Pet Talk: Carnivorous kidneys and the high protein myth

Let’s start by talking about the kidneys for a minute. The kidneys are responsible for maintaining normal concentrations of salt, water, calcium and phosphorous in our pet’s body. This vital organ also helps control blood pressure and encourage red-blood cell production. In addition, the kidneys act as a filtration system for the body, flushing out harmful toxins and waste through urination.

The kidneys of our carnivorous companions are absolutely no exception.

It has been proven through observation of our dog and cat’s dental structures, physiological and genetic make ups, and stomach acidity levels that they are carnivores. Dogs are carnivores with omnivorous tendencies, while cats are obligate carnivores. They were designed by nature to consume a diet high in good quality animal protein, moderate in fat and low in healthy carbohydrates in the form of low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.

It is no surprise that when the kidneys are faced with an overload of toxins and waste to eliminate, they become inflamed, overworked and begin to lose function. So, here is the pressing question: why are so many domestic dogs and cats today suffering from renal failure or kidney disease? The answer is found in a vast majority of commercial pet food ingredient lists.

The reality is that in an effort to keep costs down, pet food companies load their formulas with non-biologically appropriate ingredients that are taxing on our dog and cat’s systems. The more potato, rice, corn, wheat, soy and other high-glycemic ingredients found in our pet’s food, the more strain and pressure put on their kidneys to eliminate them.

Furthermore, there is the notion put forward by veterinarians that protein levels should be restricted when the kidneys are failing, or even when our pet begins to age. This notion stemmed from studies that were conducted in the very-late 1920s on rats. Rats were fed high quantities of protein and the study concluded that rats fed diets containing 75% dry liver developed renal lesions more quickly than those fed moderate amounts of protein.

While these observations are specific to rats, the results are being applied to other species with very different biological needs. In other words, why are we comparing rats – who are not and were never labelled as carnivores – to our carnivorous dogs and cats?

Our pet’s ancestors, along with their wild relatives, thrive on raw, whole prey diets consisting of muscle meat, organ meat, bones and moisture, for their entire life. This is the ideal diet for kidney function as there is virtually zero waste or toxins to eliminate, and the abundance of moisture (whole prey consists of 70-80% water) aids the kidney’s filtration process and keeps the body in check.

In order to maintain optimal kidney health in our dog and cats, and to prevent kidney disease, the best thing to do is offer them the nutrition that nature intended: animal protein and moisture. While we’re on the topic of moisture, we’re going to shift our focus specifically onto our feline companions for a moment. Cats evolved as desert animals and therefore never developed a natural, active thirst drive. Cats were designed to hydrate during meal time, which is why wild cats are able to thrive in even the warmest, driest climates. The reality is that cats eating a dry food diet are living in a constant state of low-grade dehydration - and you can imagine how taxing that is on the kidneys. It is absolutely crucial that we are offering our cats an abundantly moisture-rich diet that is again, high in good quality animal protein and moderate in fat.

It is for these very reason why we always recommending feeding your pets - dog or cat - a high quality and balanced raw, freeze-dried or canned food diet. These options will have everything our carnivorous pets need to thrive and to keep their organs in tip top shape.

Bailey Blu in NDG is located at 6152 Sherbrooke St. W. Call 514-507-4526. Bailey Blu DDO is located at 11788-A Boul. de Salaberry, 514-676-0682.

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