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My Dog Was Diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease. Now What?

A diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in your dog can be alarming news. However, if it’s caught early and if proper treatment is initiated, a dog with CKD may be able to live a relatively normal life for years to come. However, you might have to make some changes to help your buddy live as comfortably as possible.

Regularly monitor their status

Dogs with CKD need to be examined by their veterinarian far more often than healthy dogs, though the frequency depends on the stage of their CKD. If it’s in the early stages, your vet may want to examine your dog every three months or so. More frequent visits will eventually be required in order to check blood work, urinalysis and blood pressure, and to make sure the right medications are being administered at the right levels.

A change in diet and feeding process

Dogs with CKD, especially in its advanced stages, are typically prescribed a protein- and phosphorus-restricted food. Lower protein is recommended so that the kidneys don’t have as much waste to filter (to prevent waste products from building up in the blood). Since the kidneys aren’t as efficient as they once were, they can’t remove phosphorous like they should, and restricting phosphorus can help limit further damage to the kidneys. Specialized kidney diets also typically are restricted in sodium and supplemented with fatty acids.

Another issue that dogs in renal failure face is decreased appetite. When you switch your dog to a prescribed kidney diet, like Diamond CARE® Rx Renal Formula for Adult Dogs, you need to make sure that he or she is eating enough. Getting your dog to eat the amount recommended by your veterinarian is important to preserve the existing kidney function, so it may take some trial and error. If they aren’t as into eating their normal-sized meals, try feeding multiple small meals throughout the day. You might even have to hand-feed, warm the food slightly or soak it in water to make it more enticing. That added water might also help prevent dehydration.

More water, more bathroom breaks

Constant access to clean water is a must for dogs with CKD. To stay hydrated, dogs with kidney disease will need to drink more water than healthy dogs. As a result, they will urinate more frequently and in larger amounts. Ways to increase water consumption include adding a prescription canned food to their diet (which may encourage them to eat more, an added bonus!), placing bowls of clean water in additional locations around the house, or even supplementing the water with a touch of low sodium chicken broth. If your dog isn’t able to maintain hydration, your vet may recommend giving fluids under the skin.

Since your dog will need to urinate more often, you might have to make new arrangements, especially if you’re not home all the time. If your yard is safe and secure, consider adding a doggy door so he or she can come and go as they please. If that’s not possible, you might want to ask a neighbor or hire a dog walker to take the dog outside in your extended absence.

Lower their stress

This is a more abstract issue, as every dog is stressed out by different things. But when a dog is under stress, they may eat or drink less than usual. Since a dog with CKD needs more water and may have less of an appetite, the last thing you want is anything that lowers that desire to eat and drink. So be sure to monitor your pal for signs of stress and anxiety. Separation anxiety, fear of thunder, that annoying squirrel outside: only you know what’s going to add stress to your dog’s life, and you need to do what you can to lessen it.

It’s not all bad

People often wonder how long their pet will be able to live with chronic kidney disease. Because the rate of progression varies considerably among individuals, this is often impossible to predict. Many pets can live for additional years when their disease is carefully managed by their veterinarian along with a conscientious owner.

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.

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