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How to Feed Dogs with Kidney or Liver Health Issues

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Dogs are always referred to as man’s best friend. They are probably the most common pet because of their universal popularity among animal lovers. Many people own dogs as they are a great companion and they help to keep a family safe from vandals or unwanted visitors. They are even often called “fur babies” because they are treated as one of the family.

When your dog gets sick, it is a real cause for concern. And when a dog gets diagnosed with a kidney or liver disease, it can be terrifying for a pet owner at first. But after the initial scare, you will soon be told that dogs with kidney or liver health issues can still live comfortably for years when the disease is caught early and treated properly.

Same as in humans, dog’s kidneys cleanse toxins and balance substances in the blood. They filter out the body’s wastes as urine. They also maintain salt and water concentration in the body at a normal level. Kidneys also help keep blood pressure within normal levels, aid in calcium metabolism, and sustain the level of phosphorus in the body. They also produce a hormone that encourages red-blood-cell production. When kidneys become diseased, toxins accumulate in the blood, and a dog will become sick.

Aging in dogs causes the kidneys to malfunction. They become inefficient or ineffective in filtering the blood and pulling out toxins from the bloodstream. When the filtration process fails, the body attempts to increase filtration by increasing blood flow to the kidneys. The result of this is the production of more urine. Increased fluid loss due to the frequency and volume of urine usually leads to dehydration. To prevent dehydration from occurring, thirst is increased, and more water is consumed by the dog. Increased water consumption and urine production are early signs of kidney disease in dogs.


It is common for dogs to have liver health issues. It is especially common in certain breeds, such as West Highland Terriers and Doberman Pinschers. The liver acts as the cleaning system for the body. It removes toxins and other waste. The liver also produces bile for the digestive process. Toxins and waste build up in the body when the liver gets diseased. When the liver gets compromised, it may affect other body systems such as the heart and even the brain.

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Symptoms of liver disease or failure include loss of appetite, bad breath, vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea, weight loss, and jaundice or yellowing of the white part of the eyes and yellowing of gums. Sometimes, a dog might throw up blood, and its feces might turn dark because of stomach ulceration. The build-up of fluids in the stomach can also be a symptom. In some cases, dogs can experience seizures.

Symptoms of organ failure in dogs vary according to the affected organ and depending on the severity of the disease. Taking care of your sick dog will probably require special management — medically or dietary, for the rest of their life. Drugs may be prescribed to reduce symptoms, but the best way to manage the health issues would be attending to their nutritional needs, which has shown to significantly improve the dog’s survival. The right diet, specially designed for dogs with kidney or liver disease, has a dramatic effect on the life expectancy of those who are fed with it than those who eat more typical diets.

Veterinarians recommend a low protein diet for special cases such as dogs with kidney or liver health issues. Less protein in their diet means a decrease of protein that has to be processed by the body, ensuring that the kidney and the liver are not overworked. When the kidneys are not tired, more protein becomes available for the body to utilize because less protein is excreted in the urine. Dogs become less lethargic and more active when given a low protein diet. The survival of terminally ill dogs is increased.


Low protein dog food will significantly benefit dogs with kidney or liver health issues. This modification in their diet will provide them with nutrition appropriate for their condition. Carefully designed diets low in protein should be supervised by a veterinarian and monitored for risks of side effects. The best option is prescription dog food, but these can be very expensive and sometimes hard to source.

A cheaper alternative is a low protein homemade dog food diet, which, apart from being time-consuming to prepare, they can also be costly. The most affordable and easy to find option is regular store-bought dog food that has a lower crude protein basis. For any and all dietary change, consulting with a veterinarian beforehand is a must. Your dog can still enjoy and live a comfortable life even in the face of a progressive disease with proper attention to their nutritional needs.


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About Anas Alaoui

Anas Alaoui

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