blood flow to the kidneys
  • Multivitamin & Mineral Supplement for dogs (any pet store will have them, follow directions) Helps to replace vitamins lost in the urine.

I also added his Glucosamine Chondroitin supplements to one of his meals. I fed him the equivalent of what his daily dry food would have been so each recipe was enough for approximately 3 or 4 days.  This is based on a dog’s weight of 50-55 lbs. so adjust according to your dog’s weight.

Always make sure there is plenty of water available to your dog with kidney disease. Eliot thrived on this diet and never grew tired of his variety of meals. I never grew tired of cooking for him either. He ate better than most people. I took him in for his annual checkup and his kidney values were normal.

The vet was stunned but certainly happy about the results. I continued to cook for him for 2 more years until his arthritis in his back took a toll on him and I put him to sleep 3/6/2008 at the ripe old age of 15 or 16.  I adopted him from a local shelter on 12/19/1998.  He was one of the funniest/oddest dogs I ever had . . . . but that’s another story. Note: This is about home cooking for your dog within a budget. There are and probably were at the time other food/supplement options that were beyond my budget.

Also, currently there are several supplements on the market to help with kidney function that are very effective.  

Photo: Eliot, approximately 14 – 15 years old.