What is renal food?

For those of you who do not already know, renal failure is another phrase for kidney failure. Pets with renal failure that are given special renal diets on average live twice as long as those who aren’t fed these diets. These diets of course all vary but they have the same important ingredients.

Restricted protein in these diets reduces the amount of waste needing to be processed by the sickly kidneys and reduced phosphorus/phosphate limits the contribution towards hyperparathyroidism. Reduced sodium and an acid-base balance reduce the risk of systemic hypertension and helps prevent acidosis respectively and increased potassium and vitamin B are used as supplements. Normally there is also increased palatability and calorie content as pets with CRF (chronic renal failure) are prone to weight loss.

A good example of a renal diet is Royal Canin’s Veterinary Diet Renal. This diet has several other added aids such as Omega 3 and FOS and zeolite which all help your pet feel comfortable and not for it to change beyond recognition. Although I have never had cause to give any renal diets to my pets, this is the diet I have heard most about, both from vets and friends who have had pets suffer with CRF.

This does not mean that the others should be forgotten about. For example, I know one cat belonging to a friend of mine thoroughly disliked the taste of Royal Canin so had to be put on another diet. She now eats Hill’s k/d like there’s no tomorrow, and it works just as well as Royal Canin.

Another good brand to mention is Purina NF which, again, works just as well. I would always recommend trying out several different varieties, especially if your pet is fussy. But try to introduce each new diet slowly and with the guidance of your vet to ensure it is right for them and that your pet accepts the diet willingly. Many have made the mistake of simply plonking a new type of food in front of their pet expecting them to love it straight away, when actually patience is very much needed.

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