The kidneys are vital organs that carry out many important tasks in the body. They remove toxins from the blood and excrete them via the urine they produce, regulate blood pressure, maintain hydration and balance the body’s essential electrolytes.
Renal Disease is the name any condition that results in the kidneys not functioning properly. Kidney disease can vary in severity depending on the progression of damage. End-stage kidney disease, or renal failure, is when the kidneys have stopped working and is considered a very serious condition. Kidney disease can affect both cats and dogs.
There are two ways to classify kidney disease – acute and chronic.
Acute kidney injury is the result of a sudden insult to the kidneys. One of the most common causes of acute kidney damage is the ingestion of toxins such as antifreeze, poisonous plants, pesticides, and human medications. Other potential causes include painful kidney stones, cancer, and infections within the urinary tract. Depending on the cause, with aggressive supportive treatments, conditions can resolve and kidney function can improve.
Chronic kidney disease is the result of irreversible long-term degenerative changes in the kidney that affects its ability to function properly. It can gradually progress over time to end-stage kidney failure. Evidence of chronic kidney damage is often found incidentally on the routine blood work of our aging dogs and cat. Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic kidney disease, however there are ways to help manage the disease and slow its progression, improve your pet’s quality of life and even extend their life.
There are general signs for both acute and chronic kidney disease, the difference being that the acute form comes on fairly quickly (a few days) while the chronic form develops gradually over longer time (months to years).
These are a few of the most common early indicators of kidney disease: Increased thirst and urination, lethargy, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, and weight loss.
Treatments for kidney disease depend on the severity of kidney damage (also referred to as the Stage of the disease) and the underlying cause. Regardless, diet is often considered the foundation of managing kidney disease. Important considerations when selecting an appropriate kidney-supportive diet include protein levels, water content, and phosphorus.
Here are a few ways that a fresh natural raw food diet can be beneficial:
PROTEIN: Protein is essential for your pet’s health. For cats, it is their main source of energy. There is a common misconception among the veterinary profession that animals with kidney disease should be on a protein-restricted diet*. Because most kibble diets are made up of low quality poorly digestible proteins (like soy, wheat gluten and animal derivatives/meals) they are challenging for kidneys to process, thus the necessity for a low protein diet. However, if the protein in the diet is high quality and easily digestible, it can potentially help kidney function and overall body nutrition. Raw species-appropriate diets are full of fresh high-quality protein, especially the easily digestible poultries – chicken, turkey, and duck.
*Studies have shown controversy in the theories of protein-restriction – only beneficial if the animal is in end-stage renal failure with toxic levels of urea in the blood.
WATER CONTENT: In kidney disease, they are unable to fully concentrate the urine they produce, and as a result the body can fall into a state of chronic dehydration. Therefore, your pet’s body will require a higher water intake to compensate. Raw food will naturally have significantly higher water content given its fresh contents. The low moisture content of dry kibble diets can strain the kidneys and further contribute to the body’s constant increased thirst. It is also essential to always have plenty of fresh water readily available.