If your dog has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, feeding them a diet prescribed by your vet is going to be a key element of their treatment. For dogs with kidney disease, our Rock Hill vets may recommend a therapeutic diet with restricted protein, phosphorus, and sodium combined with increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids. 

What is chronic kidney disease or kidney failure?

Chronic kidney disease is also known as chronic kidney failure, chronic renal disease, chronic renal failure, and CKD. When your dog's kidneys are healthy, they perform a variety of important functions, including filtering toxins from the blood. Chronic kidney disease is the gradual deterioration of your dog's kidneys' ability to function properly. When your dog has kidney failure, the kidneys are no longer able to perform this function adequately, and toxins begin to accumulate gradually. While there is no cure for chronic kidney disease in dogs, the condition can often be managed with a therapeutic diet, allowing your dog to live a normal life for many months.

How is chronic kidney disease treated in dogs?

Depending on the severity and progression of your dog's kidney disease, your veterinarian may recommend a combination of dietary restrictions and medications. The primary goal of the medications is to alleviate disease symptoms, whereas a therapeutic diet is intended to slow disease progression and reduce the workload placed on the kidneys.

Dog Food For Kidney Disease?

A typical therapeutic diet for dogs with chronic kidney disease will contain lower levels of protein, phosphorus, and sodium, as well as higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and, in some cases, potassium.


While reducing protein in a dog's diet remains controversial, there are two main reasons for doing so for dogs with chronic kidney disease. The first goal is to reduce the amount of waste produced during protein metabolism, and the second is to reduce the amount of protein entering the kidney filtration system.

Essentially this means that feeding a diet with reduced levels of protein may help to reduce the workload placed on your dog's kidneys, in turn possibly helping to preserve kidney function.


When the kidneys begin to fail, the phosphorus concentration in the blood rises. Phosphorus overload has been linked to several negative side effects, including vitamin D deficiency and a reduced ability for your dog's body to metabolize calcium. Normalizing blood phosphorus concentrations through the diet may help to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease in your dog.

It's important to note that the phosphorus level in dog foods is directly related to the food's protein level. To reduce the phosphorus in your dog's diet it will be necessary to also restrict their intake of protein. It is also important to note that normalizing your dog's blood phosphorus levels through diet alone is typically only successful if the kidney disease is diagnosed and treated early, medications will also be necessary for later stages.


A common dietary approach to treating chronic kidney disease in dogs is to reduce sodium in their diet. Reducing sodium can help your dog's kidneys work less hard while also allowing him to maintain normal blood pressure. Because jerky and cheese slices are typically high in sodium, reducing sodium in your dog's diet will most likely necessitate paying special attention to the treats you offer your pet.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in studies to help slow the progression of chronic kidney disease in dogs by lowering the production of inflammatory compounds that cause oxidative stress in the kidneys. Dog foods with higher omega-3 levels frequently include salmon, which many dogs enjoy, or are supplemented with fish oil or flaxseed oil.

What should I feed my dog with kidney disease?

Following your dog's diagnosis of chronic kidney disease, your vet will recommend the best food to help your dog fight the progression of the disease. Every dog is different, and the food recommended for your dog will depend on the severity of the disease, how far it has progressed, as well as your dog's overall health and age.

Most dog foods sold in pet stores are likely to have protein and phosphorus levels that are too high for dogs with chronic kidney disease; however, your veterinarian can recommend several prescription foods. Prescription diets have been specially formulated to meet all of your dog's dietary needs while also providing protein, phosphorus, and sodium restrictions. Consult your veterinarian to determine which food is best for your pet.

If your dog has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, contact our Rock Hill vets. We may be able to help you by giving you guidance on your dog's diet.