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Can dogs with kidney disease eat chicken?

Has your dog been diagnosed with kidney disease and you’re unsure of how to move forward with the proper care for your canine companion?

Dr. Celeste Clements, DVM reports approximately 1 in 10 dogs will be diagnosed with kidney disease. She also states that knowing the signs and symptoms of kidney disease is essential to early diagnosis and treatment.

This article will explore the causes, signs, possible treatment, and food restrictions associated with canine kidney disease, particularly whether chicken is a healthy protein option for your furry friend.

Kidney disease in dogs

Kidney disease is when the kidneys stop functioning at their optimal level.

Canines have two kidneys that are responsible for filtering toxins out of the body in the form of urine, balancing water in the body, and maintaining blood pressure.

There are two types of onset for kidney disease – acute and chronic.

Your dog might develop acute problems with their kidneys due to the following:

  • Ingestion of toxins
  • Severe urinary tract infections
  • Dental infection

Some foods and toxins that can cause acute kidney disease include grapes, raisins, and accidental ingestion of antifreeze or NSAIDs (like ibuprofen).

Dogs with certain cancers, autoimmune disorders, and genetic traits may be more prone to chronic kidney disease. Older dogs are also more vulnerable to chronic kidney disease. This can be due to poor dental hygiene throughout their life. Veterinarians emphasize the importance of daily dental hygiene for your furry friend.

Symptoms of kidney disease may include lethargy, dehydration, excessive thirst, and loss of appetite. As always, it’s important to observe and understand your dog’s baseline behavior and note any changes.

Kidney disease and diet

Considering the kidneys have a lot to do with expelling toxins from the body, you might assume that an individual diagnosed with kidney disease may have to be careful about the consumption of potentially harmful ingredients, specifically through their daily diet.

According to veterinarians, it’s important for dogs with kidney disease to eat a diet that is low in sodium and to avoid fat-riddled proteins and ingredients like phosphorus.

For a dog with kidney disease, it experts recommend increasing their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality, lean proteins. Omega-3s typically come from fish like salmon, mackerel, and cod. Refer to your veterinarian about how to properly supplement your dog’s diet with omega-3.

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Foods to avoid may include cheese, deli meats, and even many commercial dog treats.

The clinical nutrition team at Tufts University recommends sticking to foods that have less than 1 mg of sodium per calorie. Keep in mind that it’s always best to consult your veterinarian for the best products to feed your dog.

So, can your dog still eat chicken?

The general consensus is that lean, low-sodium meats, including chicken, are typically safe for a dog with chronic kidney disease to eat.

If feeding a chicken-based kibble, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian about brands that specialize in diets for dogs with kidney disease. There are plenty of kibble options in pet stores and veterinary clinics formulated specifically for dogs with kidney disease.

If you make your dog’s food at home or are used to feeding them table scraps, it’s imperative you only give your dog fresh, lean meats that are moisture-rich, unseasoned, and low in sodium.

Suppose you do home-make your dog’s food. In that case, it’s necessary to consult your veterinarian for specific nutrition guidelines to guarantee they are getting the essential nutrients from their homemade food.

The website BalanceIt is a veterinary-recommended resource that assists in creating well-rounded homemade recipes for dogs.

Alternative protein sources

While it is considered safe for your dog to consume low-sodium, high-quality chicken if diagnosed with kidney disease, your dog’s diet doesn’t have to be limited to chicken, as there are other sources of protein available.

Some other acceptable sources of protein to include in your dog’s diet include:

Preventative care

To avoid the onset of acute kidney failure, always make sure to monitor what your dog may be ingesting. Keep harmful chemicals and foods such as grapes and xylitol out of your pet’s reach.

If you didn’t know, xylitol is a widely used sugar substitute, sometimes found in peanut butter, sugar-free gum, and yogurt, that can wreak havoc on your dog’s body.

While acute kidney disease can be avoided, some dogs may be more vulnerable to chronic kidney disease due to genetics or breed type, however, there are still many ways to delay or prevent the onset of chronic kidney disease.

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Keeping your dog hydrated is imperative in the prevention of chronic kidney disease. Providing your dog with clean, fresh water should be a heavily prioritized part of their daily care. Make sure that cleaning your dog’s water bowl is part of your regular regimen.

According to the American Red Cross, you can determine if your dog is dehydrated by pulling up on the skin between the shoulder blades and watching it spring right back. If the skin stays tented, this could be a sign that your dog may be dehydrated.

You can download the Pet First Aid app on your smartphone for more information on canine and feline first aid care and preventative care.

Yearly check-ups

Veterinarians recommend pet parents schedule yearly check-ups for their animals. This ensures your animal is healthy. This also guarantees that any abnormalities can be detected, diagnosed, and treated sooner than later.

It’s always a good idea to keep open communication with your vet about any changes in your animal’s behavior.

Dental hygiene

As previously stated, animal care professionals emphasize the importance of, at the very least, semi-regular dental care for your dog. A study published in the National Library of Medicine concluded that there was evidence for a link between periodontal disease and biomarkers for compromised kidney function.

Most vets recommend your dog receives one dental cleaning a year, usually under anesthesia.

Maintaining your dog’s dental hygiene in between cleanings may involve you using dental wipes, brushes, dental sticks, and chews that can help to remove some plaque from the teeth.


In conclusion, a dog diagnosed with kidney disease can eat chicken, as long as it is low in sodium and high in quality.

It is important to remember a kidney disease diagnosis is not a death sentence for a dog. It’s important to stay focused on maintaining proper care, regular check-ups, and a healthy diet for a dog with kidney disease.

References and more information

Rau Animal Hospital

LakeCross Veterinary

Tuft’s University – Clinical Nutrition Team

National Library of Medicine