Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Feeding a dog with renal problems

Three different doggy meals, all destined for the bin.

Missy has been doing pretty well up to today, she's been taking up a lot of my time cooking and feeding her but I really don't mind that. She was even starting to feel a little heavier when I lift her onto the bed (bless her, she still hasn't got the hang of using the useless pouffe).

Initially we got two different types of renal food from the vet. From day one, she wouldn't eat the wet pouch type food but for three days, she could be persuaded to eat the dried version, provided I rolled it around a bit in a few slices of cooked chicken.

Chicken is too high in protein to be fed on its own to a dog with renal problems so we were really pleased to be getting quite a bit of the dried food into her. With it being so low in protein, it doesn't overload her kidneys.

On day four, she won't eat the dried renal food. I tried rolling it in scrambled eggs, pressing slivers of cheese into it, wetting it with water, wetting it with chicken stock, covering it in gravy. Nothing worked, except she would still eat the chicken - but only its own. Finally I scrabbled around in the cupboard to find the lowest protein pouch food I could find. When her appetite first started getting iffy, we bought loads of different brands to try to get her to eat. I am not exaggerating when I say my cupboards have more dog food in them than human foods, they're even spilling out onto the work surfaces. There is no food we won't buy if we think she would eat it.

Encore in jelly food is relatively low in protein, quite a high percentage is just moisture from the jelly and mixing the dried renal food in that worked quite nicely.

On day five she wouldn't eat Encore in jelly or the dried renal food. I turned to the internet for low protein dog food recipes and found this homemade one which is cooked mince, hard boiled eggs, cooked rice and breadcrumbs, the recipe recommends a chemical to be added to it too, I didn't have it so I missed that off. I remember when Guinness was ill with kidney and liver problems, our vet told me all of these foods were fine for dogs with renal failure to have. So I cooked a big batch up with high hopes and Missy loved it, she was even making her cute little equivalent of "nom nom" noises which she used to do when eating her favourite foods. I was so glad.

The next day, she had it again but then, nope, don't want that any more. Encore in jelly came to the rescue again when I mixed the home made food half and half. For a couple more days all was well but today nothing is working.

This morning I have made up my own recipe of mashed potatoes with a small quantity of cheese grated into it and then mixed it with canned tuna. This is the type of food she would've thought was brilliant before she got ill, she had a mouthful or two and now she just resolutely turns her head away when I try to give it to her.

She wouldn't even eat chicken. I tried cooking some fresh to see if the smell of would get her appetite going and it did but but that is all she has had today (some this morning and another freshly cooked one this evening) along with a couple of dried venison treat sticks, these are both high protein foods and so neither are good for her kidneys.

I was daring to hope we could stabilise her with a low protein diet and she would be OK but on days like today, when all she wants to eat is protein, I feel very close to losing her. She's next to me now on the sofa, her head on my lap. I stroke her side trying to imbue my hands with healing powers, bathing her kidneys in rejuvenating light. Please be well, Missy.


Since writing the above, I have looked at many, many different low protein home cooked diets on-line. What most have in common is to dilute the amount of protein (meat) with other items such as grains, pasta, vegetables, eggs and small amounts of liver and kidney.

With Missy I have had success by varying the recipe I linked to above by replacing beef mince with pork mince, including 2-3 oz of cooked liver and substituting cooked macaroni for the rice.

I have acquired some calcium carbonate which some recipes recommend, however I wanted to ask the vet about it so I waited til we went to see her on 2 March. She said Missy's blood work showed her calcium levels were fine and she would get calcium from the meat in the home made recipe. Adding more calcium risked bladder stones so she wouldn't recommend its inclusion; I'm glad I went with my instincts on that one and omitted it.

Link to Feeding a dog with renal problems - part 2


  1. This all sounds so familiar...I am not sure if they would be suitable for her diet, but we had a lot of success with tinned sardines last year, especially in tomato sauce. Is liver a no-no? I used to cook up chicken livers with veg and rice and a stock cube which was well accepted. I hope you find something she'll take. (Weetabix and warm milk was always a good filler-upper too.)

  2. Not sure about sardines, will ask vet. Thanks, Caroline, sounds like something she would go for. Have just sent my other half to the supermarket with a list. Cereal always went down well with Guinness so was going to try that too. On the menu today is pork mince and liver with macaroni and carrots. Fingers crossed!

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