A canine’s kidneys work almost identical to a human’s. They regulate hydration, remove toxins, and help maintain an average balance of electrolytes.
But, when your dog’s kidneys aren’t functioning well or at their standard capacity, they have canine kidney disease. And, an early diagnosis can help support the kidneys in their role. But what is the best dog food for kidney disease?
Our favorite food for kidney issues is Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support Dry Dog Food.
It’s low in protein and high in fat with antioxidants for kidney and digestive tract function.
But we have other options that can support healthy kidney function, including one for both mobility and kidney support. Here are some dog food for kidney disease options.
Our Best Dog Food for Kidney Disease
- Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support Dry Dog Food
- Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Dry Dog Food
- Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Dry Dog Food
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support S Dry Dog Food
- Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d + Mobility Kidney Care + Mobility Dry Dog Food
- Diamond Care RX Renal Formula Dry Dog Food
- Forza10 Kidney Care Dry Dog Food
7 Best Dog Food for Kidney Disease Reviewed
The formulas below follow vet recommendations and AAFCO’s nutrient profile guidelines. These foods are prescription diets. They require a vet’s authorization before you can buy them. Before switching to a new food, consult with your vet.
- First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Potato Starch, Pea Starch, Peas, Potatoes
- Guaranteed Analysis: 14% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 7% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 404 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Low-protein and high-fat dog food for kidney health
Your vet will typically recommend that you change your dog’s diet when they kidney problems. This is because your pup’s needs will change — they’ll need lower protein percentages and more fat to keep their kidneys healthy.
One of the best options is Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Support dry dog food. It’s made with controlled protein levels from deboned chicken to help manage your furry pal’s kidney workload. It’s also grain-free to make it easier to digest.
Chicken fat, flaxseed, and fish and algae oil contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health, brain function, and to keep joints and gut health in check.
Plus, healthy fats have been shown to reduce stress in the GI tract, which means your pup’s kidneys will process waste easier.
Since the food is lower in protein, it’s also low in phosphorus and sodium. This helps support kidney health and keeps them from overworking.
And it includes vital nutrients like antioxidants, l-carnitine, and essential fatty acids for immune and muscle support and to reduce inflammation in the digestive system.
Pup parents admit that this food doesn’t seem as tasty to their dog. But, they say kidney values improved after making the switch, which makes it worth it.
- First 5 Ingredients: Whole Grain Corn, Brewers Rice, Dried Egg Product, Animal Fat, Sugar
- Guaranteed Analysis: 12.5% Crude Protein, 13% Crude Fat, 2.5% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 478 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-calorie and low-protein dry dog food with garlic oil for gut health
For dogs that need a high-calorie renal supportive diet without excess protein, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function dry dog food is a great option.
This formula helps support kidney purpose in dogs with high-quality protein and phosphorous in smaller doses. And it contains a few key ingredients, like garlic oil and biotin, for a cleaner and better running digestive system.
It starts with whole grain corn and brewers rice. These simple carbohydrates are easy for your dog to digest and offer prebiotic fiber to support quality stool and digestion.
And surprisingly, you’ll see sugar on the list too. But no worries — it helps entice eaters who have lost their appetite due to kidney disease.
Dried whey and fish oil are high in essential amino acids for cartilage and joint health. And they are packed with DHA, which can clear the brain fog that many dogs with kidney disease get.
This is a much lower-protein diet than the Blue Buffalo option. So be sure to talk to your vet if your dog has other nutritional goals and needs, like maintaining weight and muscle mass. This may not be the right food for them, but it could work if they don’t need additional support.
Dog parents say their dog finally got their joy back when they switched to this food and ate it readily. However, they say the kibble is larger, so it may not work for super small pups.
- First 5 Ingredients: Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Pork Fat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Chicken
- Guaranteed Analysis: 12% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber
- Caloric Content: 402 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-fat dry dog food for kidney support that contains beta-carotene for eye and immune support
Kidney function loss is irreversible. So the best thing to do when you know your dog has kidney disease is to support their kidneys as best as possible.
This usually means switching your dog’s diet to a low-protein and higher-fat food and taking care of your dog’s dental health.
Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care dry dog food has been clinically tested to improve and lengthen your dog’s quality of life.
It protects vital kidney functioning, and helps control blood pressure with low sodium, low phosphorus, and low protein diet. And it supports your dog’s lean muscle mass with higher calories and fat.
Chicken and egg product provide l-carnitine and glucosamine. These building blocks of protein are essential amino acids that keep your pup’s muscles in tip-top shape and keep them from deteriorating.
Fish oil and pork liver flavor add a tasty smell and taste to the kibble. This helps increase your dog’s appetite, especially if it’s decreased since their diagnosis. And fish oil is packed with omega-3 essential acids to reduce gut inflammation.
Hill’s Prescription Diet offers the right kibble shape and size to aid in cleaning your dog’s teeth naturally while they chew. While you’ll still want to focus on their dental health with regular brushing, the food helps scrape off plaque and tartar regularly.
Dog owners say this food has a strong smell, but their dog loves it. And they’ve noted that their dog’s energy has come back since switching.
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal SuppKidney Disease Royal Canin Sort S
- First 5 Ingredients: Corn, Brewers Rice, Chicken Fat, Brown Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal
- Guaranteed Analysis: 10.5% Crude Protein, 14.5% Crude Fat, 16% Crude Fiber, 3.7% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 365 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Low-calorie and low-protein dry dog food with l-lysine for collagen production and calcium absorption
If your dog’s kidney disease is moderate or advancing fast, you’ll want to immediately switch to a food that supports kidney function and can help delay loss of use. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support S cares for your pup’s kidney health. And it’s crescent-shaped to aid in dental support too.
This energy-dense diet is made to be fed in smaller portions since dogs with kidney challenges have decreased appetites and a more challenging time digesting food.
And, while it is low in phosphorus, it contains l-lysine. This can help your dog absorb calcium for strong bones and better thyroid function.
Fish oil provides essential fatty acids to diversify the gut microbiome and boost immune system function. And it helps keep your dog’s coat luscious and help them avoid joint, muscle, and cartilage loss.
This is also a limited ingredient veterinary diet. While it’s not grain-free, it’s free of any artificial additives. This can benefit dogs with other digestive problems, like sensitive tummies.
Dog owners say this food smells like roast beef. They recommend it for dogs who were highly active before their kidney disease diagnosis since it aids in higher energy levels.
- First 5 Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Flaxseed, Pork Fat, Egg Product, Dried Beet Pulp
- Guaranteed Analysis: 15.3% Crude Protein, 23.6% Crude Fat, 3.9% Crude Fiber
- Caloric Content: 496 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-calorie and high-fat dog food for mobility and limber joints
Senior dogs are prone to multiple health issues, including being able to develop kidney disease, joint problems, or reduced mobility. Try a kibble like Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care + Mobility Care dog food to support both of these needs.
This formula can support your dog’s kidney function, but it also helps improve their mobility and cognitive alertness. And it has controlled phosphorous levels and low sodium to help protect vital kidney and heart function.
Egg product and soy protein isolate contain high levels of essentials amino acids for building muscle and improving the ability to walk, run, and jump easier. Plus, they contain taurine for heart health.
Fish oil and chicken fat offer omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA. These aid in cognitive function and joint health.
Brewers rice, flaxseed, and whole-grain sorghum offer fiber and essential nutrients like magnesium for metabolic health. They’re gentle enough to keep your dog regular without digestive upset.
Senior dog parents say they’ve noticed a significant improvement in their dog’s mobility and energy levels since switching to this food.
- First 5 Ingredients: Brown Rice, Chicken Fat, Egg Product, Potato Protein, Tomato Pomace
- Guaranteed Analysis: 13% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 378 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Gluten-free and high-fat dry food with probiotics for digestive health
For kidney function maintenance and to keep it from advancing, switch to food like Diamond Care RX Renal Formula. This kibble is the perfect balance between lower protein levels, higher fat, and probiotics to give dogs a long and healthy life despite kidney disease.
The high-quality protein from egg product and potato protein offers controlled levels of essential amino acids. These aid in lean muscle mass and recovery from daily activities like runs and swimming.
Due to the lower protein percentage, you can guarantee that this food is low in phosphorus, too, which is beneficial to dogs with kidney issues.
Chicken fat and menhaden oil offer 18% Crude Fat with omega fatty acids and ARA. These aid in helping your dog process proteins more efficiently and protect brain health.
This dog food brand also contains higher levels of antioxidants to support immune system health. And supplemental probiotics give their tummy a chance to run efficiently and take the stress off their kidneys.
This formula contains zero gluten, wheat, corn, or artificial additives like preservatives or flavors.
Canine owners love that this is a kidney diet for kidney support, but doesn’t contain corn, which many dogs are sensitive to.
- First 5 Ingredients: Rice, Pea Starch, Vegetable Oil, Hydrolyzed Fish Protein, Hydrolyzed Potato Protein
- Guaranteed Analysis: 18% Crude Protein, 16.5% Crude Fat, 2.5% Crude Fiber, 8% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 363 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Hydrolyzed protein dry kibble for kidney support with antioxidants for immune support
If your dog is a working dog, hunting dog, or highly active dog, switching to a low-protein diet can seem like a difficult change.
But, you can start slowly as long as your dog’s condition isn’t advanced. That’s where Forza10 Kidney Care dry dog food comes in.
It offers the highest protein content out of all foods on this list. And, it’s still low enough, so it doesn’t negatively impact your canine’s kidneys. With moderate fat content, it helps maintain a healthy body weight in your dog too.
Hydrolyzed fish provides a single-source protein. And hydrolyzation makes it easier to digest, while the novelty is perfect for dogs with food allergies and intolerances.
Fish oil is full of omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and a shiny coat. And it also aids in ligament flexibility and reduces inflammation.
Some of the best ingredients in this food are added cranberries, dried kelp, and dried clover extract. These boost immunity and are rich in manganese to benefit your dog’s kidney elimination process.
This recipe is free of corn, wheat, soy, by-product meals, GMOs, and artificial ingredients.
Pet parents say their pup never skips meals now, and this food doesn’t negatively affect their digestive system.
Buying Guide For Owners of Dogs With Kidney Disease
If your dog has kidney disease or even kidney failure, there are a few things that you should know. This includes what it is, how to manage it, and preventative measures to keep it from getting worse.
Here’s the information you need.
What Is Kidney Disease In Dogs?
In dogs, any condition that causes the kidneys to stop functioning the way they’re meant to is called kidney disease (also known as renal disease).
And there are two types; acute and chronic. And acute can turn into chronic issues, and vice-versa. Plus, within these types, there are many reasons why your pup’s kidneys may be losing function.
These kidney problems can vary in severity, but they all damage the kidneys. And if kidney disease goes untreated or is chronic, renal failure (also known as kidney failure) can happen.
That’s when your dog’s kidneys have stopped working altogether. This is often at the late stages of kidney disease, and can’t be treated or cured.
What Causes Kidney Disease In Dogs?
There are a few different things that can cause kidney disease in dogs. Depending on the type, here’s what you need to know.
The first is acute kidney disease. This kidney disease occurs when your dog eats or digests something toxic to their system.
This could include chemicals (getting into household cleaners, weed killer, ethylene glycol, etc.) or when they eat something that causes urinary obstruction. This is usually the easiest to diagnose and treat, because your dog will show signs of the issues right away.
The second cause is chronic kidney disease. This is usually because of your dog’s age, especially once they reach their senior years.
The aging process can cause other illnesses, like dental disease and diabetes, which can contribute to kidney disease. This cause is harder to diagnose. So it’s important to keep up with your dog’s regular vet visits to catch it as early as possible.
Signs of Kidney Disease in Dogs
If you’ve caught your dog eating something they shouldn’t have, you need to take them to the vet immediately to avoid kidney failure.
Waiting can cause dire consequences, including kidney failure and death. If all checks out, you should still look for signs of kidney disease. This also goes for senior dogs who have other illnesses or show symptoms.
Here’s what to look for:
- Drinking a lot more or a lot less water
- Change in frequency and amount of urination
- Decreased appetite
- Fast and unexplained weight loss
- Blood in urine
- Signs of dental disease (bad breath, pale gums, ulcers in mouth)
If your pup is experiencing any of these symptoms, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible. It may be necessary to go to an emergency vet as well, especially if they’ve digested something toxic recently.
How To Diagnose Kidney Disease?
Only a veterinarian can diagnose renal disease. However, the main two tests they use to do this are a complete urinalysis (pee sample) and a blood chemistry analysis. Urine is usually more informative, and the most common since blood parameters don’t increase until later in kidney disease. But both help evaluate kidney health and tell the vet if your dog has kidney disease or is at risk.
From there, your vet can recommend a treatment plan and even prescribe a food. Feel free to ask about the options on this list if there is one you prefer.
How To Treat Kidney Disease?
Treating kidney disease will differ based on if your dog has acute kidney problems (more easily treated) or chronic kidney disease.
Some damage to these vital organs is irreversible with chronic kidney disease, so preventative measures are best. This includes regular check-ups, taking care of your dog’s dental health, and monitoring signs that they may have kidney issues.
Other treatments include for both types include;
- Medicines that encourage the production of urine
- IV fluids
- Added electrolytes
- Medicine to reduce vomiting
- Switching your dog’s food to a kidney disease friendly formula
Your dog’s treatment plan will vary based on your vet’s recommendation, how far along they are in the kidney disease stage, and if it’s chronic. Be sure to ask any and all questions you have, including food recommendations. Kidney disease doesn’t have to be scary or life-ending.
Best Diet For Kidney Health
If part of your canine’s treatment plan requires a change in diet, here’s what you’ll need in their dog food.
While the direct correlation between a low phosphorus diet and kidney disease is unknown, vets recommend a 0.2-0.5% phosphorus range.
This also means a lower protein diet since phosphorus content is related to protein content.
A renal supportive diet that’s lower in protein content has shown to slow the progression of kidney disease. Your dog’s kidneys don’t have to worry about a heavy workload and filter it out by digesting less protein.
This, in turn, helps preserve kidney health. All dog foods you see on this list are low in protein to aid your dog in better performance.
But, they still offer just enough for lean muscle mass and tone. Be sure to talk to your vet about higher protein options if your dog is active or working.
A diet high in sodium can increase your dog’s blood pressure. If this is consistent, it can cause more health problems, including kidney damage.
So it’s best to choose dog foods that are low in salt. Luckily, most are lower in sodium and still contain beneficial nutrients like iodine for a healthy nervous system.
Higher Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids from fats like salmon oil can benefit dogs with chronic kidney disease.
This is because the fatty acids help reduce urine protein loss and hypertension. And they also help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which means your dog’s kidneys don’t have to work extra hard.
Dry Food vs. Wet Food
Ultimately, the debate between dry and wet dog food doesn’t matter — it all depends on your dog’s individual needs.
While wet dog food can work for their needs, kibble is more common for kidney care, so you’ll want to talk to your vet about the best options.
If our dog is older, missing teeth, or needs more water, canned dog food may be better. But, if they can handle kibble, are younger, or require certain nutrients that canned food can’t provide, go for a dry option.
Kidney disease doesn’t have to be the end for an active and healthy dog. In fact, there are many foods and treatment options to help your dog continue to live a fulfilling life.
The best dog food for kidney disease is Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support Dry Dog Food.
It’s vet recommended and packed with omega fatty acids and glucosamine to fight inflammation and support your dog’s kidney health.
But you can’t go wrong with any of the food for kidney disease options on this list. They all aid in healthy kidneys and are recommended by dog nutritionists and vets who work hard to ensure safe and adequate nutrition.
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