Kidney / Renal Diets (Low Phosphorous, Quality Protein)
Renal Diets available in Australia
Cats are more prone to kidney problems than dogs, so I’ll focus more on cats on this page. Kidney problems require a special diet to stabalise health and reduce discomfort.
Unfortunately for us, the variety of renal diets in Australia is limited to the big corporate brands. The smaller (often better brands) simply don’t have the resources to cater for prescription diets.
This is what we have (note that dog formulas are on par):
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Feline k/d
- Royal Canin Renal
- Iams Veterinary Formula Renal Plus
- Eukanuba Veterinary Diets Renal
Low Phospohorous? Low Protein?
Low Phosporous is essential, Low Protein on the other hand is misleading.
It’s important to be aware phosphorous is vital for strong bones, teeth, and to help our cats convert food into energy. The issue arises when a cat is suffering kidney disease. When the kidney’s aren’t functioning correctly we get a build up of phosphorous which can cause greater kidney damage, elevated phosphorous levels in the blood, and discomfort. A renal diet can slow kidney disease by reducing the intake of phosphorous.
So what’s with the notion of feeding low protein? Cat’s are obligate carnivores, they need meat (and meat proteins) for their organs to function correctly. The problem is meat contains phosphorous, so manufacturers of renal diets cut phosphorous by cutting meat. This can cause more long-term harm than good.
Wet or Dry
You often find vets will prescribe a dry renal diet for your poorly cat. There are benefits to dry foods, but in this case you’re better off with wet. Moisture is very important, and a wet renal diet will likely be more beneficial for your cat. If you can afford wet over dry then do that, but regardless of what food you feed you should always ensure your cat has access to clean, fresh water.
What if your cat refuses to eat a low phosphorous diet?
Sometimes cats will refuse to eat a different diet, so rather than letting them starve you could speak to your vet about phosphorous binders. These can help prevent phosphorous build-up in the kidneys and blood.
Analysis of the Renal Diets available in Australia
Below are short overviews of the dry renal diets available, and these may convince you to opt for a wet diet.
Hill’s Prescription Diet Feline k/d
This food contains chicken, but the dominant ingredient is brewer’s rice. It really appalls me that a diet aimed at keeping your cat healthy has a waste product making up most of the food. Corn gluten meal isn’t the best ingredient either, but this will provide a lower phosphorous source of protein. There’s also a lot of wheat in the food which isn’t good to see, being one of the cheapest filler grains available.
Royal Canin Renal
Royal Canin Renal is mostly corn flour and rice, with animal fat and hydrolysed animal proteins. It contains wheat gluten, corn gluten, and soya. They recommend 2~4 weeks on this diet for temporary renal dysfunction, and up to 6 months for cases of chronic renal insufficiency.
Iams Veterinary Formula Renal Plus
Corn has been a controversial ingredient in pet foods in the past, but processed correctly can be a decent source of nutrients and proteins. I’m therefore not surprised this renal offering from Iams has a corn product as the main ingredient, but I can’t fathom why they use corn grits – this is the part of ground corn than contains little to no protein. Why!? It contains chicken and chicken fat, so that’s good, but corn gluten meal will provide most of the protein.
Eukanuba Veterinary Diets Renal
With Eukanuba being a premium offering from Iams I’d expect the Eukanuba renal diet to be an improvement, but it isn’t much better. Again we see corn grits as a pointless top ingredient. Animal fat is prominent which is good for essential nutrients and energy, with soya protein isolate being the main source of protein – that’s ok for a renal diet. Corn gluten meal adds to the protein, and we also find dried chicken and turkey in a relatively insignificant amount.