Commercial Pet Food = Kidney Failure?

In this thread, many dopers share that they have lost their beloved pets to kidney disease or kidney failure. In addition to losing Prissy, PlanDaughter’s cat has kidney problems, too, and is supposed to be on the treatment of special pet food. I don’t know what the nutritional difference is versus the grocery store stuff (apparently the taste isn’t as good). All this leads to a conclusion that something about commercial pet food screws up the kidneys of the animals that eat it. Why? Both in the sense of what about the food zaps kidneys? And, if pet nutrionists know this, why don’t they reformulate the pet food? It probably could be somewhere between ‘normal’ and ‘kidney failure’ in content (of whatever it is that causes the problem) and taste.

Opinions?

[sub]If this has a factual answer, I guess its off to GQ, but I never know where to put things[/sub]

First off, kidney problems are a common thing in almost all geriatric pets. Diet alone isn’t necessarily going to cause an otherwise healthy pet to go into kidney failure. Many “regular” pet foods have a lot of protien, which can be hard on the kidneys. Vets will usually place a pet with kidney problems on Science Diet’s K/D (kidney diet) which has less protien. There are other special diets that are comparable to Science Diet, which must also be purchased from a vet.

Feeding your pet a grocery store brand pet food won’t kill it, but I prefer to feed my pets a premium diet (I’ve used both Eukanuba and Science Diet). These premium foods have less “junk” in them. This doesn’t mean that my pets won’t develop renal problems as they age though.

You could also just be looking at a statistical anomaly, you know. Maybe it’s just that only the Dopers who had lost a pet due to kidney failure felt like posting to that thread. Maybe the Dopers whose pets died of leukemia or cancer didn’t feel like posting.

My vet never mentioned a link between the food the cat ate and the kidney failure. He just said that it’s a common problem in older cats, and the cause is unknown.

That said, my cats all ate “premium” cat food for at least the last half of their lives. The first half I was a starving college student, and Science Diet cost more than I spent in a week to feed myself, so it was Cat Chow for them. Once I started making more money, I bought Science Diet. I had two cats I raised from kittenhood this way, both had to be put to sleep at around age 10 for non-kidney related issues.

The cat that did have kidney failure was a stray, so up until he showed up about 3 years ago, I have no clue what he ate. But he got Science Diet at my house.

I just found out that my aunt’s cat (which must be about 20 years old) is having kidney problems. I don’t know if the cat is restricted to “non-commercial” pet food, but he isn’t supposed to eat any foods containing beef or fish. Of course, the cat has been eating fish-based canned cat food (and Iams dry food, I think) all his life, so he isn’t taking the change well. I got all this info second-hand from my mother, so I that’s about all I know about the situation.

Apparently, the protein in beef and fish is hard on failing kidneys–but nothing has led me to believe that that protein is what caused the problems in the first place. If the cat were significantly younger, I could see how you might come to that conclusion, but I’m guessing that the cat is simply old. :frowning: