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Non-Prescription Commercial Diets for Dogs with Kidney Disease

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Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian, nor do I have any formal training in any medical field. The information presented here is not meant to replace your vet's advice or prescribed medications, but only to suggest additional options to explore, based on your dog's condition.


Some senior and light diets contain less phosphorus than regular dog food, and may be usable as part of the diet for dogs with early stage renal disease (creatinine no higher than about 2.2). A few have been included below, but there is a chart of many more included in the article Phosphorus Content in Dog Food -- this chart is listed in order of mg phosphorus per hundred calories, which is the best way to look at the data. Note that the numbers provided below are extracted from a number of sources and are not guaranteed to be current; it is always best to contact the manufacturer and ask for a nutritional analysis (not the guaranteed minimum) to be sure.

Not all of the foods listed below are appropriate for dogs with kidney disease, but I've tried to find some with lower than average amounts of phosphorus, which you might be able to use as a base with added low-phosphorus fresh foods, as described below, or combined with a prescription kidney diet to improve the overall quality of the diet..

In the table below, use the "dry matter" percentages for comparing brands, and canned vs. dry. Use the "as fed" values for computing how much you are feeding. In particular, do not use the amount per can or per cup for comparison purposes, as the size of the can/cup varies quite a bit between brands. See Know the Difference: “As Fed” vs. “Dry Matter” Percentages for more information.

Remember that low protein is unnecessary and even harmful unless your dog is uremic, but low phosphorus is advisable. Moderate protein reduction may be required if your dog has proteinuria (significant protein in the urine). Canned food may be preferable to dry, as the extra moisture can help your dog stay hydrated, though you can add water to dry food to accomplish the same purpose.

For comparison purposes, most regular commercial diets have around 1-2% phosphorus on a dry matter basis. A dog with early stage kidney disease should be limited to no more than 0.6% phosphorus on a dry matter basis. Another way to figure it is that you want to feed no more than 30 mg phosphorus per pound of your dog's body weight daily if your dog has early stage kidney disease (less is better). These numbers must be reduced further for dogs with moderate stage kidney disease.

In addition to the high-quality foods listed in the table below, the following foods may have less than 0.6% phosphorus minimum on a dry matter basis, according to a chart I saw in a book. They're not high-quality foods but may be better choices than lower-protein diets for dogs with early-stage disease. Be sure to verify the amount of phosphorus (dry matter) with the manufacturer before feeding any of these foods:

The following foods have phosphorus amounts between 0.6% and 0.7% minimum on a dry matter basis. Again, be sure to verify the amount of phosphorus (dry matter) with the manufacturer before feeding any of these foods: Add water If you feed dry food, it's best to add water to help your dog stay hydrated. Remember that dry food will spoil once water is added, so you shouldn't leave it out all day.

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Adding fresh foods

One option to consider, particularly if your dog does not like any of the prescription kidney diets, is to feed a  lower-phosphorus regular (non-prescription) commercial food such as those listed below, and then add some low-phosphorus fresh foods to reduce the overall percentage of phosphorus in the diet.

If you're feeding a high-protein commercial diet, you can add some low-phosphorus carbohydrates such as white rice, pasta, potatoes and sweet potatoes. If you are feeding a low or average protein commercial diet, you could add fatty meats that are low in phosphorus. You can add a combination of both low-phosphorus fatty meats and carbs to any kind of diet, prescription or otherwise.

For dogs with early stage kidney disease, look for foods to add in the Table of Nutritional Values with less than 100 mg of phosphorus per 100 kcals. The goal is to reduce the amount of phosphorus in the overall diet to around 100 mg per 100 kcals. Dogs with moderate or late-stage kidney disease will need foods with even less phosphorus. You cannot use non-prescription diets at all for these dogs.

Be sure to add calcium, which acts as a phosphorus binder, at the rate of 1,000 mg (1/2 teaspoon ground eggshell, or any other form of plain calcium) per pound of added fresh food.

EXAMPLE: You might provide half the dog's daily calories from a relatively low-phosphorus commercial food (less then 200 mg phosphorus per 100 kcal). The other half of the calories would come from a mixture of half fatty meat, such as 80% lean ground beef or dark meat chicken with skin, plus half low-phosphorus starchy carbs, such as white rice or sweet potatoes (the latter are more nutritious). The mixture would be based on weight, not volume; e.g., 4 oz ground beef plus 4 oz sweet potato, not half a cup of each.

Those mixtures will provide in the neighborhood of 50 calories per ounce, to help you compute how much to give. You'll have to figure out how many calories their dog needs, which you should be able to do based on whatever you've been feeding before. Such a mixture will provide in the neighborhood of 50 mg phosphorus per 100 kcal.

You must add calcium at the rate of around 1,000 mg per pound of added food. You can use ground eggshell (1/2 tsp eggshell powder provides 1,000 mg calcium), or any other form of plain calcium. Calcium helps to bind phosphorus, as well as meeting dietary needs. Dogs with kidney disease should get two to three times as much calcium as phosphorus in their diets.

The more fresh foods that are added to the diet, the more important it becomes to balance the diet in the long term (short term, a few weeks to maybe a few months, it's OK to feed an incomplete diet). This is especially true for younger dogs, who may be on the diet for years. So if half the diet is fresh foods, just fatty meat plus starchy grains won't provide all the nutrition your dog needs. Add a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement that does not include phosphorus to help make up the difference.

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Dog Food Mixes

There are a few dog food mixes on the market that can be used to create a diet for dogs with early stage kidney disease. These mixes are designed to be combined with fresh foods to create a complete diet. Use higher-fat meats, tripe, whole milk ricotta cheese and combinations of whole eggs and egg whites to keep phosphorus levels reasonable, as long as your dog can tolerate a high-fat diet. Be sure to use a variety of fresh foods, not just one kind, and it's OK to feed very small amounts of foods that are higher in phosphorus, such as liver, for variety and better nutrition. Use the Table of Nutritional Values to see the amount of phosphorus per 100 kcals in various foods (far right column). Although these foods are designed to have fresh foods added, I would still add calcium at the rate of 500 mg (1/4 teaspoon ground eggshell, or any other form of plain calcium) per pound of added fresh food to help bind phosphorus.

Be sure to verify the amount of phosphorus (dry matter) with the manufacturer before feeding any of these foods:

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Using the Table

To use the table below, pay most attention to the column on the far right, Phosphorus mg per 100 kcals. For dogs with early stage kidney disease, try to find a food (or combination of foods) with 150 mg of phosphorus or less per 100 kcals. The same is true of fresh foods you add to the diet, from the Table of Nutritional Values.
Also pay attention to the next column to the left, Phosphorus (dry matter). For dogs with early stage kidney disease, you would want to feed a diet that is 0.60% or less phosphorus (dry matter). Again, you may be able to combine two different foods, one with higher phosphorus and one with lower, to get them to average out to the numbers you're looking for. You can also add fresh foods to help reduce the overall percentage of phosphorus in the diet (see above).

Note that dogs with significant proteinuria need a diet moderately reduced in protein in order to control the amount of protein in the urine, most accurately measured by urine protein:creatinine (UPC) ratio. I have not been able to determine exactly what level requires a dietary adjustment. UPC of 0.5 -0.9 is considered questionable and 1.0 is considered definitely abnormal, but glomerulonephritis is not usually diagnosed unless the UPC is 3.0 or above.

If your dog is uremic, with BUN over 80, creatinine over 4.0, and symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, inappetence and lethargy, you will have to reduce the amount of protein, but not otherwise (as long as there is not significant proteinuria), as protein only affects symptoms, it doesn't harm the kidneys (other than increasing inflammation when protein is being lost in the urine).

Be sure to verify the amount of phosphorus (dry matter) with the manufacturer before feeding any of these foods. Note that those foods shown in red below used to provide values indicating that they were low in phosphorus, but later values indicated they have much more phosphorus than shown before. There's no way to know if that's due to a change in formulation, or just inaccurate information. One of the problems with feeding non-prescription foods is that the analyses are not as reliable. Be sure to ask for an actual nutritional analysis, not just a guaranteed minimum. If the company can't or won't provide you with this information, you cannot rely on them for a special-needs diet.

Comparison of Calories, Protein and Phosphorus in Selected Commercial Diets with Relatively Low Phosphorus
Food Calories
(as fed)
(as fed)
(as fed)
mg/100 kcal
Dry Foods
Blue Buffalo Senior 3398/kg (35.3 oz)
456/cup (4.75 oz)
24 g/cup 1,073 mg/cup 20.0% 0.89% 235
Canine Caviar Special Needs 3519kg (35.3 oz)
(4 oz)
20 g/cup 680 mg/cup 19.6% 0.65% 185
Burns Original Chicken & Brown Rice (UK, Europe, Hong Kong) 3,300/kg (35.3 oz)     18.9% 0.76% 212
Burns Original Fish & Brown Rice (UK, Europe, Hong Kong) 3,280/kg
(35.3 oz)
    18.9% 0.91% 255
Dr E's Rx Formula Duck Dog Food (made by Great Life) 3,717/kg
(4 oz)
20 g/cup 747 mg/cup 20.0% 0.73% 177
First Mate Pacific Ocean Fish 3,226/kg (35.3 oz)
(5.5 oz)
36 g/cup 775 mg/cup 25.6% 0.56% 155
First Mate Pacific Ocean Fish Large Breed 3,600/kg (35.3 oz)
(5.5 oz)
39 g/cup 930 mg/cup 27.8% 0.67% 167
First Mate Ocean Fish Senior 3,032/kg (35.3 oz)
(5.5 oz)
28 g/cup 775 mg/cup 20.0% 0.56% 165
Great Life Dog Food -- Chicken 3,643/kg 414/cup
(4 oz)
27 g/cup 987 mg/cup 26.9% 0.97% 202

Great Life Grain Free Dog Food -- Open Range Chicken

(4 oz)
37 g/cup 907 mg/cup 36.7% 0.89% 200
Holistic Blend Lamb & Rice (Canadian) 3,390/kg     25.0% 0.75% 204
Holistic Select Weight Management 3,220/kg
(3.3 oz)
20.7 g/cup 701 mg/cup 24.6% 0.83% 232
Holistic Select Senior Health *WARNING* Too Much Phosphorus! 3606/kg
(3.6 oz)
28.9 g/cup 1448 mg/cup 30.7% 1.54% 394
Innova Large Breed Puppy Food 377/cup (3.6 oz) 27.5 g/cup 700 mg/cup 29.0 0.74% 186
Innova Large Breed Senior *WARNING* Too Much Phosphorus! 376/cup (3.6 oz) 29.9 g/cup 948 mg/cup 31.7% 1.01% 252
Innova Senior
*WARNING* Too Much Phosphorus!
(4 oz)
30 g/cup 1214 mg/cup 29.5% 1.18% 308
Innova Senior Plus
*WARNING* Too Much Phosphorus!
(4 oz)
32 g/cup 1173 mg/cup 29.8% 1.29% 276
Royal Canin Mature Consult 314/cup
(3 oz)
20.7 g/cup 534 mg/cup 25.6% 0.66% 170
Royal Canin Mini Mature +8 360/cup
(3.3 oz)
23.3 g/cup 563 mg/cup 27.8% 0.68% 162
Royal Canin Mini Aging +12 322 kcal/cup (3.0 oz) 20.0 g/cup 350 mg/cup 26.7% 0.46% 112
Royal Canin Maxi Adult 5+ 331/cup
(3.1 oz)
21.1 g/cup 626 mg/cup 26.7% 0.79% 188
Royal Canin Maxi Aging 8+ 301/cup
(2.8 oz)
20.3 g/cup 488 mg/cup 27.8% 0.67% 160
Royal Canin X-Small Aging +12 360 kcal/cup (3.2 oz) 20.2 g/cup 423 mg/cup 24.4% 0.51% 128
Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal 407/cup
(4 oz)
25.1 g/cup 904 mg/cup 24.7% 0.90% 224
Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken & Peas 325/cup
(3.6 oz)
21.5 g/cup 613 mg/cup 23.6% 0.67% 189
Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken & Barley 340/cup
(3.7 oz)
22.2 g/cup 792 mg/cup 23.6% 0.84% 233
Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice 336/cup
(3.5 oz)
25.0 g/cup 750 mg/cup 28.1% 0.84% 223
Wysong Nephreon (freeze-dried)* *WARNING* Too Much Phosphorus! 287/cup
(3.6 oz)
47.1 g/cup 970 mg/cup 48.6% 1.0% 355
Wysong Synorgen* 413/cup
(4.6 oz)
31.2 g/cup 686 mg/cup 27.3% 0.60% 189
Wysong Maintenance* 410/cup
(4.6 oz)
31.3 g/cup 801 mg/cup 27.4% 0.70% 222
Wysong Senior* 400/cup
(4.6 oz)
23.5 g/cup 801 mg/cup 20.5% 0.70% 228
Wysong Optimal Performance* 385/100 g
(3.5 oz)
26.7 g/100g 704 mg/100g 41.6% 0.80% 183
Canned Foods 
Castor & Pollux Organix Turkey, Carrot & Potato Formula 440/can (12.7 oz) 27 g/can 720 mg/can 34.1% 0.91% 164
Castor & Pollux Organix Chicken & Brown Rice Formula 446/can (12.7 oz) 27 g/can 756 mg/can 34.1% 0.95% 169
Castor & Pollux Organix Chicken & Potato Formula 448/can (12.7 oz) 27 g/can 756 mg/can 34.1% 0.95% 169
Castor & Pollux Organix Turkey & Vegetable Formula 463/can (12.7 oz) 27 g/can 792 mg/can 34.1% 1.00% 171
Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Chicken & Vegetable Formula 446/can (12.7 oz) 27 g/can 828 mg/can 34.1% 1.05% 186
Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Turkey & Vegetable Formula 463/can (12.7 oz) 27 g/can 900 mg/can 34.1% 1.14% 194
Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Turkey, Carrot & Potato Formula 440/can (12.7 oz) 27 g/can 864 mg/can 34.1% 1.09% 196
Innova Senior  *WARNING* Too Much Phosphorus! 397/can (13.2 oz) 32 g/can 1,422 mg/can 36.5% 1.62% 358
Merrick Chunky Carver's Delight Dinner 322/can (12.7 oz) 29 g/can 432 mg/can 42.1% 0.63% 136
Merrick Chunky Pappy's Pot Roast Dinner 288/can (12.7 oz) 29 g/can 432 mg/can 42.1% 0.63% 152
Merrick Chunky Colossol Chicken Dinner 322/can (12.7 oz) 29 g/can 432 mg/can 42.1% 0.63% 136
Merrick Grain Free 96% Real Tripe 331/can (13.2 oz)

36 g/can

449 mg/can 43.2% 0.55% 137
Merrick Mediterranean Banquet 334/can (13.2 oz)

34 g/can

524 mg/can 47.4% 0.74% 159
Royal Canin Mature Consult 362/can
(13.6 oz)
34.6 g/can 579 mg/can 38.1% 0.68% 160
Solid Gold Green Cow Tripe Dog Food 374/can (13.2 oz) 35.7 g/can 636 mg/can 41% 0.77% 169
Wysong Gourmet* 184-220/can (5.5 oz) 18.1-21.2 g/can 243 mg/can 44.7-52.4% 0.60% 110-132
Dehydrated Foods **
Essex Cottage Farms Kidney Diet**       9.4-15%  0.25%  
Essex Cottage Farms Hypoallergenic** 419/100 grams 21% 0.49% 117
Grandma Lucy's Valor Chicken (Valor Turkey and Fish varieties are comparable) 554/dry cup (4.75 oz), 4107/kg 40 g/dry cup 647 mg/dry cup 32.6% 0.52% 112
Grandma Lucy's Artisan Dog Food Chicken
*WARNING* Too Much Phosphorus!
439/dry cup (4 oz), 3867/kg 30 g/dry cup 1135
mg/dry cup
28.1% 1.08% 259
Grandma Lucy's Artisan Pre-Mix** (must add meat)
*WARNING* Too Much Phosphorus!
390/dry cup (4 oz), 3440/kg 15 g/dry cup 907 mg/dry cup 14.4% 0.89% 232
Honest Kitchen Keen 470/dry cup 22.7 g/dry cup 1000 mg/ dry cup 21.9% 0.96% 213
Honest Kitchen Love 514/dry cup 37 g/dry cup 1012 mg/ dry cup 34.9% 0.95% 197
Honest Kitchen Preference** 398/dry cup 13.6 g/dry cup 737 mg/ dry cup 13.2% 0.71% 185
Honest Kitchen Zeal 437/dry cup 41.7 g/dry cup 897 mg/ dry cup 39.5% 0.85% 205
Frozen Foods
JustFoodForDogs Beef and Russet Potato*** 1,440/kg (40/oz) 2.5 g/oz 43 mg/oz 32% 0.60% 105
JustFoodForDogs Lamb and Brown Rice*** 1,643/kg (46/oz) 2.1 g/oz 40 mg/oz 24% 0.49% 87
JustFoodForDogs Turkey and Macaroni*** 1,418/kg (40/oz) 2.9 g/oz 36 mg/oz 28.5% 0.36% 89
My Perfect Pet Kidney Support Blend 1374/kg (312/8-oz bar) 13.6 g per 8-oz bar 156 mg per 8-oz bar 20.3% 0.23% 50
My Perfect Pet Snuggles Blend (Reduced Mineral) 1,548/kg (357/8-oz bar) 20.4 g per 8-oz bar 340 mg per 8-oz bar 31.0% 0.53% 95
My Perfect Pet Boomer's Blend 1,582/kg (359/8-oz bar) 24.9 g per 8-oz bar 408 mg per 8-oz bar 35% 0.60% 114
My Perfect Pet Roxy's Blend 1,852/kg (420/8-oz bar) 22.7 g per 8-oz bar 435 mg per 8-oz bar 29% 0.55% 104
My Perfect Pet Ultra Low Glycemic Chicken/Beef 1,340-1,429/kg (304-324/
8-oz bar)
34.0/43.1 g per 8-oz bar 349/368 mg per 8-oz bar 67%/71% 0.7%/
Nature's Logic Raw Frozen Beef Formula 2,701/kg (245/3.2 oz patty) 10.9 g per 3.2-oz patty 236 mg per 3.2-oz patty 37.5% 0.8% 96

* Wysong makes high quality foods, but their Nephreon prescription kidney diet is higher in phosphorus than other prescription kidney diets, so it would only be appropriate for dogs with very early stage kidney disease whose phosphorus levels are normal (and it's questionable even then). According to the manufacturer, Nephreon is essentially Archetype with added nutraceuticals to support the kidneys. Most of Wysong's other foods are actually lower in phosphorus than either Nephreon or Archetype. See their Dry Matter Analysis of Wysong Pet Foods for percentages of all their regular foods (does not include prescription diets). Note that the canned "Au Jus" foods are just meat and organs, they are not complete diets. Of the three canned Gourmet foods, Liver is the best (lowest) and Seafood is the worst (highest) in terms of phosphorus per 100 kcals.

** You can't compare the figures for the various mixes directly to each other, as ECF figures are as fed (with water and meat added), while the rest are dry (before adding water, meat and other foods):

*** JustFoodForDogs also offers JustDoItYourself kits for their Daily Meals (but not their Vet Support Diets), consisting of a recipe and a customized supplement blend, so you can make this food yourself at home. Customized recipes and supplement blends can also be created for a one-time fee of $195. Once created, you have the option of having the company make the food for you, or you can buy the recipe and supplement blend to make the food yourself at home. Note that the Balanced Remedy is extremely low in fat.

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You can contact me if you have any comments, but I regret to say that I can no longer respond to questions about individual dogs. See my Contact page for more information. My name is Mary Straus and you can email me at either or


Rocky is a Yorkie-Poodle mix who had suffered from digestive problems his whole life. Click on his image to read about the diet his owner finally found to help him.
Pashoshe Fisher, a Chihuahua, was a wonderful, joyful companion to his owner for 19 & a half years. He was on a high quality raw diet for over half his life.
This is Ella, my Norwich Terrier.
Uremia refers to very high BUN and creatinine causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite and lethargy.