Dog Food Nutrition

The 5 Best Dog Foods for Kidney Disease

May 19, 2018

The 5 Best Dog Foods for Kidney Disease

Keeping your dog healthy is your top priority but there are some things you just can’t predict.

Kidney disease is a condition that many dog owners never see coming, particularly in cases of chronic kidney disease that take time to develop.

Once you’ve become aware of your dog’s kidney problems, it’s time to take action and that means choosing a kidney-friendly dog food.

Formulated specifically for dogs with kidney problems, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function formula Dry Food is our top pick for controlled levels of protein, phosphorus, and sodium.

Keep reading to learn more about your dog’s basic nutritional needs and to receive some tips for picking the best dog food to meet those needs.

You’ll also receive our top 5 picks for the best dog food for kidney disease.

Quick Look at Our Top Picks:

ImageProductFeatures

Best Overall

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Formula Dry Food
  • Restricted levels of high-quality protein
  • Controlled levels of phosphorus and sodium for kidney support
  • Higher moisture level (12% moisture)
CHECK PRICE

Best Natural Choice

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support Canned Food
  • Made with all-natural ingredients
  • Controlled levels of phosphorus, protein, and sodium
  • Supplemented with nutrient-rich LifeSource Bits
CHECK PRICE

Best Wet Dog Food

Hill’s Prescription Diet K/D Renal Health Canned Food
  • Increased moisture levels for hydration and kidney support
  • Controlled levels of phosphorus, sodium, and protein
  • Supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids
CHECK PRICE

Best for Seniors

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Wet Food
  • Formulated specifically for kidney support
  • High levels of moisture for hydration and kidney support
  • Lower levels of protein, phosphorus, and sodium
CHECK PRICE

Best for Allergies

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Support
  • Made with wholesome natural ingredients
  • Designed specifically for kidney support
  • Controlled phosphorus and restricted protein
CHECK PRICE

Understanding Kidney Disease in Dogs

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products out of your dog’s blood and they also play a role in maintain fluid balance in the body.

When the kidneys become damaged or lose their ability to function properly, it can lead to some serious problems.

Kidney disease can be caused by a wide variety of things including genetics, trauma, ingesting toxins, and infections.

Chronic kidney disease takes time to develop and doesn’t always show outward signs.

When those signs do show up, however, you need to take your dog to the vet for treatment and you may also need to change what you feed your dog to support its kidneys.

Here are some things to look for in a dog food for kidney disease:

  • Quality Ingredients. Because your dog’s kidneys are damaged, their ability to filter out toxins may be impaired which means that high-quality ingredients are even more important.
  • Low Protein. A low-to-moderate protein content is recommended for dogs with kidney disease – something in the range of 13% to 18%.
  • Omega Fatty Acids. There is some evidence to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may benefits dogs with kidney disease – they also provide support for healthy skin and coat.
  • Moist Food. The kidneys need water to function properly, so choose a dog food that is high in moisture – that might be a wet food, moist food, or rehydrated dry food.

Keeping all of these things in mind, you’re now ready to learn how to choose the best dog food for kidney disease. Here’s what you need to know:

How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Kidney Disease

The most important nutrients for dogs are protein and fat. Protein helps your dog maintain lean muscle mass while fat provides a concentrated source of energy.

Generally speaking, dogs need 18% protein in their diet but dogs with kidney problems need lower protein – between 13% and 18%.

Fat should be somewhere around 10% to 15%, depending on the dog’s activity level.

Dogs don’t have specific requirements for carbohydrates, but these nutrients can provide fiber, energy, and vitamins and minerals.

Look for digestible sources like whole grains, vegetables, beans, and legumes. And make sure your dog’s food contains fiber for digestion as well.

In addition to these nutrients, your dog can also benefit from certain supplements in its diet.

Fresh fruits and vegetables provide natural sources of vitamins and minerals that are easy to digest.

Chelated minerals are bound to protein molecules to increase absorption. Prebiotic fibers and probiotics support healthy and regular digestion.

Keep reading to see our top 5 recommendations for the best dog food for kidney disease.

The Top 5 Best Dog Foods for Kidney Disease

If your dog has kidney problems, the quality of its diet is very important.

Look for a recipe that contains low levels of protein, phosphorus, and sodium but is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients. It should also be highly digestible with beneficial supplements for support.

Here are our top 5 picks for the best dog food for kidney disease that you should consider:

Best Overall: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Formula Dry Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 12% Min
  • Fat – 13% Min
  • Fiber – 2% Max
  • Moisture– 12% Max
  • Caloric Content: 459 kcal/cup

For a kidney-safe dog food designed for older dogs, this Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Formula Dry Food is a good option.

This recipe is designed superficially to help manage kidney problems, featuring restricted amounts of high-quality protein with low levels of phosphorus and sodium to reduce the workload for your dog’s kidneys.

It features added vitamins for nutritional value as well as a higher moisture level at 12% to keep your dog hydrated.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Whole Grain Corn, Brewers Rice, Dried Egg Product, Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols (Form of Vitamin E), Sugar, Dried Whey, Sodium Caseinate, Animal Digest, Calcium Carbonate, Vegetable Oil, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Fish Oil, Salt, Potassium Citrate, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Garlic Oil, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Biotin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Sodium Selenite.

Pros:

  • Restricted levels of high-quality protein (12% crude protein)
  • Controlled levels of phosphorus and sodium for kidney support
  • Higher moisture level (12% moisture)

Cons:

  • Contains corn ingredients (some dogs may be sensitive or allergic)
  • Protein is not the first ingredient

Best Natural Dog Food for Kidney Disease: Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support Canned Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 3% Min
  • Fat – 2.5% Min
  • Fiber – 3% Max
  • Moisture– 78% Max
  • Caloric Content: 336 kcal/cup

If you want to support your dog’s kidneys with wholesome natural ingredients, try this Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support Canned Food.

This recipe features low levels of high-quality protein as well as other natural ingredients to support your dog’s total health and wellness.

This recipe is naturally grain-free and loaded with natural flavor, plus it is supplemented with vital nutrients for complete and balanced nutrition. It also contains Blue Buffalo’s exclusive LifeSource Bits which contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water, Potato Starch, Potatoes, Carrots, Peas, Pea Fiber, Chicken Fat, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Guar Gum, Potassium Citrate, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Calcium Carbonate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols.

Pros:

  • Made with all-natural ingredients
  • Controlled levels of phosphorus, protein, and sodium
  • Supplemented with nutrient-rich LifeSource Bits

Cons:

  • Expensive to feed as a staple diet

Best Wet Dog Food for Kidney Disease: Hill’s Prescription Diet K/D Renal Health Canned Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 2.5% Min
  • Fat – 3.5% Min
  • Fiber – 2% Max
  • Moisture– 74.5% Max
  • Caloric Content:438 kcal/13 oz can

If your dog has kidney problems, feeding it wet food instead of dry food may be a good idea because the added moisture will benefit its kidneys.

This Hill’s Prescription Diet K/D Renal Health Canned Food is a popular choice and it is also easy to find.

Designed specifically for dogs with renal problems, this food has reduced levels of phosphorus, protein, and sodium for kidney support. It also has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and supplementary B-complex vitamins.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Water, Chicken, Carrots, Rice, Chicken Fat, Pork Liver, Rice Starch, Dextrose, Green Peas, Sugar, Egg Whites, Fish Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Powdered Cellulose, Dried Beet Pulp, Potassium Alginate, Calcium Lactate, Calcium Gluconate, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Potassium Citrate, Choline Chloride, Brewers Dried Yeast, L-Lysine, Guar Gum, Calcium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K), Vitamin D3 Supplement), Monosodium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, L-Threonine, Taurine, minerals (Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), L-Tryptophan, L-Carnitine, L-Arginine, Calcium Carbonate, Beta-Carotene.

Pros:

  • Increased moisture levels for hydration and kidney support
  • Controlled levels of phosphorus, sodium, and protein
  • Supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids

Cons:

  • Contains sucrose, a type of sweetener
  • Some dogs may be sensitive to chicken or pork ingredients

Best Dog Food for Seniors with Kidney Disease: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Wet Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 2.5% Min
  • Fat – 5.5% Min
  • Fiber – 2% Max
  • Moisture– 74% Max
  • Caloric Content: 494 kcal/cup

Many older dogs struggle with dry food, so if your senior dog has kidney problems then a kidney care wet food like this Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Wet Food might be a good option.

It is specially designed for kidney support, made with limited levels of protein, phosphorus, and sodium.

Not only does it contain ideal levels of these nutrients, but it is rich in healthy fats for skin and coat support with plenty of moisture to keep your dog hydrated.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Water Sufficient for Processing, Meat By-Products, Rice, Corn Grits, Beef, Liver, Chicken By-Products, Animal Fat (Preserved with Tbhq and Citric Acid), Calcium Sulfate, Guar Gum, Fish Oil, Potassium Citrate, Locust Bean Gum, Carrageenan, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Added Color, Choline Chloride, Natural Flavor, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Carbonate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite.

Pros:

  • Formulated specifically for kidney support
  • High levels of moisture for hydration and kidney support
  • Lower levels of protein, phosphorus, and sodium

Cons:

  • Contains some by-products and unnamed ingredients

Best Dog Food for Allergies and Kidney Disease: Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Support

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 14% Min
  • Fat – 18% Min
  • Fiber – 7% Max
  • Moisture– 10% Max
  • Caloric Content: 404 kcal/cup

While many prescription and veterinary diets designed for kidney support are made with low-quality ingredients, this Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Support dry food is a wholesome source of quality nutrition for your dog.

It features controlled protein levels to help with kidney problems as well as restricted levels of phosphorus and sodium for kidney support.

Plus, it is supplemented with Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits which contain a proprietary blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to ensure complete and balanced nutrition.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Deboned Chicken, Potato Starch, Pea Starch, Peas, Potatoes, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Pea Protein, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Turmeric, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, L-Carnitine, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, L-Threonine, L-Tryptophan, DL-Methionine, Vegetable Juice for color, Salt, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Biotin (Vitamin B7), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Vitamin A Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Copper Sulfate, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

Pros:

  • Made with wholesome natural ingredients
  • Designed specifically for kidney support
  • Controlled phosphorus and restricted protein

Cons:

  • Contains some plant protein (pea protein)

How Much Should You Feed A Dog With Chronic Kidney Disease?

The amount you feed your dog depends on several factors including its age, weight, and activity level. Growing puppies, small breeds, and highly active dogs need more calories and may require three meals a day versus two meals a day for adult dogs.

To determine exactly how much to feed your dog, start with a recipe formulated for your dog’s breed size and refer to the feeding recommendations on the package then divide that into two or three meals.

What About Food Allergies and Sensitivities?

If your dog has food allergies as well as kidney problems, you’re going to have your work cut out for you.

The best thing you can do is choose a high-quality dog food made with digestible ingredients.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of variation out there when it comes to veterinary diets for kidney problems. If your dog’s allergies are severe enough, you may need to switch to homemade food.

Final Remarks

If your dog suffers from kidney disease, the diet you feed it can either support its kidneys or make matters worse. To support your dog’s kidneys, choose a high-quality dog food made with low protein content and controlled levels of phosphorus and sodium. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of our top 5 picks reviewed above!

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.
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