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Nutrition is crucial for animals with renal failure

Calorie/protein requirements and intake Manhattan Veterinary Hospital/Dr David Tan

For animals with renal failure, proper nutrition is crucial to follow-up care and treatment.

Research shows that nearly 70% of vets in Taiwan choose to use American prescription pet food to manage the nutrition requirements of their animal patients. This is because US prescription pet food already has strict restrictions on their content based on different disease types. This makes it easier to manage the diet of animal patients. Nevertheless, attention must be paid to daily calorie intake and the amount of protein given.

Daily calorie intake

To determine whether an animal needs more nutrients, we use the Body Condition Score to describe the animal's weight. They are given a rating from 1 (very thin) to 5 (obese) then their generation condition is recorded; routine weight logging is also very important. Changes in the animal weight are used to see whether there are any problems with the animal's nutrition intake. We use the basic formula of "weight x 30 + 70 = Daily calorie requirement" to calculate how many calories an animal needs each day. For a dog with renal failure however this will have to multiplied by a factor of 1 ~ 1.6, while cats must be multiplied by 1.1 ~ 1.4. Animals with renal failure therefore need more calories than normal animals.

How to give protein

Protein is very important for animals with renal failure too. Protein is normally broken down into amino acids by the digestive tracts and absorbed. When it is metabolized by the liver or cells, urea is produced and excreted by the kidneys. Too much protein will naturally lead to too much nitrogen waste.

Protein can be divided into high-quality protein and low-quality protein. Low-quality protein produces more nitrogen waste. We therefore prefer high-quality protein in the daily diet. What is the correct amount of protein intake then? Here creatinine is used as the standard. We divide renal failure into four stages based on the level of creatinine. Higher creatinine values mean less protein should be given. For example, if creatinine is 3 then protein content can be up to 32%. If creatinine is 7.5 then protein content must not exceed 17%. If creatinine is even higher then protein content must be even lower to keep the amount of urea in the blood under control.

The very significant restrictions on protein content means more carbohydrates and fats should be added to ensure that the food still contains enough calories. There is also research that shows giving Omega 3 and Omega 6 to animals with renal failure will help to combat inflammation as well.

(This article was also featured in the March issue of the Dogs and Cats Health Magazine published by the U.S. Pet Food Institute.)

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