Kidney Disease

Dogs with Kidney Disease – Excerpts by Alex Seilis & Dr Gruenstern DVM

If you go to a conventional vet, the typical treatment path involves cutting down the protein and feeding a dry, low protein prescription kibble diet. This diet keeps the Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels in your dog’s body from increasing.

The problem with limiting protein though is that it really just suppresses and masks the real issue, rather than treating it and giving your dog what he needs to fight the disease.

It’s all about moisture in, moisture out. A dog with kidney disease needs more water to filter out the toxins, so dry kibble is bad and definitely NOT the answer. Vets will push dry prescription diets, when in fact a dog with kidney disease needs more moisture, not less.

Listen to: A Review of Hill’s Prescription Diet on The Raw Dog Food Truth

Here are some general dietary rules from Dr Gruenstern for dogs with kidney disease.

Quality Ingredients

Dr Gruenstern emphasizes feeding high quality protein to maintain muscle mass. Your dog also needs high quality fat for energy.

Nitrogen Trap to Remove Excess Protein

Because meat-based diets are high in protein, your dog needs a “nitrogen trap” to help remove excess protein from the body.  The “nitrogen trap” helps divert the waste products of protein metabolism from the bloodstream into the colon, which reduces the burden on the kidneys.

If your dog has a high BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) value when lab tests are done, the nitrogen trap can help lower the nitrogen (contained in protein) and lower her BUN levels.

There are many ways to do this. The easiest one is to feed lots of dark leafy greens, and add probiotics to your dog’s diet.


Your dog may need potassium supplementation as well as other products that help rebuild the kidney and aid detoxification (more about those in a minute).

Keep Your Dog Hydrated!

Dr Gruenstern strongly emphasizes the importance of fluid therapy.

No matter what diet you’re feeding and what supplements you’re giving, you must monitor your dog closely for signs of dehydration.  If your dog’s stool is hard and dry or if your dog is lethargic, you need to get more fluids into him.

In Dr Gruenstern’s practice, she teaches all owners of dogs with chronic kidney disease how to recognize the symptoms of dehydration and how to do subcutaneous therapy at home. You should ask your vet to do the same for you so that you don’t need to take your dog to the clinic if she needs hydrating.

What You Should Feed

The ideal diet for a dog with kidney disease includes:

A Species-Appropriate Raw, Balanced Meat Based Diet

The food needs to be wet, and it needs to be warm.

In nature, prey is not refrigerated, so a truly natural diet shouldn’t be fed straight out of the refrigerator.  Take your dog’s food out of the refrigerator ahead of feeding to let it come to room temperature.

Don’t microwave or cook the food to warm it. It reduces the nutritional value of the food.

Nitrogen Trap

Add a nitrogen trap of probiotic supplements and the prebiotics that feed them, plus blended leafy greens, which provide enzymes and whole food vitamins.

Probiotics help balance the bacteria in your dog’s gut to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Prebiotics are non-digestible plant fibers that provide food for the probiotics.

It’s important to always avoid laboratory derived (synthetic) vitamins and minerals. They create extra stress on the kidneys and are not well absorbed by the body.

Feed Kidneys

Feed organ meat as 10-15 percent of your dog’s diet.

It’s especially important to feed your dog kidneys. The nutrients in kidneys can help support the kidney itself!