Ten percent of older dogs develop chronic kidney disease. This problem cannot be prevented and progressively worsens with time. If the condition is diagnosed early, then changes to the dog’s diet can slow the progression of the disease and extend the dog’s life. Traditional blood tests don’t discover kidney disease until 75% of both kidneys are not working. A new blood test can diagnose kidney disease up to 18 months earlier so the diet can be changed to better manage the disease.
The new test is SDMA or Symmetric DiMethylArginine. Many of you are probably familiar with the traditional tests, BUN and Creatinine. These tests indicate the level or urea (BUN) and creatinine in the blood as a result of the kidneys inability to get rid of these breakdown products of dietary protein. Elevated blood levels of BUN and creatinine only occur when 75% of the kidneys are not working. SDMA measures specific protein breakdown amino acids when only 40% of the kidneys are not working. This makes a big difference for treatment success.
Diets for Dogs with Kidney Disease
Dog food for dogs with kidney disease needs to be very low in phosphorus and moderately low in protein. Research has shown that restricting these nutrients in the diet slow the progress of kidney disease. This restriction also improves the quality of life, especially in the later stages of the condition. Progressive decreases in protein are needed as the disease advances. More medical treatments and hospitalization also increase with time. But early diagnosis, with SDMA, and a diet change give kidney patients a much longer life before they need intensive medical care.
SDMA is now included in all wellness blood screens at the The Well Dog Place. The sooner we can discover the problem and change to homemade dog food with restricted phosphorus and protein, the better for your dog. Most dogs do not like the commercial prescription diets that are typically used for treating kidney disease but readily eat our homemade dog food recipes for kidney disease.
It is important to understand that restricting protein in older or geriatric dogs will not prevent kidney disease. In fact older dogs need more protein in their diet due to poorer digestion of protein in the intestines. Extra protein also prevents the loss of muscles that occurs with aging. Only older dogs with proven kidney disease need low protein dog food.