Kidney Disease: Does Your Pet Really Have It?

Kidney Disease: Does Your Pet Really Have It?

Kidney and urinary tract diseases are prevalent among companion animals. There are a number of contributing factors and diet plays a major role. How does diet affect the diagnosis of kidney dysfunction? And the prognosis for your pet?

There are some things you need to know first! It matters whether you feed commercial pet food or raw food. Why? Because the two types of feeding create two different scenarios if we examine it in clinical terms, mainly through blood work and clinical symptoms.

Since raw diets are “new” to the modern market, veterinarians haven’t necessarily been trained to recognize the differences between normal ranges for raw-fed dogs vs. dogs fed a high starch commercial diet. A nine-month study from Dr. Jean Dodds DVM revealed that raw-fed dogs have different “normal” blood values for hematocrit, BUN, and creatinine. The study was conducted with 200 dogs, some fed commercial kibble and others fed on a raw diet.

Dr. Dodds found that healthy dogs that showed no clinical signs of kidney disease were displaying high blood values that would suggest kidney disease in dry-fed pets:

Blood Value

Raw Fed Dogs*

Dry Fed Dogs

Established Normal Values


51.0 +  6.6 - 53.5 +  5.6%

47.6 + 6.1%



18.8 + 6.9 - 22.0 + 8.7 mg/dL

15.5 + 4.7 mg/dL

6-24 mg/dL


1.20 + 0.34 mg/dL

1.07 + 0.28 mg/dL

0.4-1.4 mg/dL

*Blood values cited from Dr. Jean Dodds DVM study: Dodds, W. Jean, DVM, and Susan Wynn, DVM. “Updated Second Progress Report: Study of Microalbuminuria in Dogs Fed Raw Food Diets.” Dr. Jean Dodds’ Pet Health Resource Blog, 12 Nov. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2015. <>.

If your dog eats a raw diet, his hematocrit, BUN, and creatinine could be high or on the high side of normal when he gets a blood test. Dr. Dodds has suggested that it may be appropriate to create a guideline of “normal” values for raw fed dogs rather than using the existing ones which are more geared towards commercially fed pets. If there are no clinical symptoms that accompany those high blood values, there may be less cause for concern. However, if clinical symptoms are observed, it will be important to discuss the possibilities and treatment options with your veterinarian. This information could greatly impact the health and treatment of your pet!

Clinical symptoms of kidney disease include:

-Excessive drinking and peeing (PU/PD)

-weight loss


-foul breath



-blood in the urine

Be sure to keep this in mind when you are considering switching to raw or if you already feed raw. 

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