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Liver & Kidney Disease Nutrition

Hearing that your Dog or Cat has Liver or Kidney Disease is very concerning. Understanding how it happens and what you can do to help goes a long way in helping to manage the disease. Feeding a species appropriate diet can help prevent or minimize the effects of all types of illness. Wholistic Veterinarians can help you take a more natural based approach. 

The Raw Solution

The liver is the largest gland in your pet’s body. Its function is to manage and metabolize the intake of fats and proteins that are essential to a species-appropriate diet. The liver is one of the most important organs because it is the filter, but also the manufacturer of vital blood proteins, fats, and blood clotting agents. The liver secretes bile for digestion, deactivates hormones and performs many other functions. Therefore, a diseased liver is a SERIOUS problem!

What Causes Liver Disease?

Genetics, drug overdose, poison, malnutrition, parasites, cancer, or infectious disease can all contribute to a diseased liver. However, poor dietary choices are also one of the major causes of for liver disease. Typically, the recommended solution is to feed your pet a low protein diet, however current research is showing that low protein diets can contribute to further liver degeneration. The ideal diet for a pet provides maximum nutrition without overtaxing the liver. Pets with liver disease require high levels of good quality protein in an easily digestible form that will not produce high levels of ammonia during digestion.

Why Raw Diets?

Dry commercial pet food burdens the liver and kidneys primarily due to inferior quality proteins, and by causing dehydration. To continue to feed dry commercial pet food is to continue to contribute to the disease itself! Take for example a prescription “liver” diet. The ingredient list includes the following: Brewers Rice, Pork Fat, Soybean Meal, Pasta Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Chicken Liver Flavor, Vegetable Oil and Powdered Cellulose. Where is the “food” in this diet?

Suggested Dietary Recommendations

Red meats like beef, pork, and lamb tend to produce high levels of ammonia during digestion, causing further damage to the liver.

Instead, choose menu items such as:

  • Chicken Dinner
  • Turkey Dinner
  • Turkey Salmon Lamb
  • Duck Dinner
  • Pure Rabbit
  • Fish Dinner

 Fruits and Vegetables

Dogs can also tolerate high quality carbohydrates such as pureed fruit and vegetables. Fiber helps to absorb excess ammonia, so adding fruit and vegetables to the diet is beneficial for most dogs with liver disease. Adding Big Country Raw SuperFood Blend or Fruit and Vegetable Blend is recommended. Suggested portions would be ¼ cup per 1 lb of raw.

Essential Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acids, such as those found in THRIVE Herring Oil, are also necessary because fish oil protects liver cells. Follow suggested dosage on container.

Vitamins and Minerals

THRIVE Trimineral Boost contains kelp, spirulina, and alfalfa. Together, these three ingredients contribute many naturally occurring minerals, digestive enzymes, amino acids, and phytonutrients that can aid in digestive and liver disorders. Follow suggested dosage on container.

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle can be purchased at any health food store. It can help treat hepatitis and prevent damage to the liver. Suggested dosage is 250 mg for a dog under 25 lbs, and 500 mg for a dog over 25 lbs once daily.

Kidney Disease

 Most vets, will recommend a low protein diet, however, it’s been found that it’s not the protein levels but rather the protein quality that tends to be problematic for the kidneys. The more processed the diet, the harder the kidneys have to work to filter out the toxins – over time, this leads to very unhealthy kidneys. A human grade, hormone and antibiotic free raw diet, made of fresh, raw meats, eggs, dairy, with no fillers, is much less taxing on kidneys!

 Kidney (renal) failure occurs when a dog or cat’s kidneys are no longer able to remove waste and concentrate urine, which then exits the body. Toxins in the bodies of our pets are circulated to the kidneys, which are then dissolved with water, and filtered, and excreted as urine. Healthy kidneys make concentrated urine, and even large amounts of toxins can be excreted with a very small amount of water. 

However, when the kidneys start to fail, your pet will require more and more water to filter the toxins. Pets in renal failure will drink increasing amounts of water until eventually they simply cannot drink enough to filter out the toxins. As a result, toxin levels in the bloodstream begin to rise. This cycle of over drinking and over urinating will work for a while, but eventually, no amount of water will be enough to get the job done. By the time your pet starts showing other obvious signs of illness, for example lack of appetite, weight loss or low energy level, significant irreversible kidney damage has occurred.

How is RAW the Solution?

1) Moisture

Dry pet food contains less than 10% moisture. Moist, raw pet food is key to maintaining proper hydration, which helps to flush toxins through the kidneys more efficiently. Chronic dehydration is a major factor that contributes to renal failure and bladder stones.

2) Protein

Many vets suggest low protein diets as the key to a more digestible food. However, the solution is not lower protein content, but a better quality protein. Meat proteins are much more easily absorbed and digested by your pet, with less stress on the kidneys.

3) Phosphorus

Organ meats contain the highest percentage of phosphorus. Therefore, the first step to reduce phosphorus is to limit organ meats to less than 10% of the entire diet. However, there is no benefit in reducing phosphorus if the kidneys are still able to process phosphorus adequately. Once blood creatinine levels rise above 2.0 mg/dL (180 umol/L), the kidneys are having difficulty processing the waste, and limiting the dietary phosphorus would be beneficial. --- an option here would be to get a prescription from your vet for Epakitin – a phosphate binder.

4) Fat

Fat is low in phosphorus, so choosing higher fat meats will increase caloric intake while limiting phosphorus (e.g. Pork, Lamb). 
TIP: If the dog is predisposed to a pancreatic attack or has diabetes, this is NOT recommended. This is a good choice for younger dogs with genetic kidney disease.

Dairy & Eggs

Dairy products and egg yolks are high in phosphorus. So we recommend avoiding additional dairy products as supplements to the raw diet. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables contain additional fibre and minerals and are highly recommended as supplemental additions to your dog’s diet. BCR Dinners contain 10% fruit and vegetables. We recommend increasing that percentage to up to 25% of the entire diet. Adding ¼ cup of fruit and vegetables per pound of raw pet food would be sufficient. --- This isn’t recommended for cats are they’re obligate carnivores


Herring Oil is a rich source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3s are proven to provide healing for kidney disease. We recommend adding 5 ml per 10 lbs body weight of THRIVE Herring Oil.


Many vets prescribe antacid medications to dogs with kidney disease because it is common for these dogs to suffer digestive upset (gas and indigestion). Antacids (Pepcid or Tums) also contain calcium, which binds with phosphorus and helps to lower the phosphorus levels. Ground egg shells, another great source of calcium, can also be added to the raw diet to reduce phosphorus levels.

Understanding Blood Creatinine Levels

Kidney Disease is diagnosed in 3 stages; early renal insufficiency, moderate kidney disease, and severe kidney failure. Vets will do a creatinine blood test to provide a creatinine value. This will determine your pet’s stage of kidney disease, and will help determine which dietary modifications are necessary.

Early Renal Insufficiency: In general, creatinine values up to about 2.0 (177 µmol/L) are indicative of mild, or early stage, kidney disease. In cases like these, it may still help to make dietary modifications to reduce phosphorus, but these reductions do not need to be drastic. 

Moderate Kidney Disease: Values from 2.1 up to about 5.0 (177-442 µmol/L) are more significant, but it is still likely that your dog may not be showing any symptoms (other than increased drinking and urination).

Severe Kidney Failure: Values above 5.0 (442 µmol/L) indicate more severe kidney failure, and are often accompanied by clinical signs such as vomiting and lack of appetite

Also, measuring the specific gravity (urine concentration) can better determine the extent and severity of the disease. A combination of blood and urine test results will be the basis for providing advice and recommendations on how to best manage the condition. 

For more information regarding raw diets and kidney disease, please visit this website. Or feel free to contact Poochie Moochie today


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