Best Low Phosphorus Dog Food for Renal Failure [REVIEWS]

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What is low phosphorus dog food and why is phosphorus important? For dogs and humans alike, phosphorus is a key component in nutrition and health.

low phosphorus dog food

Phosphorus is a critical agent in maintaining proper bodily functions. Not only is phosphorus, along with enzymes like niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin, responsible for motor functions such as walking and chewing, but it also allows for proper energy storage and transfer. Also, phosphorus helps in adequate kidney function.

dog tilting its head

Though phosphorus is a necessary nutrient, it can sometimes be damaging to dog health. Too much phosphorus can cause renal failure. While it’s possible dogs can have effects from low phosphorus, it’s doubtful.

For pet parents with dogs with kidney issues, it’s beneficial to understand the renal system, kidney disease, and treatment with low phosphorus dog foods.

We’ve examined different low phosphorus dog food options and narrowed them down to the best options. Prescription and non-prescription. You’ll find detailed reviews on each below, as well as the pros and cons. If you know what you need, here are the quick links to products:

Prescription Low Phosphorus Dog Foods

  1. Hill’s Prescription Diet – Kidney Care
  2. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet
  3. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet with Renal Support
  4. Hill’s Prescription Diet# with Kidney Care
  5. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Support Wet Dog Food

Non-prescription Low Phosphorus Dog Foods

  1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food
  2. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet
  3. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet
  4. Zignature Limited Ingredient Dog Food
  5. Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Blend Diet Canned Dog Food
  6. Instinct Raw Freeze-dried Dog Food 
  7. Solid Gold Green Cow Wet Dog Food

Why Low Phosphorus Diets Can Help

When kidneys stop functioning, toxins can build up in the blood. This includes phosphorus. When phosphorus accumulates, it can cause a loss of appetite and energy. Some medications are used to bind phosphates to the digestive tract, so it doesn’t build up in the blood.

While medications can help, special diets are used to treat kidney failure. Low phosphorus diets can reduce the amount of phosphorus building up in the bloodstream, similarly to medications. However, with low phosphorus diets, there may be fewer side effects.

Benefits of Low Phosphorus Dog Foods

While low phosphorus diets have one primary function, there are many brands and low phosphorus dog food types. Based on the dog’s needs and the severity of their kidney disease, a dog might need a high protein or a low protein dog food to help ease their symptoms.

dog running

High-Quality Protein and Low Phosphorus Dog Food

High-quality protein dog foods have several benefits. For example, high protein dog foods can improve hair and coat texture, develop lean muscle, and boost the immune system, which can benefit dogs with health issues. Dog foods with high protein can keep dogs from losing muscle mass as they age.

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Low phosphorus and high protein dog foods can be beneficial if kidney damage is minimal. As kidneys are meant to filter the blood, if a dog food has high protein, the kidneys may not filter out enough protein, which means it will build up and cause more damage.

Low Protein and Low Phosphorus Dog Food

The goal of special diets is to minimize the work the renal system has to do. Keeping phosphorus and protein levels low could mean the kidneys have fewer toxins to filter. A low protein and low phosphorus dog food will help balance a dog’s system. Besides, it’s believed that a low phosphorus diet can help slow the progression of kidney disease.

The ideal diet for dogs with renal failure is a diet low in phosphorus and protein. We should reduce sodium. A diet high in sodium or salt can make blood pressure higher and damage the kidneys even more. Treats like cheese and processed meat should not be given often.

Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids, especially from fish oil, can be beneficial as well. In general, omega-3 acids can strengthen immune systems, decrease joint pain, and support heart health.

There are many options on the market for prescription and non-prescription low phosphorus dog foods.

When your dog is still healthy you can make sure through dog training that he always lets you know when he has to go.

Prescription Low Phosphorus Dog Foods

Prescription low phosphorus dog foods require a veterinarian’s prescription before you’re allowed to buy the food. When purchasing online, a person will have to give veterinarian information for verification. Several prescription low phosphorus dog foods can benefit dogs with kidney issues.

Hill’s Prescription Diet – Kidney Care

hills prescription diet kidney care with chicken dry dog foodHill’s Prescription Diet: Kidney Care with chicken is created explicitly by dog nutritionists and veterinarians. The goal of this food is to support dog kidney and joint health. This food is meant to support kidney function by controlling sodium and phosphorus levels, which is 0.32%. It’s formulated with omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin to help with dog joint health.

Hill’s Science Diet boasts that this food will improve a dog’s ability to jump and run in 21 days. Also, it uses an appetite stimulant that can help dogs that don’t have much of an appetite because of their kidney issues.

Pros:

  • Low phosphorus (0.32%) to aid with kidney health
  • Low sodium to keep the blood pressure low
  • Made with glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids to improve joint health
  • Uses an appetite stimulant

Cons:

  • Dry food, no added hydration
  • Some dogs won’t like the taste.

This food is dry, so it lacks the benefit of added moisture to support a dog’s hydration. While this food maintains a 4.6 out of 5-star rating on Amazon, the biggest complaints are that specific dogs don’t like the taste rather than about the product’s benefits. Many review that their dogs love the food.

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Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet

blue buffalo natural veterinary diet kidney support for dogsLike the Hill’s Prescription Diet, this Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet is specifically formulated by experts to improve dog kidney function and overall health. Blue Buffalo Natural controls phosphorus levels (keeping them between 0.22 and 0.55%) and sodium, specifically for kidney health. It also offers lower protein levels, which can reduce the work that the kidneys have to do. This low phosphorus dog food also features antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and l-carnitine to improve overall dog health.

This brand is also grain-free. Grain-free diets can be beneficial because they can limit allergic reactions and inflammation from those reactions. It’s also soy-free as soy can be an irritant for many dogs.

Pros:

  •  Low phosphorus (0.22-0.55%) to improve kidney function
  •  Low sodium to reduce blood pressure
  •  Low protein to reduce the kidney workload
  •  Grain-free and soy-free to reduce inflammation and allergies
  •  Enhanced with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids for improved immune support

Cons:

  •  Not available in different sizes of kibble
  •  Dry food, no added hydration
  •  More expensive than other brands

This food comes in one size, meaning that the kibble may not be suitable for smaller dogs. Also, it’s dry food, so there is no additional hydration. This product has a 4.4-star rating on Amazon. The biggest complaints are about kibble size and price. However, many agree that their pets love the taste.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet with Renal Support

royal canin veterinary diet canine multifunction renal support hydrolyzed protein dry dog foodRoyal Canin Veterinary Diet food focuses primarily on enhancing the flavor to improve a dog’s interest in eating. This kibble uses flavor and smell enhancers and appetite stimulants to encourage dogs to eat. This brand also includes ingredients like antioxidants and fish oil to reduce inflammation and support joint health. Also featuring low phosphorus with a maximum of 0.27%, this food is low in protein, which will support kidney function.

Pros:

  •  Low phosphorus (0.27%) to support renal health
  •  Low protein to reduce kidney workload
  •  Includes antioxidants and fish oil to reduce inflammation
  •  Flavor and smell enhanced with appetite stimulants.

Cons:

  •  Hard to find
  •  Dry food, no added hydration
  •  Expensive compared to most brands

Royal Canin Renal Support A has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon with very few overall and zero 1-star ratings. A big complaint is about price and availability. Other Canin products are rated similarly with more reviews than this specific product. While this low phosphorus dog food is hard to find, its added appetite stimulants and flavor enhancers might help dogs that won’t eat.

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Prescription Low Phosphorus Wet Dog Foods

Hill’s Prescription Diet# with Kidney Care

Hills Prescription kidney care wet dog foodLike the dry version of the Hill’s Prescription Diet, this wet low phosphorus dog food is formulated by experts to improve kidney and joint function. It’s clinically proven to extend the quality of life and improve mobility in dogs. With low phosphorus and sodium levels, this food helps dogs balance their blood pressure while reducing their kids.

Pros:

  • Low phosphorus improves with kidney new health.
  • Low sodium to balance blood pressure
  • Made with glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids to improve joint health
  • Stimulant to increase appetite
  •  Wet food for added hydration
  • Suitable for all breeds

Cons:

  •  Some dogs won’t like them; taste.
  •  Expensive compared to other wet foods

Maintaining a 4.4-star rating on Amazon, this low phosphorus dog food is low in protein and fat but includes grains that could cause allergic reactions. However, these foods are easy to digest. Though the biggest complaint is about the price, other reviews show promising results, and it’s suitable for all breeds.

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Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Support Wet Dog Food

kidney support for dogsThis wet version of the Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet with kidney support offers many of the same benefits as the dry version. This wet low phosphorus dog food is balanced in protein, isn’t made with grains, and includes omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
Pros:

  • Low phosphorus to improve kidney function
  • Reduce blood pressure with low sodium 
  • Low protein to reduce the kidney workload
  • Grain-free and soy-free, which reduces inflammation and allergies
  • Enhanced with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids for improved immune support

Cons:

  •  More expensive than other brands

This wet food from Blue Buffalo has a 3.9-star rating on Amazon. As a major complaint of the dry food was the kibble size, this canned food eliminates that issue. Many believe that the price is too high compared to other brands, and some dogs had problems with eating it based on flavor. However, other buyers were pleased with the quality and the results.

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Non-prescription Low Phosphorus Dog Foods

While some dogs will need the specialized nutrition of prescription low phosphorus dog foods, others’ needs might be met by over-the-counter dog foods.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food

blue buffalo life protection formula senior dog food natural dry dog food for senior dogs chicken brown riceAs with other Blue Buffalo products, this senior dog food focuses on providing high-quality protein sources, maintaining muscle. Specially formulated for older dogs, this dog food has chondroitin and glucosamine for mobility support and inflammation reduction. Though it is higher in protein, this food contains 0.6% phosphorus, meaning it can aid in kidney function. It also has to add omega-3 fatty acids to reduce joint pain.

Pros:

  • Low in phosphorus (0.6%) for kidney health
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for mobility
  • Omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and joint pain

Cons:

  • Contains grains, which may cause inflammation and allergies
  • Higher in protein

Maintaining an Amazon rating of 4.7 stars, this Blue Buffalo senior food also contains grains. Grains can cause inflammation and allergies for some dogs. Many low reviews stated that the food made their dogs sick, which could have been for allergic reactions. However, many buyers saw improvement in their senior dog.

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Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet

natural balance l i d limited ingredient diets dry dog food 1Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet is a formula not marketed necessarily as a low phosphorus dog food. However, looking at the analysis, this food features a minimum of 1.0% of phosphorus, making it deficient in that nutrient. Natural Balance contains limited ingredients moderate in protein while including amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids for immune support. Protein also comes from a single source, which limits dog exposure to toxins and unwanted ingredients.

Pros:

  • Low phosphorus levels for kidney support
  • Omega-3 fatty acids for immune support and inflammation reduction
  • Single animal protein source
  • Grain-free

Cons:

  • Includes salt in ingredients, which may increase blood pressure

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet also contains salt and is made with grains. This means it may not be suitable for dog blood pressure, increasing inflammation, and allergies. This product has a 4.6-star rating on Amazon, with the biggest complaint that it made dogs ill with a new formula and grains. However, many buyers saw the benefits.

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Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet

blue buffalo basics limited ingredient diet grain free natural adult dry dog foodThis Blue Buffalo Basics dog food features high-quality protein as the first ingredient in this limited ingredient food. In addition to the high-quality protein, this food also features potatoes, peas, and pumpkin, gentle on digestion. This is a grain-free food, meaning there are limited allergens and, overall, potentially less inflammation. It’s also low in phosphorus with a percentage of 0.7, so it will help with kidney function.

Pros:

  • Low Phosphorus (0.7%) levels to support kidneys
  • Grain-free for minimal irritation and inflammation
  • Approved by holistic veterinarians

Cons:

  • Dry food, no added hydration benefit
  • Not suitable for small breeds

Like many other Blue Buffalo foods, this Blue Buffalo Basics maintains a high Amazon rating of 4.7 stars, with low star ratings that are years old. While it is a dry food that’s not necessarily suitable for small dogs, this dog food is approved by holistic veterinarians.

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Zignature Limited Ingredient Dog Food

zignature small bites limited ingredient formula grain free dry dog foodZignature limited ingredient dog food features high-quality, grain-free ingredients. While this food prioritizes meat and protein, it has the right balance of carbohydrates and fats and added omega-3 fatty acids, which can decrease inflammation. It is a more moist dry dog food, so it’s gentle on stomachs and easy to chew. While phosphorus levels are on the lower side, they are close to average at 1.1%.

Pros:

  • Low phosphorus (1.1%) for kidney health
  • Grain-free with added omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and allergies
  • Moderate, high-quality protein

Cons:

  • Added omega-6 fatty acids which can cause inflammation
  • High range of phosphorus

On Amazon, Zignature Limited Ingredient dog food maintains a 4.7-star rating. Many negative reviews believe that this food made their dogs ill, but other buyers review that the food helped their dogs with allergies.

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Non-prescription Low Phosphorus Wet Dog Foods

Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Blend Diet Canned Dog Food

daves pet food dog food restricted bland diet canned dog foodDave’s Pet Food wet dog food contains low phosphorus as well as low protein levels. This dog food has a minimum of 0.06% phosphorus, which will aid in kidney function. With a percentage of 4.5 of crude protein, it will also keep kidneys from being overloaded. Besides, it’s grain-free, which means it’s easy to digest, and dogs will have few allergic reactions and inflammation.

Pros:

  • Low phosphorus levels (0.06%) to aid kidney function
  • Low protein to support kidneys
  • Grain-free to limit allergies and inflammation

Cons:

  • Added salt which could increase blood pressure

Dave’s Restricted Diet dog food maintains a rating of 4.4 stars on Amazon. Low ratings came from buyers whose dogs became sick. Because it has such low protein and phosphorus levels, it can help with kidney function for dogs with kidney disease.

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Instinct Raw Freeze-dried Dog Food 

instinct freeze dried raw dog food raw meals grain free high protein freeze dried dog foodInstinct Raw foods can be served as is or wet down, making for easy digestion. These raw foods are primarily meat, bone, and organ-based while incorporating healthy fruits and vegetables. Though this dog food is high in protein, it is very low in phosphorus with a percentage of 0.35%, much lower than many other dog foods.

Pros:

  • Low in phosphorus (0.35%)
  • Limited ingredients and grain-free for limited irritation and inflammation

Cons:

  • High protein
  • No added fish oil
  • More expensive than other brands

This is a relatively new brand, but it maintains a rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon. One star buyer commented on the price as being too expensive. While the price is higher, it has quality ingredients and low phosphorus, which can benefit dogs with mild kidney issues.

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Solid Gold Green Cow Wet Dog Food

solid gold green cow beef tripe broth natural wet canned dog food for sensitive stomachs picky eaters grain free meal or topperSolid Gold Green Cow is specially formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs by including probiotics and healthy fats. Made with high-quality and holistic ingredients, this food is grain and gluten-free. According to the manufacturer, it’s naturally low in phosphorus, which is suitable for kidney and renal problems. It’s low in protein, so it can help ease the workload of kidneys as well.

Pros:

  • Naturally low in phosphorus
  • Grain-free
  • Gentle on sensitive stomachs
  • Low in protein

Cons:

  • No added fish oil
  • Salt in added ingredients might increase blood pressure

While this dog food is meant to get picky dogs to eat, it does have added salt that might make blood pressure fluctuate. There are also no added fish oils, which have proven beneficial for dogs with kidney issues. This product has a 4.3-star rating on Amazon, and low ratings expressed that the product made their dogs sick or their dogs didn’t like the product. Many buyers reviewed that Solid Gold Green Cow helped their dog with kidney disease gain weight.

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Homemade Low Phosphorus Dog Food for Kidney Disease

While there are many good options for low phosphorus commercial dog foods, some pet parents may choose to make their food. There are foods to include in a homemade diet, while there are others to avoid

dog eating a lot of fruits

Foods low in Phosphorus

Poultry and lamb are lower in phosphorus, making them excellent choices for a homemade diet. Certain types of fish, like tuna and mahi-mahi, have low levels of phosphorus. If you choose to include grains into your dog’s diet, rice and barley are best, but they should be minimal. Also, include vegetables and some fruits as well as fish oils to help reduce inflammation.

High Phosphorus Foods to Avoid

Dairy and foods high in salt should be avoided. Dairy can cause inflammation, and salt can cause high blood pressure, which can strain your dog’s kidneys.

Peanut Butter for Kidney Disease

For most dogs, peanut butter can be a tasty snack. However, particular peanut butter contains xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener that’s toxic for dogs. Also, many peanut butters is high in salt. Too much sodium can cause fluctuations in blood pressure, so it’s best not to give peanut butter to dogs with kidney disease and issues.

What do kidneys do?

Kidneys are part of the renal system, including the urinary tract, bladder, and urethra. The urinary system also has many essential functions, such as removing waste material from food and producing hormones.

These hormones, renin, and erythropoietin, help maintain blood cell production, salt absorption, and balance blood pressure. This system is also responsible for processing vitamin D and regulating water and electrolytes in cells.

Dog kidneys work with the system, but they are responsible for maintaining phosphorus levels, metabolizing calcium, and filtering waste and toxins from the blood. If kidneys do not function properly, toxins can build up in the blood, causing sickness, like kidney disease or death.

What is a kidney disease in dogs?

Kidney disease, often referred to as chronic kidney disease or chronic renal failure, is the kidneys and renal system’s inability to function correctly.

dog lying on the floor

A common misconception is that animals with kidney disease will be unable to produce urine. However, dogs with kidney disease tend to urinate more frequently and in more massive amounts, but the kidneys do not adequately filter the urine and toxins.

How is kidney disease caused?

Kidneys may fail for several reasons, and this failure may happen over a short period of just days, or it might happen slowly and over time. Dogs can develop kidney issues because they ingest toxins like contaminated food, medications, or antifreeze. Exposure to these substances will cause an immediate or quick onset of kidney failure.

Reduce blood flow to the system, urinary blockages, or infections may also cause symptoms. If treated correctly and quickly, the effects of kidney failure may not be permanent. However, kidney disease develops over time, and it is not reversible.

Kidney disease and other kidney conditions can be caused by underlying conditions or illnesses and hereditary conditions. Advanced dental disease and bacteria from it might get into a dog’s bloodstream and damage the kidneys and other major organs like the liver and the heart. For heart problems you can consider a low-sodium dog food diet.

How is dog kidney disease diagnosed?

Early symptoms for both acute and chronic renal failure are excessive thirst, which also causes increased urination. Also, dogs may again lose their appetite, vomit, develop metallic or ammonia smelling breath, and become weak and lethargic.

A veterinarian can suspect renal failure based on symptoms, but the diagnosis will be confirmed with laboratory work that evaluates urine and blood. Urine tests can show if kidneys filter waste properly and determine if there are urinary tract issues like infections or protein loss.

Blood tests will also help determine whether or not kidneys are functioning normally or not. Kidneys excrete substances like creatinine and urea as waste. If there are higher concentrations of these in the blood, that will indicate inhibited kidney function.

Other tests for anemia, calcium and phosphorus levels and electrolyte imbalances can also help determine kidney function. Ultrasounds and X-rays can be another way to identify causes for renal failure.

How is kidney disease treated in dogs?

Depending on the severity of the kidney damage, dogs will go through a process where kidneys are flushed, and toxin buildup will be removed from the blood. This process is called diuresis, and it can help restore kidney function. Diuresis cannot restore many parts to severely damaged kidneys, though. After this process, other treatments will begin to help slow the progression of kidney disease.

dog closing its eyes

As kidney disease can have many causes, more often than not, the underlying causes are treated to ease renal failure. Much of the time, renal failure treatment will include at least one medication and a special diet. Anemia, stomach acid, and high blood pressure might need to be treated as well.

Dehydration is common in pets with renal failure, making kidney disease progress if it’s not treated. As dogs may be prone to vomiting or diarrhea, they might not keep enough fluids in their system. Because of this, dogs might have to go through fluid therapy. Fluid therapy may include hydration through IV or subcutaneous tissue.

Kidney Disease Can Be Eased

While kidney disease is not curable, properly treating the symptoms and keeping low phosphorus levels can allow dogs to maintain relatively everyday lives. It’s important to work closely with your vet to ensure your dog maintains a healthy diet that supports kidney function.

While kidney disease is not curable, properly treating the symptoms and keeping low phosphorus levels can allow dogs to maintain relatively everyday lives. It’s essential to work closely with your vet to ensure your dog maintains a healthy diet that supports kidney function.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Johan Fraiser

    I would like to put in a word of recommendation for Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet. Very wonderful product, I noticed my dogs minor inflammations disappear over the course.

    1. Priit Kallas

      Thank you for your comment. I haven’t tried this product on my dog. But a friend who has several older dogs has mentioned the need for low phosphorus dog food and seems to be using Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet

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