Q: Any idea what kind of natural herbal supplement I can give to a dog who might have some chronic kidney deficiency? It hasn’t been determined for sure yet but her specific gravity is low 1.024 at last check up in August…in June it was 1.027. I have a 23 lbs cocker/beagle mix 4yrs old.
A: Chronic renal (kidney) failure (CRF) is a common problem in all dog breeds. The digestion of food produces waste products, which are carried by blood to the kidneys to be filtered and excreted in the form of urine. When the kidneys fail, they are no longer able to remove these waste products, and toxins build up in the blood producing clinical signs of kidney disease.
The average age of dogs that develop chronic renal failure (CRF) is around 7 years. Your Cocker beagle mix is a bit young to be diagnosed with this disease. No matter what the cause of CRF, it is characterized by irreversible changes to the nephrons. The causes of CRF are numerous and can be congenital or acquired.
The kidneys receive about 20 percent of the heart’s blood output and are involved in stimulating red blood cell production, regulating blood pressure, balancing salts, and activating Vitamin D production. However, one of the kidney’s most important jobs is the conservation of the body’s water. The kidney must excrete the toxic by-products created by the body’s metabolism but it will want to do so with the least amount of water possible. The healthy kidney is able to make very concentrated urine.
When we analyze a urine sample, one of the most important parameters is the specific gravity. This is a measure of how concentrated a urine sample is. Water has a specific gravity of 1.000. A dilute urine sample has a specific gravity less that 1.020 (often less than 1.010). A concentrated urine sample would have a specific gravity over 1.030 or 1.040. A failing kidney by definition cannot make concentrated urine and the patient must drink excessively to get enough water to excrete the day’s toxic load.
Given the Specific gravity of 1.027, I’m not yet convinced your dog is in either acute or chronic renal failure. However, if a diagnosis of kidney deficiency was found, a multi-vitamin supplement may be helpful. In particular, B vitamins and iron can be beneficial. Other supplements such as vitamin E and omega fatty acids can also be helpful in slowing down the progression of renal disease.
The most commonly used herbal supplement is Rehmannia. It is most often used in traditional Chinese formulas like Rehmannia 6 and Rehmannia 8. Astragalus and Cordyceps are other single Chinese herbs that may help. There are veterinary companies that include these and other herbs in science-based formulas but I don’t know if they work better than the traditional formulas.
Azodyl, developed by Vetoquinol, uses specially formulated probiotic supplements to digest some of the toxins from the intestine, a process it calls “enteric dialysis.” Azodyl is currently undergoing independent trials and is more promising than proven at this point. If either Azodyl or some other method of enteric dialysis proves successful, it may allow pets to feel healthier and may even help reduce future damage to the kidneys.
Best of luck,