After 18 years, Ben, my longtime dog, was diagnosed with chronic renal failure three months ago. Failing some other catastrophic illness, his vet of 11 years has said this will be the ‘thing’ that finally takes Ben from this world and my life. Having said that, Ben still clearly has a lot of life and love left in him and so neither of us are throwing in the towel.
When I first received the news of Ben’s condition, I was heartbroken and I grieved … hard. I couldn’t imagine losing him; I couldn’t imagine a life without him. But after a few days immersed in the sadness of the future, I turned my attention back to the present … and, like a participant in some 12-step program, I started to turn my attention to what I could control: Ben’s diet.
I want to make it clear from the outset that I’m not a veterinarian, medical doctor, or anyone with a ton of biologic sciences in my background. I’m lay person with a great propensity for doing research and learning. What I’m presenting is, therefore, a layman’s understanding of things — and my approach has been devised in consultation with Ben’s amazing veterinarian and pharmacists. I’m hoping that in keeping this post simple, however, that my distilled research and understanding will be easy for those of you with similar battles in front of you, now, or in the future. Ultimately, this is a post and recipe written by a man who loves his dog above all else these past 18 years and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for him … and the least I can do is making him remaining months full of quality and love, which starts with his diet.
So, to begin with, I had to learn about renal failure and what is happening in the kidneys which are our bodies’ main filters. Often when we hear about kidney disease, or least when I’ve heard mention of it in the past, it has been related to protein levels in the diet. That’s not to say the protein is the cause, but that once renal failure sets in, protein in the diet becomes a concern. This is why people and animals with chronic kidney disease are often given a protein-restricted diet. Why? Well, what I learned is that the issue isn’t with protein specifically, but what accompanies the protein: protein isn’t the problem and Ben couldn’t live without protein either. The issue is that when the kidneys stop to work at their full function, certain things are not being filtered out and excreted and this creates an imbalance in our blood chemistry. Of particular concern in a mature dog like Ben who has no real pathology but who has simply outlived his kidneys (rare in a dog but more common in cats) is the reduced ability to excrete phosphate and, conversely, retain calcium. This is a double whammy because the body uses calcium to bind with the phosphorus as part of the excretion process. As a result, over time phosphorus levels rise and accumulate in the body’s tissue which causes multiple system issues and in particular, as kidney the disease progresses, cardiovascular complications become more and more likely. In short, there are two outcomes in Ben’s immediate future: heart attack/stroke or multi-system failure which will require the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make ….
This is why this post is about a low “phosphorus” diet, not low protein. You see, phosphorus occurs most abundantly in protein rich foods, but it occurs to some degree in almost all food and ingredients. But before I sing out my solution, there is something else to this story: it is not as simple as omitting or limiting phosphorus. Dogs still need other nutrients and in the end it is about balance — it means, to the best of our ability, equipping the dog (Ben) with what they need while omitting what is going to shorten life. And yet, even at that, there is one more thing you can’t forget — and that this isn’t simply a chemistry experiment: it’s food. That is to say, what I created had to not only be good for Ben, he had to like it enough to eat it. And remember, Ben is a dog that I’ve been feeding and largely cooking for since the beginning: he has discerning palette, to say the least.
The Research and the Goal:
One of the symptoms of renal failure is an acidic tummy and nausea. The result of this is reduced food drive and weight loss which was a telling symptom in Ben. Smaller and more frequent meals have played an important role for him. And while I have chosen to use some supplements in his diet, I’ve largely tried to rely on “functional foods” and variety in his diet to provide him his necessary nutrients. The goal, therefore was to choose:
- Good “fats” rich in calories and other necessary compounds
- Proteins rich in nutrients
- Carbs and veggies high in vitamins and with sufficient soluble fibre — this will ‘bulk up’ the diet as well
- Low phosphorus ingredients throughout (proteins, veggies, grains, fats)
- Combinations that would produce a nevertheless tasty dish
Some other important Do’s and Don’ts in the diet.
Things to monitor and try to bump up and supplement would be:
- Vitamin B (complex)
- Omega 3 fatty acid (a premium salmon oil supplement would be a good suggestion)
- Potassium levels (at least before the onset of advanced kidney disease)
- Calcium levels (over time this will need to increase as a binder to help control the phosphorus even more)
- Q10 coenzyme (helps with heart and kidney health — read more here on Wikipedia for a lay explanation)
- Antacid (e.g. Pepcid AC)
Things to avoid:
- Phosphorus obviously
- Omega 6 fats (because they’re inflammatory)
- Sodium (because with renal failure, blood pressure will increase and the sodium will become a killer)
- Vitamin D (because this is hard for the kidneys to excrete as well)
I did a LOT of reading. I read and read and read, trying to discern what to feed him, what the trade-offs were in nutrients and what ultimately he would still eat. One of the best sources I found was from a Phosphorus Food List (PDF) published by Kaiser-Permanente (a huge, integrated healthcare company in the USA) and from info on that Mayo Clinic’s website on a low-phosphorus diet. I cross referenced this information with dog food diets, labels of dog food ingredients, and numerous other sources. In the end, this is what I determined….
Research Post-Script: There are many comments throughout this blog from people who have been using this recipe for a year or two with success. Many have added their own research and information. Some have different opinions and every dog is different with unique tastes or other underlying conditions, but most people have independently supported this recipe with other research or discussions with other health professionals. One reader, Kerrie E., went to a nutritionist and posted the advice she received here as well. I’ve summarized her information as a PDF attached here.
List of Ingredients to Work With
Protein Sources: Lean Ground Beef; duck; white fish; and egg whites; ground pork (moderate, but tasty)
→ all good choices because of the ratio of fat to phosphorus
Fat: Coconut oil (high in good fat, but low in vitamin D); alternatively, avocado oil
Veggie Sources: Green beans; collards or kale (collards are lower in phosphorus than kale, but kale is richer in almost every other source of vitamin); broccoli (in limited amounts for flavour)
Carbs: Sweet potato; acorn squash; pumpkin (high in potassium); carrots and apples, skin on, in moderation
→ all (except the apples) should be boiled/steamed — water discarded because the water leaches out the phosphorus
Fibre/Carbs: White rice; pearled barley; white bread
→ contrary to what we might think, refined grains are lower in phosphorus so better in these diets than whole grains
Supplements (based on 25lb dog):
- Breakfast: 10mg Pepcid AC antacid tablet
- Breakfast: 25mg Q10 coenzyme
→ You’ll be challenged to find both this dosage and/or Q10 in a non-gel capsule format. However, it does exist. The brand I used is from Douglas Labs which manufactures a “Citrus Q10” tablet which I cut into quarters.
- Dinner: half a B50 complex vitamin (i.e. essentially a B25 complex vitamin)
Finally, while I’m including one recipe here, I’ve included a number of options and substitutions below. Using these options, I’ve ultimately cooked Ben four different recipes so far. Each provides about 6 packages with enough food for about 10-12 days. And I vary the packages every couple of days to make sure he’s getting nutrients from a variety of sources.
My closing tip is, before you package up the dog food, taste it because, if you don’t like it, he/she probably won’t either. Don’t be squeamish — these are 100% human-food ingredients.
Total time: 90 minutes (includes cooling and packaging)
Servings: 10-12 days of food for 25lb dog
How Much to Feed Your Dog:
I’ve added this in as a further postscript because it is the single most frequent question I’ve been getting over the years. The answer is simple but, I know, unsatisfactory: “It depends.” As I say to everyone, each dog trying this diet is different and unique. There are too many variables for me to answer. It depends on size, breed, age, metabolism, stage of disease, and other factors that make each dog special. My advice is simple, however. You know your dog. You know how much he/she would normally have eaten. Trust your instinct. As well, dogs with renal failure or disease are usually in a state of “not eating” and are prone to “wasting.” That is to say, they’re slowly starving to death. As such, let your companion be your guide. They will tell you if they want more or need more. Assuming their not overweight or have other diseases, let them eat till full is my personal recommendation. That’s what I did with Ben … and to make it more successful, I tried when possible, to break his meals up into smaller amounts and feed him more regularly through the day. I hope this helps you all — but if you need more advice, speak to your vet.
Low-Phosphorus Dog Food
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- → Option 2: or substitute half ground beef with half ground pork
- → Option 3: or substitute 2 lbs baked trout
- 500 grams (1 pint) liquid egg white ( 12-15 egg whites)
- 1 lb green beens
- 2 cups uncooked rice
- → or substitute pearled barley
- 2 lbs acorn squash, peeled and cubed (♣ see note below)
- → or substitute 1 lb sweet potato and 2 cups purred pumpkin
- 2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 apple, grated if using the ground pork
- Garlic powder, to taste (optional) **
- Ground pepper, to taste (optional)
** Note (August 28, 2015): A number of readers have raised concern about the garlic powder in this recipe because of research that it is toxic to dogs. To be clear, the quantity I used was very small (a sprinkling = 1/4 teaspoon). Judge me or disagree with me, but Ben ate garlic in food for his whole life because he ate table food/scraps from my plate and rarely was there a meal that didn’t include it as a seasoning. As stated, I’m not vet or doctor so I can’ tell you at what levels it is safe or not safe for a dog of whatever weight. All I know and all I share here is what I did for my dog that lived 18.5 years. In the end, it is listed as optional, but I used it.
♣ Note on Winter Squash: No two veggies are the same in their nutritional profile, even from the same family. While substitutions are possible and even recommended to ‘change it up’ for your pets, always consider your menu as part of an overall “system” of ingredients. Many readers are frustrated at the effort to peel an acorn squash. That is true. But note the nutritional breakdown on the side here with respect to other winter squash and their overall nutritional ratings (beyond phosphorus):
- Cook the rice by following the package instructions (e.g. 2 cups rice; 4 cups water — bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes; remove from heat, let stand covered for 5 minutes).
Prepare the parsley: wash; remove leaves from stems; and finely chop the parsley.
When the rice is finished cooking, remove lid and stir in the chopped parsley.
- While the rice is cooking, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into strips, lengthwise between the “ridges” — using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin from the squash.
Cut sqash into cubes and place it in a medium pot with enough water to fill half the pot.
Bring to boil and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes until squash is just barely fork tender. Remove from water and discard water.
- Steam the green beans, whole.
- Place the ground beef in a frying pan and fry for about 8-10 minutes until all the pinkness is cooked out. Season with fresh ground pepper and garlic powder. Do NOT drain off the fat, but let the meat cool.
- Once the ingredients have cooled to “warm,” place them in a food processor or powerful blender (e.g. Vitamix). Combine in 1/2 the squash, 1/3 of the ground beef, and half the beans …
… and puree until smooth.
Add the puree to the rice mixture. Repeat with the remaining squash, another 1/3 of the beef, and the remaining green beans and add them to the rice mixture as well.
Add in the remaining beef, including all the beef fat.
- Using the same pan from the beef, now, melt 1-tablespoon of coconut oil.
When hot, add in half the egg whites and scramble them until thoroughly cooked (about 4 minutes).
Repeat with more coconut oil and remaining egg whites and add them to the other ingredients and stir them in.
→ Note: You can puree all the ingredients, but Ben and I both seem to prefer that there is a bit of some “texture” to the food and having bits of rice and meat that he can spot and smell helps in the attraction.
- Taste for seasoning — try to avoid adding any salt but you may need to add a bit of flavouring. This is why I use the garlic powder. Test some with your “patient” who will be standing by — and make sure he/she likes it too.
- You’re now ready to bag the food in sealable sandwich bags and place four-to-a-bag inside a larger freezer bag.
Hoping your own fido patient love this as much as Ben. Serve in 1/2 cup measures 4-5 times per day. (Note: Ben’s appetite really picks up in the evening which is when he eats about two-thirds of his food).
Gena E says
Thank you for your recipe. I have 13 yr old beagle Iggy Pup. Past 6 weeks tough on pretty healthy pepper. Has kidney disease but disguised with IBS last year and just had terrible bout of IBD and pancreatitis. I’m introducing lamb as novel protein. But is that okay for kidneys? She’s doing so much better past 3 days on that. Did eat chicken before that. Complicated diet at this point. But lamb, sweet potato, carrots and bit of pumpkin doing better. No diarrhea now. She was pooing blood. Wondering if lamb is okay. Duck and other novel harder to get where I am. Thanks in advance.
Hi Gena — yes, lamb seems a more reasonable substitute than some. I can’t attest beyond what I read and the phosphorus numbers as I never used it myself. Someone else recently asked about lamb vs. duck as well and my gut is go with the lamb. Good luck.
Hi Dale! Can you please tell me how many acorn squash you used for the recipe?
I’m sorry, I can’t be more specific — the recipe is by weight = 2lbs. If you don’t have a scale, look for one in the produce section of your grocery store if it is available.
Perri Hamilton says
Do you freeze the food? Will this size batch last 10-12 days in the refrigerator?
Yes, Perri — it clearly needs to be frozen and if you tried to keep it in the fridge for more than 3-4 days, you’re going to progressively make your dog sick with food borne bacteria. This is human (grade) food. Treat it accordingly is my guidance.
I just made today and 2 large acorn squash were 2lbs
Thanks for sharing, Candy. Much appreciated.
Thanks for posting this. Pet nutritionists sure like to keep this info close to the cuff. Question though, humans with CKD are advised to avoid parsley because it can make the body hold on to salt. Is this different for dogs?
You’re welcome. It’s one of the ingredients that has received a fair amount of discussion pro and con here for similar reasons. I’m not advocating for it or defending my own choice, but in the overall balance of ingredients, it is a very small amount per serving. Your choice.
Is this the Coenzyme you used?
Yes, I believe it is. Good luck, Autumn.
I have seen this recipe but never attempted to make it until today. I am concerned about the squash. My beagle has elevated potassium for some reason. Can it be substituted with something else just as good? Do you know of anything? Thank you!
Hi Judy. I understand your concern and issues. I’m not an expert on them but clearly many dogs have other underlying needs that need to be taken into account. I do know that not all squash has the same potassium levels — and I believe some ingredients like pumpkin or sweet potatoes are super high. Not sure where the acorn squash fits. It’s a balance for sure as you try to avoid the phosphorus and other things come as a result. Hope this helps a bit.
Dale, my dog is 29 pounds and she eats about a cup and a half a day of this food.
Do you know about how much phosphorus is in this food per 1/2 cup or per cup?
Sorry, Judy. I do not. I can’t help you with that ….
Kathy Farrill says
First, I’m sorry for your loss, even though it has been a while. Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve been scouring the internet, and was getting so frustrated! Your information is easy to understand and follow. Dog food is difficult enough to navigate, and adding kidney issues with one of my dogs makes it even tougher. My soon-to-be 14 yr Aussie is eating better than he has in a long time; he’s enjoying the homemade food. We will check his kidney levels in a couple of months, but the thing is, even as he continues to fail, his quality of life has greatly increased following these guidelines. Again, we both thank you. 🙂
You’re most welcome, Kathy — and I personally appreciate your own experience as I now have a 2 year old Aussie in my own life. Many thanks for your kind words and wishing you the very best ….
Connie Miller says
Made this tonight but I didn’t have any squash or pumpkin so I subbed sweet potatoes (fresh). I”m praying this is acceptable.
Connie Miller says
My Maltese was recently diagnosed with kidney disease, and I did find a homemade recipe to use before I came across yours. The one recipe I found uses green beans and carrots; but I’d like to go with yours which has the sweet potato and green beans. My question is about the pumpkin…I know too much can have an adverse affect on dogs and result in diarrhea, so I wanted to ask your advice. My other question is when I’m cooking the hamburger meat, I’ve seen others fry theirs, and others boil theirs in a pot. From the video, I’m assuming it’s water in the pan, but am I adding everything to the mix? I want to make this by the end of the week so hoping for some clarification so I don’t make a mistake. Thanks for posting this–it’s beyond helpful.
Apologies for the delay in reply. Not sure if you’re still seeking guidance , so I’ll be brief and to the point. Pumpkin is high in potassium so a good alternative (for the squash) if potassium isn’t contraindicated for your particular pup. Alternatively, alternate using it
To be clear, in the recipe I provide, the beef is fried, not boiled or in water. Firstly, frying will “brown” it which will impart flavour and secondly the fat is important to keep.
Connie Miller says
Thanks for getting back to me Dale. I’ve made your recipe twice, (exactly as written) and it’s obviously doing something. Her numbers have come down some (not huge but at least they’re going in the right direction). The hamburger meat has been fried and the remaining fat used as the directions indicate. First time the veggies were green beans, the second were carrots. I”m prepping to make another batch this coming week, if I’ve read it correctly, collard greens can also be used. Do you have a good way to measure how much a pound of collards are? Thought it wise to ask as I haven’t been able to locate anything regarding it. I also wanted to ask if using spaghetti squash could be used instead of acorn? I saw the nutrient values, and while the spaghetti squash has less of everything (which sometimes isn’t always good), I was wondering if this would cause any issues that you could think of. ***My vet was SO impressed with what I’ve learned from you and am feeding my dog, he’s letting alot of his patients know that prescription dog food for renal disease isn’t always the best answer and has started looking into more “homemade” recipes to those who are interested. Thanks again!!!
Hi Connie — it’s great to hear that the recipe is having a positive impact already. Re: getting a weight on the collards (which, yes, I tried — but Ben did not like — they are an acquired taste for most creatures and people I would guess given their bitterness), my advice is use one of the scales in the grocery store. I know scales are not as common as they once were, but most stores still have one or two in the produce section. If there are stems attached that you’re not going to use, suggest breaking them off before you weigh them … and put them in the bag for payment, to be clear, then dispose. Spaghetti squash does sound like it may be a reasonable substitute, but have no experience with it, but the numbers would suggest a good option especially because it is also low in potassium.
Sounds like you’re doing an amazing job. Congratulations and good luck.
Of course like all above, I can not thank you enough. I spent a MONTH doing my own research but never to the extent of finding a recipe. I was about to spend the $450 to have one created, and after reading the pdf where the woman did, and pretty much got the same recipe, I was convinced this would be my solution to helping my 14 year old (love of my life) Shih tzu, Addie. Addie has only eaten fowl and fish (mainly salmon) her entire life, so introducing any other protein at this time would only be worse for her. But now I have a VERY important question that I hope you can answer. I substituted trout in your recipe because you wrote it as a substitution. I JUST read that trout is high in Vitamin D and that I should avoid Vitamin D. I can’t imagine you wrote “trout” accidentally as I see in your notes you also say to avoid Vitamin D. I’m just afraid now that I should not have used this type of fish.
Hi Laree — a fair and good question. Yes, it is trout that I wrote and with intention. As with many of the ingredients in here, most are done as “trade offs” … believing a dog that ate was better off than a dog that starved. Within that very wide gate, then, it is a matter of making choices and trade offs that offer the lowest phosphorus (that is what I was trying to control for mostly) while adding the other valuable nutrients and limiting (not removing) those others, and then looking for something that still tasted good. What you read is based on that inaccurate science made a bit more ‘whole’ by switching things up. For some, however, switching things up isn’t possible or other health limitations prevent certain ingredients, so in the end, my simple advice to you is “do the best you can.” It’s not going to perfect but there is no perfect in our life ….
Hope that helps and best of luck.
Joann Wu says
I had a quick question about the white rice in your recipe. Did you use Enriched Long Grain White Rice? Or Jasmine Rice? (You mentioned in a comment back in 2017 that you think you used Jasmine rice, but I just wanted to confirm!)
I’m trying to make the recipe as close to what you have for my senior pup. 🙂
Thank you! And happy holidays!
Hi Joann. Unfortunately my memory of what I used specifically is a bit vague, but I will stand with my guess that it was jasmine rice since that is the long grain rice I keep in my pantry and have for a long time — and I use it for most rice dishes, including the dog food I’m sure. Hope that helps and best of luck to you.
And thank you for the holiday wishes — very kind … may they be bright and wonderful for you as well.
My 70 lb dog ate this 1 day and got diarrhea! But she loved the food!
Glad she loved the food. Diarrhea comes commonly with most diet changes so hopefully it gets back to normal. If not, speak to your vet …. Good luck.
Thank you so much for sharing your hard research data. It’s a great legacy for Ben. I met with a naturopath when my 14 year old dog, Chloe, was diagnosed with CKD and pancreatitis. She recommended a diet made of almost all liver meats. Have you seen this approach before? I haven’t tried it and have instead been using the prescription Hepactic Justfood For Dogs food. Unfortunately, my dog is eating her little heart out and still losing weight. I’m going to give your recipe a go and see if help add weight back on her frail body.
Hi Valerie — thanks for stopping by with your own experience and questions. So many situations are just a little different because of the underlying health conditions like the pancreatitis you describe. I don’t have any experience with that, I’m sorry, so can really comment on the advise of your naturopath. In my experience it can be very hard when conditions contra indicate treatments. May be a choice of what disease you treat more prevalently or trying to find compromise in what you do. Good luck to you.
Aleksandra Lekic says
Thank you for taking your time out to do this. I am so grateful for it. I have been compiling so much research and dedicating a lot of time into excel sheets for divisions of fats, minerals, vitamins, proteins and I have found it incredibly difficult to find a real “low phosphorus” diet. Milo weighs 8lbs and its been so hard to find something low enough for him!
I just want to say that your work was so well put together. Thank you for being as diligent as I have been. You’re the only resource I was able to rely on once I was done with my research for comparison.
Thank you again!!!! You’re amazing!
Thank you Aleksandra. You’re more thank kind to share your words. I’m honestly delighted that they resonate with you and are providing you a resource and a way forward. I know — still know in fact — how overwhelming all the nutritional and medical information out there can be when we’re in the midst of also trying to nurse and take care of our dogs. Best of luck on the journey forward and thank you again for sharing….
Renata Baker says
Hi Aleksandra, my 3 year old Pom was just diagnosed with kidney failure and I am lost trying to find the most balanced recipe/ diet for his little 10lbs body. I am still very lost and would love to connect.
You can find me on Instagram @renatabaker.
Amber L Combellick says
Thank you for sharing this. I’ve struggled to find any good information and recipes. This does a lot of help for me at a difficult time!
In 2018 my 2 1/2 year old Siberian Husky Blossom was infected with Leptospirosis and was not given much time to live. The vet at the hospital basically told us to take her home and spend sometime with her before her passing and I made it very clear that that was not going to be any option. She was in the ICU for 2 weeks her creatinine reach a 10 and then slowly started to decrease. After a year her kidney levels returned to normal 1.2. Fast forward to a month ago Blossom was diagnosed with CKD, I never know what my mornings are going to look like …will she eat will she not…I have literally purchased every Low Phosphorus, Low Protein whole food diet on the market as well as prepared cooked meals for her and sometimes she will eat and sometimes she will just give me her cheek! And prefer to go outside and eat dirt, which I know there are minerals/ nutrients she is trying to compensate for by eating the dirt. I do not know what to do to get her to eat! Right now she is eating purée baby food. She was 47lbs and is now 37lbs. I guess my ultimate question is can I use the beef or substitute with the chicken. I have also used balanceit and the amount of protein in one meal e.g. chicken and rice there is more rice than anything else and I believe she does not like the texture of the rice for some reason. I need help.
Hi Rachel. I feel your struggle as you search for something, anything, that will work. It’s really a very disorienting set of feelings, I know.
In terms of your questions, I’m not sure I understand the one about the beef vs. chicken. The beef is lower in phosphorus, bottom line. Is there a reason you want to use chicken? As for the trouble with rice, my suggestions would be: puree it all in a good processor (it gets ‘gummy’ but the rice won’t be a texture any more), or use barley if she prefers that, or there are others that might suggest white (sandwich) bread. These grains/carbs are adding calories and some fibre, but they are ‘processed’ which is why there are lower in phosphorus. If you think in that way and look at some of the resources I shared, you may find a substitute that works for you and Blossom. Hope that helps a bit — but do take care (of yourself) in the process.
My pyr/aussie is in the icu right now with suspect leptospirosis, no temp, bp perfect, everything perfect EXCEPT kidneys creatinine and BUN are in the basement. They’re flushing his kidneys and giving him the treatment for lepto and treating an enlarged prostate. The original vet suggested continuing flushing his kidneys til we got the levels stable, continue the antibiotics then remove the prostate which would then relieve the pressure on his kidneys. Current doc is saying take him home and let him go or put him down. He’s 5 and otherwise the picture of health. Though he’s a one person dog and is highly stressed out at being in a crate with a bunch of other sick animals around him and a bunch of strangers poking at him) What did your vet do that might be of help to me? And believe me he’s coming home and going on a strict renal diet. He has a lot of fight and life left in him (he’s proved them wrong at every step the past few days) and that’s what we do, we give it our best shot and fight to the last breath. He’ll be kept comfy of course. But I’m just curious what your vet did, maybe we can compare notes?
Sorry you’re going through a difficult time with this as well, but sounds like you have a few good tools at your disposal. Totally agree that we should do all that we can to give our loved ones the best shot they can. Sounds like you’re doing that …. Good luck to you.
tanzy weaver says
My last husband had end stage renal failure and he ate lots of dirt.so so sad.God bless you and your baby
Emily Forte says
Thank you for the recipe! My dogs hated the renal diet food from the vet. Switched to raw diet but I need to reduce the protein amount so going to add the squash and reduce the protein. My question is, would it be OK to use raw meat instead of cooking it?
Hi Emily — that’s a good question but one I can’t answer, I’m sorry. I don’t have any expertise in the way of raw food diets. I do know that in the cooking of the veggies (and draining the water), the cooking is critical to leaching out phosphorus. With the meat, I don’t think it would matter, but, again, I have no expertise to say what is happening to the ingredient by cooking it. Sorry.
Thank you so much for this blog and for continuing to answer questions about your recipe!
Is it ok to use frozen fish/meat sources for this food? I’m having difficulty finding fresh trout sources near my area. Thank you for your help!
Hi Joann — yes, by all means, use what you can find. Frozen shouldn’t be a problem at all as long as it hasn’t been treated with something else which could be a problem. I hope you find what you need and it works for your dog as well. Best of luck. 🙂
I will be making your recipe today and was wondering if boneless skinless chicken thighs can be used in the next batch I make and I would (boiled) the chicken thighs. . If not could you explain why. My Maggie loves chicken!! In the picture next to the supplements you also show a blister pack of pills and a large yellow pill what are they and should I add them to the diet.
Does in matter if the Q10 is in pill form or liquid, is there a difference? Is there a brand of Binder you recommend, the one you used is discontinued.
I give my girl steamed sliced carrots and green beans and sweet potato (small cubes) as treats to keep her happy.
I also give her Pumpkin dog cookie treats for crunch from Petco, they are made with
Pea flower, canola oil, cane molasses, pumpkin, do you think I should cut them out. She gets 3 a day. They are small about 2 inches long. Looking for guidance, I am so confused and frustrated and overwhelmed and I am sorry for all the questions but I don’t’ know where to turn. If you cant answer these question I understand but any answers will help. And thank you for all the guidance you give to everyone here. I wish I could meet you and give you a HUG but a virtual Hug is just as good. And to all the Moms and Dads going through this my heart goes out to you all and I wish you and your babies the best.
Overwhelmed Doggo Mom in RI.
Hi JoAnn. I can well relate to the feelings of being overwhelmed. It is a lot and you’re dealing with living creature and everyone is a bit different. Ultimately, all you can do is your best and hope, learn, and adapt and be kind to you and your Maggie along the way (as I’m sure you are).
Some of your questions I can’t really answer other than say to look at the resources provided where you can see the phosphorus levels of different ingredients … or trust me. The chicken thighs aren’t the worst thing in the world, but they’re not the best if you look at the numbers. The same resources will help you evaluating your dog treats or other foods. If there are any that are really bad and are substantial in your ingredient list, then, yes, cut them out.
The blister pack is the antacid (Pepcid AC). Use whatever Q10 you can source as long as you can administer the right dose. I couldn’t find the right dose in liquid capsules and they don’t really lend themselves to being split, right? I didn’t use a binder, but would recommend you speak to your vet about what is right for Maggie (lots of options, including Calcium) — a binder isn’t always indicated for every dog.
Again, I know it is a lot, but hope this helps. And, yes, I’ll gladly take a virtual hug. They’re precious and we all need lots of them, especially since all this craziness began.
Take care of yourself — Maggie needs you.
Joe P says
Thanks so much for the research, time, effort and love you put into this article in support of your pup and others. Mine is in stage 3 and recently stopped eating her kidney support wet food (Blue Buffalo – which she at first enjoyed). I just made your original recipe and sadly she wouldn’t eat it. She’s been eating a mix of ground beef, white rice, egg whites and white bread for a couple of days prior to me making your recipe but I thought this would add good variety. I’ve ordered some Dr Harvey’s but it has not arrived yet. She still has plenty of energy while walking or hiking so it’s not her time yet. Any suggestions? THANK YOU!
Hi Joe — apologies for the delay and I’m sure by now you’ve found other solutions and hope that your dog is doing better. My only suggestion would be to speak to your vet around a prescription that may help with appetite (e.g. Mirtazapine). It can be a very helpless feeling when the disease gets to a point where the complications from kidney failure start to hamper the appetite and as the appetite weakens, so does the dog, and cycle quickly runs downhill. A pharmaceutical might help you to get out of the cycle and get her eating again. Best of luck.
Laura Peduzzi says
My dog Ziggy 15, has stage 4 kidney failure. He did not want to eat anything. My vet gave him Entyce (capromorelin) then in about 30 minutes you feed them and wow!!!! It really helped. He ate a really good amount and later wanted more. Crazy good stuff. We also use Aluminum Hydroxide 1.5 ml ( he’s 13 pounds) as a binder and half of a Pepcid.
Keep food low on phosphates.
We also are using kidney support supplements such as kidney support (Pet Wellness) kidney restore and Rena & Blood cleanse(Five Leaf Botanicals). Vet gave Ziggy 1 week to a month of life left. He is now going on month 3. He’s not 100%. But seems happy and a little playful.
Hope this helps.
The best to you n your pup!
JoAnn B says
I have 2 Cocker Spaniels that are 14 years old and weigh 30 lb. both had blood work showing raised kidney numbers. I want to try your recipe but do not want to puree any of it. Is there a reason you puree it and is it OK to leave it as it is, just cut it up into bite size pieces? When should I add phosphorus binder and how much. SO many questions and all my vet wants to do is put them on prescription dog food and I will not do that. Any help you can give me would be great. Thank for all you do to help everyone with Kidney issues.
Hi JoAnn — I can definitely relate to all the questions you’re facing and struggling through. Take it one day at a time and you’ll do your best in the end. The puree method is simply to blend the food and flavours and ensure the dog isn’t picking out just the meat or anything else. If your dog isn’t going to be picky, by all means, constitute the ingredients any way you want and whatever is easiest. As for the binder, I would ask your vet, straight up, “Does my dog need a binder at this stage of the disease?” If your vet won’t/can’t answer, find another vet, honestly. I can’t advise on yours or any specific case, but that is what your vet is for … so hopefully they can support you as necessary. You can’t do this alone, that’s for sure. Best of luck.
Georgia Christina A. Lazaro says
Hi Dale, first of all, thank you for this recipe. My sweet little girl just turned 15 last August and she was diagnosed with CKD in June. Her vet said it’s stage 3. She was prescribed with Royal canin Renal which she ate for 2 months. Now she wouldn’t eat it anymore.
I really want to try this recipe but my problem is we don’t have acorn and pumpkin here in Manila.
We only have kabocha squash or the local squash. Can I use the sweet potato and the kabocha squash instead?
Thank you in advance.
Hi Georgia. I answered your previous question before reading this one, but as you’ll see, the answer is yes. Go for it — and perhaps switch them up or in combination to balance each other out as they have different nutritional profiles and properties.
Hi Dale, like everyone else I can’t thank you enough fir this post… it appears to be a gift that has continued to give year after year. I’m sorry for your loss of Ben, and fear my own loss of my little Finn coming to due to his recent kidney disease diagnoses. I had a quick question if you don’t mind – what’s the Q10 coenzyme for? Thank you, and all my best wishes to you!
Hi Heather — my sincere apologies for the delay in reply. It has been a busy life with several other demands on my time since the pandemic, so I haven’t been as diligent of late in monitoring the comments here. Sorry. That said, I do appreciate yours and all comments. Thank you for your kind words and wishes.
In response to your question about the reason for the Q10, the answer is that some research would suggest it positively supports organ health, in particular, the heart and also kidneys. While not a scientific page, there is a good lay explanation of it on Wikipedia here.
Carina Lim says
Thank you for sharing your recipe and experience. My 1-yr old Corgi pup has just been diagnosed with CKD and he is still admitted in the hospital for the past 10days. Our vet recommended Royal Canin Renal formula or Science Diet K/D formula. My pup has pancreatitis too so our vet has put him on a low fat formula for the time being but it adversely affects his sodium levels. I have been looking for a homemade recipe and I came upon your webpage and I felt new confidence and an insight what lays ahead with keeping up with a well balanced and nutritional meal for my sick pup.
I am based in Thailand and acorn squash may not be readily available. May I know what other types of veggie can I substitute the squash with? Is it possible with Pumpkin or sweet potato? Are cauliflower bad for dogs with CKD? Looking forward to hear back from you soon! Thanks!
Hi Carina. The squash serves as a source of fibre to ‘bulk’ up the meal and support the gut. While other veggies would work (e.g. sweet potato as you mention), the reason for acorn squash particularly is because it is lower in phosphorus. If you can’t source it in Thailand, then, yes, look to other squash or sweet potato, but if you have different choices, do your research first to make sure you’re choosing the ‘best’ one in terms of phosphorus levels.
traci balsamo says
Thank you so much for this. My 14 year old best friend, Chloe, is suffering with both Cushing’s and CKD. May I ask if there are any other proteins, besides those listed, that you would consider? She seems to be sensitive to beef, and trout is proving difficult to find. She was eating a fresh, frozen prescription KD food, which she is now refusing, made with lamb. I fear that this may be my last chance to keep her with us a little longer. Also, while reading through comments, I see that Ben also had Cushing’s. Would you be able to share more about that? I truly appreciate you sharing your experience and knowledge. Many thanks again.
Hi Traci — there are always other proteins and others that some here have suggested. It’s just a matter of comparing “like to like” to compare their phosphorus content. If there are allergies/sensitivities to any of the ingredients, go to the next one on your list and choose the “next best option.” Ultimately, you’re just doing your best and there will need to be tradeoffs along the path to get where you are able to both entice Chloe to eat and make the best nutritious choice under your circumstances.
As for the Cushings, it was diagnosed when he was around 12 or 14 as it is a more seniors related disease I think. It remained a factor but it largely retreated once I started cooking homemade food. Ultimately, I chose not to ‘treat’ the Cushings and rather ‘treated’ the symptoms including by hiring a dog walker.
Georgia Christina A. Lazaro says
Hi Dale. What can I use as a substitute for acorn and pumpkin? We don’t have them here in the Philippines..
Thank you in advance.
Hi Georgia. The squash is really a source of fibre to ‘bulk’ up the meal and support the gut. While other veggies would work (e.g. sweet potato), the reason for acorn squash particularly is because it is lower in phosphorus. If you can’t source it in the Philippines, then, yes, look to other squash or sweet potato, but if you have different choices, do your research first to make sure you’re choosing the ‘best’ one in terms of phosphorus levels.
I am so thankful for having found this! Thank you so much, Dale! Micaela was recently diagnosed with Cushing and already has kidney and liver problems, and we have fed her with Royal Canin Kidney, which she doesn’t love, and I’m sure something more natural might be healthier for her. I am definitely trying this, i have to find how to substitute acorn squash, i live in Mexico. I just wanted to show gratitude for your generosity in sharing this..
Thank you Aurea. That’s very kind and generous of you as well. I’m glad it’s provided you an option which, yes, most definitely adapt to your geography and what you can source there. Best of luck and health to you Micaela. Take care ….
What has kept my 15 year old 20 lb. terrier in stage 4 kidney failure going the past year is this diet broken into 4 daily HANDFED meals plus daily 200 ml. hydration. I stress “handfed” because he will eat nothing by himself but willingly eats if I place it in his mouth-time consuming, but he still enjoys being alive, and his kidney numbers have been stable the last 6 months…have been able to take him off all medications as well.
Laura Peduzzi says
Wow that’s amazing. Just stumbled on to this site tonight and reading Everything! My dog is stage 4 also. According to the vet, he would have been deceased 2 months ago.
But I am doing everything possible to keep him with me. Doing pretty good considering. Going to try this recipe in hopes Ziggy likes it.
So if your pups can live in stage 4 with this recipe I’m in❤️ Thank you !
Thank you thank you thank you! You have helped so many of us! And unfortunately, there is NO recipe like this online at all. Our 13 year old corgi was thrown into renal failure BAD due to an infection. After spending 4 days in a hospital, his numbers went down and he slowly started eating again. However, he absolutely hates his kidney food and would rather starve. I was desperately mixing my other’s dog’s food into his just so he could take SOME of his medicine which is terrible I know. I was so frustrated I just wanted to cry.
Once I came across your recipe, everything changed. What used to be an hour feeding time with me begging him to eat and desperately hand feeding him has now become 15 minutes. He gets so excited for his meals now and chows down on his food and medicine immediately. His energy levels are up and he’s looking like his old self. It’s only been a week of him eating this food, but we are crossing our fingers he will stay with us for much longer and continue this streak. Regardless, he looks so happy and seems to be feeling good. You are a literal life saver. Thank you so much again!
I just wanted to pass on another huge thank you. The ER vet who saw Tess (now 16 year old Cairn Terrier) last summer mentioned your post about food. We’ve been feeding it to her now for a full year. She perked up right away after we started, and still has a bit of “puppy” in her once or twice a day. I have no doubt the food helped. Her favorite days are when I batch cook a double recipe & freeze it. She gets to lick the bowl (a giant one I got on Amazon just for making it). I’ve only had trouble finding acorn squash once, so I often make extra and freeze it. I also tend towards frozen green beans since they’re pre-blanched.
Hi Kale — thanks for your kindness in return and sharing your strategies and Tess’ own routine in it all. (Very cute). Yours is a sweet story which definitely makes me smile and I’m glad all of this has given you an opportunity to smile again a few times a day too. Take good care.
My 14 1/2 year old Chorkie Ellie was recently diagnosed with CRF, after some research I came across your post and instantly thought This Is The One! Just finished making it and my kitchen looks like a tornado came through and it took me quite awhile. Sure next time will be better. Ellie thought it was Pawsome. I used an immersion blender which worked amazing much better control over texture. I always freeze the ends of asparagus to add to her food so used half asparagus for the beans and added some frozen blueberries at the end. So glad it makes a large amount. Thanks for sharing.
Hi, wondering what the Pepcid is for (aside for upset stomach) and can I feed some commercial protein restricted dry dog food and make my own wet? Thanks, Jo
Hi Jo — the Pepcid AC is for the same thing humans use it for: “acid control” which will reduce nausea and improve food drive. Totally up to you if you want to use it combination with a prescription diet dog food.
Has anyone figured out an Instant Pot version of this recipe? 🙂
Interesting idea. I haven’t heard anyone else post about this and not sure it would work given quantities unless you changed proportions ….
Cook the meat first by setting on sauté, then put the rest of the ingredients, put rice first, then add water to the rice level, add veggies, cook for 9 minutes, and let it natural release for at least 10 minutes.
Alicia Diaz says
I’ve been meaning to post. I had this recipe looked over by a canine nutritionist and she said it’s an exceptionally well put together meal plan! She did have me add kelp for calcium and a probiotic but highly recommends this if you’re home cooking. Thank you for all the research you put into this recipe!
Thank you, Alicia, for sharing your research and own notes and additions. The kelp makes good sense, indeed. You’re most welcome and best of luck with it in your future.
Can i ask how long will the food stay fresh when i refrigerate it ? Thankyou so much for this. Very helpful indeed
Hi Angel. You’re very welcome. In terms of shelf life, treat it like “human” food because that is what it is — so 3-4 days.
The recipe says lbs of beef. Is that 1 pound (500gms)?
Hi Sheila — perhaps you’re reading this on a device which is changing the formatting on you, but the recipe is 2 lbs (approx 1kg) of ground beef.
Hi I have also seen this recipe calls for 1lb ground beef. Where do you say it’s 2lbs? I want to make this correctly so please let me know how much protein goes in it, ty
Hi Mel –I’m not sure of your question/confusion, to be honest. My recipe clearly says 2 lbs of lean ground beef. I’m not sure if you’re looking at another copy-cat site/recipe or if there is a mistake in my post that I can’t see.
can i use ground lean turkey?
I wouldn’t recommend it.
Caron Cato says
You are a champion.. a dedicated man and owner.. I’ll be making this for my Bichon who has been formally diagnosed last week.. he is not well tonight..
Hi Caron — you’re too kind with your compliments, but I’m glad the recipe has found you well and filled you with hope. Best of luck with your Bichon. Truly. And take care yourself as well.
Isaac Vanier says
Can you share how much kelp tonl add? Thanks
How much calcium does your nutritionist recommend? That’s always been a question of mine. And, thanks for the confirmation about the recipe. Makes me happy!
Hi Alicia, did the nutritionist recommend a type and dosage of kelp and probiotic? I’m making this wonderful recipe this weekend for my 13.5 yr kelpie cross that has early stage kidney disease.
Thank you Dale for posting the recipe and sharing your life and Ben’s story xx
You’re very welcome, Ariana. I’m glad and appreciate that you enjoyed the other posts shared here as well. Best of care to you.
I don’t know how to thank you enough. On December 8 2020 my vet told me that he didn’t think Baz (my 13 1/2 mini schnauzer) would make Christmas. To say I was devastated was an understatement. Then after a few prayers I found your post. Your recipe has saved my boy. On May 27 he will turn 14. He has a new lease on life and we take each day as it comes.
But I do have one strange question. We also have Betsy … she’s 2 1/2 and also a mini schnauzer. Since changing diets for Baz, Betsy cannot keep her nose away from his bottom. Obviously he is emitting an absolutely delicious smell that she simply cannot resist. Any ideas if this is normal? Has anybody else mentioned anything similar, any ideas how I might stop it. A water pistol doesn’t work. In all honesty I don’t care, The most important thing is that Baz is still with me, but if you had any ideas ..
Once again thanks for being my boy Baz’s angel,
Thank you, Maree from New Zealand
Hi Maree — thank you for sharing your good news story and the smiles. To be honest, no, I haven’t heard that one yet or before. I could guess but I’m sure I’d be wrong, so I won’t hazard here. Hopefully it is indeed a good news story for all but you might ask your vet next time you’re back what they think. I’d be curious as well.
Your words are truly touching and well received, but it brings me joy enough to imagine your smiles and happiness half a world away. Take care yourself, Maree and to both Baz and Betsy. 🙂
well we are another 3 months on from my earlier post. Baz is still going strong. His vet CANNOT believe that he is still going strong. He still loves his walks, devours his food and has a spring in his step.
I still can’t thank you enough for posting your story. I don’t think you realise how many lives you have changed.
Thank you so so much and if you ever get to travel to New Zealand you will always be welcome.
Take care and very best wishes, Maree, Baz and Betsy
That definitely brings both a smile and tear to my face. Thank you for the kindness of your message. I would tremendously love to visit New Zealand some day, so perhaps our paths will get to cross in person. It does my heart well to know a single act of sharing has touched so many people — and with so much focus on the challenges of our interdependence amidst covid, it is nice to think that our connectiveness can powerfully do good too. 🙂
I hope that Baz continues well and strong for many more months and wish you well too. Thank you again.
Jennifer Chuang says
Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It’s very helpful. I came across your blog when researching home-cooked meals for my dog with acute kidney injury. Just out of curiosity – can you share the reason why you chose ground beef over chicken thigh (with lower phosphorus)?
Hi Jennifer. You’re most welcome. In answer to your question about why ground beef vs. chicken thighs, I think we may be looking a different metrics or data. Not sure. My source of measurement was the Kaiser-Permenante list I shared. On that list, ground beef of any form is lower in phosphorus than chicken in any form. Not sure if you’re looking a different nutritional breakdown or things are different a local level for you. If they are, by all means, substitute. You’re asking the right question in your research.
Hello Dale. I noticed in a few of your reply’s that Ben had Cushings Disease, my little Josie was diagnosed with Cushings over a month ago & was given medication to help her. Last week after blood tests she now has Chronic Kidney Disease & High Blood Pressure, which I’ve had medication for as well. I’ve been searching the internet frantically to find some help with food she can eat & came across yours this morning. She’s on dry renal food which was ok because the Cushings made her very hungry but recently she’s turning up her nose as well as being a little sick. I wanted to ask if you have any advice how you managed Ben with his illness’s & if he was on any medication. Josie is a small 11.5 years of age Yorkiechon, she’s always been stoic & chirpy it’s not pleasant seeing her not well.
Just wondering would it be okay to substitute ground lamb instead of beef and pork? Also is it ok to used atlantic cod instead of trout as that is more readily available in my area!
The lamb, possibly, but with ground meats it always depends on what parts they’re using. As for the cod, I would guess “no” — stay with fatty fish.
Dale, I’ve been reading that the highest amounts of fatty ground beef are best for kidney disease, but yours states lean. Can you tell me which is best? Thank you!
Yes. Fatty meats and cuts figure more prominently but this recipe balances that with other sources fat — not just the beef fat.
Would help me so much if you could help me scale this up to my 33kg lab?! This way i can price it and compare to ready-prepared meals from places such as nutriment
Hi B. … not sure I can fully help you because “suggested serving sizes” vary by dog/breed/age/activity. All I can reiterate for you is the weight/age of Ben at the time and how much he ate. You may need to double or triple it, I don’t know, for your own case. Sorry.
Teresa DiServio says
Dale, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because I’m literally in tears. I’ve been doing research for the past couple of days since learning that my dog has kidney disease. I have found many of the same bits of information, but I wish I had found your blog first! Because all I kept finding was recipes including things like chicken and rice, which instinctively did not seem right. (Largely because my dog is sensitive to chicken of all things!) Anyway – THANK YOU for the recipe!!
Also, thank you for putting together such a comprehensive weblog of all that you’ve learned and sharing it with others. You have surely earned a special place in heaven, and there are likely many dog Souls and owners praying for you and sending thanks and love to you!!
Thank you Teresa. That is an incredibly sweet thing to say and share. I’ll wait my turn 🙂 … but, truly, I’m just very humbled that this is helping many wonderful souls through a difficult and often confusing disease. Take good care and best of luck to you as you navigate this yourself with your own dog. ~ Dale
When I read your story it could have been my own, my girl is 16 & was recently diagnosed with CKD the FIRST time she has been ill. I personally use holistic medicine as preventative option & I use the same doctor for Lily. I do cook everything for her.. not off my plate..but specifically for her. I relocated & no longer have access to that dr., although I love my vet, once he examined Lily he was very “forgiving” & flexible with Lilies previous care (we didn’t use conventional rabies ect) anyway I was distraught & frightened .. my vet prescribed Royal Cain Renal Care-D which I never thought in a million years she would eat & she does !! I do prepare food for her as well & have never given her supplements.. my vet suggested Aluminum Hydroxide Gel 16 oz $11 on Amazon. As you probably know it is a binding agent & it taste good!! I mix in her sweet potatoes ect., of course the dose depends on weight ect., which I would recommend contacting Vet or figure it out via research. Lily’s bloodwork numbers either maintain &/or improve (slightly). Thank you for sharing your story & recipes. I thought I had thoroughly researched this disease & never stumbled on your site. Everything I found was either a blatant advertisement or somewhat subtle which deterred me from any recommendations. I have learned to “edit” the information & follow my instincts. Again thank you
Sherre & Lily
You’re very welcome, Sherre. There is no question that dog/pet care is a whopping multi-billion industry and growing and growing, and you’re right to question whatever someone posts or shares to ‘edit’ for intent. Very little in life is free and that which is often comes with strings. Anyway, thanks for sharing your own story and journey and hope that you continue to navigate this difficult path. All in all, you sound like you have a good team and great head on your shoulders, so Lily is very fortunate. Take are.
Gale Hull says
Hi! Another great resource is caninekidneyhealth.com . Do you have any recommendations for treat recipes? Raw veggies are ignored, lol. I am going to bake sweet potatoe slices today.
Hi Gale — thank you for sharing the link here with others. In terms of ‘treats,’ my only advice to share is borrowed from a few other readers here who used this same recipe to create a ‘batter’ they could shape and bake into healthy treats. Hope that helps and good luck …
Kelly Moxey says
Started giving my Maltese this almost a year ago. All of his numbers are good except his protein levels. He eats and drinks well. No vomiting or diarrhea. However, he’s been having small tremors. Been to the neurologist. Can this be a calcium or potassium deficiency even though it didn’t show on his blood work? Anyway thank you so much for this recipe. It’s working wonders!
Hi Kelly, Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to answer your questions. Certainly, I’m not a neurologist and if they can’t help, I’m not sure what else to suggest, I’m sorry. I can empathise with what you’re certainly feeling and desperate for answers the provide a “fix” especially; hopefully, a clinician closer to you and who has the rest of your Maltese’s history can help you. Not at all helpful, I know … and I’m sorry.
I just wanted to say thank you so much for this post. My little guy was basically starving himself because he hated the prescription food so much. We tried all of the vets recommendations but just couldn’t get him to eat it. I was pretty sure we were going to lose him at the beginning of the year so we tried your recipe as a last ditch effort even though the vet emphatically recommended the prescription food.
Carter is now in better shape than he’s been in years. He’s got energy and a personality again. His weight is going up again and he’s very obviously happier than he’s been in ages. He turns 16 next month and I am so happy we’ll get to spend more time with him!
Hi Liz — thank you for sharing such a great story and of Carter’s rebound. I’m glad the diet helped and I hope, with you, that it gives you much more time together indeed. Happy Easter weekend and take care.
Wanted to know if chicken breast was also an option for the meat source instead of duck or hamburger or fish?
I would not go with chicken breast as it is higher in phosphorus than many other protein sources.
Hi, what is the purpose of the Pepcid AC? (Other than the obvious)
… to settle the stomach which gets acidic due to the kidney disease. None of us want to eat when we feel nauseous, right?
The acorn squash i got it cut in half but microwave it to soften to get skins off
Thanks Beanie. Sounds like a great trick. Are you still boiling the squash after as well?
Can we use canned sweet potatoes if totally organic and no syrups?
I can’t answer that, sorry. This recipe is based on sourcing whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.
Hello! We recently switched from vet recommended dog food for renal failure to this recipe. It’s been about 4 weeks. She was experiencing incontinence before the switch and still is. Do you know if this will help with that (and if so when), or do you have any further recommendations?
Hi Cindy — definitely hard to say whether this will help with incontinence. Likely depends on how advance the disease is and if there are any other underlying conditions. In Ben’s case, he also had incontinence issues due to the Cushings. My solution for many years was getting a dog walker to avoid the accidents. But, ultimately, if your dog’s condition can be “treated” to reduce symptoms, including thirst, then, yes, this may help you get closer to your goal.
Eve logan says
Our 14vr old Maltese mix was recently diagnosed with stage 4 renal failure. Started with marked incontinence while sleeping or even sitting on our lap. Our vet placed on edtriol 1mg 2xday fo r 2wks then 1 aday.
Incontinence totally stopped in 2 days. Thirst improved and doing well with diet changes. Hope this helps.
Hi Cindy, A probiotic chew called “probiotic blend” “digestive support” by only natural pet has really, really benefited my Pomeranian.
Kasturi Ray says
Hi Dale, Is it necessary to maintain the ratio that you’ve used? I’m making a small batch today to see how my dogs take to the food. What an enormous amount of research you’ve done!
Hi Kasturi … and thank you. If I understand your question, you’re not asking about reducing the quantities all in proportion (which you can certainly do), but rather changing the proportion of different ingredients. Yes? All that is posted here is what I did … and what others have followed and/or tweaked themselves. If you change the proportion of ingredients, you have a different recipe … so I won’t be much help to you in that regard. Sorry if I’ve misunderstood.
Hi Dale, your recipe has kept my 17.5 year old dachshund alive and well for the last two years. My vet can’t believe it! I cannot express my gratitude to you enough. I do have a question about calcium supplementation. You mention it, but do not specify adding it or how much. I know you are not a vet, but I can’t take my old dog to the vet now for blood work as he is deaf and blind, and gets too upset to be left there without me, and right now my vet is only allowing drop offs due to COVID. I’ve been supplementing eggshell calcium at 1/8 teaspoon twice per day, but wondering if I need to. I would greatly appreciate your input.
All my best,
Hi Sheryl — It is great to hear your account of how the diet has helped your 17.5 year old dachshund. Another great success story, indeed. I’m humbled to have played any small part in that … just happy you got a great result. The question about the calcium supplement is a good one but one I can’t really answer. However, if you have a great vet celebrating with you, my recommendation is to ask them since I believe they are in the best situation to advise on treatment and dosage. My own vet had advised that I didn’t need to use one, so I didn’t … and so don’t have that personal experience to share. Hope that helps and best of luck in the next two years! 🙂
I’d like to add that you can add crushed up Tums to your pets food for added calcium.
What a beautiful dog! Thank you for posting. I have an an 11 year old maltese. He is emaciated at 5 lbs. So….
Thank you Robyn. Can only wish you the best in what I can empathise as being a hard road ahead. Best of luck you….
Julie Graves says
I found this recipe just over one year ago and should have commented sooner. In late February 2020, our 13 year old Rat Terrier suddenly stopped eating and within 24 hours she became extremely weak. Based on experiences with our prior dog, I was concerned this was a kidney issue and looked for solutions online. Me and my husband didn’t know what to expect, but figured this couldn’t hurt. The first meal took some prompting, literally letting her lick the food off my fingers. But, once she got a taste of this, she loved it. Her appetite returned, she actually gained a few pounds and her energy level is better than ever.
We also had blood work done within a few days. Our vet said her kidney values were fine; he doesn’t know what happened / why she stopped eating. We have had blood work done two more times, all still fine. Teyha loves this food and now anytime I cook hamburger, green beans, rice or eggs, she thinks I’m cooking for her. Thank you so much!
Awww — such a heart-warming message, thank you. I definitely smiled hugely at your last comment about how Teyha has come to think those ingredients are always for her. Very sweet. I’m glad it has provided you a refuge and a way through her illness. I wish you and her both continued health in the years ahead. Take care.
This recipe looks amazing. I’ve just set out to research for my best friend, Jenny, who was just diagnosed with advanced kidney failure, and I am relieved to see someone who chose to go in the way my instinct is telling me- more holistic and natural. As I continue to do research and figure out the best path for her to go on, do you have any suggestions for resources that were helpful to you in taking care of Ben? With so many things out there, it’s hard to weed through everything to find the good stuff! Obviously I want to bring my vet in on everything I’m doing as well; yet, I’m trying to get a head start on research before our next appointment in a month. Your recipe will be printed out and brought along as I try to figure out the right path of Jenny!
Thank you for any help you’re able to offer!
Hi Michaela — thank you for your kind words and I think you’re taking a great approach to this and coming prepared to engage your vet as a partner in caring for Jenny. I’ll be honest that almost 7 years after I posted this, I don’t remember all the resources I consulted other than the ones I posted here. That said, there has been a LOT written on the subject since I did my research and there are many more supplements and resources available to you now than when I started this road. You get to take the baton from here and see where the road takes you next … and hopefully your vet can be a further guide with you on this journey. Best of luck.
Hi I’m really interested in trying this recipe,do I have to give all supplements listed alongside this diet?
Hi Pamela … No. I wouldn’t recommend using the supplements without consultation with your vet. What you see here isn’t a “prescription” but rather a journal of what I did for my own situation. Get advice and use this in conjunction with it ….
Dhruv & Lulu says
We have been using this recipe for the past 2-3 months and it Works WONDERS!! Our dog, 11 year old Jack Russell, had terrible appetite throughout her life and had a bad relationship with food….and now with Kidney Disease we were worried it would only get worse. With this recipe she eats EVERY meal without fail – it’s the first time in years she has been so consistent with her meals. Thank you!
You’re very welcome, Dhruv & Lulu. Thank you for sharing your success and experience. It is great to hear the difference it has made and wish you continued success with it …. 🙂
Dale, thank you for your comprehensive post in regard to this food. I have seen it linked many times in the dog kidney pages. I cooked it today for the first time and hope to use it as an alternative to commercial kidney foods. Unfortunately, here in Australia there’s not much choice. I am currently syringe feeding my girl, but she’s only 4 and full of life so it’s worth it.
Thank you again, Benjamin was a beautiful boy indeed.
Thank your Kristy, for a very kind post and words. They mean a lot, truly, even these many years removed from Ben’s loss. I continue to be amazed at how far and wide this recipe has traveled but I’m grateful to have been able to assist in any way people as yourself continents away. Thank you! I wish you all the success in the world in caring for your girl. Stay well ….
Diane Daniels says
I think the hype on garlic and onions is a ploy to get you to buy the expensive dog food. I’m not saying give animals a ton of the stuff .I’m 74 and growing up, my parents would only give table scraps w/ a little dog food. I did the same. Ive had German shepherd who lived to 14,cats one was 18 one was 17. I have 2 dogs both are 14. It’s all the chemicals and preservatives that are harmful and the food full of soy. Lean organic foods are good for us and our pet’s. Eliminate the salt,watch phosphorus,.The hard part is getting pokito to eat the renal diet.he is used to sharing my plate..
Hi Diane — I don’t disagree with you and my own experience with Ben for 18 years was much the same. No, I didn’t give him garlic bulbs to eat … but, yes, he ate ‘garlic’ as a regular ingredient in much of the good he ate from my own plate. Appreciate that is not a scientific endorsement, but it is lived experience. But also appreciate others have their own opinions and lived experiences and are more than welcome to make their own conclusions and decisions. Thanks for your sharing your own ….
My 16 year old dog Quito was recently diagnosed with CKD on top of his existing CHF. His appetite has been so poor for the last 2 months…acid reflux and nausea. Everyday I stress what to feed him, he turns up his nose at everything but toast. Tonight I tried this and he ate so good. Thank you! I don’t know how much time I left with my boy but I just want him to eat and be content.
My deepest condolences for the loss of your Ben. Take solace in knowing Ben is waiting for you and you’ll be reunited again. A bond like that cannot only exist in the physical world…it’s eternal.
Thank you, Tisha. That is a very beautiful image and one I can definitely hold onto. I’m grateful to have “Leo” now in my life and a beautiful companion he has already become and so perhaps one day it will be a great introduction and homecoming for us all …. 🙂
Hi! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I was just wondering, how much serving or cups does this whole recipe make?
Hi Camille — It isn’t going to be exact depending on your own portions and ingredients, but my estimate was roughly 5 medium freezer bags which if my math is right, is about 5 litres = 20 cups.
Lori A Burgess says
Thank you for all your efforts in sharing this recipe with so many of us that are frustrated with the commercial renal diets and overwhelmed by the overload of information available. You made this diet easy to make and understand and my dog loves it. I’ve shared it with many others on Facebook’s Canine Kidney Disease group and hope it’s helped them as well. I am wondering though if crushed egg shells should be added for calcium? I have not seen that addressed and wonder if I missed something. Thank you again for providing relief to so many of us fur parents!
Hi Lori — You’re most welcome and thank you for sharing it with other networks via Facebook. With respect to your question, the eggshells are included and used by some as a “phosphorus binder.” There are other phosphorus binding agents like calcium supplements as well. However, they are not always indicated for depending on the condition. Others have certainly discussed this in other comments, but my general takeaway is consult with your own particular vet on your particular condition to determine what’s right for you and your dog ….
My dog, Axl loved this recipe……thank you so much. Any other recipes you can share?
Ben is a cutie
Thank you Tammy. Ben was a special boy, for sure.
As for other recipes, not sure what you’re looking for as the site is full of recipes, including another non-low-phosphorus dog food recipe that was Ben’s breakfast for many years: Ben’s breakfast
JEANINE DOFFONT says
Dale, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to post such a well-written, well-explained article. I am very grateful for it AND for all the discussion that follows. I just have one question….white rice? I don’t even eat white because of the amount of bleach that may or may not be in it. Haha. Depends where and what you read. No brown, wild, basmati, or jamine rice instead? Aren’t these healthier versions? I just don’t know about how their chemical make up would be for a dog with kidney issues. Thank you in advance, Dale.
Hi Jeannine — You’re most welcome. I know that the milled grains in here may seem counter intuitive to a person who is health conscious. I had the same reaction. To be clear, this isn’t about creating a typical “healthy” diet — it is a “therapeutic” diet which omits much in the aid of treating a disease. The trade offs get you to the goal … which is a ‘longer’ and better quality life for whatever time you get. Sorry — but it is a different paradigm you’re working with here.
Tammy Lockett says
If you are going to substitute white bread for rice is it still 2 cups?
I would recommend going by weight as the volumes are going to be significantly different ….
Tammy Lockett says
Thank you for your reply!
I’ve tried 3 different renal support diets, which my Topino wanted no part of. He loves this recipe!
Yay! That’s great news. I hope it has great effects on his health as well. All the best to you and Topino.
Hi Dale, my boy has early signs of kidney disease and stumbled across your recipe that I’ve been using on both my dogs for the past couple of months. My girl has IBD and it’s turned her stable which is fantastic!! My boy seems stable which is great, and the vet was impressed with his kidney output and told me to keep doing what I’m doing.
I’m struggling to find white trout, but the link you have to the Kp study says Atlantic Cod is low is phosphorus. Would that be ok?
As for the supplements, my dogs are both 8lbs and I don’t know that the B50 tablets can be split low enough. Same for the coenzyme. Anyone else have any suggestions?
Hi Amanda — thanks for stopping by to share your own experiences and with the good questions as well. First off, re: the “white” trout, did you perhaps misread the recipe and get the “egg whites” on the same line? My eyes play tricks on me sometimes too. Otherwise, I’ve never heard of white trout either. My recipe simply called for “trout” as a substitute.
Yes, as for the supplements, that’s a great question. Two pieces of advice for you. 1) ask your vet for to tell you whether and what is appropriate for your particular dogs. I won’t pretend to know whether dividing by weight will get you to the right dose, regardless of whether you can. 2) speak to your pharmacist or find a good compounding pharmacist who can assist you in getting the right dose recommended by your vet (I will assume it will be cheaper than anything that a vet would provide anyway).
Thankyou so very much for your really kind efforts to share this information. My little dog Coco is starving to death in front of me as I write. Her kidneys are also packing up and she is simply not interested in the very expensive food that the vet is offering her. I can’t wait to try her on your alternative!!
You’re very welcome, Liz. I hope you have great success with it and it brings you many more days and years of love with Coco.
We found out not too long ago one of our dogs has kidney problems and was put on the Hills Science Diet k/d food. After about one large dry food and 2 cans wet food, he decided not to eat anymore of it. My wife found your recipe and we will be trying it tonight. I do have a question though…….is it ok to use duck fat instead of coconut oil? I have never tried it but heard it tastes wonderful but if it is not good for him I will stick with the coconut oil. thanks Steve
Hi Steve — sorry this coming late in reply and you may have already made some choices, but I have no idea about the nutritional profile of the duck fat. Yes, it taste great (one of my personal favourite things in the world and I’m sure it is hardening my arteries just imagining it again) — but it may very well be high in phosphorus. I don’t know. You may need to speak to nutritional specialist to find that answer if you can’t Google it. My gut says stay with the coconut because of the omega profile it brings. Hope this helps.
I was told my 15 year chihuahua was in kidney failure. She wasn’t eating, was shaking when I took her to the vet. I knew from the look on my vet’s face he didn’t think she was long for the life. He gave a vitamin shot and some antibiotics and sent her home with me. That evening she convulsed and had body spasms where she evacuated her bowels. I was heartbroken. The next day I took her back and had him intravenously give liquids. While she was there I researched what I could do to help her. I found your recipe, I have since begun exclusively feeding her the food and she has made a miraculous recovery. I really just can’t thank you enough. I lost my other dog of 20 years in 6/2020 and the thought of losing another one of my babies would have been devastating. Thank you for all your research and for sharing it . ❤️❤️
Dear Betty — thank you for sharing such an emotional journey to get here. I can very much imagine and it still breaks my heart to think of it. I’m glad you have found a life line in this recipe and home that it has continued to provide you hope and great days. Thanks for sharing and all the best.
Hello Dale- I want to thank you for all of your research and this delicious recipe (according to my 16 year old dog). She was diagnosed within kidney failure and she ate the prescribed food for a few weeks and then decided she was done with it. At first I thought she was getting sicker and just wasn’t interested in eating anymore but she would still go crazy wanting “people” food. So I did some digging and found your page and she has been on this home made diet for 3 weeks now! She eats a cup in the morning and a cup in the evening (she is 22lbs). She has even gained a little weight!
Thank you so much again!
Awww … such a great news story, Theresa. Thank you for sharing your cup-a-meal approach and the difference it has made. I hope it has continued and continues for much longer. You’re very welcome and wishing you the best.
Linda K says
Any suggestions on something other than garlic to season the food. My dog does not seem to care for it although he has eaten food with garlic in the past.
Choose other herbs and spices in small doses. If you like it — suspect he will as well.
I have been putting a teaspoon of bone broth powder, a teaspoon of tumeric and some black pepper in the veggies before blending them with a tin of black cherries. I also add some pepper, tumeric and bone broth powder to the meat when I’m frying it. Our old dog Enya loves this recipe, thank you Dale
Cynthia quinn says
Dale – Thank you for publishing this recipe. I’ve been using a version of this for about 6 weeks. My little 15 pound terrier mix Ricky nearly crossed over the rainbow bridge back in July 2020. He was in active kidney failure and he made it through. Because of that he does now suffer from kidney disease. I’ve been on a quest to keep him healthy, happy and comfortable since then. I do have a question for you. If I am feeding this recipe above, what if any? Are the advantages of adding a little sardine oil? They supposedly are a good source of Omega 3 and B vitamins.
Thank you for your time.
Hi Cynthia — You’re very welcome and hope that Ricky has continued to do well. The question about the Sardine oil is a good one and one I can’t rightly answer as I’m not that familiar with it’s nutritional profile. But assuming it is as you describe and isn’t also high in phosphorus, it likely would be a great supplement as you say. Speak to registered nutritionist if you haven’t already and see what they have to say and drop us a note again if you have a minute ….
Kavirajan Muniandy says
I would love to know what did you fed ben previously that he lived 18.5 years looking that good..
Hi Kavirajan — that’s a good question and perhaps something I should post at some point. The reality is that Ben never lived a perfect diet but he largely lived on a very human diet for a significant part of his life, including his earliest year or two when commercial pet food was unavailable to him. Over the years he ate better and better and super premium kibbles balanced by, again, increasingly more homemade food (see his breakfast here: https://eatswritesshoots.com/2013/09/15/homemade-super-dog-food-aka-bens-breakfast/)
Scarlet’s Mom says
Thank you for sharing this! My 14 year old dog, Scarlet, was obviously hungry but refused the kd food she had eaten for 6 months. I made this and she loves it. Did you add the phos binder powder to this at meal time? Thanks in advance for your reply.
You’re very welcome — sorry for the late reply, but, no, on the advice of my own vet for Ben in particular, we didn’t use a phosphorus binder. Your vet may advise you differently for your case.
My diet consist for my 12 yr old pup consist of 1cup white rice, 4 egg whites, a couple shaved carrots & 1 shaved zucchini. Separated into 1/3 cups and usually mix with dry food twice a day. Looking into adding coconut oil based on you article.
Also feed 1tbsp Pumpkin purée and 1 tbsp rolled oats with dry food once a day. Looking to add in blueberries.
I worry about getting too much protein vs not enough.. since I still give her dry food & how to tell?
Any input on this would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Britney — I think you’re doing a lot and definitely working for your pup. I can’t really answer your question because 1) not all kibble is equal and 2) I’m not a vet nor do I know your dog. In theory using both in combination can work for some dogs, I’m sure, depending on their condition. I just can’t advise you on your own.
JoDee Hale says
THANK YOU! I just watched my fourteen year old lab eat with the excitement of a young pup! We just found out he has kidney disease and have been trying to feed him the prescription canned dog food from our vet but it was absolutely disgusting and he wouldn’t touch it. I don’t blame him! We found your recipe and I am thrilled with how much he loved it! I’m not sure you’ll be able to answer this question but I’d like to ask: our vet prescribed Alum Hydroxide as a phosphorus binder to be added to his food and I’m wondering how necessary that might be with this low phosphorus recipe. Three teaspoons added to each meal may affect the flavor and we sure need him to keep eating!
Hi JoDee … Thank you for reaching out and sharing your experience. Sorry for the delay in reply, but you’re right, I can’t really answer your question as you would seek. If your vet is prescribing a binder, I’m assuming they think a binder is necessary. I can’t provide any second opinion on that — but I can say there are other phosphorus binders you evaluate if the taste bothers your pup. Some have used calcium supplements and others have included the eggshells from the eggs in the recipe as well. Best of luck on what you decide and on your path ahead.
MARLENE A SPRINGER says
I switched from ground turkey to 85 percent lean ground beef. If this isn’t correct I give up. Tu
Linda Varner says
Can my dog with kidney problems eat chicken or beef baby food. I am feeding her prescription food. She will not eat it unless I put something in it. I give her treats that are baked I am not sure about them.
My old gal will be 14 in May
Hi Linda. I can’t answer that with any knowledge. My best advice would be to get the nutritional information from the manufacturer to determine what’s in it and the phosphorus levels.
If egg whites not available already made up, is it ok just to use organic eggs and remove the yolk myself?
Also do you know if chicken/turkey breast fillets better than thighs?
I’m able to use minced (I think that’s ground) organic 5%fat beef, my little girl who’s coming 16 had her gallbladder removed 6mths ago and had chronic pancreatitis, so she has to be on less than 10% fat.I got her through that but now her kidney markers are showing up, no protein at all in her urine, they did find she had a uti which is gone but they still think shes stage 2 pre full blown kidney failure. She also diagnosed 4 yrs ago with an enlarged heart & on medication for that also & shes had to go back on to her durietics as some fluid building up round heart. Shes been in great form bouncing about but in last few days has no appetite ? shes going to hospital in couple of days to check everything again.
Hi Sabrina — sounds like you’re having a hard time of things and I’m sorry your little girl is struggling with appetite. I can truly sympathise as you have two confounding diseases to treat which contraindicate each other. A difficult treatment to determine, I’m sure. Keep doing your best.
By all means, separate whole eggs for your purpose. I suggested packaged egg whites because it is significantly cheaper. Many bakers want the yolks. Hope you can find a use for the egg yolks you’ll be left with, but you’ll have a bounty.
As for the question about breasts vs. thighs, the phosphorus levels in thighs is lower from my research, so stay away from breast meat.
Yes, mince in the UK is what we call ground beef in North America.
Best of luck to you in the New Year ahead.
Tammy Rogers says
Hey there, I just began this diet tonight and my dogs love it. I noticed it said they need Potassium and calcium as they go through this. I didn’t see a vitamin for that in your daily routine. Just wondering what to do for that?
Tammy Rogers says
Oh I also wanted to know if I should be adding another protein because my dog is allergic to chicken so I’m too worried to put in the egg whites. It costs me a fortune at the vets when he has chicken.
I can’t comment on whether egg whites will create sensitivity for animals with allergic to chicken. You can try and see or ask your vet for guidance on that. The issue as you’ll see is how to get the protein in without the phosphorus. If you have to make compromises, you have to … just do your best.
I know this is coming a year late…but my dog is extremely sensitive to chicken but has no problem with eggs in any form.
While I am commenting I too would like to thank you so very much for sharing all of this info! Just made our third batch and my pack loves it!
Hi Tammy — I’ll answer your questions separately. Regarding potassium, if you want to introduce this into the diet, the substitution of pumpkin (for the sweet potato) will get you there vs. adding supplements. As for the calcium, it is noted as phorphorus-binder in most therapeutic diets. That is why it is listed as an optional supplement. Some other readers have made comments throughout as well about their own use of the egg shells as a natural way to get there. Ultimately, your choice based on your needs and in consultation with your vet.
Thank you so much for your help in guiding us on how to make healthy homemade food to help our babies! I am currently making this recipe, they love it and i love that it so easy to make! I have two dogs, one of them diagnosed with CKD, she has been put on royal canin renal food but i want to get her off of that and give her natural home made, so i started making this recipe and mixing it into her other food for now, until i can get her completely off of the royal canin. I am also giving to my second dog as he started to show raise in the sdma levels, he is showing 17 now so I started by changing his food to your recipe ? thank you so much for all your help!
Thank you Rosa for your very kind and positive words. I’m glad the recipe has made a difference in the lives of your babies. Best of luck and thanks again for sharing …
Margaret Dodds says
My poor old Golden has just been diagnosed with kidney problems. Yesterday she didn’t want to eat Hills or Royal Canin KD, I made this food this morning and she ate it up. My question is, do you think I could give some of this to my other dogs to perk up their kibble.
Thank you so much for sharing everything that you learned.
Hi Margaret — it’s a good question that others have asked as well. My answer is that there is no harm in other dogs eating this; however, it shouldn’t be their diet in my opinion. This recipe has many dietary omissions to support a dog’s kidney functions, but there are other needs. It is a “therapeutic” diet and not an ideal one for a healthy dog. That said, a tablespoon on their kibble would be no different than letting them eat your table scraps and likely better. 🙂
MARLENE A SPRINGER says
I made this using ground turkey. Is turkey not recommended. My dog loves it tho
Hi Marlene — No, ground turkey is not recommended because unless you know what part of the turkey is in it, it very likely has higher phosphorus levels.
MARLENE A SPRINGER says
Not breast, its turkey thighs
MARLENE A SPRINGER says
Also why not ground chicken whyvred meat
You’ll have to speak to some higher up about why we’re made the way we are …. But given that the nutritional content of foods are different, this is a diet that works with the way food is created.
Hi Dale… I am only now doing research for a good recipe for my 19-yr old toy poodle with both liver and kidney failure and came across your recipe which people (and their pets) seem to love! I’ve fed her gr turkey for quite some time as she’s highly allergic to beef and not a fan of fish. What is your next best recommendation? Lamb? Duck? Pork? Willing to try anything for my angel.
Hi Sharon — I feel for you. Honestly, not sure off the top of my head, but my gut would be the the lamb. Good luck.
Christine Mulleneaux says
Thank you so much for this information. The only commercial dog food my 17 year old dog can consume with out having a negative reaction (vomiting and severe skin rash) is a prescription kidney dog food (KD + mobility by Hills Science Diet). Over the past 6 months it’s become increasingly scarce. It’s no longer available online anywhere. Over the past two months, I’ve driven all over the State of Arizona gathering as many cans as I can find. As of last week, there are none left. I called the company to find out if the product has been discontinued. It has not but they claim to lack man power to keep up with demand. To make matters worse, even their perfect weight entree nonprescription dog food that I give to my other two dogs has also run dry. I felt defeated until I read your post. I made the food tonight and all three dogs loved it. I ordered salmon oil, vitamin b complex for dogs and Co q 10 for dogs from Amazon which will arrive i two days to supplement their diet. I will keep you posted as to how the 17 year old with kidney disease progresses on his new diet. You’ve given me hope. Thank you so much!
You’re most welcome, Christine. I sounds like you’ve been through quite the wringer, to say the least. So many facets of life have been made so much more complicated and even impossible owing to the pandemic, but I’m glad this recipe has given you an alternative, especially now. Great job sourcing the supplements and please do let us know how your 17 year old does on the diet. Best of luck.
Sybille Betancourt says
Thank you so much for this. About the garlic. For many years I thought garlic was actually good for them, I remember we used it with our dogs when I was a teenager mostly because it helped with flea control, but than I read in the horrible 2020 year that it was bad for them. But as you, they ate from my food forever, never had a problem.
One of my 9 year old Maltese was just diagnosed with kidney failure, so I’m researching how to feed her better. Right now I’m having the problem that she is very picky for food and not as hungry, so giving her the medicine is really hard, she was just diagnosed on 12/31, yesterday 1/1 I tried to give her the antibiotics and had to force it in her mouth and wait for her to swallow as she was not eating anything I offered. Well of course the poor baby ended up vomiting it, of course, I put my finger down her throat to place the pill!!!?…so I’m trying to make stuff for her so she will take the medication.
Sybille — My apologies for the lateness of the reply. It sounds like you and your pup have been through quite the ordeal of late. I hope you’ve found a way through it and that the recipe here has helped. Pills and meds are never easy and certainly much harder when the dog doesn’t want to eat at all. I hope you managed to find a way, even if it is hiding them in a piece of cheese or sausage. Good luck ….
Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into creating this post. I am so thankful that I stumbled across your blog. I was in search of kidney diet recommendations / home-made recipes, but I ended up reading on about Ben in your other posts. I am simply in a puddle of tears. My empathy for you is strong, and the way you have put your memories and feelings about your human-animal relationship into words is beautiful and so heart-felt. It’s crazy how hard it is to find information like you have shared here. It can be overwhelming to search the internet and ask various veterinarians… So many different opinions and recommendations that cause a lot of self-doubt and fear. You are a wonderful dog parent I appreciate you! I am about to head to the grocery store to try out this recipe for my 12-year-old best buddy with kidney disease and heart failure. I hope that she loves it, but even if she is reluctant, I do feel better about trying this than continuing to follow recommendations for the KD prescription diets that just seem…. unnatural to say the least. I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my dog-loving heart for helping all of us dog parents with similar issues.
Thank you Jackie — It your heart connection here to my story and your own is very meaningful, so thank you for sharing. I likewise can empathsise and believe there is a profound disconnect between veterinary science and veterinary nutrition and big, established companies have unnatural influence. There are indeed some vets that “get it” naturally and intuitively but for a great many other dog owners, there hill to knowledge and health is a steep one we traverse alone. I’m glad to have helped you a little and wish you well on the journey ahead.
Update: She LOVES the food! It sparked up her appetite again, and she is looking and feeling much healthier and happier. The vet checked her kidney values after about 3 weeks of your recipe, and the results were so positive. Her kidneys (and all other lab values) are looking so much better. We are both so thankful for you.
That’s truly great to hear, Jackie. Best of luck on the road ahead and hoping with you that this great improvement continues. Stay well and thank you again for your kind words.
Reaching out one last time for your guidance, which we appreciate in advance! Do you have any recommendations for treats that you were able to give to Ben that were within kidney-safe requirements? She still LOVES the food but I’m struggling to think of treat ideas that will be easy on her kidneys…
Hope you are healthy and well. Aloha!
Hi there — I’ll admit, that at Ben’s final age, treats weren’t as big part of his life, diet, or day-to-day as they would be for younger dog still motivated to work/perform for a treat. As such, I don’t have ‘experience’ to share but I can offer you what others on this blog have shared including transforming this recipe into ‘treats’ but pureeing the ingredients and then spreading/cutting them on a cookie sheet or pressing them into shapes and baking them until ‘hard’ … then freezing them to use as necessary throughout the weeks. Hope this helps. Appreciate it may be a trial and error approach, but if you do, suggest starting around 350 degrees and working in 5 minute intervals, checking for doneness until you get it right. Let me know how it goes.
Sarah Key says
Dale, thank you so much for sharing this! Our 6 yr old Golden Retriever, Jake, had a cancerous tumor in his right kidney this year and had to have it removed. He’s now on a renal failure diet to support his remaining kidney. Jake is the light of my life and has gotten me through more tough times than I can count. So anything that can help me help him is more valuable than gold to me. From one dog parent to another thank you!
You’re very very welcome, Sarah. I can well imagine your distress and it sounds like a very difficult ordeal that you and Jake have gone through, but I’m hoping with you that he does well in the (many) years ahead and that this diet helps him get there. Take care and wishing you both a very good and healthy new year.
My dog Ruprecht has very slight kidney disease and I managed to reverse it with Just Food for Dogs frozen human grade diet but it’s expensive so I’m trying my own. My Vet was shocked that his blood work showed no kidney disease! They give those awful commercial dog food diets of kibble and cans that don’t work, so I’m trying my own.
I’ve heard Green Lamb Tripe is the best source of protein.
Hi Suzanne — wishing you good luck with it as well and, yes, there is lots of writing on tripe as a great protein source which is low in phosphorus for dogs.
CHRISTINE BALOH says
Suzanne, my ESS just had a high boarderline result on his UPC test likely from tick bite and has antibodies for lyme. I want to be proactive and have been doing a lot of research on nutrition. I read positive things about “Just Food For Dogs”. But I already prepare his food. Dale, I feed him defatted beef or chicken, kale or collard greens, pumpkin, hard boiled egg and shells, probiotics, calcium, virgin coconut oil. and a coat supplement. I thought he was yeasty on his hind feet about a year and half ago and cut out as many carbs as possible. Now I am worried that I need to make changes to support kidney function even thou my vet said we don’t need to address diet at this time.
Our boy was getting sick on his prescription dog food and wouldn’t eat it. Cooked him some egg whites and green beans which he devoured. Going to get us sweet potatoes and white rice as well to see how he does. Thanks for your post.
You’re very welcome, David. I hope the cooking goes well and he thrives …. All the best.
Our 17 year old schnauzer was just diagnosed with kidney disease. We were feeding him an all human grade food diet with chicken as the protein. My question is whether it is necessary to purée the ingredients in your recipe or if this was just specific to Ben? Could they just be mixed all together if chopped into relatively same size portions?
Thank you for your help!
Hi Brooke — No, it is not in the least bit necessary to puree all the ingredients, but for some dogs that are fussy and prone to ‘picking’ out the ingredients they like/dislike, it might help to follow some approach to blending it all together. Otherwise, there is no nutritional reason to do so ….
Jamie Arkin says
Hi! Thank you for sharing your story. My dog has been diagnosed with kidney issues and your recipes are extremely helpful. I also just spent the last hour and a half reading Ben’s story, again thanks for sharing. I feel it helped with appreciating the time I currently have with my pup. I have to admit I’m not much of a crying, but your story really got to my heart. All I can say is I’m full on ugly crying — noises and all. 🙂
Heather Williams says
My vet gave us Hill’s Prescription wet food for kidney/mobility. I have a little 10 year old yorkie who is now under 8lbs since losing weight from being sick and not eating. We just found out about her renal failure a couple days ago.
She won’t touch the dog food. Turns her head away and continues to just lay there. I tried to call the vet and see what I can do, but haven’t heard back yet.
I went to the store to get stuff to try for her. I mixed 96/4 lean ground beef with white rice, egg whites, peas, carrots and a little unsalted beef broth for flavor. She ate some of it, which makes me feel better, but I just want to make sure I don’t give her anything that will make her worse. I didn’t purée anything. Like I said, no word from the vet yet and I wanted to at least try to get her to eat something since she hasn’t eaten since we brought her home yesterday.
Heidi Glover says
Hello, in my desperation to find something he would eat, I bought bison to try. However, in coming home and doing some research, I don’t see anywhere where bison is listed as a good thing to try. I’m guessing it’s too high in phosphorus?
Thank you so much for sharing your information. Our boy has lasted longer than the vet expected but, I’ve been giving him dry food. I am afraid I’ve done him additional harm. I’m trying to do better by him and see how long we can sustain him, happily. I appreciate your assistance in that!
Hi Heidi — firstly, don’t beat yourself up for trying and doing your best. He’s the best friend you have and he doesn’t need your judgment of yourself. Secondly, yes, you’re right, the bison, while a great food for healthy people and dogs, does seem to be the wrong protein choice for a kidney disease suffer. My quick google research here resulted in this: http://www.dietandfitnesstoday.com/phosphorus-in-bison.php. Go back to the beef would be my recommendation, but certainly speak to your vet if you’re looking for other proteins for another reason. Stay well and best of luck.
My dog is currently having his kidney flushed overnight. I think he has more going and should know when i pick him up tomorrow. But what about raw rib bone. Just like the beef ribs you buy at the grocery store.
Hi there Pilan — My instinct is to say no to bones given that “Of all the phosphorus in the body, 80% of it is found in the teeth and bones in the form of crystalline bone, hydroxyapatite.” It is one of the reasons that “bone meal” is a great addition to any garden. I have no idea how it works when ingested, but, again, my instincts would be to stay away from this ….
dale do you have a macro breakdown for your meal?
or do you know the break down for kcals. protein fat. carbs. percentages?
Sorry — I do not. Happy for a reader here to pitch in and run the calculations and would be happy to post/share ….
Dhruv Sodha says
Hi Dale, I did a nutrient breakdown. Where can I send it to you to share with everyone?
Thank you both for doing this and for your offer to share it with everyone. I’m sure it will be greatly appreciated by many and has long been requested.
I’ll reply to you separately and offline with my email so that you can send it along by PDF or JPG or whatever works best.
Thanks again. ~ Dale
Beckie Stanevich says
Where/when will you post the info on nutrient percentages offered by Dhruv a few days ago. I would especially like to know the protein level. Thank you and thank you for the research you have done. I have an 11 month old who is already in failure. We need to cut back her protein and phosphorus quickly and your published diet is a big head start!
Hi Beckie — We’re still waiting for an updated breakdown that includes all the ingredients. Preliminary calculations, however, suggest it is 9% or quite likely even lower.
what could you use instead of rice – my dog is totally grain intolerant and cant do potatoes or sweet potato either or oats
Hi Laura — I can’t advise, I’m sorry. Others suggest white bread but that doesn’t sound like it will work for you either. All I can suggest is you research other fibre sources that are phosphorous low … perhaps another ‘grain’ like spelt or millet but I can’t say. Sorry. You’ll have to make some tradeoffs and settle for “best you can do,” I’m sure.
Thanks for your research and your recipe. My pup hasn’t been diagnosed with kidney disease yet but he has proteinuria 2+ and high blood pressure. I’ve been writing with my vet to try to lower his protein levels in his urine. We put him on a blood pressure medication and that didn’t help the proteinuria but at least helped the high blood pressure. The next step my vet recommended a kd friendly food. My pup will just not eat it. So I want to give this a try and after a few weeks see if his results are better. Thanks so much for the information. Ben sure is helping many.
Thank you, Heather. Ben, the miracle dog, has indeed helped many. It is hard to believe and yet I’m reminded almost daily. It is a tremendous gift and a gift of you all that you keep him and his memory very much alive. So thank you. Perhaps one day, Ben will get his sainthood as he deserves. But for now, thanks is all the reward. Thank you! Best of luck to you and your pup and hope this has indeed helped him as well.
Danithza Olsen says
Dale, Thank you so much for posting this recipe and all those resources! My 13 year old hairless dog just came from the vet with the prognosis of level 2 kidney disease. About a year ago I noticed he was losing weight and was not eating much so I started cooking for him and his 2.5 year old sister. I noticed this year he gained some weight and was more energetic and his hips dysplasia was not as bad. But after today I will definitely modify the recipe for him. His diet already included rice, and sweet potatoes but I tomorrow I will gather the ingredients you have and and try them. He weights about 26 lb. Thanks to you and Your angel Ben. I hope this helps my furless baby. I will keep you posted on him
My 5-year-old dog has had the same issues–high blood pressure and proteinuria. Vet thinks my dog is developing Cushings’ disease. His recent test came back negative, but the vet feels if we retest in 3-4 months, he will be positive. The blood pressure meds have controlled the blood pressure, but now he wants our dog put on a low-protein diet. He recommended a brand, but I’ve heard most dogs don’t like the flavor so I am going to try Dale & Ben’s recipe too.
Thanks Dale for helping us pet owners!
You’re very welcome, Michelle, a given Ben travelled the same Cushings’ road, I’m exceptionally empathetic and hopeful this will help you as well. Best of luck. ~ Dale
My vet just recommended log and and melatonin for cushings
Thank you for sharing and contributing, Madeline.
This may have been asked already but why can you not/do not use chicken as this is used in the hills kidney care food?
Because when you run down the list of ‘pure’ proteins (not by-products as you find in most commercial pet foods), and you look at their phosphorus content, the choice is pretty simple. Chicken was higher than beef so I went with beef.
Can you be more specific in the b vitamin supplements, there are so many different strengths on the market.
Hi Andre. My reference is actually specific: B-50. I’m not a pharmacist, but my understanding is that this actually a formulary reference is means it is has 50mcg of B vitamins in it. That is what distinguishes the strength from a B-100 (which is twice the “strength” … not different B vitamins).
Mrs Debra Waters says
Just a quickie to say thank you so much for the recipe. As a chef I find it more frustrating than most when my cooking isn’t appreciated! But today my Lurcher Callie fiinished her food for the first time in weeks after a serious bout of enteritis and underlying kidney problems. The only changes I made were to the cooking method – i fried the meat quite fiercely in the coconut oil to add crunch and caramelisation and then added the egg white and stir fried. What can I say? Old habits die hard! It went down a storm so thank you again, here’s to putting some weight on! Sorry if I’ve duplicated another post, I couldn’t read them all!
Thank you Debra. No worries about any fear of duplication. The comments are a very very long human chain of people facing the same problem. It’s a humbling thing to have been part of fashioning that first link and seeing where it has stretched. It’s always nice to hear other people’s experiences through this and a great pleasure to meet a chef who has taken the recipe and run with it. I totally agree. In the end, chief among my guiding rules is that if I found it disgusting, so would my canine love. It seems a horrible myth that dogs don’t have a sense of taste and “will eat anything.” Far from it. There is a great untapped market for chefs cooking for dogs I think ….
Thank you so much! Ben was a cutie for sure! How long was he able to live after diagnosis and your special diet?
Thank you Rosie. Ben lived to 18.5 yrs … another 6 months after his diagnosis of kidney failure.
Cyndy Hahn says
So thankful for Ben. His journey has lead you to help save many more lives, improving the quality of their lives with your love for him and ability to research what many of us aren’t able to. Thank you
Thank you Cyndy — and thank you for being so generous in words. My research is far from perfect nor does it end when I did, but I’m truly humbled that it has provided so many others a foundation upon which to build health and hope for their loved ones.
Terry Journey says
If sodium is an issue, I am wondering why using all the egg whites? They are so high in sodium.
… because they are loaded with protein and low in phosphorus and this whole approach is a balance to get to an end that is palatable. Moreover, it would be wrong to suggest that an egg white has so much natural sodium in it as to be the same as a tablespoon of table salt.
Thank you so much for all of the information. My 1 1/2 year pup Theodore was diagnosed with stage 3 Kidney failure last year and we been adding chicken and rice to his KD kibble to make it more interesting, which isn’t great, so I’m very thankful for the recipe/information you’ve posted.
I also wonder if you have any suggestions for a bone or bone alternatives and if you have any recipes for dog training treats I could make?
I don’t have a lot of suggestions on bone alternatives that kidney friendly. Sorry — I was just a very different stage. That said, other readers have very wisely described how they have used to this very same recipe to make dog treats by either using this to bake ‘cookies’ or using a dehydrator for bites. Hope that helps. Best of luck on the road ahead for you and Theodore.
I fixed this tonight for my 15 yr old Serena. She’s an 80ish lb lab/pitbull mix that was diagnosed around March. She had extremely high blood pressure and was spilling protein in her urine. Her brother (same litter) had CKD and pancreatitis so feeding was difficult. He just passed about a month ago. She has more energy but VERY picky with food. Refuses the RX diets. I recently have been giving her Forza10 Renal but it’s SO expensive. I also tried Dr Harvey’s and she likes it but it’s also a little pricey. I fixed your recipe tonight and she loved it. It seems like alot of protein because she had previously been on so little when I cooked before (BalanceIT.com). I’ll see how she does with this batch – she ate like a horse tonight because she has not been eating well. I need to get more epakitin as a phosphorus binder. Wish I knew of natural ones. I decided to try this because there are many success stories and referrals from holistic vets. I hope I can keep her on this and it does well for her. God bless you and your furbaby who helped spread this so others could stay with us longer.
You’re very welcome Lara. Hope your news remains good. Stay well and Serena both.
Found your post about 6 weeks ago and it sounded like it was worth a shot. Had read mixed to poor reviews of the bland, expensive, prescription food from vets and wasn’t looking forward to that. Just wanted you to know that our vet was skeptical, but labs came back Thur and she was impressed…said not to come in for another 3 months!
Thank you Cory. I have to say, every vet we make a “believer” out of we can do in our own kitchens is a huge leap forward for us all. Thank you for sharing your story and the support of your vet to the list. Best of luck to you over the next 3 months. Let us know how it goes.
How long does the food last before going bad?
It’s human-grade food without preservatives. Same rules apply for any meat in your fridge. I wouldn’t recommend more than 3 days, so freeze it in smaller batches as necessary.
Hi, would i be able to use rabbit instead of the beef. Some reason my guy has tummy upset with beef. Thx
Hi Debbe — I posted this reply to another reader last year who had the same question: “The best I can find is from the following site: “There is 263 mg amount of Phosphorus in 100 gram portion amount of Game meat, rabbit, domesticated, composite of cuts, cooked, roasted.”
In sum, not the worst, but far from the best. Try the fish instead.
Cookie Mom says
Thank you for your recipe our Cookie 11 yr old Schneagle is in stage 3 of CKD she was diagnosed in May 2020 we struggled with the prescribed Royal Canin Kidney diet she will not eat it . It’s frustrating that the Vet doesn’t offer guidance on dietary management and we are left on our own. Her philosophy has been quality over quantity I have made some mistakes and I hope I can rectify to some degree out of desperation to get Cookie to eat boiled chicken breast and brown rice vs white. We are giving sq fluids and using entyce to help her appetite when needed
It is obvious she has wasted I plan on getting the ingredients and will try them with our Baby .Thank you again for your research it has been very helpful . So sorry for the loss of your Ben ..puppy hugs may you still feel them .
Thank you. It’s very kind. Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of Ben’s passing and this recipe just keeps chugging along and adding to his memory and legacy. 🙂
I respect that not all vets are nutritionists or experts in nutrition any more than all healthcare professionals are for humans. There is a whole other science there and we can’t expect our vets to know everything — that is probably ours (and some of them) biggest mistake. Most vets are generalists, just like family medicine and GPs. It’s a courageous vet to put aside their egos and say “I don’t know … speak to a nutritionist instead.”
Dear Cookie Mom.
My beagle/lab has stage 3 kidney disease. Google Hilary’s diet. She is an animal nutritionist and has a recipe book and supplements. She has an e mail address and i am sure that she will guide you on which recipes fit your dog. I gave her my dog’s results and she guided me as to which two recipes would benefit my dog. They are highly nutritional. I am suggesting as my dog would only eat one of the recipes because he is finicky. He won’t eat the canned, and I have heard it is not really that good for them. Home made is more work but if the dog will eat it…. definitely better. Many beagles are-most will eat anything.. but not mine!. I think Dale’s recipe is great and everything he says regarding Phosphorus is so true. I also researched a great deal as I am not ready to lose my dog to anything. He is my best friend So to switch it up a little to keep up our dogs taste buds….hahaha. you may find a few good recipes in Hilary’s as well.
Dale… so sorry for your loss. You and Ben have opened eyes for many pet owners. Ben has left a wonderful legacy. Blessings.
Thank you for your heart-warming and comforting words. Much appreciated and I’m sure many others here will also appreciate your guidance and experience. Take care and thanks again.
Can I use this instead of lean beef?
Do u give your dog subcutaneous fluids?
Yes, it seems a good option. Just search for canned tuna on phosphorus lists and compare …. And better, phone the manufacturer of the product you plan to use and ask them to tell you the nutritional breakdown of their product. Then you know for sure.
How much for a 90lb low active dog?
Hi Alicia –Thank you for the comment and sharing your experiences. It is comforting to know the spirits of these amazing creatures stay close. I don’t personally feel a need for photos — I feel Ben close all the time. His memory and spirit is intertwined with mine and will always be with me, I know. While I carry him, speak to his name, and visit his tree, I nonetheless have found it in me to open my heart to “Leo” who now needs me. I am grateful our hearts can absorb others and expand in this universe. Thank you for your kind words, thoughts, and reaching out. ~ Dale
I’m sorry. I couldn’t tell you. I’d recommend speaking to a nutritionist and/or your vet for guidance on quantity for your particular friend.
How much does Ben weigh? I am trying to figure out how much to give my 35 lb dog a day.
Ben weighed a similar amount before his disease progressed.
Michele Partovi says
Hello, I just came across your page and thankful for it.. I am going to try your recipe; however, can I use ground turkey meat? My dog’s vet suggested ground turkey, because she also has the early stages of heart disease.
Hi Michele. You’re very welcome. With respect to ground turkey, I caution you on the basis that if you buy a package that says “ground turkey” and nothing else, you don’t know what parts of the turkey are on it. The phosphourus levels of different parts of a fowl are different so recommend that you source your ingredients specifically and singularly, look up the phosphorus levels if you’re going to make a substitution and exchange like for like. Sorry if that isn’t a ringing endorsement, but hope it helps a bit. Good luck.
Hi there, my local grocery store sells 99% lean ground turkey breast. I saw you mentioned that it could be worrisome if it doesn’t mention what PART of the turkey used so I’m hoping maybe the breast is low in phosphorus. Would this be ok for substitution? I’m also a bit confused on the type of ground beef preferred. Our local “extra lean” (96% lean) just states “ground beef” where as less lean cuts are more particular, ex: ground chuck (80%) and ground beef sirloin (90%).
Thanks for your guidance! I worry it’s too late for my little one — her BUN was recently 103 (she’s only 6 years old!) after an issue of acute pancreatitis and her kidneys refused to recover even after 3 days of IV fluids — but I want her time left to be as healthy as can be with enjoyable food!
Hi Alexandria — good questions and I’ll do my layman’s best to guide and answer. I’m not sure whether phosphorus changes much throughout the cut of a cow, but putting on my culinary hat, some of those other cuts you describe being ground are prized for specific uses (chuck = hamburger patties) because of the fat content and the “beefy” flavour that comes more from different muscles. No idea if the phosphorus level changes, but “lean ground beef” is generally and fairly consistently made from the same less expensive cuts of beef so I’m going to guess the phosphorus levels are fairly consistent in that. As for the turkey question, that’s a bit easier to answer — the “dark meat” (not the breast) of poultry is lower in phosphorus. It may seem counter intuititive, I know, because nutritionists have been telling us humans to stay away from high saturated protein sources like beef and dark meat on a bird, but when it comes to lowering phosphorus, there seems to be a pattern that runs against this. In short, don’t go for the breast, go for the thighs.
Good luck and enjoy those days and hope she enjoys them and her food along with you. Take care.
Cordelia Henton says
My lovely 10 year old Lab x was diagnosed kidney disease last week following lump removal surgery (still awaiting results ?). He has not eaten anything willingly for 5 days. He had an overnight stay at the vets the day before yesterday where they hydrated him intravenously but he refused to eat. We are currently syringe feeding him chicken and potato purée 5ml – 10mls every 30 mins or so. So far he’s managing to keep it down but drools a lot so I know he feels very sick. I’ve just been out and bought the items for your recipe. I’m hoping with everything I have that this helps him. It’s so scary having a dog that is quite literally starving himself to death.?. Please send Chio all the positive thoughts you have ?
Hi Cordelia — Here’s hoping with you for Chio and a speedy recovery. It is a devastating thing to watch, I know and I hope with you that a few days of rest and the diet have helped him with his food drive and he turns the corner. Be well, Chio — Your ‘mom’ needs you. ~ Dale
Hope Chico feels better soon
Hi, could I substitute and use ground turkey instead? It I do use beef can I boil versus cooking it in a frying pan?
Hi Lauratotti. Michele just asked the same question so I’m copying/pasting the same reply: With respect to ground turkey, I caution you on the basis that if you buy a package that says “ground turkey” and nothing else, you don’t know what parts of the turkey are on it. The phosphourus levels of different parts of a fowl are different so recommend that you source your ingredients specifically and singularly, look up the phosphorus levels if you’re going to make a substitution and exchange like for like. Sorry if that isn’t a ringing endorsement, but hope it helps a bit.
With respect to boiling vs. frying, that’s your choice, for sure and if your dog likes it, that’s fine. It may reduce the phosphorus, I don’t know, especially if you throw out the water. However, it may leach out other nutrients as well. I’d recommend speaking to a nutritionist for more answers on this one.
Thank you so much I will try this recipe. My vet diagnose with kidney failure , I cried a lot but I want to do everything I can for my baby
Christine Gustafson says
Would Alkaline water instead of tap water from a well or municipal system help with acidity? Also, since I read calcium binds with phosphorus, and not all calcium supplements types are equally absorbed by a human body, would baked ground up egg shells work?
My 6yr old 15 pd Chiweenie is on day 45 of recovery from a couple of tick borne diseases and sudden onset regenerative IMHA that destroyed her red cells and now has dilute but acidic urine with protein in it but no blood or infection in it. Vet told me to feed her a 12% low protein large commercial company dry food.
But FDA here in the USA has a list of them that have been recalled so I’m doing 30% canned low protein, 30% home-made and 30% kibble for now because I live in a small Northwoods WI town with limited resources, including my wallet.
I make one tablespoon balls out of it to ease small meal feeding 5x per day
Roma Muela says
My bulldog is 50 lbs. Would i give him the whole B50 vitamin, and only once a day or twice? And why at night? Can i give it to my boy in the morning? Thank you for your help.
Hi Roma — Sorry for the late reply. Please don’t take my answer as a prescription because not all supplements etc are given on basis of weight. I’d ultimately recommend if you haven’t already to validate this with a vet/pharmacist. But in theory, yes, a whole pill would be the answer. In answer to when, I don’t recall any reason to give it at a time of day. I simply balanced pills between morning and night. B50 is water soluble and will be bound with excess water in the urine … so with more peeing, as a result of kidney disease, the dog is losing more of these. Therefore, supplementing them is balancing the loss.
charlene Yiin says
I am so happy to find this link. Thanks to your article, especially for those useful links like phos list.
My dog Lily was recently diagnosed with stage 3 CKD. She had ultrasound last Monday. Besides her kidney’s chronic/aging changes, she also has some mineral in her bladder and mucocele is forming in her Gall Bladder. She is taking two antibiotics to help her Gall bladder and C/D diet for her kidney. One month later she will do ultrasound again. Her Phos binder will be delivered on Tuesday. So it should help her on phosphorus level. Meanwhile, I am trying to find the best diet for her. Any suggestion to boost her appetite and good for her current situation will be much appreciated. Thank you so much in advance.
Hi Charlene — a very late reply but for what it’s worth, if your vet hasn’t already prescribed an appetite stimulant, Ben was taking Mirtazapine as well near the end to help.
Weston Altman says
I wasn’t sure if my comment I just posted actually went through, so here I go again. I have an almost 16 year old dog with both Kidney disease and liver disease. Both diseases are quite advanced. My question for you is, do you feel that your recipe would be OK for a dog with liver disease as well as kidney disease. I feel, from most of my reading online, that a lot of the same considerations are taken when it comes to food that is good for the liver and the kidneys. I just wanted to ask your opinion on that matter. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Your work is really great. You have helped lots and lots of animals, and owners! Take care,
Hi Weston — yes, both your comments were submitted. I appreciate the challenges of getting current medical advice overseas. Unfortunately, I’m not in a very good position to advise as I’m not a medical expert either. That said, drawing from my memory (appreciating it is more than 6 years ago since I was handed my own diagnosis), Ben did have underlying liver problems as well; he had Cushings too. In short, he had lots going on and the diet unquestionably helped him, but I approached the diet as one of palliation, not cure. I wish I could help more, but thank you for your kind, kind words. Good luck and take good care yourselves. ~ Dale
Weston Altman says
Thank you so much for your response. Your dedication to helping other pets and pets owners is truly inspiring. I have been making your meal for two weeks now and it has really been quite successful. I have not done another blood test since her alarming blood test two weeks ago when we started your diet but her weight is looking good and she is more active as of late. I have a feeling your meal has helped tremendously. Thank you again and I wish you well. Take care,
Thank you Weston. Continue to take good care yourself and all the best.
Thank you for sharing this deeply researched recipe.
My dog was diagnosed with stage 2 ckd 2 months ago. My vet recommended a book of recipes and a special renal. I bought both. But I decided to follow your recipe. His recent test shows a regression to stage 1, I have no doubt your recipe was the reason.
I would like to know whether I can continue using it as is or whether I need to tweak it for stage 1.
Thanks in advance,
Hi Maïssa — Thank you for your great question and good news story. If your vet recommended a book, they might also be willing to guide you in an answer to this question. I suspect some of it depends on what has caused the CKD (age or something else) and whether this has helped him over a hump or whether this in fact a “chronic” disease. If it is chronic, then my intuition (appreciating I’m not a doctor) is that you should maintain the therapy that is helping — just like you wouldn’t stop providing insulin to a diabetic patient just because the lab results have improved. But, again, depending on the rest of your story and your dog’s age, if you’re feeling confident that the worst is past, you might consider trying altnerating this with a regular diet (e,g, morning/afternoon) and see if the labs change. If they do/don’t, you have your answer as well. Good luck.
Maissa could you tell me what recipe book your vet recommend you buy?
Hi Misty, sorry for not answering sooner. I didn’t know you had written me until now. The book :
Home-made rénal recipes by Hilary Watson Bsc.
Note that the recipes include her supplement: Hilary’s renal blend, as an ingredient.
Karen Keegin says
Hi, I want to thank you for all of your research and help. So sorry to hear about your baby.
My boy is 15 and 9 months, Minnie Aussie. He was diagnosed a year ago with congestive heart failure. This week he was just diagnosed with kidney problem (probably because of meds for heart), but he also has developed terrible arthritis. Because of heart and kidney issue, meds are hard to find that won’t make kidneys worse. – I have always fed him a partial raw food diet; raw ground beef (grass fed); raw squash; and cooked sweet potatoes. Along with apple, and other fruit (no grapes or raisins); and really almost anything I ate. His sdma is 27, creatinine is 3.3; bun 132; BUN Creatinine Ratio 40; phosphorus 6.4 but calcium is also high at 11.6. Other high things too like chloride, anlon alp, amylase, and lipase. But I don’t know if they have anything to do with kidneys. I was focusing on the creatinine bun etc. He had 2 days of not eating as good as he usually does, but now I think it was the pain from arthritis. (I know you’re not a vet, but just thought I’d give you the full picture). The cardiologist reduced his meds/lasiks, so hopefully that will help reduce kidney values too, but I want to change to the best diet for him.
I’m curious if you found that everyone suggested cooking the meat and veggies. I was wondering if I need to change to cooking it. Also, putting it in a blender? Does pureeing it help with digesting? Does cooking it, cook out the phosphorous?
Thanks so much,
Hi Karen — apologies for the very late reply, but in answer to your questions, the cooking, in particular of the veggies using the methods described, is intended and described to leach out more of the phosphorus. The cooking in general adds to longevity of the food in the fridge and reduces other potential risk factors for sick dogs with immuno-compromised health. The blender is for texture and mixing things together for fussy dogs that might otherwise pick through their food. Not necessary for some, for sure.
Question about the fish, can albacore tuna packed in water be a substitution?
Read the label or go the manufacturer and ask how much phosphorus is in the product and weigh the comparison with what you’re substituting. Note, according to the PDF I provided from Kaiser, “light tuna in water” is in the medium phosphorus column.
Debra A Ricci says
I really appreciated your article. From the content to format….great work. My Daisy has just been diagnosed with kidney disease. I’ve adopted her last year….she’s in bad shape….but I’m just doing my best to make her comfortable and maybe share our first Christmas together. She has had a bad life but maybe I can help her just remember me n here. She’s only ten but acts so much older. She’s very ill. Do your article hits close to home because I am researching too, learn and care for her…like you did. I had seen parsley wasn’t the best….I can’t find why…(a lot of info at once) do you know why I’m thinking its not popular….I see hawthorn, ginko and echinaecea are good though.
I’ve read to get Daisy checked for high calcium levels too…you’ll need to substitute aluminum based calcium binder instead…..but if ok….simply ground 1/2 teasp / # of meat is better than bone.
I’m looking into ‘green tripe ‘ What the heck is this?
Did you get labs on your pup’s potassium? I guess there’s something to check if they are high….it’s called Addison’s Disease. Just a little fyi….
Even reading about the water….I’m going to check to see if its got higher metals in it.
I’m sorry you are going through this too. I lost my gsd, Ty a few years ago to DM….he was 12. And, now I have Daisy. They truly are our life support and structure, aren’t they. Prayers and best wishes to you and your family.
Debra, Daisy and Charlie
Dear Debra, Daisy and Charlie — Apologies for the very long overdue reply.
You may have found answers to some of your questions. Regarding parsley, it is often suggested to avoid especially during canine pregnancy as it impacts the uterus. Others have debated whether it helps with boosting kidney health and the merits of different kinds (curly vs. flat-leaf). Generally, my approach was always a “little bit” and used in moderation, it has important net benefits. The quantity as an overall ratio is very small as well. That said, my advice to all is that if not comfortable with any of the ingredients or if cautioned by a health practitioner, then certainly avoid them.
“Green tripe” — tripe is the lining of the ruminating stomach of a cow — “green tripe” is simply tripe with the grass/hay still in the stomach mixed in with it (‘white’ trip would be cleaned, steamed/boiled to leave it the colour humans would expect). The extra vitamins from the grass is what you’re after.
Thanks again for stopping by and all the best to you in your continued research and care for Daisy.
I simply want to say thank you for posting your low-phosphorus dog food recipe. Like others, I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to change my dog’s diet due to renal failure. Your simple recipe, and the related posts from your many followers, have been very helpful to relieve the uneasiness I had about going in this direction. Thank you. And, I hope you’re enjoying Leo.
Thank you, Susan. I’m glad the resources here have been helpful and have you on a new course. Thank you also for your kind wishes and thoughts with respect to Leo. He’s a a delight but also keeping us very very busy. Life is good. 🙂
Sheila G Shugats says
Our 8yr old cavalier, a rescue, was diagnosis 2 yrs ago with GME (meningitis) now recently diagnosed with CRF. Experiencing the typical nausea, vomiting & diarrhea. Like so many, Atti was started on K/D prescription food & did well for a while, now totally refusing to eat for the last 5 days until I prepared your delicious recipe. Hallelujah!!! I do have 1 question…her internal medicine vet states she should have 320 kcalories to maintain her weight. Do you have any idea how many kcalories are in a 1 cup serving?
Thank you for sparking my Atti’s appetite & lowering my stress.
Hi Sheila — You’re most welcome and I hope that Atti continues to do well on the diet and her numbers are improving. I’m sorry I can’t provide you with any numbers on the kcalories in the diet. My best recommendation is to plug the ingredients into an online calorie calculator which I’m sure you’re already on. I simply eyeballed my servings as similar to previous servings … and, as I often say to others, the issue usually is wasting, not over-eating, so let her go and let her be your guide along with input from your vet.
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe after all the research you have done.
Two months ago, my 12 year old Max was diagnosed with stage 2 CKD. I found your recipe right away and started using it. Last week’s blood work indicate a regression to stage 1. I cannot thank you enough…
I would like to know if this recipe is also also adequate for stage 1, and whether I should continue using it.
Thank you so much,
Hi Maissa — I know my reply is very late, but I’ll provide an answer nonetheless as is my goal here (keeps me busy). In terms of how long to continue with the diet, I can point you to the stories and comments from hundreds of others here who have talked about feeding the diet for multiple years and ‘claiming’ it increased longevity and quality of life. I put that in quotes because these are their stories, which while I wholeheartedly believe, I can substantiate or verify. Still, on a sheer volume basis, it would seem to be a good indicator that continuing isn’t a bad thing but, as always, seek the advice of your vet and, if nothing else, the therapeutic diet and good numbers should give you more wiggle room for other treats or variety here or there.
Weston Altman says
I have read your recipe and subsequent information and am very impressed with the amount of research you completed. I try and do the same myself, which led me to your website. I do have a question about my situation. My dog has both pretty severe kidney issues, as well as very high ALP liver enzymes. Would your recipe also fit the needs of a dog that has kidney AND liver issues? I unfortunately am living in Istanbul, Turkey and non of the veterinarians that I go to recommend a home cooked diet so I can’t really get a good a answer from them. I am not surprised with their responses as they are about 20 years behind over here. I thought I would ask you your opinion on the effects on the liver as well. Thank you for your time and consideration. Take care,
Lisa Kenny says
So glad I found your website. My 13 1/2 year old coton de tulear Mia (12 lbs) was just diagnosed with early kidney disease. Vet put her on Royal Canin KD diet but it caused her to have bloody stools. At this moment she is on boiled chicken and white rice. My question is at her weight do I reduce the amount of supplements by half of what you posted? 5 mg pepcid, half of a 25 mg Q10 tablet etc? Are these necessary in addition to the recipe? Also, two cups of white bread if not using rice?
Hi Lisa — my advice would be to speak your vet and/or a pharmacist to make sure about any use of supplements and amounts. Not all prescriptions or meds are administered by weight or are simply doubled or halved, so if you want to make sure, speak to a professional. Good luck.
My dog Phoenix is nearly 16 year old Labrador cross. Vet said she has stage 2 chronic kidney disease and to put her on K/d food. It is so expensive and I’m sure not entirely balanced. I tried your recipe and she gained 100g. Then just the k/d food and she stayed the same so I am back making your food and gonna mix it with the k/d food.
The vet explained she should be on K/d food but that she is basically “palative”
So if she is going to die she might as well die happy.
She loves your food. I give her 2 fish oil capsules in the morning and 2 cups of your food in the afternoon with 2 cups of k/d food. (Yes quite a bit more than she is supposed to have) but she has always been between 25 and 30kg and she is now down to 23.6kg so can afford to eat extra.
I started puncturing the fish oil capsules as she likes Tuna oil and she would lick them but now I just put them in her bowl and she pops them in her mouth and loves chewing them.
I will talk to my vet about egg shell next time as that is the only ingredient I didn’t run past them for her. My dog loves carrots so I add a kg of cooked carrots in and may add more in once I research them a bit more as they are so cheap and add bulk. She also loves apples so I add Apple in. My dog has always loved fruits and I am going to google a bit about which fruits I can still give but your food is such a great base.
Thank you so much
Doris Silberhorn says
i just came across your article after researching when i got the bad news about my baby of 15 years. she is in advanced kidney failure and uremic, so she isn’t supposed to have a lot of protein. but she doesn’t eat anything. i’ve been trying for weeks. you write that you are focusing on low phosphorus, not low protein. was your Ben in the early stages of the disease? i am so confused with all the material out there. the vet says low protein and low phosphorus. i bought all the supplements and vitamins and and and. but, she is not eating anyting, sometimes a few bites and she is now on Entyce which isn’t helping much either. so, after too many weeks, she is slowly starving to death. so i think it doesn’t matter if i keep the protein low, as long as i can get her to eat anything? i’m about to buy steak and pork and stuff. she doesn’t even eat chicken ( i know it’s higher in phosphorus) but again, she eats nothing so do i really need to worry about the protein. i am going to make your recipe later, but i don’t have much hopes. she didn’t eat just ground beef, why would she eat it with all the good stuff added in your recipe? but thank you for sharing, i found it so hearwarming that you care about your Ben like i do about my babies and i know in the meantime you have lost him, i just still can’t even imagine. and don’t know how to or when to make the decision. i hope it went peaceful for you, and maybe he died with you in his sleep? that would be wonderful.
Doris with Princess Hope
I should have written a year ago. Our now 16 year old Peek-a-poo was starving she hated the Renal food from a prescription. She’d lost 20% of her weight and April 2019 the vet said she had 3-6 months. A chance conversation with my mother in law and she wondered if a homemade version was possible and that’s where I found this recipe. I pretty much make it with the exact same ingredients every time and Jazmin is still here thrilled to get this meal three times a day. Her weight has improved. This has been a true lifesaver. We did not even think here June 2020 she’d be here. We do also give her a half a pill of fatomide and a scoop of Epakitin that the vet recommended to ease the nausea. She is an elderly dog that is living out her life enjoying her homemade (dare I say gourmet) food and long daily naps. Thank you for your research as it is a proven winner in our house!
Thank you Kaje — it really means a lot to hear of your success with Jazmin. It is a true miracle that she is with us all after more than a year. Thank you for sharing. Ben also was taking a small pill of fatomide to improve his food drive, so keep it up! And, yes, if a human can eat their dog’s food, I guess it probably is pretty gourmet. Best of luck to you both in the days and months ahead. ~ Dale
I noticed on the phosphorus chart that different cuts of beef have different amounts of phosphorus. How does one know what the ground beef is made of? Also, is grass fed beef going to have more phosphorus?
I am so grateful for your website! Thank you!
Hi Marcia — good questions, but not sure I can answer them all. Yes, different cuts of meat, in general, have different phosphorus levels. This is the reason I strongly caution against other ground meats (e.g. ground turkey) because you don’t know what has been mixed). In beef, it is likely less of an issue and assuming you get a good quality lean gr. beef, it will likely be ground “chuck.” That will be your guide. If you want to be more specific and knowing what you’re giving, you can buy your beef from a butcher and then ask them to grind it for you. As for the nutritional differences of grass fed, I have no idea and can’t answer that. Sorry. Hope this helps. Good luck.
I did find out that grass fed has more phosphorus, but I am thinking that no hormones, antibiotics and inflammation the grain fed cows suffer should still be better. I made your recipe yesterday, and Remy, who has refused to eat the kidney diet kibble, from 2 different manufacturers, gobbled it up last night and this a.m. This might also mean we can stop giving the med for appetite stimulation.
Thanks for posting the follow up, Marcia. Good to know. I agree, in many cases, it is hard choice but agree with you that erring on the side of a healthier source of meat will have other positive impacts. Wishing you continued good luck and a strong appetite in Remy.
Marcia Romashko says
I did find out that organic, grass fed beef has a bit more phosphorus, but I think the lack of antibiotics, hormones and inflammation that grain fed cows suffer makes up for it.
I made your recipe last night, all organic that we are lucky to eat, and Remy gobbled it up yesterday and this a.m. He has been refusing to eat the kidney diet kibble from 2 different manufacturers.
I am sorry for the loss of your dear Ben.
What are you feeding your new companion?
Thanks for posting the follow up, Marcia. Good to know. I agree, in many cases, it is hard choice but agree with you that erring on the side of a healthier source of meat will have other positive impacts. Wishing you continued good luck and a strong appetite in Remy.
Thank you also for your kind wishes in regards to Ben. It means a lot.
As for Leo, it’s been a hard thing to figure out. I don’t have any research or good sense of what a puppy needs, so he’s eating a kibble by Orijen for large breed puppies. Once he’s ready to be weaned of it, my plan is to move to balance of kibble one meal and homemade meal #2. That is what I ultimately did with Ben, so we’ll see. Thanks for asking.
S C Cullen says
Hi, this has helped massively thank you!!! I just have a question regarding ground beef, here in the UK I can buy shop bought mince beef. Is this the same? Or do I need butcher qualify been and ask to grind as your said?
Thanks in advance !
Hi Samantha — Sincere apologies for the delay in reply. There is a lot going on right now as I know you’re likely battling through as well. That said, an answer which may serve other UK readers which is that, yes, you’re absolutely right. Mince = Ground beef (or close enough). I know there will be some foodie that will argue the finer points, but from a nutritional perspective, I think you’re safe to treat them the same.
Hi,First of all thank you so much for this recipe. My 17 year old silky terrier mix was recently diagnosed with kidney disease and she didn’t eat the Hills kidney diet neither Royal Canine diet but she just loves your recipe!She just started eating some soil outside for the past week so I think I will have to add some supplements too. Stupid question but with option 2 in your recipe do you mean half a pound of ground beef substitute with ground pork or half of it (meaning 1 pound) ?Honestly, my dog hasn’t eaten that much in her whole life ?
Hi Betty — sorry for the delay in reply. A good and fair question re: the substitution. Given that the original recipe uses 2lbs of ground beef, what is intended by the substitution is to substitute half the beef for gr. pork. I.e. Use 1lb beef and 1lb ground pork. Hope that makes more sense. Good luck.
Brittany Washington says
Do you or can you freeze the baggies and thaw as needed? Did you just refrigeratorate the 10-12 days worth of food?
Hi Brittany — yes, the recipe shows the food portioned in baggies which are frozen and thawed as needed. Really depends on your particular dog and your serving needs. All said: it freezes and thaws well and you can microwave it for serving just to make it more interesting.
I wanted to reach out and thank you for the amount of research you put in this and the fact that you shared it with the world. I had seen your post and had also seen a youtube video of a woman demonstrating how to make this same recipe. I was curious but too afraid to make the leap to making homemade dog food without consulting a vet. My corgi mix, who I’ve had since he was about a year old, was diagnosed with renal failure and my vet turned out to be of no help with nutritional counseling. I found a wholistic animal clinic that has a nutritionist and she gave me a number of options, one of which included your recipe and advice to read your entire blog. So I am commenting here primarily to say THANK YOU. I started this around January of 2020. Dexter is 17 and has been doing well. We’ve had a few scares, but his disease seems to have slowed, at least with some of his kidney values and symptoms (his BUN actually went from 40 to 33, accidents in the house have diminished). A big issue is that he gets bored with food so I’m back here looking for any substitutes. The other reason I’m commenting is because I wanted to get it out there that a veterinarian trained in nutrition recommended your site and your advice. I haven’t read all of the comments so I don’t know if other professionals have endorsed you, but this is a big deal to me. So thank you for sharing this information with everyone and continuing to respond to other peoples comments after all these years. You have given me so much hope as I’m sure you have many many others.
Ginny & Dexter
Hi Ginny. It has taken me some time to muster a second reply … unfortunately, I was 99% finished a reply a few days ago and as I was ready to submit, it crashed and was lost. Sadly, this reply won’t be quite as effusive as the first.
I have to say, though, that messages like yours have an incredible impact on me and have a great capacity to uplift even in the face of a hard day … which there have been many in recent weeks. It is the time we live in, unfortunately. Still, I count myself very fortunate to be able to read such messages which put wind in my sails when it is needed most. So thank you. Few will realize how much it means.
And it does mean a lot to have this blog recommended by health professionals. Indeed, last week during our new dog’s vaccination, I was speaking with the vet that took care of so much of Ben’s life, including the last 10 years of it. We were in fact speaking of my blog, this recipe, and she herself says that she is directing people to it as well. Honestly, I think I got more lucky than anything, but I’m grateful as you all are that I found a path that helped Ben and is helping others.
To you question about substitutes: there are several in here, for sure, but if you’re looking for more, my best advice is to mix them up — mix up the recipes or even mix up the proteins or other ingredients in the context of the recipe itself (if you’re so comfortable). Otherwise, you can introduce other proteins, like turkey, but my advice then would be using it sparingly, between other servings of the other the recipes, just to create diversity and keep up the food drive. I hope all this helps … and thank you again, from the depth of my heart, for the lift when I needed it most. ~ Dale
Thank you so much and really appreciate your efforts on Ben. I was so sad and confused since I know about my dog’ disease. I was lost by reading topic all over the internet and couldn’t properly what to treat her well. But I found this and I really love it. My dog is in stage III of chronic kidney disease. Currently I’m treating her with chicken, carrot, sweet potato and broccoli every dinner. The breakfast is with Fish instead of chicken. All are without rice since her vet told me to treat KD food. Unfortunately in my country I couldn’t find any KD food. So I decided to make her homemade. I just have one question: should I still treat with her homemade food or canned food which are for Kidney disease (eg, Royal canine or Hill)?
Again, thank you so much Dale
Hi there and thanks for stopping by. The dog food here that I made here was used a total meal replacement. No additional foods or other prescription diets. This was Ben’s food, 2-3 meals a day. Hope that helps and good luck.
Thank you so much and really appreciate your efforts on Ben. I was so sad and confused since I know about my dog’ disease. I was lost by reading topic all over the internet and couldn’t properly what to treat her well. But I found this and I really love it. My dog is in stage III of chronic kidney disease. Currently I’m treating her with chicken, carrot, sweet potato and broccoli every dinner. The breakfast is with Fish instead of chicken. All are without rice since her vet told me to treat KD food. Unfortunately in my country I couldn’t find any KD food. So I decided to make her homemade. I just have one question: should I still treat with her homemade food or canned food which are for Kidney disease (eg, Royal canine or Hill)?
Again, thank you so much Dale
Hi there and thanks for stopping by. The dog food here that I made here was used a total meal replacement. No additional foods or other prescription diets. This was Ben’s food, 2-3 meals a day. Hope that helps and good luck.
I am very greatful having this recipe as a guide. Buster was labeled stage 3 renal failure over 2 years ago. I started giving him a prescription kibble. I didn’t like how corn was listed as the first ingredient. I found this recipe then started making it. Buster has been eating it for almost 2 years now. He is about 12 now and his numbers aren’t much worse. The only real thing I do different is grind up the egg shells and put them on his food as a binder. I also make tons of pasta and cakes with all the yolks….
Hi Jon — thanks for sharing your success and news on Buster’s progress on the diet. Another impressive story, truly. I also love the tip regarding the pasta with the egg yolks. For those who love cooking and calorie, shy, those yolks have a lot of uses and pasta is a great one. I was thinking ice cream and crème brûlée. Wishing you and Buster much more time and a very happy father’s day.
I wish we could add up the days dogs are still alive now. Buster has 800+ from you and Ben. Stage 3 is supposed to be 110-200 days and we are on 2+years. So I thank ben. He has kept my buster around, buster started vomiting the prescription stuff 6 months in. Not like crazy, just here and there. But this has been the best thing ever for him and he doesn’t ever throw up
Hi Jon — You really bring tears to my eyes with such a comment. When you put it in such terms, it is an overwhelmingly emotional proposition. I’ve only thought in terms of the number of dogs this post has reached … when you add the days and years, as you say, it does create quite the perspective.
I honestly am just grateful to have been able to help in any way I can.
Thank you for such a humbling post and give Ben his due. I hope that with every dog that this helps, Ben gets a stronger set of wings to continue his influence and help.
Take good care, you and buster, ~ Dale
JUST FINISHED READING YOUR DIET. I HAVE BEEN TOTALLY CONFUSED FOR THE PAST 6 MONTHS. YOUR DIET MAKES MORE SENSE AND SEEMS SO SIMPLE. I AM GOING TO BUY THE INGREDIANTS THIS MORNING. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
You’re VERY welcome. I can totally relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed but am glad this has helped and given you some direction. Best of luck to you and thanks for sharing.
Melanie Barrier says
My dog is 10 lbs. how do you calculate the amount of protein?
Hi Melanie — I’m not able to offer any calculations, but if you input all the ingredients and quantities you’re using in particular into a nutritional calculator, I’m sure you’ll find results that will guide you. Sorry I can’t offer more myself.
As has pointed out so many times, Ben’s legacy continues to live on. His love and companionship that inspired your care and research is helping hundreds of dogs, including my 15 y.o. Beagle. My thanks to both you and the memory of Ben.
After a few years of chronic heart failure meds, my “Gumball” started experiencing elevated kidney levels, as we anticipated, and pretty much refused the prescription dog food. After just a couple months of Ben’s diets, his levels came back down! My vet was shocked – we were testing to monitor how quickly his levels were elevating and instead found they went down. My vet was thrilled to call me with the results- he never gets to make that call. I am so thankful for both you and Ben
MY QUESTION: how did you administer Ben’s supplements? Gumball has several pills to take daily in addition to the supplements and I am struggling to find an appealing cover that is kidney friendly.
Thank you Cyn. It moves my heart deeply every time I read of another miracle. If the diet played any role at all, I am humbled but grateful to be able to have helped a little. Hoping Gumball’s recovery and health continue for some time.
As to your question, I played around with a few ways to ‘hide’ the pills but at the beginning, I used a lean, high-quality turkey sausage which I’d cook and then thinly slice and use to wrap the pills. Other times, I similarly used a small, thin slice of cheddar which I’d wrap around the pill, using the heat from my fingers to melt and encase the pills with the cheese. It was a struggle and battle some days, I won’t kid you, but all you can do is your best. Accept that some days, you won’t get the pills down.
Hope this helps and wishing you, again, good luck and days ahead.
Hi Dale, one more question on calcium levels. Some other homemade diets seem to be adding calcium carbonate into the food. How much of it should be added – I keep reading conflicting views as to how much to add. Some add 1 tsp per meal batch ( per your recipe) but then reading others may suggest I should be adding up1 tsp per day? The calcium I have is 600mg pure calcium (as calcium carbonate powder). Do you know what the right amount should be? It’s quite a large difference and don’t want to give too much. Many thanks. Mia.
Sorry… thinking about your doggy. I meant Hi Dale…
Hi Mia — the question about using a phosphate binder (e.g. calcium carbonate) is probably something you should work through with a vet and/or nutritionist. You’re right, it is complicated and a binder isn’t prescribed across the board. As I’m not an expert nor do I really know your dog and their health profile. I’m sorry I can’t help much on this one.
Hi Mia, I have the same „problem“ and I read that per pound you should use 1/2-3/4 tsp eggshell powder
I am so sorry to read of the loss of your fur baby. My deepest condolences. I am glad you got to spend 18.5 years with your companion. I hope you can have peace knowing he lived so long with all that love.
I came across your post as my 16 year old Shiba Inu, Pixie, Was recently diagnosed with stage 4 CKD. Along with this, she had a UTI. She was hospitalized for 5 days on IV fluids, anti nausea and antibiotic. Along with this, she was also on a phosphate binder and another medication to help reduce protein loss from the kidneys and reduce high blood pressure.
After just a few days of hospitalization, we retested her renal function, and her numbers came down, most importantly, her creatinine from 800+ to 400 and her BUN from over 50 to 44. The discharge plan was to continue with subcutaneous fluids daily, finish the antibiotics for the full two weeks and continue with the other medications long term. She will be going back in one week time to retest the renal panel and urine to ensure the infection is gone. I am hopeful with the home treatment and infection gone, her numbers continue to drop. Since her first visit at the vet a few weeks ago, she hasn’t thrown up since, so I hopeful she is feeling better with the help of medication.
Pixie was placed on KD wet food/dry kibble; however, not very interested in it. To ensure she eats, I force feed her by syringe and try to get at least one tall can of wet food in her a day. Besides this diet, I have tried the royal canine renal food as well, which she is not interested in.
I have tried spicing things up for her to see if she will be interested in any form of food, ie: hamburger, rice, egg with a tiny bit of melted cheese, for which she will eat – woohoo!
I am wondering if you know how much meat a dog with renal failure can consume in a day? Are you aware of any type of safe gravy type sauces? I was advised to pretty much make her whatever she wants to encourage her to eat, but I don’t want to over due it on the protein, phosphorus or sodium. I do want her to be able to enjoy what she eats and to not have every meal force fed, but I want to be cautious as well, so I don’t have her take steps backwards. The most important thing to me is that she is comfortable and that she can enjoy her golden years.
Thanks for your time.
Susan Nelson says
Hi, not sure if this is the way to contact you. My dog Red 10 y.o. was vomiting and had bloody diarrhea. Real sick. Took him to an Emergency Vet yesterday 575$ later the vet comes out and says he has CRF and needs to be “put down”. Now although Red was very sick he still had that spark in him. I wanted another option. So she gave him a cerenia injection, gave 200 cc SQ fluid (Red is 15#). Sent me home with carafate and zofran. Now $680.00. On a side note during the 2 1/2 hours we were there 4 dog owners left alone crying their eyes out. SO beware of those clinics. They e/md the labs and x ray to my reg vet. I called saw him this morning and although Red isn’t great. There is hope. So now Red is resting comfortably at home with me and receiving IV fluid. My vet also added an antibiotic. Just venting. I certainly wanted to give him a chance. So can you use boneless skinless chicken or ground Turkey in the recipe?
Hi Susan — I can hear the emotion in your words and I’m very sorry for the roller coaster you’re now on and sense of fear I’m sure that is creeping into your present day. Ultimately, all you can do is your best … that’s my best advice. With respect the substitutions you’re contemplating, I would caution that if you’re contemplating a long-term therapeutic diet, then, no, the substitutions are higher in phosphorus than the ingredients provided. Stay away from “ground” poultry as you don’t know what is in it (i.e. whether it is thigh or breast or whatever). I’m sure it is all very overwhelming so again, just do your best and stay close to Red right now. Big hug.
Hi Kayla — thank you for your kind, compassionate words. I’m infinitely grateful for the life I had with Ben and now, after 5½ years of mourning his loss, I’m also grateful that I have a new puppy in my life as well. I hope to do as well by Leo as I did with Ben. Fingers crossed.
I’m sorry for your health challenges with Pixie, but sounds like she’s equally lucky to have you taking care of her. In terms of your questions, it is difficult for me to answer as I’m not a nutritionist or scientist and all I have to share is what I did for Ben. I would say that meat (protein) on it’s own is not likely a good choice as it is the largest source of phosphorus. The recipe I prepared balanced that with other ingredients, but the meat on it’s own would likely have been a problem. Sorry I can’t be of more help but wish you and Pixie the very best of luck.
Thank you so much for this post. It has helped guide me through what has been a shocking and heartbreaking 4 days. Baxter was diagnosed with CRF (BUN 90/ Cr 4). It came out of nowhere and I think we missed the signs until it was too late. Now we are doing subQ fluids and changing his diet with the hopes of improving the quality of his life for as long as we can.
My question for those that have made the diet change: how long did it take to see some improvement? Was their ever a return to some degree of normal (not vomiting daily or requiring nausea meds?).
Thank you so much for all of your guidance…you and Ben are truly angels who have touched many many lives.
Hi Lindsay — thank you for your kindness. I am sorry that you find yourself on this journey now as well, however. It is shockingly difficult. With respect to your question, there are many here who have come back to provide comments and feedback on how it changed the lives of their dogs …. This isn’t a peer reviewed clinical trial, but there seems a great many who believe this made an impact in a short period of time (a month or two) when new bloodwork was ordered. Others claim that it added years to their dog’s life. I can’t verify any of these claims, but you’ll see them throughout the many many comments left here. Reasonably, the diet is not going to have the same impact on all dogs — there are too many other factors — but it does seem to help many.
I would say a couple of days after switching to this diet my dog was drinking less and had less accidents. Now, about 2 months later she gained about two pounds almost!!!! We haven’t done any new blood work yet because she is so scared of the bed
Thanks for sharing your experience, Betty.
Hi Dale, is it better to feed the meat with slightly higher fat content? Meaning should I choose 5% fat or 10% fat beef? Thanks for your help!
Hi Mia — I can only answer your question with my own experience which was using “lean” ground beef (17% fat). So if your intention is to stay close to the recipe, then, yes, choose 10% fat beef. I say this cautiously because your dog may have a different health profile than Ben did, so that may impact what is best in your case.
I adopted a 5 yo dog in Feb, not even a week we rushed her to the vet and got the bad news she had chronic renal disease. We went back to the rescue, it was still our choice to return her but it was one lab we know of. We were hopeful and she gained fr 50 to 58lbs in a month. Since 2nd visit in March, labs confirmed the renal disease. What’s worse is vet says she might be younger than 5. Now she lost even more weight and not eating. My order for a diff brand of RD diet still hasn’t gone through. I’m glad to have most of the ingredients in your recipe. I had to bake salmon with carrots and rice for her last night. I will try your recipe tonight.
Hi Chris — that must certainly be hard to adopt an adult with all the hope of giving her a new start on a better life only to find out that she’s very very sick. I hope, with you, that this recipe provides some miracle at that new life together. Best of luck to you. Take good are.
I am happy to report our dog ate her food. At first she didn’t and I threw in the towel out of exhaustion from begging her to eat. Later that night she found it up. It didn’t even last 2 days. Now she’s still picky but eating. Her RD diet is arriving today. Took forever to be delivered due to Rx. But hopefully she eats it too since bot dry and wet foods were so expensive. It’s good to know we have alternative that can stock ingredients in the fridge. For her, the white eggs she usually eats with rice and chicken. But when really nauseous, she doesn’t like the smell. I noted she gets very gassy too.
My sweet pups are 13 and have been diagnosed with Stage 2 and early kidney disease. They still have good appetites, and I was directed by my vet to a site called Balance It where you can plug in ingredients and get recipes after your dog’s profile is cleared by a vet to make sure what you cook fits individual needs. They sell supplements to add to your homemade diet that contain more vitamins and binders- the one they said was right for my dogs is called Canine K. I’m supposed to add a sizable scoop to their food, but the problem is one of my dogs really doesn’t like it and has little interest in eating anything that has it in there. I’m wondering with the binders if it matters if I sneak it to her before her meals or if for some reason it would have to be mixed into her food to work right and if you are familiar with the Csnine K powder?
Yes, Balance It (https://secure.balanceit.com/recipegenerator_ver4/index.php?rotator=EZ) seems increasingly popular with progressive vets who are trying to working with changing customer demands. Hilary’s Blend is another — both of which support homemade recipes with additional supplements. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you think it is necessary as part of your canine diet just like not every human takes a multi-vitamin who eats a balanced or therapeutic diet.
Dear Dale (and Ben),
Our sweet pup Tebow (Bobo for short) has had a chronic kidney diagnosis for a couple of years. He will be 10 years old on May 14. Things went sideways last February when Bobo was diagnosed with “hot spots.” Our family vet, who we adore, had been misdiagnosing him with “hot spots.” Bobo actually had some thyroid issues. After suffering for a little over 8 months with no cure in sight, we took him to the U of I Vet Clinic in Champaign, IL. Even though Bobo tested negative for hyperthyroidism, he is in the group of the 30% who test negative but actually have the condition. We promptly started him on meds and the hot spots resolved immediately. Unfortunately, while we were there, we had internal medicine check his blood to see how his kidneys were functioning. This was in December of 2019. They recommended to discontinue our primary vet’s recommended enalapril for the kidneys and start him on Telmisartan. Telmisartran almost killed our sweet Bobo. In any event, while he was taking Telmisartran, he would not eat, had trouble going to the bathroom and was panting nonstop. This occurred over a three week period. We thought we were going to lose him. We took him to our primary vet who gave him IVs, fed him Hills K/D and tried to flush out the waste that his body had collected over the three weeks that we were giving him Telmisartran. Bobo was released after three weeks of outpatient and inpatient treatment. Upon his release, he was still not eating well and wasn’t quite himself. During the next two weeks, Bobo would not eat the prescription KD dog food at home. He would eat it for the vet but not for me. While researching on the internet, I discovered your recipe and decided to give it a try. We would try anything to save our sweet dog (as most owners would)!!!! He loved it and gobbled it up! I was so inspired by Ben and your research of the subject that I feel this saved his life. To make a long story short, you did what all the veterinarians and clinicians could not do for our Bobo. Thank you to you and Ben for giving us some much needed extra time with our Bobo. While we will never be able to say goodbye, we feel blessed to have more time with him. We are thankful every single day. Thank you again and God bless. Here’s to Ben!
Dear Tracey — You have indeed had quite the odyssey with Bobo the past year. I definitely both hurts the heart to read it and warms it to know that you’ve found some precious extra time with him as well. You’re very very welcome and I’m glad that it has provided you something you both needed. From my heart to yours, you’re very welcome. Thank you as well.
Tracey Head says
Thanks again Dale. Bobo is doing well and still loves the dish you cooked up for Ben. He is 10 1/2 now and while he has definitely slowed down, he still loves his food. Thank you again and hope all is well!
Diane Fairfield says
Thanks for all your work and putting it out there to help others. Our little 12 year old recently took a huge downturn from Kidney disease. We have known for some time that she had it but it was always moderate and manageable with vet recommended KD foods. Now she has no appetite and won’t eat them or most anything I offer her so I have been preparing a recipe very similar to yours and giving it to her via syringe 3x/day in addition to almost daily fluid infusions, ondansetron for nausea, an appetite stimulant pill, and Azodyl to help remove toxins and Epakitin as a posphate binder. As needed she also gets metronidazole for diarrhea. She is also on heart medications for heart disease.
I have 2 questions I wanted to ask you.
I have read that parsley is very bad for dogs with Kidney disease because it is also a diuretic. Yet your diet and others I have seen and used, include it. Can you tell me why?
I wondered about the various supplements you used for your Ben. How did you conclude he needed them if you were already feeding him a balanced homemade diet. I’m really puzzled over whether to add them to our Angel Face’s regimen.
Hi Diane. You’re very welcome. I’m sorry that you’re sharing this journey with many others now, as well, but hopefully you can take some of the comfort that you’re not alone and also benefit from the wisdom and experiences of others too. Regarding your question about parsley, yes, in large amounts is deemed unsafe and to be avoided. However, many sites, consistent with my own experience, is that it is fine in small amounts. In my mind, that is akin to what we as humans would normally find palatable. We as humans will add a tablespoon or two or three to batches of food … so the amount we’re eating in any serving is pretty small, negligible, really. The quantity in this recipe, when divided across the all the servings isn’t a lot. But if you don’t buy into that, omit it. As for the supplements, it was a decision based on my research on things to boost to aid in what is fundamentally not a “normal” condition — so normal/balanced food isn’t a solution, otherwise you wouldn’t be cooking a low phosphorus diet, which excludes many ingredients which would have other benefits were it not for their phosphorus levels. That’s the challenge and why, in consultation with professionals these were the ones I chose for Ben. I would STRONGLY encourage you to do the same as you in choosing the meds/supplements you’re already using. Hope that helps and best of luck to you.
Megan Kamerick says
Hi Dale – I started making your recipe a few weeks ago for Zia and it just seems like it’s miraculous. Vet said if she was a person, she’d be on dialysis. We did Sub Cu fluids a couple times and got her the Royal Canin renal food but couldn’t really get her to eat. She loves your recipe. I also give her a Pepcid every day and she has enzymes from the vet. We went on two long walks this weekend! She’s like her old self. She still has good and bad days but your recipe seems to have really helped! I also started giving her this. https://www.vetriscience.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=900508060
Hi Megan. Thank you for sharing your very uplifting news and very glad the recipe has helped Zia and provided you some more joyful days. Thank you also for sharing the link to the supplements you’re using. There are so many more options out there today that are more accessible than I could find 6 years ago. Wishing you continued good news.
Frank Clements says
I syringe feed my dog. So, since taste isn’t so important would it be better to substitute some of the hamburger with egg white? I’m thinking reducing hamburger by 1/2 pound and increasing the egg white by one cup. Your thoughts?
Hi Frank. You can definitely try it. If your dog loves egg white, go for.
Frank Clements says
I came across your post. Made a small batch this morning and my little 5 year old rat terrier did eat. I know it’s not gonna save his life but it did make me feel better like you stated, having control of his diet. Sheldon was diagnosed one week ago with chronic kidney failure. No real stand out symptoms til he got sick. But they are still leaning with chronic versus acute since his labs showed no improvement. No exposure to anything that I’m aware of…. Spent 4 days on IV fluids at the vet. His labs are horrible. We were told to take him to Iowa State for further evaluation. Iowa State Animal hospital would have to considered him a critical patient. I called them Monday when he was discharged from our little vet to see if he could spend a couple days home just to get a break. They said yes. I’ve done his fluids as directed and meds. Bought the royal canine renal food he will only eat if given the entice. So this morning I found your recipes crushed his little Pepcid up in it and he ate. Made me feel better. I know he is on borrowed time but I’m gonna enjoy him while I have him. I know Iowa State can’t fix him but maybe could tell me what and why this had to happen. But then again do I want to have them do a renal biopsy and all these test and stress him out more only for the outcome to be the same? I was gonna take him this morning like what was discussed on the phone Monday but now they say our vet has to call and make the referral take to the critical care doctor on call before they will see him. I haven’t heard back just called and left message but they have not responded so idk. Covid has stopped everything so I prayed, and decided god will have to choose what happens next and I’m just gonna have to enjoy my time with my little baby. I do blame the food I had him on. I don’t think much as changed since 2007 as far as dog nutrition. Food is still being contaminated and made overseas. I’ve had Sheldon on blue buffalo small crunchies for three years. Thinking I was doing him justice and not realizing that they have had recalls recently. Ran something down the line that has been extremely hazardous to animals. So from now on any pet I have will be given fresh food grown out of my own garden. I have a 6 month old yellow lab I’m gonna research fresh made puppy food. I’m so over the industries killing our pets. Nothing good has come out of China for years and we still have our companies using there products and making our foods and it seems they are all tainted. Not sure where in the blue buffalo line they had the tainted food but apparently full of lead and something else.
Sheldon has not been exposed to any toxins. He has been given table food, little bites but no large amounts. I don’t cook with salt, I have hypertension so I don’t cook with. You have to add your own at my house.
I just can’t wrap my head around why this is happening. My heart is just broken.
Thank you again for your recipe. If you have any homemade puppy food recipes for a healthy yellow lab pup Please share. I definitely do not want to ever go through this again with a young dog. (Or old)
And many prayers to all going through this terrible diagnosis
Oh another question
Has anyone tried nutria thrive supplements
Hi Stephanie — Your pain and frustration with commercial dogs foods is palpable. I understand and can definitely empathize with “how did this happen” to your young dog. It would be gut check to any of us with young dogs or puppies, especially having done all the “right” things. I can’t answer your question about a recipe “yet” … but as I will have a new puppy joining my home in a week, I’m already starting to research what/next in terms of recipes. So once I have one, I’ll be more than happy to share. Best of luck in the meantime and all my best to you and Sheldon.
Frank Clements says
I wonder, when you first learned that your dog was suffering kidney failure, did you ever go the commercial dog food route?
Hi Frank — Ben was diagnosed with kidney failure roughly 6 months before he passed, though, in retrospect, it clearly was there before. Ben had no interest in the kd I came home with and so I quickly developed the recipe you’re reading in response.
Hi. I first came across your recipe a year and a half ago when my dog Luca was first diagnosed with kidney failure at the age of 13. She had about 25% of kidney function left at that point. She was very sick and the vet started mentioning euthanasia. I couldn’t give up on her just yet and was desperate to try to find something that she would eat and would be safe for her kidneys. Although I had to make some tweaks to suit her dietary needs, she absolutely loved your recipe and thrived on it and it gave her an extra year and a half of life. She was more energetic than ever before. Inevitably her little kidneys gave up last month and she sadly passed away. I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your research and for making this recipe public because it kept Luca alive much longer than vets have anticipated. Thank you!
Ahhh … Thank you, Jude. I’m very sorry for your loss of Luca. It’s a tender and yet bittersweet reflection — and much appreciated. I’m glad that you didn’t give up on her and that the recipe gave you something to work with. It is a great treasure to know it has helped others. Thank you again and a very happy Easter to you.
Frank Clements says
I am using your recipe now and my dog loves it. Thank you. With out your recipe my dog would have starved by now. I want to do more. What is the purpose of the CoQ10? I suspect it’s for lowering blood pressure.
Hi Frank — You’re very welcome. I’m glad it is providing you hope through all of this. In quick answer to your question, yes, the Q10 is for heart health as any kidney disease is hard on the cardiovascular system. Best of care to you in these days ahead …
Genna McGahee says
I found your website after my dog responded very little to eating k/d or any other renal Rx diets for dogs in kidney failure. 15 year old pitbull mix we adopted when she was 10. The sweetest and most gentle dog I’ve ever known. I want you to know this blog and recipes are still helping people, years after you wrote it. We did not learn of our dog’s kidney deterioration until it was advanced. So while these recipes won’t give her months or years, they have given her weeks of comfortable digestion, real excitement about meal time again, and walks in the sun.
Thank you Genna. It is indeed amazing to see the imprint of this recipe so many years later and powerfully uplifting to read words such as yours. Your comments here and in your second reflection are incredibly on-point. It is difficult to look at a half-empty glass and see that which it still contains, but it is, as you say, about being present and in the moment. I’m glad this recipe has given you some time to not only reflect, but cherish and embrace that fullness. Peace and comfort to you both on the walks in the sun ahead.
I made your recipe a couple of days ago for my 12 year old cavalier who was just diagnosed with kidney disease. In the midst of all the uncertainty and angst around Covid19, it feels almost too much to take in. I’m so happy I came across your site and found a simple recipe that feels manageable and doable while we navigate the next while. So far Dickens still eats and drinks happily and seems otherwise not bothered. I’m just praying that he has some time yet before this disease causes him real problems.
Hi Debbie — these are indeed strange times and what easily gets lost in these moments is that “life” and other health challenges goes on at the same time. Everything is “covid” … but other people and dogs are already sick and getting sick with other illnesses that also need treatment and attention. So I’m very sorry that you’re starting this new battle in our current context. I’m sure it seems more than a little overwhelming. I’m glad you’ve found something sturdy to hold onto here as you start down this road. Wishing you and Dickens (great name!) health and healing. ~ Dale
Genna McGahee says
I had a tough time finding forums with a lot of information about canine renal failure. So, Debbie, some things I learned.
I wish I’d known from my vet is that an eventual part of the disease progressing is anemia – which isn’t reversible. If I could do it again, I’d have given my dog a supplement for blood support/B vitamins to slow the development of anemia.
If your dog won’t eat kidney Rx diets, don’t be scared because you can figure out how to cook for them – looks like you found that info thankfully! My dog lost some weight because the k/d and other Rx foods just had no appeal to her.
Potatoes, most beans, most nuts and chickpeas are high in phosphorus – avoid.
When you give subcutaneous fluids (if you choose to do this, for advanced kidney disease), the 20 gauge needle is smaller than the 18 and I think it’s worth it. It takes longer to give the fluids w/ a smaller needle but it’s less stressful for you.
Give a bit of salmon oil (for omega 3) at a time, because giving a 1/2 or whole daily serving at once seems to cause gas. This is probably true of any oil supplement.
The canine anti-nausea med “Cerenia” is a wonderful prescription medication. SO helpful to my pup in her last wks. You can get it at Costco for less than your vet. So you don’t have to wait for the long chewy.com shipping time because of COVID-19.
In the last months, you don’t know how many good days or weeks remain. Enjoy then – you truly don’t need to worry about when/if you send your pup to its final home. I spent so much time fretting about that, when is “the right time,” and it’s truly not necessary. Make a couple calls and pick a vet to help you with that – then put it out of your thoughts until it’s time to make the appt. Dwell in your dog’s life and presence while it is with you.
Any comments about a product called glow groom for tear stains? 16 yr old with some eyesight problems. Used this for a few weeks. Dog now blind, deaf and has kidney disease. My vet said most of the ingredients are innocuous but wasn’t sure of some. Must also say I have been feeding your diet to Buff for 4weeks. Bloods now normal.
Hi Elizabeth. That’s great to hear about the diet and blood work results. As for the tear stains and the other product, I can’t offer any advice, I’m sorry. All I can say is that I had used steeped camomile tea and cotton pads to clean Ben’s eyes and ears for many years as I was “told” it was neutral and naturally anti-inflammatory for cleaning. That’s about all I can offer but hope it helps.
Larry Beeman says
Dale, my little 12 year old beagle baby loves your kidney diet, and her attitude and activity level has improved tremendously since we started feeding her this recipe. She has been fed your diet exclusively for about a month. Her ammonia breath has disappeared. She is rejuvenated.
I am also supplementing with famotidine, B vitamins, vitamin C and omega-3s. For treats I am giving her canned green beans, generic Cheerios and white sourdough bread that I air dry till it’s a bit crispy, because she seems to enjoy the chew.
My question is this: do you have any figures on the dry matter protein percentage so that I could compare your diet with a commercial diet like Hill’s KD?
The reason I ask this is so that, if it is feasible, I could do a little less cooking and combine KD in some ratio with your much-loved glorious green glop.
Hi Larry — I’m glad the diet is giving you some hope and runway with your girl. Glad you’re also having success with the supplements and have found safe alternatives for treats. Well-done.
As for your question regarding the nutritional breakdown, I wish I did and I could answer, but I can’t. It’s on the list of things needing a volunteer here to research and share back. 🙂 My advice, with respecting mixing and blending, treat them as “equivalents.” That is my best and non-scientific advice. Hope that helps and best of luck.
SassyMillie (@SassyMillie2) says
Hi Dale- So we are facing the reality of our beloved Sassy (13 yr old Aussie) having the same diagnosis as your Ben. She’s been lethargic, drinking lots of water and just generally seems depressed. She’s eating her usual diet, but really not with much enthusiasm, so that is hard to see. She’s not even interested in treats these days. I’m more than happy to make her food following your recipe. I prepared a similar diet for our other dog, Millie, when she was having a bout with suspected pancreatitis. I already have most everything on hand (except the parsley).
I’m sorry to bring up the sad details of Ben’s passing, but it appears he lived about 6 months after his diagnosis. Did you feel that feeding him this diet added those months to his life and were they happy and active ones? Sassy has always been a very happy, active girl and we don’t want to prolong her life if the quality is not there for her. I was also wondering about the supplements. How did you give those to Ben? Mixed in his food? Or did you use a pill pocket? In the past we’ve wrapped pills in cheese, but that’s no longer an option given the high fat and protein consideration. Thank you for posting this recipe and look forward to your response.
I’m very sorry for the road you’re now standing on. It is not easy in the least, I know. Happy to answer your questions as best as I can. Yes, Ben’s life and quality of it was most certainly extended. The prognosis was only a couple of months and so every extra day we got together knowing they were going to be very limited was a gift that I won’t ever forget. As for the pills, yes, they were buried and wrapped in other food. I still continued to use cheese and/or good quality sausage which I would slice thin and wrap pills in for him to gobble. With the cheddar cheese, I also sliced very thin, and wrapped and ‘melted’ it around the pill with the warmth of my fingers. It doesn’t take a lot to hide and in my view, it wasn’t going to significantly impact anything. It was a measured trade off to get the pills into him. Hope that helps and best of luck with your girls.
Hi, Thanks for the great info! I don’t know if this was mentioned by the American Kennel Club specifically precludes the use of garlic powder due to its toxicity to dogs. I’m wondering you know something that I don’t. Thank you again for all of your hard work and diligence!
Thank you so much. You litterally saved my dog’s life. After starving himself for days he’s happilly eating again. I can’t thank you enough. Love, Or Rapaport.
Dear Or — You’re very welcome. I’m glad I was able to contribute something to your success. Only too happy to have shared and glad it made a different. Wishing you continued great success and health to your dog ….
Thanks, this is so helpful! As other people said though, I would definitely recommend taking out the garlic part! Plenty of dogs don’t show negative signs right away from eating something toxic, but that doesn’t mean they should keep eating it. Thanks again, good luck.
I tried your recipe today. Found out my yorkie was in the beginning stages of kidney disease. He liked the food. I did too just was not sure if the supplements. Thank you.
You’re welcome. Good luck to you.
My rescue staffy has kidney failure from non steroidal medication for hip dysphasia. The vet has suggested chicken but in all reports it says beef is better. I was going to commence your recipe but am concerned re parsley as a few websites when I google parsley and dogs with kidney disease they say no.
Hi Anna — no worries at all. Ultimately, the parsley by volume is a small amount, but it is your choice. Parsley has many positive things in it as well and so it was my feeling to use it for Ben, notwithstanding what other research would suggest. Ben had eaten human food, including parsley as a seasoning (vs. parsley as a food as in tabbouleh) so I felt comfortable. If you don’t and don’t want to, omit it. All good and good luck to you.
Chris Yorke says
I forgot to add, do you think caffein free green tea is ok? however it does have some Vitamin D in its make up?
and also eggshell as a calcium for phosphorus binding(one crushed shell per meal? Thanks.
Judy Bluett says
Can you tell me how much of all this lovely food should be fed per day to an 11 lb fairly active 15.5 year old Papillon?
Hi Judy — The single most common question I get is how much to feed a dog and I simply can’t answer that. Just like we’re all different — dogs have even more variability. It’s very hard thing for me to answer as it is really dog-specific and you need to factor in age, breed, metabolism, weight and many other factors. And I’m not an expert in dog nutrition either and I would hate to provide you wrong advice over the internet. My best advice is to use your past experience with your dog as a your guide and keep weighing him. If he’s gaining too much weight, cut it back, but in most cases, that won’t be a problem because the issue is weight loss you’re combating, not weight gain. Ultimately, you know you dog and you will likely have a pretty good ‘gut’ feel for whether s/he is eating enough. Good luck.
Judy, I also have a papillon (14 years old) who is 10 pounds. I just started this diet and was curious what you ended up doing. He LOVES this food. Just not sure how much I should be giving him.
Chris Yorke says
Hi Dale, thanks for sharing your research, My dog ‘Mo’ is a 6yr 11 month old male alaskan malamute who weighs in at 115lbs, on Monday 3rd Feb 20, we took him to the vets for a scan as he had a little blood dripping from his winky, they took bloods and then later that day the vets said he had high readings creatinine 600, he had been on antibiotics for a week before the reading, they suggested Mo has 4th stage kidney disease, also his prostate is slightly enlarged, he is well in himself although a little lethargic, but has an appetite, we cooked a sample of your recipe with a few carrots added? he loved it, what I would like to know is the ratio of vegetables/herbs? for instance I wouldnt want to add too much sweet potato or butternut as they have potassium in which is not good, although my dog loved the spare cooked pieces I had leftover as a treat?
What is your view on adding a little chicken and pasta?
My dogs diet all his life has been two chicken breasts, a little pasta with a sprinkle of cheese and about a 500ml glass of high quality kibble per day.
Many thanks, Chris.
Hi Chris — and first off, my regrets that you’re in this situation yourself. It’s a real kick to the stomach, I know. Your questions are good and appropriate but I’m not sure I can confidently answer most of them. I can try a hand at the ratio question, but am wondering if I perhaps haven’t understood what you’re asking … because the recipe is, inherently, a set of ratios (weights and volumes) in combination together. Certainly, as you are, be mindful that substitutes are not equivalents as they bring other vitamins and minerals which may not be ideal in all situations, yours included. I think refined pasta would be a fair substitute for the rice (though the rice is lower) … or alternate them. Other “bread” (grain) substitutes are also possible. With respect to the chicken, it really will depend on what part of the chicken as they have different phosphorus levels, but all higher than extra lean ground beef — if you haven’t looked at it, do study the PDF from Kaiser I linked to. I has comparisons on most of these which you can weigh depending on how much/often you’re using them and will answer many of your questions. The eggshell question you asked secondly is really something to ask your vet as to whether s/he recommends a binder, but, if so, yes, many others have used the eggshells in the cooking. I also have no wisdom when it comes to green tea. Sorry. Perhaps another reader here might have something to add there. Truly, best of luck to you, Chris. ~ Dale
Amelie’s Mom says
Hi Dale – thank you so much for this recipe. Can I use brown rice or should it be specifically white rice? Is the rice used as a filler or for nutritional purposes, in which case could I replace it with something else, like sweet potatoes?
Hi there — In answer white rice specifically is better than brown as part of this diet. Sweet potato is listed a substitute here for the squash (not the rice). Other substitutes for the rice that are often cited on sites for kidney diseases would be white bread. I know it sounds “unhealthy” based on what a healthy diet would include … kidney disease changes things. Hope that helps. Good luck.
Amelie’s Mom–White Rice is lower in Phosphorus than brown rice. In my research, wild rice is also better than brown rice and may be a good substitute for the white rice. Egg noodles are also a lower phosphorous substitute.
Thanks Dale, Gonna try this recipe for my 13 year old, very picky Yorkie who has early kidney disease.
You’re very welcome and thanks for adding to the conversation. Best of luck to you.
Dena S Severson says
How lean should the ground beef be for this food
Hi Dena — It should be clearly indicated in the ingredients there: (in Canada ≤ 17% fat)
My pup benjamin buttoned years after eating this for a couple days. It was unbelievable. She was even keeping up at the park with my other two year old pup and she is 12! It was incredible. She seemed to have really deteriorated in the last six months and I was incredibly worried. This food has been a game changer! Thank you for posting this! I have made it the way you describe but have move temporarily for work into a situation with a bit less of a kitchen setup. I know that the boiling and steaming of the different vegetables and cooking methods may play a part in how the nutrients inside and dissolved and then subsequently will get absorbed by the body etc- but just wondering if you or anyone you know has done this in a slow cooker? Do you feel that this would be ok? Please let me know!!! Thank you! <3
Hi Tali — over the years, I have heard others who were going to try and use their slow cookers. Ultimately, it is a weighing of the pros/cons and of doing “as much as you can.” Discarding the vegetable water is the biggest reason for the method I describe. You could still do that separately and combine the veggies into the ingredients after — that would be an option. But, as I say, simply do your best as that is better than doing nothing. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of action …. 🙂 Good luck.
What are the benefits of the parsley? I forgot to add it in. Thanks.
Hi Todd — there are many benefits of parsley, but it is an “optional” ingredient and should be used in moderation anyway. It is a good anti-infammatory which is helpful; as well, my readings also suggest it will positively impact hypertension. In addition, the chlorophyll will be good for your dog’s breath.
conny Kunz says
My Bella is 11 yrs 75 lbs She has had a kidney problem ever since 5 yrs ago. I cook her food and try to make it low protein. However she’s losing .muscle mass in her hind quarters. Vet says no arthritis present. Is there anything else i can feed her?
Linda Ellis Lerner says
We just learned the devastating news that our “baby” boy, ZuZu, has kidney disease. No idea the stage. Our other dog needs to lose weight so I am going to use this for both of them since my vet urged me to use more veggies for her. I feel like it’s my fault that ZuZu has this disease. To explain….They both have allergies to chicken & “possibly ground beef” so their treats have been 100% salmon jerky. Plus I have been cooking their food for over a year & from all the research I’ve done I think I have been putting way too much bison in it. So, now I am going to use your recipe. My question is do you think bison is an okay substitute for the ground beef and/or pork? (I don’t see that you recommend using only pork.) I could possibly do trout but sort of want to stick with bison.
Dear Linda — It’s a tough road we’re on and caring for our canine family isn’t always easy, even at the best of times. It’s easy to judge and blame ourselves even when we’re doing our best with the best knowledge we have. So my primary advice is to be kind to yourself — and this will allow you to be the best companion in turn to your dogs. 🙂 As for the bison, I’m not an expert but my own quick bit of research reveals that “bison is an excellent source of phosphorus” and that a serving provides “20% of the recommended daily intake.” What that means to me is that if you’re looking for phosphorus, bison is awesome — if you’re looking to avoid phosphorus, though, it may very well not be an ideal protein substitute. If you have a nutritionist in your life who has more facts/figures at their disposal, you may want to validate this. Best of luck.
How many cups a day for a German Shepard that is 30kg with chronic kidney disease?
Hi Gemma. The single most common question I get is how much to feed a dog and I simply can’t answer that. As I answered Debra recently, “We’re all different and dogs have even more variability. It’s very hard thing for me to answer as it is really dog specific factoring in age, breed, metabolism, weight and many other factors. My best advice is to use your past experience with your dog as a your guide and keep weighing him. If he’s gaining too much weight, cut it back, but in most cases, that won’t be a problem because the issue is weight loss you’re combating, not weight gain.” Good luck to you.
Christine Springer says
Hello Dale. Thank you so much for sharing this. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. My little boy Chance is a 5 years old Chihuahua who was just diagnosed with Stage 3 kidney disease. I felt like I got punched in the gut when I was told this. I have been reading and researching and trying some foods, but it has not gone well. I will be trying your recipe right away. This sounds like something he will actually eat. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Hi Christine … I can definitely relate to the feeling of being punched in the gut but I’m glad that research has brought you to a safe place, here. Good luck with the recipe and I hope it gives Chance everything he deserves and needs.
My dog is not in renal failure but his levels could use improvement. I am happy to report I made this and he loved it. I used pumpkin but next time will use acorn squash. When I eat acorn squash, I usually cut it in half, bake it, and scoop out the flesh. I think I will do it that way and just add the cooked squash at the end to save the peeling. Thank you for sharing. You gave Ben a great life and you’re helping other dog parents do the same for their beloved canine family members!
Thank you for your very kind and generous words. I’m glad your boy loved the recipe as well — and, agreed, if you’re not having to be overly focused on the phosphorus, baking and scooping the squash is definitely the way to go. Wishing you continued good luck and good health to your own ….
Hi I made this tonight for my 14 year old shih tzu recently diagnosed with kidney disease and told she probably has a few months left. I have tried 5 prescription kd dog food all she hated. I knew she was hungry but refused to eat. Tonight I gave her this homemade meal and she loved it. I am hoping this helps. At least I know she ate a meal she loved and will not just slowly starve. Thank you so much.
You’re most welcome, Nancy. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you and your girl the very best and hope that she bounces back.
Hello Dale. Thank you so very much for writing about Ben and yourself. I have a 10 year old American Pit Bull Terrier . She is a picture of health. Recently, we decided to help another dog in need. We adopted Bowser, an American Staffordshire. He had been left to die in a crate when he was discovered. After seeing him we just had to help him. He has many problems including 3rd stage kidney failure, Lyme, BUN 130 , creatine….etc. I am overjoyed to have found you . I have been reading and learning and when I stumbled upon your site it was the first time I read something that agreed with what i had learned.
I will be making Bowser’s food from now on. How long would your recipe last for a 48 lb dog would you think? Bowser was 20 lbs. when they found him. He does still need to put on weight and muscle as it has atrophied. We were advised by the vet to feed him prescription food. Nope.
He is still very fond of eating and at times ravenous. It may be the prednisone he is on. I will be much happier feeding him real food.
I am very fortunate to have found your writings. Thank you so very much for sharing Ben with us.
I wish you all the peace one can have.
Hi Debra — thank you for reaching back out after finding my site here as part of your research. I’m glad you have found it helpful and hope that your companions enjoy it as well. How long it will last is a very hard thing for me to answer as it is really dog specific factoring in age, breed, metabolism, weight and many other factors. That said, my best guess would be a couple of weeks, but you’ll have to evaluate and monitor as you go. By all means, come back and let me know what the right answer is for your situation. Wishing you the very best and thank you for keeping Ben’s legacy alive. It’s my pleasure to share.
Hi Dale. Thanks so very much for responding. How many oz , grams of food did you feed Ben per day? Do you know the amount of calories per oz, lb.? I am trying to calculate how much per day to feed my 50 lb. boy Bowser? He is 8-9 years old ( a rescue so not really sure).. He is still somewhat underweight even after gaining 23 lbs. Bowser is an American Staffordshire Terrier. I do know that his caloric recommendation is 850 per day.
Thanks in advance,
Hi Debra — you’re most welcome. I try and keep up with the many comments and questions I get, but sometimes life gets in the way and I can be delayed. The single most common question I get is how much to feed a dog and I simply can’t answer that. We’re all different and dogs have even more variability. It’s very hard thing for me to answer as it is really dog specific factoring in age, breed, metabolism, weight and many other factors. My best advice is to use your past experience with your dog as a your guide and keep weighing him. If he’s gaining too much weight, cut it back, but in most cases, that won’t be a problem because the issue is weight loss you’re combating, not weight gain. Good luck to you and to Bowser.
Thank you for sharing Ben’s story and your experience. Our 14 year old miniature schnauzer Kelvin has level 2 Kidney disease. You can imagine how devastating this news was to me and my husband since our boy is like a child to us. In all his life he was pretty healthy, active and our travel buddy where ever we go. Beginning of last year he was bit by another dog and needed emergency surgery from there we found out that he had high level of liver enzymes normal 169 he had 1870 that was already a shock. His wounds healed well and I started him on Denamarin for a while I had his urin tested for protein level and it was OK. His level went down a little bit. On his last yearly checkup I had another blood test done were he was diagnosed with level 2 kidney disease, liver enzymes went up again. He did not really show any symptoms to this day, sometimes he is confused or sleepy but that changes day by day. The Vet recommended prescription diet which we first bought but Kelvin did not like it he lost a few pounds and I got worried that’s when I came across your post I started preparing the meals accordingly switching it up with your suggestions of substitutions and he loves it. I definitely can see the change in him and he gained some pounds back. I still work on the supplements I did buy calcium 600mg and crush it into the prepared dog food patch 1000mg per half a pound of food. I use a steamer to prepare the pearled barley or sushi rice and also for the vegetables do you think this is ok to take the phosphorus out? The meat I either boil or fry in a pan. I normally freeze packages but since we are going on our next road trip I will try to pressure can this receipe. Thank you again I thank God that I came across your post.
Hi Jutta — thanks for the kind message and your question. Steaming won’t likely leech the phosphorus quite the same as boiling, but I can’t tell you the difference. If it works you and works for Kelvin, go for it. I think the idea of pressure canning is clever — no idea how that might work, but if it works, it sounds genius for your road trips. Let me know how it works and best of luck to you and wishing continued improvement and a long life to Kelvin. ~ Dale
dean smith says
wondering if you gave any mineral or vitiam supplement with this diet
Hi Dean — please scroll to the part of the post that lists all of the supplements, including vitamins. I’m not sure if you have a different question, but they’re clearly listed there.
HI Dale, thanks for sharing the recipe. How long can you keep in the freezer? (In terms of “expiry date”). My parents are vegetarian and very reluctant to prepare dog food food that contains meat, hence I thought to prepare and bring it over to freeze them for our family dog who recently was diagnosed with kidney failure.
Hi Jeannette — You’re very welcome. You can keep it in the freezer following ‘normal’ storage guidelines. Likely 6 months, I would say, but it depends on the storage container. In my experience with Ben, our dog food never lasted that long, so it shouldn’t be an issue of keeping too long. Wishing you the best. ~ Dale