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Dealing With Kidney Failure
Unfortunately, one of the most common chronic health problems facing companion animals today is chronic renal (kidney) failure. It is one of the major causes of death in cats. It occurs in dogs, as well, but not as commonly. Most of those who have been diagnosed with chronic renal failure (CRF) are given a prognosis of only a few months to live. Euthanasia is not an uncommon recommendation by conventional veterinarians. Fortunately, since I have turned to a holistic approach to wellness, I have seen many dogs and cats outlive their death sentence by years. I believe there are three major reasons for kidneys to degenerate and eventually fail. They are 1) poor quality nutrition, 2) toxicity and 3) chronic disease. I have discussed in many previous articles about the failings of processed foods. Inadequate and improper protein sources and low moisture content (of dry foods) are the two major kidney stressors I believe occur in commercial foods. The kidneys also take a hard hit from many toxins to which the body is exposed. Many conventional medications, notably non–steroidal anti–inflammatories and certain antibiotics, are very damaging to the kidneys. Ultimately, there is not much known about the long term effects of many food additives and preservatives, fluoride in the drinking water and all the pesticides and herbicides used in, on and around our companion animals (and ourselves!). Item number three on the list above is a term used by homeopaths to describe a chronic disturbance in the body's function that results in symptoms. The symptoms may be emotional and/or physical. A common example of a chronic disease in companion animals is
vaccinosis or vaccine induced damage. A few other possibilities are emotionally based disturbances, inherited tendencies and the effects of medical treatment of other seemingly unrelated problems such as skin or digestive problems.
When I am confronted with a dog or cat who has been diagnosed with CRF I, generally, begin by educating the animal's guardian about the dangers of commercial foods and the benefits of fresh food feeding. Conventional veterinarians are under the misunderstanding that low protein diets are the best way to feed an animal with chronic renal failure. My experience is that such an approach will lead to the death of the animal in a few months (thus bringing their prognosis to fruition). I have found that just the opposite approach is the most effective for most animals. I suggest feeding a high protein RAW meat based diet. I have seen dramatic reductions in elevated kidney blood tests within two weeks in some patients. Why does conventional medicine do the opposite? All of the conventional nutrition research is done with processed foods. I haven't seen any done with raw foods. This is what I believe is the reason for the research data. Heat treated animal protein as found in commercial foods is more difficult to digest. This results in more protein (nitrogen) waste, which the kidneys must remove from the blood stream. Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) is the blood test which measures this protein waste. Therefore, a high, cooked protein diet is more stressful on the kidneys and results in higher toxicity (BUN) in the blood if the kidneys are not functioning well. Raw protein, in comparison, digests more completely with less waste. This results in more protein for healing and rebuilding tissue without the renal stress. Remember, by nature carnivores eat a very high protein diet. They should have the ability to handle it. Another benefit of the raw foods is that they contain much more water than dry foods. This helps the kidneys discharge waste material. I would not be writing this information if I had not seen many animals improve on such a regimen. Other holistic vets are having similar results.
There are additional ingredients in the fresh food protocol that I suggest (my raw foods recipe is available on this site). One of the other important items to discuss is vegetables. By nature, carnivores obtain most of their fresh vegetable material from the gut of their prey. This material is finely chewed and easily digested. Since carnivores don't have teeth for grinding vegetables, they have to let someone else do it for them. We can mimic that process by putting the vegetables into a blender, food processor, etc. and pureeing them. When an animal is having kidney problems, I particularly recommend feeding celery, cucumbers and parsley in the vegetable mix. These are especially good because of their organic sodium and potassium contents. It is also important to give the following supplements. A digestive enzyme mix helps maximize digestion, thereby, reducing renal stress. Ionic magnesium with trace minerals replaces minerals lost by the failing kidneys. Raw kidney concentrate supports the kidney function and healing. I personally believe that using raw kidney supplements is one of the most important steps in the program. I find that only those animals whose failure is very advanced cannot handle this diet. Those who cannot are probably beyond any real hope of improvement. Fortunately, most are not at that stage.
Another important support method is the administration of fluids by injection to prevent dehydration. While most veterinarians are moving away from home administration of fluids, I still prefer this avenue if at all possible. I teach the guardian how to give fluids under the animal's skin on a regular basis. How often the fluids are given is adjusted to each animal as well as how long it must be continued. Home administration is far less stressful on the animal, the guardian and the wallet!
Beyond the nutrition issue, I work with each animal individually to reduce their exposure to potentially damaging chemicals and drugs. This can be as simple as using filtered water or switching to a non–toxic flea control program. If the animal is on medications for another health problem or if there is evidence that the kidney failure is not just nutritional or toxic in origin, then I try to find the correct homeopathic remedy to get the healing process on track. I cannot stress enough that I have seen animals go YEARS past the conventional vet's expectations with EXCELLENT quality of life using this approach. This article is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified holistic practitioner. It is simply to enlighten the readers to other options.
- Russell Swift, DVM, Classical Homeopath
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