Q: We’ve rescued a Jack Russell Terrier x mongrel, Scotty who’s 10 months old and has chronic kidney failure. Two of the vets we have seen say it’s an acute condition. Because of this, he drinks and urinates excessively. He’s been tested negative for heart worms, ehrlichia and babesi, was dewormed and vaccinated as soon as we got him too. Could you please advice the best diet and supplements available?

A: The diagnosis can be more accurately determined through a good ultrasound, preferably by a proficient ultrasonographer. All kidney failures must be treated immediately and aggressively so as to prevent further damage to existing kidney cells.Treatment includes the intake of:

  • Intravenous fluids (physiologic saline solution or 0.9% sodium chloride through intravenous means) to flush the kidneys and body toxins
  • Drugs such as Fortekor, which comes in a tablet form to help dilate kidney vessels. The dosage tablet would depend on the weight of the dog so see a professional vet for proper prescription.
  • Urea-digesting bacteria to decrease toxic load on the body and kidney e.g. Azodyl, a drug coming in a pill form. Consumption of the pill can range from once a day to once a week, depending on the weight of the dog. Again, please check with a professional vet for prescription.
  • Phosphate-binders. Technically they are antacids that contain aluminium hydroxide which are used to reduce high level of phosphorus build up during kidney dysfunction. They are commercially available oral medication and are to be taken with meals.

Other useful aids include vitamin D3 and antibiotics in cases where there is a presence of infectious agents in renal failure.

I would advise you to keep your dog on a low protein, low phosphorus and non acidified diet. This means limiting your pet’s intake of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, peas and beans. Do not completely remove them from his daily meals as they are essential, but give them in moderate amounts.

Try picking beef over chicken as the former contains lesser phosphate. Also, give your dog fatty meats such as pork or lamb; dogs are carnivores by nature, so they rely on fats to give them energy rather than carbohydrates. But this doesn’t mean carbohydrates are not necessary as they’re important for keeping phosphate levels low. Grains like wheat and vegetables such as sweet potato are good sources. But do remember it is a must to cook them before giving your dog, as cooking leeches out most of the phosphorus content. The main goal is to add healthy calories to your dog without adding the phosphorous content.

It would take usually at least two weeks or so to see significant signs of recovery, but mostly it depends on the diagnosis and treatment given to the dog.