Holistic approach to kidney disease treatment

by Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

Diet, back health, happiness all play a part in preventing kidney disease

If you have been living with a pet suffering from kidney disease or hope to prevent kidney problems in the future, the following lines are definitely for you because kidney problems are one of the most common conditions diagnosed in cats and dogs.

Why does kidney disease happen?

A combination of factors mentioned below usually play a role. However, the cause often remains unidentified.

  • A poor quality diet, especially dried and processed food that absorbs water from the body to digest food, thereby leaving the body dehydrated
  • Muscle injury or spinal energy flow decrease in the region of the third lumbar vertebra
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Stress
  • Fear as an emotion is also connected with kidney dysfunction
  • Toxins – for example from Chinese pet food tainted with melamine and other toxins
What are the symptoms?
  • increased drinking and urination

  • lack of appetite
  • vomiting
  • muscle loss
  • low energy and general deterioration
  • many animals may have no symptoms initially

Kidney tissue is composed of very fine and sensitive kidney units that can be compared to amazingly small cups with “a yarn of blood vessels.”  These units filtrate blood, eliminate toxins and regulate electrolyte and water balance in the body.

How does the conventional and holistic view of kidney disease differ?

The conventional belief is that the main causes of kidney disease are bacterial infections, poor diet, toxins and genetic predisposition.

While all these are true, holistic practitioners see the health of kidneys dependent on the wellbeing and harmony of every cell in the body.

The spinal energy flow is essential

Over the years, I have observed that the health of the kidneys is also directly related to a healthy spine, especially in the area of the third lumbar vertebra.  Any tightness of muscles and decreased energy flow in this area affects the kidneys.

Back issues such as muscles spasm, injury, and stress compromise the kidneys greatly. 

The immune system needs to be finely tuned

Poor health, low-quality diet, stress and nutritional deficiencies lead to immune system dysfunctions and not recognizing its own body’s tissues such as kidneys, especially when inflamed. Antibodies created against the kidney tissues may create irreversible damage.

How much kidney capacity do animals need to be symptom-free?

Animals only need about 25 percent healthy kidney tissue to be free of clinical signs.

What are the symptoms?

  • Increased drinking

  • Increased urination

  • Increased levels of kidney toxins such as BUN – blood urea nitrogen and Creatinine

  • Lethargy

  • Vomiting

  • Lack of appetite

  • Bad breath and gum ulceration

What is the life expectancy of animals diagnosed with kidney disease?

I have seen animals live good and full lives for years with kidney disease. The damaged kidney units cannot be regenerated. However, the treatment goal is to stop the destructive process and preserve the remaining kidney cells. Ideally this should be done through the use of non-toxic and natural healing solutions.

The truth about the low protein diet myth

The common conventional belief is that kidney disease will make your pet lose weight and deteriorate. When I started practicing, I saw many cats looking like walking skeletons and was taught that these symptoms are a common part of renal disease.

I was not convinced.

I suspected that the “low protein special processed diet” was the main cause of their weight loss.  Some people argued that low protein was important in reducing the kidney toxin levels. After years of seeing the same weight loss issues in cats and dogs on low protein diets, I have no doubt that they cause protein starvation, which in turn causes faster deterioration than when a high-quality protein based diet is fed.

After years of seeing the same weight loss issues in cats and dogs on low protein diets, I have no doubt that they cause protein starvation and faster deterioration than when a high-quality protein diet is fed.

A high-quality protein based natural diet is what nature intended.

It took me a few years to dare to go against the conventional recommendations and start suggesting high-quality raw protein diets.

All my patients also receive glandular supplements supporting the kidneys  and homeopathic remedies carefully matched to the individual nature of each patient.

My experience is that patients with mild or moderate kidney disease that are fed a high-quality natural diet maintain good body weight, great energy level, didn’t seem to deteriorate and live longer than expected.

Below is an example of a common treatment protocol that I use in cats and dogs


  • Feed a good variety of high-quality proteins, ideally raw

  • Do not feed beef, buffalo or bison as they have a higher content of inflammatory factors, which affect the immune system function

  • Avoid so-called low protein kidney or senior commercial diets

  • Avoid dry food. Dry food stresses the kidneys by “stealing” water from the rest of the body, creating a persistent state of dehydration

  • If you do not want to feed raw, a canned diet is better than dry

  • Canned food can never measure up to natural food


  • Ensure that you work with an open-minded and experienced practitioner who will support you in your decision to feed a high-quality protein diet.


  • Routine chemistry, complete blood count and a urinalysis are essential

  • Bacterial culture of the urine should always be done to rule out infections

  • An ultrasound will rule out kidney stones or changes in the shape and size of kidney or even a tumour


  • Homeopathic remedies bring stability and neutralize the disease energy.  Homeopathy takes a lifetime to learn and working with an experienced animal homeopath is your best choice

  • Internet reference is not a sufficient basis for homeopathic prescription and often leads to poor results


  • Ensure that your cat or dog is well hydrated. If you pull the skin on the neck, and it stays up for longer than one second,  your pet may be dehydrated.

  • Simple administration of electrolyte solutions, such as Lactated Ringers or Sodium Chloride (0.9%) will help in more advanced stages

  • Drinking a lot of water may not help prevent dehydration


  • Check your pet's spine especially around the third to fourtth lumbar vertebra. This region directly supplies energy meridian flow to the kidneys. Increased heat, inflammation, muscle pain, spasm and sensitivity of this area need to be addressed

  • The best techniques for treating the back are physiotherapy, intramuscular needle stimulation (a form of acupuncture technique), osteopathy or a gentle chiropractic treatment and massage

  • Ideally, do not use any anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin or Metacam as it is contraindicated in patients with kidney disease

  • Conventional prescription of Enalapril, a drug that is a medication that modulates the blood pressure is, in my experience, detrimental to the long-term prognosis and causes numerous side-effects


  • Spend quality time with your pet relaxing or being active

  • Good exercise, not too little or too much is a must. Ideally, I recommend two walks a day for dogs and access to the outdoors or the balcony for cats makes a big difference

  • Re-check your pets condition regularly, every three to six months is a minimum

  • Don’t forget to do all you can to look after your own needs. A happy family means happy pets


  • Glandular supplements protect the kidney tissue by neutralizing undesirable antibodies against the body’s own kidneys. They also provide necessary nutrients specific to the kidneys
  • Administer high quality probiotics like GutSense - that  contain beneficial bacteria using excess kidney toxins called urea for their own growth. The result is the blood urea levels
  • SoulFood for dogs is a certified organic, whole-food, natural vitamin supplement
  • Green Min for dogs is a whole-food plant based superfood, antioxidant and mineral supplement. Most pets with kidney disease lose minerals through the urine

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM


learn about the author


Dr. Dobias is a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine and lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He has more than 20 years of practical experience in conventional and holistic veterinary medicine and his big passions are natural healing, dogs and living a healthy lifestyle...

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