Starting raw with a dog in kidney failure?

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Bella &- Cougar

Barked: Tue Jun 11, '13 11:18am PST 
I have been feeding my dogs raw for quite some time, so my questions will be geared toward information for my mother's dog.

She has recently found out that her 8 year old lab is in kidney failure, which means at this point, the damage is done and will only get worse. He has lost a lot of weight and is very skinny. He also isn't interested in kibble, unless it is mixed with wet food. I suggested to her that she start feeding him raw, as I did SOME research and found that some dogs levels with blood tests actually begin to look better with raw.

My question is: with him being so slim already, how would you go about changing him to raw and does anyone have any experience with raw and kidney failure? I had a dog who was skin and bones when I got him and I put him on raw and he actually LOST weight within the first two weeks, so that's why I'm wondering about beginning this dog. Would anyone suggest giving kibble and raw? Of course the vet gave my mother the prescription kibble.

Thanks all!

The world is my- food bowl!
Barked: Tue Jun 11, '13 1:11pm PST 
I fed raw, among many other things, to a 19 year old cat in renal failure. He lived another year, but sadly he was too far damaged to make much of a recovery.. rather we did what we could to keep him happy and healthy. His appetite was not good, so we offered him anything he would eat: canned food (dozens of kinds), raw meat/fish, table scraps, tuna fish, etc.

The moisture levels of raw make for a very helpful diet to dogs with renal problems, but sometimes it's necessary to give sub-cutaneous fluids as well. I really recommend you have your vet teach you how to do this, and give fluids a few times a week. Without the extra fluids, our cat's health would decrease dramatically and it was difficult to get him to eat and drink.

Thankfully, raw foods are generally high value to dogs and cats, and it shouldn't be too tough to get your pup to eat. I do recommend starting the same way that everyone else does, and go slow because not doing your research could result in diarrhea, and the last thing a dog in renal failure needs is added dehydration.

Edit: You can feed raw and kibble as a diet, but I suggest you separate them to maybe breakfast and dinner. Some dogs are more sensitive than others, and might experience a more difficult time getting their stools on track if you mix something else into the raw food.

Edited by author Tue Jun 11, '13 1:13pm PST

Bella &- Cougar

Barked: Tue Jun 11, '13 3:12pm PST 
Thanks for the input!

After doing MORE research, I've found that a low protein diet is suggested (though just helps to make them feel better, but doesn't necessarily extend their life) for dogs with BUN over 80 and creatinine over 4. I don't remember the units, sorry! His levels were 71 for BUN and 3.7 for creatinine. Also, that the amount of bone should be very limited to actually not included at all. So, with that said, and for informational purposes at this time:
1) What types of raw food would be considered low protein? Would any of you even recommend going low protein?
2) What types of food or supplements would be suggested to use in place of bone?
3) Also, how can I add calories to put weight on him (assuming he'll even eat)?
4) What are some low phosphorus foods? Organs are supposedly high in phosphorus, so how do you incorporate those?


I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Tue Jun 11, '13 3:50pm PST 
This was way out of my comfort zone when Sassy developed kidney disease but Mary Straus fed her dog raw when she had the same issue.

Yes stuff like liver is very high in phosphorus but the good thing is you have a guideline of how much phosphorus to feed as phosphorus is an essential nutrient and cannot be completely cut out without outright killing the dog! I had Sassy on not nearly enough phosphorus, about half her healthy dog amount, and could feed her 9 ounces of cooked chicken [would be about 11-12 ounces raw] and about 1/4 ounce of beef liver a day. Not enough calories but she didn't tolerate much fat so I had to give her super low phosphorus glutinous rice instead of fat. Not sticky rice or sushi rice, glutinous rice. Another low phosphorus protein is egg white, I cooked a lot of eggs for her before she decided they were yucky. Corn starch and tapioca are also very low in phosphorus. Sassy liked tapioca but I couldn't bring myself to use corn starch. That would have made a gravy rather than something more like very wet fried rice.

Tripe is excellent for kidney compromised dogs. And Sassy got a lot of it before she decided it was yucky.

A dog with high BUN is very dehydrated. Before anything else get the dog on subcutaneous fluids. I forget how much it cost, $25 for a box of liter bags at Costco but I forget how many bags were in the box. Lines were expensive at at least $1.50 each bought online but needles were very cheap.

Now if I had a kidney dog I would first cut out the bones, use calcium carbonate or egg shell for calcium, use low phosphorus veggies for bulk and keep the organ content a bit lower than for a healthy dog. Use nutritiondata.com to find low phosphorus veggies. Looks like winter squash is good stuff. I would source green tripe for sure and use lots of it. If the dog was starting to be intolerant of fat I would trim the meat and offer that glutinous rice for more calories. I would likely do the same as with Sassy and give a B vitamin complex, fish oil and vitamin E.

Protein? All her life Sassy ate ~22% protein kibble and about 600 calories. She needed 1000 calories and loads of protein when she got sick as she just burned through calories and protein. On the ~29% protein cooked food she was much happier and stronger. I wouldn't try to reduce protein on purpose. Just the phosphorus.
Bella &- Cougar

Barked: Tue Jun 11, '13 6:24pm PST 
Thanks, Maxwell! I have looked at that website and it definitely contains TONS of great info, which is both great and overwhelming. I probably should be more aware of the data for my dogs, but I just generally control the organ amount to 10% and watch the poop for the rest! So, helping my mother get started on a plan that is so precise with numbers is scary.
- What would you suggest to start out a dog on raw with this condition? I am not certain of how advanced the disease is, but let's just guess that it's pretty advanced, as he is VERY skinny, but still acting normal, aside from not having much appetite. Use bone or no bone at first? Just chicken? Or add some veggies/carbs? Wait to add tripe? Definitely want to go slow, but just unsure of how to get started to make the transition as easy as possible.

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Tue Jun 11, '13 8:41pm PST 
Since creatinine is over 3 no bones! I did give Sassy beef ribs as I knew she would eat only the soft stuff. If he would do the same then do offer something like that once a week for fun and tooth cleaning.

Definitely put the dog on subcutaneous fluids with the high BUN. Sassy was mopey, leaked and slept and the day after her first liter was a new dog, it was seriously amazing and her BUN was much lower than his. A lab will need a liter a day probably and it will take an hour to administer the first couple weeks but we could get them in in 15 minutes after we got the hang of it. She ended up getting Trader Joe Ginger Cat cookies during the treatment before that I made up glutinous rice/egg white/liver, oyster or banana cookies and it counted as part of her diet and phosphorus allotment.

Get green tripe and use that as much as possible. It isn't high in protein and is low in phosphorus and high in calcium. Also likely high in fat and a kidney dog is likely to have issues in other organs as well. Sassy always had a wonky liver and pancreatic enzyme - low fat is used in both those instances.

Kidney dogs shouldn't have a lot of vitamin A so limit liver to half of the usual. I don't know any reason to stop feeding the other organ though.

I might start my guy at 6 ounces beef, 6 ounces green tripe, 3-5 ounces pureed winter squash, 1/2 ounce kidney, 1/4 ounce liver and 1/2 tsp egg shell or calcium carbonate for the same 600 calories he gets now and about 75% his phosphorus requirement. If that is uncomfortable use some rice in place of some meat or more green tripe.

If blood phosphorus is creeping up out of normal range then use more calcium supplement as it serves to bind phosphorus. If the dog has poor appetite then ask about an acid blocker. I thought Sassy was ready to leave us when she was 15 but the vet gave her Pepcid and she was eating and happy again!

Max eats raw once a day. Sassy was eating 4-5 times a day her last year as her tummy just couldn't hold all she needed on 2-3x a day anymore. So tell them to watch and if he slows down during the meal try feeding less more often to keep him eating happily.