Since so many of you have expressed interest in Chance’s diet I thought I’d tell you a bit of what we have learned through this process. Much of it can be applied to any dog or cat with weak or failing kidneys, and you don’t have to break the bank to maintain the diet.
The standard renal diets such as Science Diet K/D, or Purina Renal MP, are low in protein and phosphorus, but they have little flavor or aroma. An animal in poor health typically has a poor appetite too. They need yummy smelling and tasty food as a stimulus to eat. The commercial renal diets don’t provide that so it is often a challenge to get them to eat it. You can add seasonings to eat, such as a little garlic powder, but salts are taboo.
If your pet won’t eat, it’s body will begin metabolizing muscle tissue, which raises BUN, creatinine, and phosphorus levels, making the situation worse. So if your pet simply won’t eat the renal diet foods, you have little choice but to feed them what they will eat and worry about blood levels secondarily.
We scoured the shelves of our local pet shops and e-mailed many companies for nutritional details not on the package labels. What we found, in general, is most foods labeled for “Senior” dogs or cats are a good place to start. They are formulated for low protein and phosphorus, since a senior animal typically has a weakened renal system.
I’d buy anything with crude protein levels below 8% and phosphorus below 0.25% ( that is below both the Purina & Science renal diet dry foods ). There is a surprising variety available. Then I’d experiment with what Chance would eat. I found as his blood began to return to normal levels, his energy and mood improved, and he became less picky about his food. He will gobble up the following brands:
Choose the wet foods, the dry has greatly elevated protein and phosphorus. The Merrick and Halo have the best formulation with low protein and phosphorus below 0.2%. The Innova Senior and Wellness brands are also very good but the phosphorus level is 0.30-0.35%, still lower than some of the renal diet dry foods, but higher than I would like to see.
When we started on this journey Chance wasn’t eating much of anything. He lost several pounds in little more than a week. But as we identified kidney healthy foods he would eat, his blood levels improved along with his mood, and his appetite has greatly improved. Now he will eat most anything we put in front of him. He is gaining back his weight and looking great.
Hope this was useful.