Kidney disease effects a growing number of dogs and a dramatically high percentage of cats (especially seniors) each year and when it comes to any disease, but especially diseases like CKD that effect the body’s filtration of minerals derived from food, it goes without saying that diet makes a huge impact.
In cases of chronic kidney disease, veterinary care is crucial and investing in a trustworthy, responsive and thorough veterinarian is going to go a long way in benefiting your pet’s health. A quality veterinary professional will understand the value of diet when it comes to treating kidney problems in your cat or dog. They will likely recommend a specialized therapeutic diet specifically for the kidneys.
Unfortunately, a good vet is only part of the equation. The other part really boils down to you as a pet parent and how mindful you are to their instructions. It’s important to research what your pet is going through, but don’t make the mistake of forgoing a veterinarian’s dietary recommendation in favor of a commercial brand that may be a bit less pricey and alleges kidney benefits. Many of these claims can be misleading and only offer minimal benefit, if any.
A 2009 study conducted by AAHA (the American Animal Hospital Association) revealed that only around 21% of pet parents were actively compliant with the therapeutic diet recommendations provided by their vets. The reasons for noncompliance covered a wide gamut, ranging from high cost and problems with one or more ingredients on the list, distrust of food manufacturers to simply not understanding why diet was so important.
Some of the things veterinarians reportedly say and do to spur this subset of pet parents into action include giving hard evidence that a therapeutic diet can nearly double a kidney disease-stricken cat’s lifespan, the vital importance of maintaining lower phosphorous levels (that is diets containing fewer than 2 g/1000 kcal of phosphorus for cats in stage 1+/-2 and less than 1.25 g/1000 kcal for cats in stages 3 and 4). Most commercial foods contain 3 g/1000 kcal of phosphorous which is clearly too much for a cat with CKD.
Being mindful of these and other tips your veterinarian provides will go a long way to extending your pet’s lifespan and facilitating a better quality of life for them. At the end of the day, if you would do it for your child, then you should be willing to do it for your pet too. They rely on you just as much and pet parents can never underestimate their own crucial importance to the healing process.