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How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Kidney Disease

A Yorkie about to eat their food for kidney disease

While sad, your dog’s diagnosis of kidney disease shouldn’t fill you with despair. This diagnosis makes caring for and feeding your dog a bit more challenging, but with the proper foods, your dog can still live many years with a good quality of life. And–they’re worth every ounce of energy, of course! If you are in this situation, read on and you will find out how to care for your dog and lengthen their life in spite of kidney disease.

What foods help repair kidneys in dogs?

There are countless ways that your dog’s kidneys could get damaged, some can be avoided, and others just come naturally, especially as your dog ages. While it would be nice if a diet could return your dog’s kidney health, it’s important to remember that there’s no way to “undamage” your forever friend’s kidneys.

However, there are many things that you can do to improve their kidney function and quality of life! Including feeding them the best maintenance dog food you can find.

When Choosing a Dog Food for Kidney Function, Talk to Your Vet

If you’re not 100% sure your dog does have kidney disease, do not put them on a kidney support dog food before visiting the vet. Your vet will need to diagnose your dog’s condition, and this is a great opportunity to discuss the options available for feeding and caring for your dog. Many things go into the proper care of a dog with poor kidney function, and your vet should be your first source of information.

Your vet might prescribe medications that will help improve your dog’s kidney function. These drugs might reduce the symptoms, but they really won’t cure the disease. Additionally,  they will likely tell you that changing your dog’s diet will go a long way to reducing the symptoms.

Your vet may recommend a non-prescription dog food for kidney disease. If you prefer whipping your dog’s dinner up from scratch, be sure to ask your veterinarian or a vet nutritionist about vet-approved homemade dog food recipes for kidney disease.

What to Do When Your Dog Has Poor Appetite

 A brown dog with kidney disease looking into the eyes of their vet

Many dogs with poor kidney function are listless and lack appetite. If that is the case, try feeding your dog several small meals each day instead of one large one [1]. You might also want to feed your dog away from distractions like people and other pets. Warming their meal will improve the smell, and that might excite your dog’s appetite. 

Enticing your finicky eater to empty their bowl

Here are a few things that you can do to get your dog to empty their food bowl:

      • Add just a little maple syrup or honey for a sweet treat
      • Add something with a strong aroma that your dog loves, like ground beef or hard-boiled egg whites
      • A little fish like mackerel or sardines give the food a stronger smell and add Omega-fatty acids
      • Add a couple of spoonfuls of canned pumpkin or cooked sweet potato

If you know the flavours that your dog loves, check with your vet to ensure those foods are good for their diet. Then, stir a little into their regular food. Learn other tips to encourage your dog to dig into their dinner!

Do you need to find a healthy food for your dog with kidney disease?

There are a variety of dog foods on the market for dogs with kidney disease. However, it’s important to always check with your vet for which will work best for your dog. Additionally, keep an eye on the ingredients, since many manufacturers change their formulas from time to time.

And remember to ease your dog into the new diet. Start by adding just a little of the new food, then increase it over the course of 2 to 3 weeks, giving your dog’s digestive system time to adjust to the new food.

Picking the Best Dog Food for Kidney Disease: Some Guidelines

The best way to pick a healthy food for your doggo is to read the label.  Check the ingredients and look for the following:

      • Higher moisture content
      • Higher fat and carbohydrate content
      • Low levels of Phosphorus, sodium and protein [2]
      • Omega-3 fatty acids from sources like fish oil [2]
      • Higher fibre content (both soluble and insoluble) [3]
      • Higher levels of vitamins A, C and E
      • More antioxidants [3]
      • No added artificial flavours or preservatives

Treats that are good for dogs with kidney problems  

A dog getting a treat from their owner

There are many good treats that you can give a dog with kidney disease. Just remember the general rule–treats should be less than 10% of daily calories. To protect your pup’s health, always try to choose treats that are good for your dog's kidney function and taste great too.

Look for treats that are not too high in phosphorus, salt, and protein [4]. Treat options should have less than 150 mg phosphorus per 100 kcal and less than 100 mg sodium per 100 kcal (check with your vet to find out what your pet needs in addition to avoiding high protein) [4].

What foods should dogs with kidney disease avoid?

If you are feeding your dog handouts and treats or if you are preparing crockpot dog food for kidney disease or homemade dog food, avoid the following:

      • Avocado
      • Bacon
      • Chocolate
      • Dairy products
      • Egg yolks
      • Grapes
      • Ham
      • Raisins

Along with any food or treat that has added chemicals listed on the label! If you can pronounce it or don’t know what it is, you probably shouldn’t give it to your dog.

What Foods and Supplements Help Repair Your Dog’s Kidneys?

There are no proven foods or supplements that will cure kidney disease. So, don’t be taken in by the hype that some companies use in their advertisements and product descriptions. 

While it isn’t proven, some companies claim that the following supplements can help improve poor kidney function:

      • Aluminium hydroxide
      • Fresh parsley
      • Kali chloricumand
      • Milk thistle
      • Silicea
      • Tripsy

Check with your vet for recommended amounts of these, and add them one at a time so if there are adverse reactions, you will know which supplement caused it.

Want to Make Your Own Kidney Disease Support Dog Food?

Homemade dog food for kidney disease in tupperware

It isn’t that difficult to prepare food for your furry friend, so you might want to give it a try. This way you are 100% in control of what is going into their food bowl. However, be sure you use vet-approved homemade dog food recipes for kidney disease. 

When your dog has kidney disease, they’re more vulnerable, making it even more important to consult your vet. This ensures they’re still getting a healthy diet with all the nutrients that they need and the proper proportion of protein, fat, and carbs.

What Your Vet Will Likely Approve for Your Homemade Dog Food

The following foods are good for treating the symptoms of kidney disease:

Fruits and veggies

      • Apples
      • Blueberries
      • Bananas
      • Broccoli
      • Carrots
      • Green beans
      • Peas
      • Squash
      • Strawberries
      • Watermelon
      • Zucchini

Protein sources

      • Beef
      • Chicken
      • Fish
      • Lamb
      • Pork

All of these foods are generally approved for a canine renal diet. By consuming these foods, your dog will have the nutrition they need, without doing further damage to their kidney function.

A homemade crockpot dog food for kidney disease

If you want to do a little home cooking for your doggo, here is recipe you can use (after approving it wish your vet):


        • 2 kg of plain boiled chicken breast, diced (or about one chicken breast)
        • 4 hard-boiled egg white
        • 1/2 cup of cooked white rice
        • 1/2 cup of cooked diced carrots or squash
        • 1/2 cup cooked green beans or peas
        • 2 cups low sodium beef, chicken, vegetable stock

Preparation Instructions:

          1. Mix the ingredients and ladle ½ cup for every 10 kilograms your dog weighs. 
          2. If you feed your dog more than once a day, reduce the daily serving into the number of meals.
          3. You might want to warm it slightly to increase the aroma, especially if your dog struggles with their appetite.
          4. Store in an airtight container.
          5. Should last up to a week when refrigerated.

You might want to put a meal’s worth of this in a pan and let it simmer for a bit on the stove–the smell might bring your doggo to the kitchen with a hungry look on their face.

Storing Your Dog’s Homemade Food

This homemade dog food should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It will stay good for about five days. Don’t make too much so that it doesn’t spoil before your dog finishes it.

You will need to feed your dog 1/2 cup for every 20 to 30 kilograms per day. This is simply a guideline. Ask your vet how much you should feed them. Also, ask your vet if the ingredients in this recipe will be healthy for his kidney condition.

Combat the Symptoms of Kidney Disease with the Best Dog Food

A dog smiling at the camera, living his best life despite having kidney disease

Give your doggo the best life you can! Providing them with the proper diet as they age is one thing that you can do, especially if they face a health challenge such as kidney disease. Kidney problems aren't the end of your dog’s best life, but you will have to work a little harder to ensure they receive the proper balance of nutrients. Keep in mind that your vet is one of the best resources when it comes to your dog’s diet, and always monitor their symptoms as they switch from one food to another.


[1] Feeding the Dog with Kidney Disease | PetMD

[2] What Treats Can I Give My Dog With Kidney Disease?

[3] My Vet Says My Dog or Cat Needs a Special Diet

[4] My Pet Has Kidney Disease--What Kind of Diet Should I Feed