Canine kidney support
If you have been living with a pet suffering from kidney disease or hope to prevent kidney problems in your dog in the future, the following article is definitely for you because kidney problems are one of the most common conditions diagnosed in cats and dogs.
Why does kidney disease happen in dogs?
A combination of factors mentioned below usually plays a role. However, the final 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
- Fear as an emotion is connected with kidney dysfunction
- Toxins – for example from pet food with ingredients sourced from China, tainted with melamine and other toxins
What are the symptoms of kidney disease?
- Increased drinking and urination
- Lack of appetite
- Muscle loss
- Low energy and general deterioration
- Many animals may initially have no symptoms
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.
Can you reverse kidney disease in dogs?
Many dogs can live good and full lives for years with kidney disease. While the damaged kidney tissue cannot be regenerated, I believe we can stop or at least slow down the destructive process and preserve the remaining kidney cells by using non-toxic, natural healing methods.
How do the conventional and holistic views 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 closely connected to every organ and cell in the body.
The lesser known causes of kidney disease
1. Spinal Health
Over the years, I have observed that the health of the kidneys depends on how healthy your dog’s spine is especially in the area of the third lumbar vertebra. This tightness of muscles and decreased energy flow in the area affects the kidneys.Back issues such as muscle spasms, injury, and stress compromise the kidneys greatly.
2. The Immune System
Poor overall health, low-quality diet, stress and nutritional deficiencies lead to immune system dysfunctions causing the body to attack its own tissues such as the kidneys, especially when they are inflamed. This immune dysfunction can result in irreversible damage to the kidneys.
Why I don't recommend a low protein diet in dogs with kidney disease
Conventional diet recommendations usually include some form of low protein diets to reduce kidney metabolites such as BUN. However, these diets are made up of starch and carbohydrates which conflicts with the basic principles of a species-appropriate diet for dogs.
Low protein diets usually lead to progressive weight loss and deterioration while veterinarians are still being taught that this weight loss is due to the kidney disease itself which is not true.
After more than thirty years of practice, I have no doubt that this weight loss is the result of protein starvation and denying the kidney disease patient essential nutrients. This will severely hinder the body's ability to cope with kidney disease and lead to faster disease progression.
In other words, the priority must be to nourish the body well, because protein-starved dogs can’t be healthy!
A holistic treatment protocol for kidney disease in dogs
The information below is based on more than twenty years of my own practical experience and I have seen it work much better than conventional low protein, drug kidney treatment protocols.
Diet for dogs with kidney disease
- Feed a good variety of high-quality proteins (ideally a raw diet).
- Do not feed beef, buffalo or bison as they have higher levels of inflammatory factors such as arachidonic acid.
- 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 but toxic resins and lacquers from the can coating are a concern.
My experience is that dogs with mild or moderate kidney disease that are fed a high-quality natural diet maintain good body weight, great energy levels and don’t seem to deteriorate as quickly as dogs on conventional low protein kidney diets.
Why does the low-protein diet myth still exist?
It is highly probable that the pet food company's stronghold on scientific research and the profits they make from cheap low-protein food is the main reason.
Hydration and fluid treatment for kidney disease
One of the common symptoms of kidney disease is water loss and dehydration. At first, there may be no visible signs, however as the disease progresses, your veterinarian may register dehydration from a physical examination or blood work and suggest a regular fluid administration under your dog’s skin (subcutaneous fluids).
Here is a video demonstration:
If your dog has an acute or more severe form of kidney disease, hospitalization and intravenous fluids may be indicated to support your dog and prevent further deterioration.
- Ensure that your cat or dog has enough water at all times and check for signs of dehydration.
- If you pull the skin on the neck and it stays up for longer than two seconds, your pet may be dehydrated.
- Ensure that you work with your veterinarian and get regular blood tests and urinalysis to monitor the progress of the treatment.
- Check your pet's spine especially around the third to the fourth 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. Test your dog's spine by positioning your thumbs three vertebrae behind the last rib and push with similar intensity as if you were trying to depress a tennis ball. If your dog looks back or flinches, there is likely a problem.
- The best techniques for treating the back are physiotherapy, intramuscular needle stimulation (a form of acupuncture technique), osteopathy, Chinese acupuncture or gentle chiropractic treatment and massage.
- Ensure that your veterinarian does not use any anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin or Metacam that are 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 such as:
Itching or rash
Loss of appetite
Increased or decreased urination
Easy bruising or bleeding
Drop in blood pressure
Yes, you have read correctly, the drug that is used in conventional medicine in kidney disease treatment can cause kidney failure.
- 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 pet's condition regularly, every three to six months at a minimum.
- Don’t forget to do all you can to look after your own needs. A happy family means happy pets!
- 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 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 the kidney or even a tumor.
Natural remedies for dog kidney failure
- Homeopathic remedies bring stability and neutralize disease energy. Homeopathy takes a lifetime to learn and working with an experienced animal homeopath is your best choice.
- Internet research is not a sufficient basis for homeopathic prescription and often leads to poor results.
What are effective kidney supplements for dogs?
- Administer high-quality probiotics, such as GutSense®, that contain beneficial bacteria using excess kidney toxins called urea for their growth. In addition, probiotics are known to positively influence the immune system function which is closely associated with kidney health.
SoulFood for dogs is a certified organic, whole-food, natural vitamin supplement which will provide the necessary vitamins for tissue and kidney repair.
GreenMin for dogs is a whole-food, plant-based superfood, antioxidant and mineral supplement. Most pets with kidney disease lose minerals through increased urine output and supplementing them is crucial to maintaining your dog's health. Also, supplementing minerals will help your dog to improve hydration.
- FeelGood Omega is an omega-3 supplement. Essential fatty acids are beneficial for cell and epithelium repair which is important in preserving the remaining functional kidney tissue.
These supplements protect the kidney tissue by neutralizing undesirable antibodies against the body’s own kidneys. They also provide necessary nutrients specific to the kidneys.
In the past, I recommended Renafood by Standard Process; however, this company is notorious for restricting their product sales to brick-and-mortar medical, chiropractic and veterinary clinics. It saddens me that this company has chosen to protect the sales of a small group of practitioners rather than offering their products to a wider base of customers. This is why these products are not easy to get.
Even if you are unable to get Renafood, giving your dog GreenMin, SoulFood, GutSense, and FeelGood Omega will greatly improve his/her overall health. I encourage you to check out our Dog Essentials supplement page to learn more about the products and read about the experiences other dog lovers have had using them.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM