Archive for Sunday, November 24, 2002

Cat rejects diet for kidney disease

November 24, 2002


My cat only eats grocery store cat food, even though my vet recommends a special diet for her kidney disease. Is this OK?

Cats and dogs with chronic kidney disease do better when fed a diet with decreased amounts of phosphorus and, in severe cases, decreased amounts of protein. The lowered phosphorus and protein can reduce ongoing damage to the kidneys and can decrease the amount of uremic toxins in the blood. Unfortunately, some pets do not like the taste of these special medicated diets. Here are a couple of tips for you.

Consider feeding canned rather than dry food.

Slightly warming the canned food before feeding.

Since fatty acid supplementation is important for pets with kidney disease, consider adding the fatty acids right on the food, as this may increase palatability (although some pets don't like the taste of some of the fatty acid products).

Consider a homemade diet for your pet. Most pets like the taste of freshly made food; you can find an example of a kidney diet in "The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats," or send $2 and a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and I'll send you a copy. Even though the special diet is important for pets with kidney disease, the best diet is the one your cat will eat. No matter how good the diet, if your cat won't eat it, you'll have more serious problems to deal with down the road.

We have a 5-month-old Pomeranian named Goldie. She was recently diagnosed with a liver shunt and her doctor recommended surgery. We would rather not put her through this. Is surgery really needed to make her better? Are there natural therapies that can help?

That really depends upon the severity of her clinical signs and what type of shunt is present. Single large shunts usually cause pretty serious signs :quot; lethargy, seizures and lack of appetite. These shunts usually require surgery to reduce their size.

Smaller shunts and microscopic shunts (present in a disease called microvascular hepatic dysplasia) may be treated medically (in some cases surgery can't be performed because the shunts are too small or located deep within the liver).

I have treated several cases with a combination of conventional medical therapy (used short term) and complementary therapies (including a special diet and liver-supporting supplements such as milk thistle). I recommend a second opinion to see if a nonsurgical option might be available for Goldie.

- Shawn P. Messonnier is a veterinarian and pet care advocate.

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