Are you already cooking for your dog or are you considering it?
Feeding your dog a standard, generic recipe from online or a book can carry risks, and sometimes, can be detrimental to their health. This is particularly the case if your dog has an underlying health issue like heart problems, chronic kidney disease or cancer.
Why? Because the majority of these recipes tend to lack vital nutrients and aren’t necessarily suitable or safe for long-term use.
To show what I mean by this and to demonstrate how these generic recipes can be at best unsuitable and at worst dangerous, let’s take an example. Let’s analyse an online home-prepared diet.
The diet that I’m going to analyse is one that’s described as being low in phosphorous and thus suitable for a dog with chronic kidney disease. It prepares enough food for a 10kg dog for 7 days.
It was found by a simple internet search and was chosen because it’s a good representation of a typical online diet, and it has enough information and details on the ingredients and preparation method to allow a proper analysis.
- 700 grams cooked lean beef mince
- 500 grams liquid egg whites or 14 egg whites
- 400 grams uncooked brown rice or substitute with pearled barley
- 500 grams frozen vegetables without salt
- 350 grams boiled sweet potato
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ½ apple
To conduct an analysis of this recipe and determine if it is, as it claims, suitable for dogs with chronic kidney disease, I used a professional nutrition software programme to figure out the estimated nutritional composition of the diet and compared these with the National Research Council 2006 Nutrient Requirements for Dogs.
I also had to make a few decisions regarding certain ingredients due to a lack of detailed information in the recipe. These are listed below:
- The recipe doesn’t specified which fat percentage of beef mince to use so I opted for 10% fat.
- As a substitution was allowed for rice, I have analysed this as 200 grams uncooked rice and 200 grams uncooked pearled barley.
- The type of frozen vegetables were not specified, so for analysis purpose I have used a carrot, cauliflower and broccoli combination. However, the nutritional impact of the vegetables on the total diet is minor in any case.
So now that we have our recipe, the parameters for it and the ability to analyse it, let’s take a look at whether this recipe provides the necessary daily nutrients for a 10kg dog with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
This recipe provides 509 kcal per day, which on average, and depending on activity levels, is appropriate for a 10kg dog.
Per day, this recipe provides 439mg phosphorous. National Research Council guidelines stipulate that a healthy 10kg dog requires 562mg of phosphorous a day, meaning that this recipe, which has lower than the daily recommend amount of phosphorous would be suitable for a 10kg dog with early CKD.
At 43g per day, this recipe provides a highly excessive amount of protein for a 10kg dog with CKD. On average, such a dog requires only 20 grams of protein a day or less. Including too much protein in the diet could negatively impact their health. This is because too much protein can put extra strain on the already struggling kidneys, which in turn can exacerbate the symptoms of CKD and overall, make the disease even worse.
This recipe provides 52mg calcium per day. With the recommended daily intake of calcium for a 10kg dog CKD standing at 731mg, this recipe is considerably lacking in calcium.
The low level of calcium means that we also have an inverse calcium:phosphorous ratio, meaning that we end up with too much phosphorous in the diet. This means that you dog will not be getting enough calcium and will be less able to absorb the little calcium that is available through this diet. Combined, this will have a detrimental impact on your dog’s health, irrespective of whether or not it has CKD.
This recipe is also too low in the following essential nutrients:
- B Vitamins – play important roles for almost every body function.
- Vitamin E – helps to protect cells from free radical damage and strengthens the immune system.
- Iron – a vital part of haemoglobin that transport oxygen throughout the body.
- Zinc – Structural component of hundreds of essential molecules and critical for normal immune function.
- Copper – important role in bone health maintenance, iron metabolism and immune function.
- Iodine – an essential constituent of the thyroid hormone which is important for growth, development and the regulation of metabolic rate.
This recipe is not suitable for any dog, irrespective of whether or not they have CKD as it is lacking sufficient levels of key nutrients and so it not nutritionally complete or balanced. It would however be especially damaging to feed this recipe to a dog with any stage of CKD. Chronic kidney disease is irreversible and proper nutrition is vital to prolong and improve the quality of life in dogs with CKD.
Recipes and diets for dogs that are found on the internet or in books rarely provide all of the essential nutrients that your dog requires. True, your dog may love them and gobble them up, but that doesn’t in any way mean it was a healthy, balanced meal.
Similarly, they may not experience any immediate negative symptoms having eaten the food. This doesn’t mean it’s healthy or that prolonged consumption won’t cause problems. Remember, absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence, or in this case lack of symptoms doesn’t mean no underlying disease or health problems.
It’s far better instead to speak to and work with a trained professional to create a diet that’s suitable for your dog. This is especially important if your dog has an underlying health issue like CKD and if they’re on any sort of medication.
Yes, it might be easier to just do an online search for ‘tasty recipes for dogs’ but that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your dog or their health. This risk of feeding your dog an unbalanced diet just isn’t worth it.
Diet for dogs with kidney disease
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