By Dr. Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason

Any condition which damages the kidneys is referred to as kidney disease or renal disease. Kidney disease in dogs is being diagnosed more than ever before in history!

I am often asked: Is there really hope for reversing kidney disease in my dog?”  Most veterinarians give a grim prognosis for dogs with kidney disease but this because they are not taught what true health is and how to achieve it.   They only know how to quiet or suppress symptoms of a dis-ease in the body.  They know nothing of how to correct the cause.

The first thing that needs to be understood is that:

Whenever there is a problem with the kidneys, it is a message or warning that means something is in the body that should not be there — usually toxins and too many of them.

The kidneys work like a filter in fact they are a filter.  They will filter freely for a long time and clog up very slowly. However if the kidneys are not cleaned out periodically, they will eventually clog up to the point of causing urinary tract problems and eventually kidney failure. The solution is to clean and keep the kidneys cleaned out so this filter can flow freely. Once the filter flows freely the body is able to function properly.

Dis-ease will not happen is a clean body or a body with a strong, properly functioning immune system. A body with a strong immune system is vital to keep the body clean as this WILL prevent disease. So, if the kidneys are kept clean and unclogged, does it not only make sense that you can prevent your dog from getting  kidney disease?

I hear on a regular basis that “My pet is not sick so I don’t need to do that.”

If I can share one bit of wisdom to empower you, it is this:  If you want to PREVENT dis-ease, keep the animal’s body in balance, do NOT wait until you see symptoms. Keep the body clean and functioning optimally by eliminating toxic foods and chemical based products from your home, garden and the dog’s environment in the first place. Build and maintain a healthy immune system.

Chronic Renal Failure or Kidney Disease/Failure in our pets, is being more frequently diagnosed then ever before in history. Why do you think this is so?

Are you aware of the fact that most animals do not even show signs of kidney failure until about 70% – 75% of their kidney function has already been lost?  In order to diagnose CRF and determine the extent of the disease, a blood test and urinalysis is needed.

Once a pet has been diagnosed with Kidney disease or renal failure, and the pet owners come to me for a consultation, they generally all tell me the same thing: “My vet said there’s nothing he can do – just make Spotty more comfortable and try to prolong his life as best as possible. Lets keep him on antibiotics and this special “Prescription -Kidney Diet Kibble”.

I hope you are reading this article because you know there is a better a more natural way to cope with and aid your pet with kidney disease

Now, let’s take a look at the kidneys…

Photo from Merck Veterinary Manual_dog_kidneys

First it is important to understand a little about the kidneys and what they do. It’s important that you have an idea as to what the kidneys do and to know what is NOT normal and what is and, possibly, help your pet’s health practitioner/provider. You are in charge of your pet’s healing in a very real way and knowledge is power!

The kidneys filter water, glucose, salts, and nitrogenous wastes (including urea and uric acid) filtered from the bloodstream (proteins being filtered out). This mechanism is dependent upon and extraordinary amount of pressure. Consequently, increases or decreases in blood pressure affect the flow of urine. Urine itself is a concentrate of the liquid that passes into the kidneys; most of its constituents are returned to the bloodstream, some are retained and others manufactured as wastes (e.g., ammonia).

“Kidney disease or kidney failure” might mean compromised, over-worked kidneys – or it might mean damaged kidneys (i.e., severe, chronic renal failure).

Kidneys can be damaged by a whole slew of environmental poisons, toxic chemical based pesticides, processed pet foods, veterinary medications and more. Kidneys can also be damaged via other dis-ease forces as well (such as kidney infections, diabetes, leptospirosis, cancer, as examples).Chronic skin issues are also often linked to kidney troubles.

It has been found that long-term skin irritation and eruption often seem to precede eventual kidney failure in old age. If the skin disorder is repeatedly suppressed with doses of cortisone or other related corticosteroid drugs, the relationship is especially true.

Kidney failure or renal disease symptoms include – increased thirst, dehydration, loss of appetite, urination changes, nausea and pain.

The kidneys job are one of the critical factors in eliminating toxins from the body – and they become less efficient with age, and  of course with toxin loading.

In severe renal failure, hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis may be recommended, more commonly at this stage, you or your animal health care practitioner may have to inject fluids into your dog (usually just under the skin at the scruff of the neck or possibly through a vein) to keep them going.  Please don’t wait until your dog is that bad off.

If your dog is currently in early stages of kidney disease please consider PREVENTING further dis-ease and help them to heal now – naturally.

First Steps

Consider what you’re loading your pet’s body with! Again, the idea is to prevent kidney disease or any disease for that matter. This is best done by being careful of what you are putting into  or on to your dog, avoiding toxic substances and practice the laws of health in nature.

Please keep in mind that anything overtaxing the liver and kidneys is being detrimental to your pet’s health.

The Foundation For Kidney Health is the first law of health in nature – Proper Nutrition

What you feed your dog accounts for about 98% of the cause of the problem when dealing with kidney dysfunction as most processed pet foods contain little to no true quality nutrition. The ingredients in processed pet food actually contribute to kidney and liver disease. (see my article – Kibble is kibble is STILL kibble

Food and drink are so basic… And let’s face it, processed pet food has all kinds of garbage in it and is cooked/processed at such high temperatures that any nutrition they may have been in there to start with; has been destroyed/killed! If you are still feeding processed pet food, here’s another article that will help explain why commercial pet foods are not as healthy or nutritious as we have all been lead to believe: What’s Really In Pet Food?”

From a “naturopathic/holistic” approach, it is very important to feed an ALL Natural, Raw, Species Specific diet to our pets.

Diet is frequently discussed as a form of treatment as well as a cause of renal diseases and failure in dogs and cats.

Most conventional, western medicine veterinarians will  usually recommend a low protein diet for dogs and cats diagnosed with kidney and/or liver issues.

Dogs as carnivores are designed to eat protein in its purest most natural form.  – RAW

While it is true that the poor quality cooked protein in commercial diets is converted to BUN by the liver… our carnivore companions do need their protein. The thing is, it must be RAW …. high quality fresh. animal protein, Not canned or store bought pet food.

Conventional veterinarians will also recommend that you provide a low sodium diet (Keep in mind that processed, commercial pet foods tend to have quite a lot of sodium in them) to decrease any hypertension which may be damaging the kidneys and low phosphorous since it appears that phosphorous may actually be a major cause of damage in deteriorating kidneys – not so much the protien.

Veterinarians are taught: “Too Much Protein Equals  Kidney Damage!”  Well, guess what? The very early research that pointed a condeming finger at protein as being a cause of kidney failure in dogs wasn’t even done on or with dogs! It was done on rats fed unnatural diets for an omnivore rodent… diets high in cooked animal protein. (Were we tinkering with nature during these tests).  Rats have difficulty excreting excess protein in their diets because they are essentially plant eaters, (omnivores) NOT meat heavy eaters, let alone cooked meat or plants.

Dogs are quite able to tolerate diets with protein levels higher than 30% on a dry weight basis. This is due to the fact that Dogs are carnivores (meat eaters); that’s how the Creator made them! Rats are not. So some of the early research on rats was assumed to be true for dogs… and the myth of “too much protein in a dog’s diet causes kidney damage” was started. And just like any seemingly valid rumor or assertion, it derived a life of its own and is only recently being accepted as untrue.

Here is just one of many references that recently have appeared asserting the lack of data indicating that reducing the protein level in a food helps to protect the kidneys… “Restriction of protein intake does not alter the development of renal lesions nor does it preserve renal function. Considering these (research) findings, the authors do not recommend reduction of dietary protein in dogs with renal disease or reduced renal function in order to achieve reno-protective effects.” Kirk’s Veterinary Therapy XIII, Small Animal Practice, page 861, written by Finco, Brown, Barsanti and Bartges

The successful management of canine kidney disease requires careful food choices balancing your dog’s appetite and food preferences with a low phosphorous diet.

So the fact is,  protein diets or even “high protein” diets don’t cause renal failure!

In dogs, studies have been done where they have removed 7/8 of the renal mass and then placed them on diets of various protein level and quality – It was found that Dietary protein had no effect on the development of renal failure.

In cats similar studies also suggest that dietary protein level is not associated with renal failure.

Because by-products of protein digestion are the main toxins that need to be excreted by the kidneys, an obvious assumption might be that all one needs to do is to cut out the protein in the diet and the kidneys wouldn’t have any more hard work to do. . . However, there is significant evidence that the daily protein requirements actually increase slightly for dogs in chronic renal failure. Therefore, severely restricting the protein for such a dog is likely to result in protein malnutrition, in spite of the fact that the levels of blood urea nitrogen, or BUN (the primary by-product of protein metabolism) would be correspondingly lower.

It has become the opinion of scientists that… ‘diets that are low in potassium can cause renal failure’.

In general, Commercial pet food diets are of poor quality protein and poorly formulated and may be one of the major contributors leading to the development of renal disease.

“During developing renal insufficiency the phosphate content of the diet may be important. High phosphate levels may lead to worsening renal failure. Many diets today, especially for cats, are artificially acidified to help reduce the risk of FUS (or FLUTD as it is now known) However, this may in reality actually cause increased loss of potassium in the urine and promote potassium depletion. Currently these problems (high phosphate and acidification) are being investigated in cats to see how important they are to the development of renal failure. But we do suspect that this is the major cause of early kidney disease in animals today.”  Dogs with kidney problems by Lucy Pinkston, D.V.M.

Other important factors in dealing with Kidney Dis-ease naturally

Exercise is vitally important to keep all the body’s systems functioning. If your dog is in later stages of disease or can really no longer walk on its own, massage and physical therapy can help flush the circulatory systems.

Water -Fresh – unpolluted – water is acknowledged by all as being extremely important for kidney patients. But most veterinarians will just say, “Give plenty of fresh water to the dog.” Friends, fresh from the tap is loaded with chemical-contamination that is adding to the toxin load already causing problems. Please give your pet filtered or purified water just as you would for yourself!  I have personally found that even raw fed dogs will drink a little more water when they have access to awater fountain.


Be careful with supplements that contain synthetic ingredients or synthetic/man-made nutrients.  A nutrition or illness specific consultation is recommended for dogs dealing with kidney dis-ease.


Since the liver and kidneys are a such a team in de-contaminating the bloodstream, think in terms of detoxifying and giving support to the liver as well.

Don’t Wait 

In kidney disease, the kidneys themselves as well as the nephrons (functional units of the kidney) have a very restricted ability to regenerate. This means that most severe damage done to the kidneys is rarely reversible. What is important is to help the functioning nephrons perform at an optimal level as quickly as possible.Most of the time, pet owners are hoping that their dog in advanced renal failure, will see their dog’s kidney function miraculously improve.  However, kidneys don’t regenerate like the liver does.

While it is possible to see improvement in kidney values, especially when kidney dis-ease is acute, what is most likely to occur in a dog in advancing kidney failure is an actual decline in the rate of kidney deterioration. In other words, if your dog’s creatinine level has jumped from 2.4 to 3.4 in just a few weeks, naturopathic therapy and lifestyle change may help to slightly lower or keep the value from rapidly rising to 4.4 in the following weeks but usually more often than not, the values returning to normal ranges when in kidney failure are extremely rare.



While I try to be very informative in my articles, they are general in nature. I therefore encourage you to have a consultation to work with me on tailoring a program specifically for your dog’s needs. This is particularly imperative in dogs with complicated health issues such as kidney, liver or bladder disease.  A consolation is also encouraged if you’ve done a lot of outside reading on your dog’s specific state of dis-ease and have found conflicting information

The goal of a consultation is to help you to help your dog live as close to a normal, truly healthy life as far as possible, given the kidney disease or kidney failure diagnosis

Since the kidneys do not always heal or regenerate new and functioning tissue, the natural, home prepared diet and supplements can help the healthy nephrons handle the additional burden. Even with kidney failure, you can likely prolong and enhance your pet’s life by being proactive and common-sensical.

A consultation includes a personalized diet and holistic program suggestions that are custom-tailored to your own dog’s individual and personal needs.

The information given on these pages is not intended to substitute veterinary diagnosis and treatment, but to educate and empower you with information to think about.
Copyright 2003 – 2020
This article is the sole property of Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.


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