Kidney disease (renal failure)

Dogs and cats can suffer from either acute or chronic renal failure.

Symptoms to look for:

  • Weight loss
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Obvious difficulty in urinating
  • Dull or ill-kept coat
  • Bad breath
  • Lethargy

What does kidney disease mean for your pet?

Kidneys place waste products from normal day to day bodily functions in the urine. Kidney disease means that your pet’s kidneys are no longer performing this function effectively. They are functioning at about ¼ of their usual capacity and therefore your pet will need a diet low in protein, salt and phosphorus. Your pet should have access to clean fresh water and we suggest having two water bowls available for your pet as he or she will be drinking more than usual.

There are commercial diets that are designed to reduce the amount of waste materials that must be filtered out by the kidneys and we sell and recommend Hill’s Science Diet K/D which is available in tinned and dry.

When changing your pet over to this food, we suggest that you introduce the new food slowly. We recommend starting with ¼ new food and ¾ of the old food, especially if they loved the old food. Then gradually over the next few days, or even slower over weeks, keep increasing the new food and decreasing the old.

Getting your pet to accept the new food can sometimes be difficult as nausea and inappetance are commonly encountered with kidney disease.

Frequent checks

Monitor your pet’s habits for any changes of routine in urination and bowel movements. Keep track of your pet’s water consumption. Weigh your pet frequently. Feel your pet’s skin and coat on a regular basis for sores and lumps. Check for dehydration on a regular basis by doing the pinch test. Gently pinch your pet’s skin at the neck. The skin should spring back right away and not stay pinched for any length of time. If you think your pet has become dehydrated, it may be time to have another check-up with the vet.

Inspect your pet’s mouth regularly for oral ulcers and halitosis. Watch your pet’s daily routine and note any changes and let us know.

Tips for getting your pet to eat

Warming the food in the microwave for a few seconds to room temperature, or slightly warmer, may make it more palatable (i.e. strengthen the aroma). Mix different low protein foods together. You just might hit on the right combination.

To improve flavour, mix: water, tuna juice (salt-free and packed in water only), clam juice, low-salt chicken broth (without onions), beef broth (without onions) with any of the foods. It's a good idea to mix a little warm water with the food at any time because every little bit of fluid helps. Do not use bouillon as it is too salty.

Sometimes pets can be coaxed to eat. Talk to your pet, stroke it, sit with it, then offer a plate of food and wait or try to hand-feed.

Home made low protein diet

120 grams liver (beef, chicken or pork only) 2 large hard-cooked eggs 2 cups cooked white rice without salt 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 teaspoon (5 grams) calcium carbonate 1/8 teaspoon potassium chloride (salt substitute). Also add a balanced supplement which fulfils the MDR for all vitamins and trace minerals and 250mg taurine/day (if for your cat).

Dice and braise the meat, retaining fat. Combine all ingredients and mix well. This mixture is somewhat dry and the palatability may be improved by adding some water. If you have any question about any of this information, please ask us.