Why Can't a Dog With Renal Failure Gain Weight?

This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.


Live Life to the- Fullest
Barked: Wed Jan 27, '10 1:29am PST 
Bart suffers from renal failure. Ever since he was been diagnosed he has been slowly loosing weight. He doesn't like to eat very much and it takes a lot of effort to get him to eat just a little bit. I've switched him to a low-protein diet. For example:

Breakfast he gets some raw papaya and cucumber with orange juice. Lunch is vegetarian soup with a half a can of diced tomatoes and a pinch of sauerkraut (he likes it and it helps him eat). For dinner he gets cream of mushroom soup with carrot juice mixed in and a plum for desert.

My vet told me not to give anything with milk, so I'm going to try to make my own soup for him with rice milk or some types of broth. Bart gets some cottage cheese with sherbert as a rare special treat. He also likes white bread, dinner rolls, asparagus, lean beef, popcorn, hard candy, and lemon-lime soda.

I know all these things sound terrible to give a dog, but I am just trying to get him to eat something that wont make him even sicker. The vet told me I have to stay away from phosphorus and protein in his diet and the only little bit of protein he gets is some lean cooked beef, a bit of cottage cheese, and some beef or chicken broth.

I really need to get Bart to gain some weight. He looks great in his pics, before the renal failure, but is just so skinny now. Any advice/tips would be appreciated.
Ember FDX

Go Go Devil- Bunnies!
Barked: Wed Jan 27, '10 5:13am PST 
You've really answered your own question here - You have to research a better diet. I understand wanting to feed your pup something won't cause harm, but by offering a myrad of species inappropriate foods your dog has no interest in, you're going to end up doing just that.

If you can't or need something in the interm, the vet should be able to reccommend a perscription diet that you can use. I am wholeheartdly against long-term use of Rx diets because their ingrediants are terrible, but they are researched and balanced, and your current diet is not.

Dogs are not vegetarians. They aren't even omnivores. They're opportunistic scavangers who can survive off vegetation and grains if they have to. With the health condition it may be impossible for him to eat a mainly meat diet (although I know many dogs in renal failure who thrive on raw diets) but you have to figure out a way to get more meat and better balance in there.

Edited by author Wed Jan 27, '10 5:16am PST


Princess and the- Pea
Barked: Wed Jan 27, '10 7:37am PST 
Sassy has kidney disease. When I learned that she needed to limit her phosphorus I tried to keep any from crossing her lips. It isn't possible! You need to limit phosphorus, not eliminate it.

On K9KidneyDiet, a yahoo group, I learned that you can treat this like a budget. Sassy's phosphorus budget is about 450 ml a day. She needs protein and calories. I fill up her budget with as much lower phosphorus meat as I can to meet her protein needs then add in carbohydrate and fat calories to meet her caloric needs. The lowest phosphorus protein is egg white. The lowest phosphorus carbohydrate is a special glutinous or mochi rice. Farina or tapioca are other low phosphorus carbs. Boiled chicken without the broth is the lowest phosphorus meat so I use that, add in rice and egg whites plus pan drippings/butter/chicken skin for fat and lots of flavor.

Other issue is appetite. Go for it, what ever he will eat is on the menu! Something that has some calories and protein is egg white French Toast. No milk is needed, use a bit of tasty butter to cook it. Put meaty no onion added baby food or honey or maple syrup or ? on top. Try for tiny meals often. If he won't eat something it can mean his tummy hurts. Sassy went on a hunger strike, a simple OTC antacid started her eating again.

Get as much liquid in as possible. Dehydration kills appetite and renal dogs need more water than healthy dogs. Unfortunately broth has quite a bit of phosphorus but spiking water can work for some dogs. I just pour water into her meal bowl and hope she laps it up. So far so good.

Sassy is 16 years old. Old dogs lose muscle mass, sick dogs lose muscle mass. I am fighting to keep her on her feet by feeding as much protein as I can, lots of tiny meals and using as many low phosphorus foods as I can find. Sweets are on the menu, no holds barred to get calories into her.

I learned as much from http://www.dogaware.com/kidney.html as from all the other sites out there. There is a page on Inappetence there. Sassy has mostly been okay that way so I haven't had to explore all the options yet. Read there and join at least one kidney list. You are not alone in this!

If you aren't able to feed a balanced diet use a prescription food. *I* managed to completely overlook that there are many canned varieties as well and went to home cooked food but there are ways to juice up the script foods to make them more appealing. Monica Segal's Optimal Nutrition has a couple recipes for kidney dogs as does Donald Strombeck's Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative. Strombeck's book can be partially read online, google it and search inside to find info on kidney disease. Good stuff there. Eating a severely unbalanced diet cannot help a dog feel any better!


Live Life to the- Fullest
Barked: Wed Jan 27, '10 9:06am PST 
Thank you Sassy. I really appreciate the response. Getting Bart to eat is just a struggle. I know he doesn't eat the healthiest foods for a dog, but offering him a high protein diet would cause him great harm. This morning I was able to get him to eat a half a can of pumpkin with a half a can of sweet potatoes. I mixed some carob in so he would eat it, as he loves carob. I am way too nervous about giving him meat. I will give him VERY lean organic angus beef sometimes and I was thinking of cooking this for him tonight. I do not want to give any organ meats, as they are high in phosphorus and I cannot do an all-meat diet for Bart.

A friend of mine, who is a huge dog-addict (LOL) feeds her dogs all meat raw diets, but I cannot do this with Bart. She gave me some kidney pills for dogs that she bought online. Ingredients are: Rehmannia glutinosa root-prep, Milk Thistle, Arctium lappa, Uva Ursi, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Cranberry Juice Extract, Couchgrass Root, Vitamin A, Docosahexaenoic Acid, Desmodium, Organic horsetail, Chicken and Beef, Chin-chiu, Organic Cranberry, Benzoic acidum, Crabapple, Dioscorea opposita rhizome, and Marshmallow Root. It was really sweet of her to buy this for Bart, but I don't know how safe it would be giving this to him. What do you guys think?

I am considering putting Bart on Hill's Prescription Diet k/d food. The vet says Bart is about 10 lbs underweight, but not yet considered emaciated. Tonight I'm going to try to cook a good quality diet for Bart. He's getting boiled organic angus beef and chicken with some egg, potatoes, and rice. How does this sound?

Princess and the- Pea
Barked: Wed Jan 27, '10 1:58pm PST 
I thought about feeding Sassy raw meat but as she would only get a little and I still have to cook grain and veggies it seems sort of silly. He does need some sort of meat. Boiled chicken is the lowest cost lowest phosphorus one I can find. She is 44 pounds and gets about 7-8 ounces of that a day. It is only half the food she needs. The sweet potato and all are fine but not very high calorie for the phosphorus content and are low in protein. The glutinous rice is super low in phosphorus as is tapioca. Sugars and fats are good for simple calories as well but not very nutritious! Use them to get him to eat. Maybe as a spread on white bread?

While you study up on high calorie foods he will eat just give him anything at all. Try for some meat daily though. Share your simple foods with him. Not breakfast cereals or milk products. Not onions or nuts or whole grains. White bread. Potato. Plain rice or pasta. Unsalted butter. Unsalted pan drippings on white bread maybe. Egg white french toast with meaty baby food as a topping or maybe honey or maple syrup or molasses! Sassy was happy about plain baking soda leavened ginger cookies this week. Baking POWDER is a no no but baking soda cookies are low in phosphorus.

Once he is eating you can back off the really awful stuff but anything goes when you are fighting to get your sick dog to eat something. Feed him when he is acting interested just small amounts of food and try to get water into him at the same time.

Sassy needs an antacid daily. Kidney dogs are acidic and easily develop ulcers. Ask your vet about what to give him.

Really read dogaware. Join the kidney yahoo group. Sassy is nearly to her 3 year anniversary of living with this. If you figure it out and are lucky dogs do just fine for quite a while.