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The dog treats you need, for Dogs with Kidney Disease, or a regular diet …

Margot happy dog treats dog

The last blog we looked at the dog diet restrictions with kidney disease issues.

The main points it suggested were to Restrict

  • Protein
  • Phosphorous
  • Sodium

PLUS Increase omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil or kangaroo.

“The goal is always going to be high quality foods with low protein. High quality protein but low protein,” ref 1 says Dr. Julie Bailey-  Animal Studies in Leicester, Massachusetts.

Low phosphorus is important because while “Phosphorus is an essential mineral, too much of it can lead to hyperphosphatemia (excess phosphorous in the blood)” ref 1

Whatever treat you use, you always need to provide a LOT of CLEAN water to flush toxins from the kidneys. IN all seasons, not just summer.

When taking our dog for a check up scan, we were concerned about what we thought might be excessive drinking in a 14 year old spoodle. It turns out that they said that his kidney function was exceptionally good for a dog his age, and his LIKING of drinking water, might have meant extra flushing was exactly what was keeping his kidneys in good order !

The reason why extra water for a dog is so good, is that “moisture is needed to flush out nitrogen, creatinine, phosphorous, and other metabolic wastes from the body.”

“Be wary of dog foods that have too much sugar or, especially, propylene glycol (PG), an additive found in many pet foods.” Ref 1

“Dr. Mahaney also recommends that protein sources be “highly bioavailable, which means that the nutrients are readily absorbed and cause minimal stress on the body in the digestive process.

Ideally, Dr. Mahaney says, you would be feeding your dog “fresh, cooked, moisture-rich, lean protein sources, including chicken or turkey breast, or defatted beef.” Ref 1

“”Dogs with kidney disease tend to have trouble keeping weight on,” Dr. Bailey says “They tend to not have a great appetite” ref 1

So the balancing trick is to feed nutritious dog food and treats that encourage eating, and maintain muscle mass.  Ideally with low phosphorous levels.

I found it interesting that this Dr. Mahaney was recommending lean protein sources, including chicken or turkey breast, or defatted beef, when the conventional rule says low protein only.

But if you are feeding a chronic kidney disease (CKD) commercial diet, that is probably drastically low in meant protein (highly bioavailable, which is also a major suggestion) – then quality chicken treats in moderation, might not push the overall protein levels too high.

Below is the table that we created in the previous dog Kidney disease Diet requirement post, based on the therapeutic CKD diet and aafco guidelines.

This table guide essentially gives us a guide for the major nutrients in term of PERCENTAGES, which is the easiest method of comparing nutrition values in dog food and treats. So if your dog has CKD– the LAST column is theoretically the dog food and therapeutic guide that you should consider when buying dog treats or dog food

CKD Nutrient guide 

NutrientAAFCO (G/1000 KCAL)AFFCO %Therapeutic CKD Diet (G/1000 CAL)Therapeutic CKD Diet equiv (% )
Protein4518%31-4112.4 – 16.4 %
Fat145.5%40-6215.7- 24.3 %
Phosphorous1.00.4%0.5-0.80.2 – 0.32 %
Potassium1.50.6%1.1-2.30.44- 0.92 %
Sodium0.20.3%0.4-1.20.6 – 1.8%
EPA+DHAn/aN/A0.4-1.2????

What to avoid in dog treats

Reference 2 says “you also need to avoid giving high protein treats such as meat, jerky treats, cheese, rawhides, pig ears, etc.  You should also avoid feeding high salt treats such as cheese, bread, deli meat, and many commercial dog and cat treats.” Ref 2

By Commercial, we imagine they are mostly taking about highly processed, high additive treats. NOT pure source treats, or treats we know have low values for the critical Therapeutic diet ranges.

“Therapeutic kidney diets are often supplemented with extra potassium since kidney disease can cause low potassium levels in dogs.” Ref 3

What some kidney friendly dog treats include

Looking at commercial treats we look at one by Hills that “have the main ingredients chicken and potatoes. They have 9% crude protein and added omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, and they’re low in sodium to help maintain heart and kidney health.” Ref 3

It would appear that with the high cost of meat, that commercial companies are happy to generally avoid it altogether in CKD diet treats. Many use vegetables such as sweet potatoes or apples.

An American fruit-based brand offers brand oven-baked biscuits. They brag about being grain free  and only 8% crude protein. They seem to come in two flavour options per pack. Some of these being  pumpkin, banana, crispy bacon, apple sweet potato etc

But if you are going to feed your dogs vegetables, why would you buy treats that area mostly made up of vegetables?  Meat based dog treats require special drying to remain safe and stable. Whereas fresh vegetables or dried vegetables in theory can be given by any owner – you just pay more for them if you buy them as a commercial treat that is all vegetable.

What nutrients are in the main meat used in dog food?

Lean Chicken Breast (cooked) 100g

  • Protein 32g (32%
  • Total fat 3 g (3%)
  • Sodium 47 mg ( 0.047%)
  • Phosphorous 241 mg  (0.24%)
  • Potassium 343 mg (0.34%)

This data suggests that chicken breast is fine in the very important Phosphorous amounts, but about double the CGD therapeutic diet Protein max?

So if you feed your dog chicken breast would be in the camp that believes too low protein levels causing muscle mass loss is worse than moderate levels of protein.

Dried beef 100g nutrition ref 5

  • 250 Calories
  • protein 35 g (35%)
  • Fat 10g
  • Phosphorous 200mg
  • Potassium 300mg
  • Sodium 2.8 g

If this is typical of dried beef, then again, the only thing that beef fails on is average fat levels, and higher protein than the CKD recommendations. Note the percentage of protein depends on how much WATER is left in the food. A high level of water (not dried down to the typical 10% water that most healthy dog treat jerkies have, means that our treats would probably have a substantially higher protein value than that shown in the stats above.

Shark cartilage powder  100g  (ref nutrizing  NZ)  NOT ideal for CKD dogs

  • Protein 26g
  • Phosphorous 12 g (VERY HIGH)
  • Sodium 400 mg
  • Potassium 0.034 g  (very low)
  • Collagen 19 g (very good)

HEALTHY DOG TREATS appropriate for dogs with Kidney Issues

atlas happy dog vizsla If you believe that pure meat jerky treats are strictly out of the question for CKD dogs, then yes that would preclude most of our 100% single ingredient meat range.

But here is the good news.

You don’t have to buy highly expensive, ONLY vegetable-based dog treats by large corporates that are dressed up with trace elements of extra additives to justify their high cost.

We recommend many of the FUNCTIONAL dog biscuit range that we have.

The reason for this is that most commercial dog foods have wheat in them one way or the other. Much of our composite treat range (small dog treats category), have wheat as a large component of the treat. And if a dog isn’t allergic to it, then why not consider using dog treats that are low in protein but are also highly functional or specialise or add a medicinal quality to their eating experience?

The reason why these treats can be a great supplemental addition to the premium dog food you are already feeding your dog, is that those dog foods often concentrate on several things at once, with trace food additives that are often so small in percentage, that their value is negligible.

They cant be all things to all dogs in the one pack – they are just mainly acting as your dogs safe main CKD dog food (with low protein, low phosphorous).

Below I will explain just some of the dog treat options that are CKD appropriate and why.

The regular biscuits we sell are exceptional value because they use REAL ingredients for flavour, rather than artificial flavouring.

Looking at the PROTEIN level of each of these products they are typically around 11% protein. Well within the reduced protein range for CKD dogs.

As Whole-wheat is the first ingredient and the second ingredient is typically the flavour of the biscuit it would appear that any of the biscuits are likely to be a kidney safe treat.

For example, below is the typical nutrition analysis of dry whole wheat

whole-wheat, dry 100g:

  • protein 14.6 g
  • Fat 11.7 g
  • Phosphorus 258 mg
  • Potassium 215 mg
  • Sodium 0  mg

 If Dry whole wheat has a protein value of approximately 14.5 g (very dried) and the biscuits we have, have a protein value of 11g.  Then they pass the low protein needed.

Even with the secondary ingredient in their beef or chicken biscuits being MEAT, and meat having a protein value of 30% plus for protein, it shows that the percentage of meat in a blackdog meat flavoured biscuit must be considerably less than the Wheat amount, to keep the overall biscuit protein level at or below the wheat protein level.

THIS means that the main contribution of any of the elements such as phosphorous or potassium are mainly from the wheat component too, which are all UNDER the CGD preferred maximum values.

That suggests that all of the basic blackdog dog biscuits are ok on a kidney issue diet.

And since a few kidney disease treats are marketed as CGD compliant, but are actually just expensive “oven-baked biscuits” it makes just as sense to use regular black dog biscuits that have REAL ingredients (not just flavouring) too.

Analysis of CGD FUNCTONAL dog treat option, ingredients

 CANNABICS Dog Biscuits

Ingredients: whole grain wheat, hemp seed oil, hemp seed protein & fibre, peppermint flakes, salt, sugar, vanilla flavour, vitamins & minerals, calcium carbonate.

Nutrition: protein 12%, fat 5%, me 3312 kcal/kg.

BD also says “packed full of hugely healthy stuff like omega 3,6 and 9 fatty acids, protein, magnesium, amino acids, zinc, iron and small amounts of cbd.”

Hemp seed oil is included as the second ingredient in these biscuits to give a high amount of Plant omega 3 to the treat. The protein level is acceptably low, and CKD dogs are recommended to have more omega 3 into their diet, so this dog treat is a highly acceptable option for them.

Mini charcoal Biscuits:

Mini Charcoal Biscuits Ingredients: Whole grain wheat, tallow, charcoal powder, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate, flax-seed meal, garlic powder, aniseed flavour, vitamins and minerals, colour.

NUTRITION: PROTEIN 11%, FAT 6%, FIBRE <10%, SALT 0.75%

It might surprise you that I have included mini charcoal biscuits so high on the list of best CKD options, but here is the thing, they are universally brilliant for ALL dogs to keep as a go to for upset stomachs, and even just daily treats.

I have included a LOT of technical information about their value in removing toxins from your dogs stomach when they eat something they shouldn’t, but essentially its down to the activated charcoal that is beneficial to dogs and humans alike.

With charcoal powder being the third largest ingredient in this treat behind Tallow (that provides most of the biscuits 6% fat (important for so many dog functions) – it has been one of my dogs staple treats over many years. Archie approved number 1 biscuit !

Cannabics and Charcoal Dog treats images

CANABICS healthy dog treat biscuits MINI Charcoal biscuit Dog Treat

GLUCOSABICS dog biscuit

ingredients: wholegrain wheat, tallow, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate, flaxseed meal, vitamins & minerals, vanilla, glucosamine sulphate.

nutrition: protein 11%, fat 3.5%, fibre <10%, salt .75%

The second ingredient in these biscuits is Tallow.   Tallow is a rendered (cooked and reduced) form of beef or mutton fat, mainly triglycerides. Out of 100g of Tallow, 50% is saturated fat, 42% monosaturated fat and 4% polyunsaturated fat.

Total Omega 3 is 600 mg (or 0.6%)  Omega 6 is 3100 mg (3.1%)

Noting that since the TOTAL fat content of the biscuit is only 3.5%, the amount of Tallow in the biscuit is a small fraction of the biscuit (ie wont make them fat)

While salt is the fourth ingredient, it is added for taste, not functionality. Since the total biscuit only has 0.75% salt, the sodium level must be well below the CGD preferred range (sodium 0.6 – 1.8%)

lets get back to the functionality of this biscuit. it is called glucosabics because their major selling point for it is the inclusion of glucosomine – to assist in osteoarthritis and joint issues.

And while it is listed as the last ingredient in their nutrition profile. One website says that a 25 Kg dog requires 1500 mg of gluscomine to maintain joint health.  If 100g of biscuit contains 0.75% salt (or 750 mg) it is expected that the amount of glucosomine in this biscuit  would be substantially lower than that.  That said, better to have some or any gluscomine added to your dog, even by treat, than none.

BIGGA BISUITS

ingredients: wholegrain wheat, tallow, salt, sugar, calcium carbonate, flaxseed meal, vitamins & minerals, vanilla.

nutrition: protein 12%, fat 3%, fibre <10%, salt .75%

At first brush, the ingredients look very similar to the glucosbics, or many of the other biscuits here. But their selling point is “low fat, … suitable for pooches watching their weight & ideal for greyhounds.”

While most jerkies are around 10% fat (healthy for healthy dogs), and many of these biscuits are around 6% fat, these “bigga biscuits” are half that amount. The reason they might be good for CKD dogs is that with kidney disease, also can come some lethargy and reduced exercise. These dogs need to retain muscle mass, but they don’t want to put on fat, so bigga biscuits might suit your situation well.

Glucosobics and BIGGA biscuit (low fat) Dog treats images

glucosobics healthy dog treats biscuits bigga biscuit low fat dog treats

Mini beef biscuits

Ingredients: Whole grain wheat, meat meal, tallow, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate, flaxseed meal, garlic powder, vitamins and minerals, colour.

NUTRITION: PROTEIN 11%, FAT 6%, FIBRE <10%, SALT .75%

Why would we include a MEAT biscuit, when meat typically has high protein that CGD dogs are not allowed?

Simply because as mentioned in this blog, some experts suggest still including lean chicken jerky because dogs with CGD can lose muscle mass if not fed enough protein. And meat protein is highly bio available. Meaning you can feed less meat protein to a dog for it to use more efficiently than most plant protein.

So perhaps this biscuit is the perfect compromise for a CKD dog.  The protein level is still around 11% which is well under the max protein level suggested, but the second ingredient is MEAT MEAL, meaning that highly bio available protein is included, but at an appropriate level.

 LIVER & KIDNEY BISCUITS

ingredients: wholegrain wheat, tallow, beef liver & kidney, meat meal, sugar, salt, garlic powder, calcium carbonate, flaxseed meal, vitamins & minerals, colour (124).

nutrition: protein 11%, fat 6%, fibre <10%, salt .75%

Similar to the beef biscuits, these are on our list because they have low protein, but the third highest ingredient is “beef liver & kidney” AND the fourth ingredient is “meat meal”.  Dogs on a raw diet are recommended to eat a substantial amount of offal for its high natural and mineral values. This biscuit provides both OFFAL and Meat, highly bio available, in a low protein package.

Mini Beef dog biscuits AND  Liver & Kidney dog biscuits

MINI BEEF biscuit Dog Treat LIVER and KIDNEY biscuit Dog Treat

Other HDT options (non biscuit)

Cow hooves dog treats  

Protein 17.7%, Fat 22%. Sodium 57mg

“The hoof wall, sole, and heel are made of keratin (like hair and the cow’s horn) and water.”

cow hooves “contains gelatin, calcium, amino acids alongside important nutrients and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and selenium”  (ref Whatsfordinner)

Looking at a science paper on cow hooves (ref 9) we see that the walls and “soles and heels” can vary in cows considerably depending on feed lot and environmental condition. The more phosphorous the harder the hooves in general.  But looking at the graphs, the peak Phosphorous concentration was 700 mg per Kg, typical amounts are however only 300 mg/ Kg.

The CGD table says ideal phosphorus levels in food are 0.2 – 0.32 % and as 300 mg/ Kg represents only 0.003 % P,  (300/ 1,000,000)  very safe amounts.

 yoghurt drops

ingredients: yoghurt powder, milk solids, vegetable fat, sugar, soy lecithin, food acid (330).

nutrition: protein 3.6%, fat 29.6%, fibre 0%, salt <1%

This treat has high levels of yogurt powder and milk solids providing the culture boost that many dogs enjoy. Protein is well below maximums allowed, and while fat level is high, dogs would only be expected to have small amounts of this.

Cow hoove dog biscuits AND yoghurt drop dog treats

cow hooves dog treats yoghurt drops dog treats

carob drops

ingredients: carob powder, whey powder, vegetable fat, sugar, soy lecithin, salt, vitamins, flavour.

nutrition: protein 2.3%, fat 28.4%, fibre 0%, carbohydrate 64.4%, salt <1%,

The nutrition profile for this is similar to the yogurt drops, with carob substituting for the yogurt as the main ingredient.

Carob flour (nutrition self database) says 89% carbs, 4.6% protein, 0.7% fat.

Phosphorous is a very low 79 mg, sodium 35 mg, potassium 827 mg (all within CKD range)

Whey powder is a dried whey.   “Whey, sweet, dried powder” (100g) has 75g carbs, 13g protein, 1.1g fat,

Sodium is 1%, Phosphorous 0.9%

Since the whole treat only has 2.3% protein, and the carbos is 4.6% and whey powder 13g protein it would appear that the amount of whey powder must be a relatively small second ingredient to keep the overall treat down to 2.3% protein so the higher levels of whey phosphorous wouldn’t be a major contributor to phosphorous in the overall treat – so should be safe for CKD dogs.

CONCLUSION

As you can see while most of the single ingredient meat treats might be precluded in any major amounts for a CKD dogs diet, there are many other low protein and low phosphorus options.

We recommend the biscuits ranges and other treats recommended above, over many CKD marketed treats that are just re-boxed vegetable matter, without any specific function (medicinal or bio available ) function for your dog. Noting that many CKD treats might include a good ingredient, but in such trace amounts, that it has little value or effect.

One of the biggest rules of dog food and treat nutrition, is to make sure that what you are giving them serves a purpose other than enjoyment or what a sponsored vet might have recommended.

Adding more carbs, without a great functional secondary ingredient, is essentially adding empty calories. You want every KJ to contribute to your dog’s wellbeing

Ideally you want a dog to enjoy a treat, as well as get physical benefit from it. That is the kind of win win we should all aspire to for our dogs ! CKD dog diet, or regular dog diet.

 

Reference

Ref 1  Best Foods for Dogs with Kidney Disease.  Written by: PetMD Editorial  PUBLISHED: MARCH 16, 2016

Ref 2  My pet has kidney disease – what kind of diet should I feed?  by Clinical Nutrition Team.  MAY 03, 2016

Ref 3  The Best Treats for Dogs With Kidney Disease in 2022.  By Jill Layton June 20, 2022

Ref 4   Chicken breast myfooddata  nutrition database

Ref 5  beef dried    beefresearch .ca

Ref 6  WHEAT nutrition   nutritiondata .self.com

Ref 7 Tallow   https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/482/2

Ref 8 Cow hooves  100g  (mynetdiary)

Ref 9    EFFECT OF MANURE MASS ON CALCIUM AND PHOSPHORUS CONTENT OF CLAW HORN IN DAIRY COWS   Toncho Penev, Trakia University    January 2013

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