March 18, 2009

What to feed your Shar Pei

For this info I will again refer to Dr. Jeff Vidt's website, which is FANTASTIC!

Dietary Protein

Much progress has been made in clinical nutrition in the past decade especially in the area of nutrition in the kidney failure patient. This is still an area of controversy between clinicians and nutritionists, but research is providing more insight concerning the role of dietary protein in the management of the kidney failure patient. What I hope to do here is provide a digest of this current state of affairs and let you make your own decisions.

There is a link between dietary protein levels and the clinical signs of kidney failure.

Once dogs have developed signs of uremia such as decreased appetite, vomiting, depression, electrolyte changes, GI ulceration, increased BUN and creatinine and weight loss, then decreasing the protein content of the diet is indicated these signs. Decreasing the protein content of the diet prior to the onset of clinical signs does not affect the progression of kidney failure. The pathogenesis of kidney failure is not clear and the rate of progression is variable.

We know that increasing the protein in the diet results in increased blood flow to the kidneys - this occurs in both healthy dogs and those with decreased kidney function.

Increased levels of dietary protein do not seem to change rate of progression of kidney failure.

Protein levels in the diet do not seem to affect mortality, rate of progression of uremia or the development of kidney lesions.

Decreased protein levels in the diet may impair immune responses, decrease hemoglobin levels, cause anemia, decrease total protein levels and result in muscle wasting.

Phosphorus restriction is an important factor in management of dogs with kidney failure.

3/4 to 15/16 of the kidney mass must be lost before progression of kidney failure occurs.

When protein restriction is initiated fat and carbohydrate levels must be increased to provide alternate energy sources.Much of the research in kidney failure and diet have been done in rats, dogs who have had surgically induced kidney failure and geriatric dogs with progressive kidney failure due to age-related changes. Does this information pertain to dogs with amyloidosis, immune-mediated kidney diseases or inflammatory kidney diseases? Studies need to be done to address these scenarios. The information available can be used to formulate the following general guidelines:

Feed a diet with a protein level which fits the dog's activity level. Couch potatoes on a high protein diet become obese leading to other problems.

Dietary protein levels do not appear to be involved in the progression of renal disease or play a role in the prevention of kidney failure. However, I prefer to err on the conservative side. I think protein levels in the 20-24 % range are probably safe. Of course other factors enter in such as the protein source, the bioavailability of the protein, fat content, carbohydrate levels, etc. must be considered as well.

When the BUN is greater than 75mg/dl and/or signs of uremia develop, moderate protein restriction is indicated to decrease the BUN and the clinical signs. Phosphorus restriction is also indicated at this time. This is most easily done with the available commercial kidney diets on the market.

What this also means is that these dogs must be monitored closely to follow changes in the BUN and creatinine levels. My experience in Shar-Pei indicates that they show clinical signs of kidney failure very late in the course of the condition when their BUN and creatinine levels are extremely elevated. Often, Shar-Pei owners miss the very subtle early changes and present their dogs when it's too late.

Diet does not appear to play a major role in prevention of kidney disease in Shar-Pei at this time.

I think avoiding substances and situations which result in kidney damage are preventative steps that can be taken. Certain drugs such as aminoglycoside antibiotics can cause kidney damage and should be avoided, when possible. Decreased kidney blood flow can lead to kidney damage emphasizing the importance of IV fluids administered during anesthetic procedures and use of monitoring equipment. Situations, which result in low blood flow to the kidneys such as heat stroke, bloat, and shock must also be avoided. Infectious diseases can also result in kidney damage. These include bacterial kidney disease, heartworm, leptospirosis, Lymes disease, etc. Toxins such as ethylene glycol (antifreeze) and arsenic can cause kidney damage as well. To a large extent we can prevent some of these things. The major emphasis has to be monitoring the dogs so the onset of kidney failure is uncovered early in the course of the disease when dietary manipulations may be useful.

General Guidelines on Feeding Shar-Pei

I recommend feeding Shar-Pei at least twice a day. This decreases begging behavior and may decrease the incidence of bloat.

Obesity is a very common dog problem. It is essential to balance the dog’s activity and food intake. It is common sense to understand that an inactive dog requires fewer calories to maintain body weight. The converse is also true — a very active dog requires more calories. Calories can only come from what we feed the dog — either from the amount of food fed and/or the protein level of the diet. Dogs will preferentially use protein for energy so a high protein diet in an inactive dog will result in weight gain. Also feeding too much food will result in weight gain. The solution is simple — feed according to your dog’s activity level.

Realize that there are some dogs that do not eat every meal or even every day. This may represent the dog’s way of maintaining its body weight. If we entice a dog such as this to eat every meal we may circumvent this natural tendency to be slim and trim.

Most Shar-Pei are less active in the winter and more active in the summer. This means we need to decrease the amount of food they get during the times of the year coinciding with decreased activity and increase the amount of food when activity increases. The reverse may be true with brushcoats and bearcoats who tolerate the winter much better than horsecoats.

Older dogs tend to decrease their activity and we need to decrease the amount of food they get.

Older dogs also tend to develop age-related joint problems which also decrease activity and require diet adjustment. Switching older dogs to a “senior” or “lite” diet can be helpful in preventing obesity but may not be the total answer. It is still sometimes necessary to decrease even the amounts of these diets in order to maintain body weight. Current nutritional research indicates that senior dogs require higher protein levels than have been fed in the past. These higher protein levels are necessary to maintain muscle mass, to maintain the immune system and for overall general health. If your dog is having trouble maintaining body weight and muscle mass then going back to an adult maintenance diet may be useful.

Vitamin supplements may become necessary in dieting dogs.

I find that “cutting” the diet with canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) is a good way to fill the dog up without increasing calories or “starving” the dog.

Measuring the food is extremely important! This allows us to make adjustments in amounts of food in an accurate way. It also helps your veterinarian to evaluate your feeding regimen.

I generally recommend the use of stainless steel or ceramic food and water bowls. I occasionally see a depigmentation on the front of the muzzle and chin in those dogs that have plastic or vinyl bowls. This is due to a contact allergy which can occur due to the release of chemicals from the plastic/vinyl that occurs over time.

Usually when picking food most Shar Pei owners pick a food low in protein. When Shar Pei are puppies most feed their pups adult dog food.
Grain free foods are best as well.
Very important to look at the ingredients. Make sure the first ingredients are meat.
Feeding raw or a cooked meal is also good. is a good dog food website that gives good explainations, and ranks foods.
Chloe is a very picky eater. We have tried many different foods. Orijen, Acana, N-R-G, Solid Gold, Wellness, Eagle Pack, Parallel, Merrick Before Grain, Merrick kibble (forget the kind), and Raw feeding.
Kibble, Chloe is very picky with Some she won't eat, some she will eat for a bit then won't touch, and some she likes. I find the most success was with the Acana and Orijens foods (made by the same company).
Treats als must be grain free for Chloe.

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