Last Updated on January 21, 2023
Phosphorus is a key element to maintaining good overall health, not just for humans but for dogs too. However, dogs with kidney problems are often prescribed a low phosphorus diet.
Low-phosphorus dog foods can help your pet live more comfortably with the otherwise debilitating renal failure disease.
Here are some of the best low phosphorus dog foods on the market.
Top 4 Picks for Best Low Phosphorus Dog Food
|Low Phosphorus Dog Food Recipes||Our Rating|
|Best Overall Low Phosphorus Dog Food (Editor’s Choice)||Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Blend Diet Canned Dog Food
|Best Budget Low Phosphorus Dog Food||Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Formula Dry Dog Food
|Best Prescription Low Phosphorus Dog Food||Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet
|Best Non-Prescription Low Phosphorus Dog Food||Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet
Best Low Phosphorus Dog Food
If you’re looking for the best low phosphorus dog food for your furry friend, then you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve examined some of the best low phosphorus dog foods on the market and narrowed them down to the best twelve money can buy. Keep reading to discover our top picks:
Best Prescription Low Phosphorus Dog Food
Kidney disease is quite a common health problem among older dogs, with many pet owners resorting to prescription food to help their pups live a better life in their final years.
Here are some of the best prescription diets developed by nutritionists and veterinarians.
1. Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care Dry Dog Food
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Pork Fat
Nutritionists and veterinarians created Hill’s Prescription Diet Kidney Care Dry Dog Food specifically to care for dogs with kidney problems.
With chicken as the primary protein source, this food has been made with low sodium and low phosphorus levels. The phosphorus content is just 0.32%.
- This food is fortified with omega-three fatty acids, as well as glucosamine, and chondroitin, which help your dog maintain healthy joints
- This food contains an appetite stimulant which is often necessary for dogs with kidney problems
- Some dogs simply do not seem to like the taste of this food
2. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Support Dry Dog Food
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Potato Starch, Pea Starch
Formulated by experts in pet nutrition, this dry dog food is designed to improve the kidney function of your furry friend. The phosphorus levels sit between 0.22 and 0.55%, while the sodium is also reduced.
This food also offers pets a low protein formula, further decreasing any strain placed on the kidneys.
- The formula is jam-packed with anti-oxidants, l-carnitine, and omega-three fatty acids for improving your dog’s overall health
- This brand is grain-free and soy-free, making it an excellent choice for pets with allergies
- This food only comes in one kibble size, so it may not suit all breeds
- It is pretty expensive compared to other brands on the market
3. Hill’s Prescription Diet with Kidney Care Canned Dog Food
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Water, Chicken, Carrots, Rice
This veterinary diet is crafted explicitly for uremic dogs or in the final stages of renal disease. It has been clinically proven to increase mobility and joint function while extending the quality of life of dogs in kidney failure.
It also contains low sodium along with low phosphorus levels to reduce your pup’s blood pressure.
- The formula contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids to assist with better mobility and overall health
- The wet food formula is suitable for dogs that need additional hydration
- It includes a stimulant to increase appetite
- It is expensive compared to other canned dog foods
4. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Kidney Support Wet Dog Food
Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water
The Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Canned Dog Food offers kidney support for your pet through a low phosphorus formula with balanced protein levels.
This recipe is grain-free for easy digestion, while a low sodium formula ensures your pup’s blood pressure doesn’t put additional strain on the kidneys.
- Packed full of antioxidants and omega-three fatty acids to support your pet’s immune system
- The delicious flavor is designed to encourage pets with low appetite to eat
- This food is also quite an expensive option for your dog
- Contains 0.08% phosphorous which is higher compared to other similar recipes
5. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Moderate Calorie Dry Dog Food
Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Chicken Fat
Designed to target many health issues, this formula from Royal Canin contains about 0.5% phosphorus. This easily digested dog food contains hydrolyzed protein.
This means that the protein has already been broken down into core components so that your dog can better absorb the essential amino acids.
- Your dog’s immune system doesn’t have to work so hard to break down this food as the hydrolyzing process has already done most of the hard work
- It contains other essential nutrients like calcium carbonate and potassium
- Some pet owners complained their dog got an upset stomach on this diet
6. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Formula Dry Dog Food
Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Whole Grain Corn, Brewers Rice, Dried Egg Product
Dry dog food vets have designed to support kidney function in canines. The formula, which has been crafted by nutritionists, researchers, and veterinarians, contains a limited amount of phosphorus and protein and reduced sodium levels.
- The recipe is packed full of antioxidants for building a healthy immune system
- This food is quite a bit more affordable than other options on the market
- The kibble size of this food is too big for tiny breeds like Yorkies and Chihuahuas
- Contains a 0.084% phosphorous level which is higher than other formulas
Best Non-Prescription Low Phosphorus Dog Food
If you can’t afford the expensive price tags that come with veterinary diets or have a dog just in the initial stages of kidney disease, you may want to try out a non-prescription low phosphorus dog food.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options available. Here are a few of our favorites:
7. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food
Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Brown Rice, Barley
Made from high-quality protein sources and wholesome grains, the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food has been developed for older dogs who need additional support in maintaining their muscles and joints.
This formula contains just 0.6% phosphorus.
- Includes chondroitin and glucosamine to assist with reducing inflammation and mobility support
- Fortified with omega-three fatty acids for immune system functioning
- This food contains high protein levels, so may not be the best choice for dogs with severe kidney failure
8. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet
Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes
This grain-free limited ingredient diet is not marketed as a low phosphorus dog food, although the formula contains just 1% phosphorus.
The limited ingredient diet is an excellent choice for pets with allergies as it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and has protein sourced from a single animal protein, namely fish.
- This fishy diet is rich in essential amino acids and omega-three fatty acids for reducing inflammation and building a healthy immune system
- This food contains easily digestible carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes
- Salt is included in the recipe, which could lead to increased blood pressure
- Contains a high protein level
9. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Potatoes, Turkey Meal (Source of Glucosamine)
This limited ingredient diet contains high-quality protein from deboned turkey and turkey meal. The recipe also has plenty of easily digestible ingredients such as peas, pumpkin, and potatoes.
This dry dog food contains just 0.7% phosphorus to help your pet with kidney function.
- This food is ideal for pets with allergies due to the grain-free formula
- Holistic veterinarians have approved the recipe
- This food is not suitable for small breed dogs
10. Zignature Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Trout, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas
This high-quality, grain-free recipe offers your pet balanced levels of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The phosphorus levels in this dry dog food sit at around 1.1%.
The hypoallergenic formula is free from common allergens like corn, wheat, soy, dairy, chicken, and potatoes.
- With trout and salmon meal as the first two ingredients, this food is rich in omega-three fatty acids for reducing inflammation and building a healthy immune system
- This food contains quite a bit of moisture, so it is easier for dogs to chew and digest
- Some picky pets simply refuse to eat this food
11. Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Blend Diet Canned Dog Food
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Water Sufficient For Processing, White Rice, Rice Flour
This low phosphorus, low protein pet food contains just 0.6% phosphorus, making it one of our list’s best low phosphorus foods.
With just 7 percent crude protein, this food is also designed to keep your dog’s kidneys working optimally.
- The recipe contains few allergens and is designed to be easy to digest
- This food has a single protein source in the form of chicken
- This food does contain added salt, which could increase your pet’s blood pressure
12. Instinct Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney
This raw, freeze-dried food can be served as is on its own or rehydrated into wet food with some water.
The recipe, which is designed to mimic what your pet might eat in the wild, is packed with meat, organs, and bones, as well as healthy fruits and vegetables. This food is very low in phosphorus at 0.35%.
- This grain-free, limited ingredient recipe contains no common pet allergens
- This food is made in the USA and is free from any artificial colors or preservatives
- This food is relatively high in protein, so it isn’t the best option for pets with severe kidney failure
What is a Low Phosphorus Dog Food?
Phosphorus is essential for many critical bodily functions. Along with other enzymes, like niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, phosphorus helps dogs with motor functions like chewing, walking, and running.
Phosphorus is also essential for energy storage and proper kidney function. Although necessary for proper bodily function, excess phosphorus can lead to renal failure.
Low phosphorus dog foods are formulated specifically to have 1% or less phosphorus content. In addition, many of these foods are also low in protein and sodium.
When are Low-Phosphorus Diets a Good Idea?
Dogs that have kidney problems could benefit from a low phosphorus diet. Depending on the severity of your pup’s kidney disease, your pet might also benefit from food with low protein content.
The kidneys are responsible for the filtration of waste from food, helping with blood cell production, assisting in the absorption of salt, and balancing the body’s blood pressure levels.
They also help with processing Vitamin D, regulating water, metabolizing calcium, and filtering toxins.
If the kidneys cannot function properly, these toxins and elements like phosphorus can build up in your dog’s body. Full-blown renal failure will eventually lead to death.
Benefits of Low Phosphorus Dog Foods
If your dog has a kidney condition, then you need to take careful planning with their meals. Good low-phosphorus dog food can take the stress off your dog’s kidneys and off you.
While these foods won’t cure chronic kidney disease, they can provide renal support, helping your pet avoid severe complications and slow down the progression of renal failure.
Health conditions that might require a low-phosphorus diet
Kidney disease is the most common reason for a low phosphorus diet. Kidney or renal failure can happen slowly over time or quickly in a matter of days.
Kidney issues can be brought upon by ingesting toxins from contaminated food or medications or can just be a symptom of old age.
Urinary tract infections and blockages can also lead to kidney disease. Unfortunately, this progressive disease is not reversible and can lead to further problems with the heart and liver.
Early-stage symptoms to watch out for include excessive thirst and increased urination. A loss of appetite is also characteristic of this disease.
Dogs with kidney disease may also vomit, develop bad breath and exhibit no energy. Urine and blood tests performed by your vet will confirm a diagnosis.
As the kidneys excrete urea and creatinine as waste products, higher concentrations of these substances in the urine and blood indicate kidney failure.
How do low-phosphorus foods help with kidney disease?
If the kidneys can’t function properly, toxins and phosphorus build up in the blood. These toxins can lead to lethargy and a loss of appetite.
While kidney medication can be used to bind phosphates to the digestive tract and thus inhabit their build-up in the bloodstream, giving your pet low phosphorus dog food or a dog food designed for pups with kidney disease is also a good idea.
A low phosphorus dog food will help to limit the amount of phosphorus in the bloodstream. This approach also doesn’t have as many side effects as giving your pet medication.
Dogs with severe kidney disease may also need to get their kidneys flushed to remove the toxin buildup in the blood.
This process, called diuresis, can help restore kidney function and give your dog some more time, although it won’t reverse any damage already caused.
Best Low-Phosphorus Dog Food Buying Guide
As your dog’s health is on the line, you want to make sure you buy the best food possible.
Whether you go for an over-the-counter option or opt for a prescription diet, there are some key considerations to keep in mind when buying dog food, as your dog needs a balanced diet.
Prescription or No Prescription?
There are many options of low phosphorus dog foods on the market, some of which require a prescription from your vet.
If you purchase these foods online from Amazon or Chewy, you will need to provide proof of prescription from your veterinarian before the sale goes through.
You can rest easy buying a prescription kidney diet knowing the formula has been crafted explicitly by vets to cater to your pup’s specific dietary requirements. They do, however, come with a heavier price tag.
Many of the prescription diets have very low protein levels – as low as 12%.
While this is good for pets with severe kidney disease, both puppies and adult dogs need protein to survive and build healthy muscles, so putting your pet on a low protein diet unnecessarily is not something you should do.
If your dog can still handle a moderate or high protein diet, then prescription dog food is probably not the right choice for your pooch.
What should consumers look for in low-phosphorus dog food?
The first thing you will want to look at is the levels of phosphorus included in the food. This should be listed near the ingredients list.
Most dog foods include around 2% phosphorus, but a dog with kidney disease will only need about 0.60% or less. The second thing to consider is the amount of protein included in your pet’s food.
While all dogs need protein in their diet, be sure that the food you give your dog always includes high-quality protein like real chicken, turkey, or lamb.
Protein will help your dog build muscle, maintain its coat, and develop a healthy immune system. High protein diets are often given to older dogs to prevent them from losing muscle mass.
However, in dogs with kidney problems, lots of protein can’t be adequately processed by the kidneys, which could exacerbate your pet’s health condition.
Thus it may be necessary to choose a low phosphorus dog food that is also low in protein. These diets will minimize the pressure on the renal system, keeping the kidneys from having to work too hard.
Proteins that are low in phosphorus include poultry and lamb and certain types of fish like tuna and mahi-mahi.
Be sure to steer clear of meat by-products as you can’t be sure precisely what is included in these, and thus they could be high in phosphorus.
If you choose a low phosphorus dog food because your dog has started showing renal failure, you also want to opt for a food with low sodium levels. Salt will increase your pup’s blood pressure and lead to more kidney damage.
On the other hand, your pet’s food should be rich in omega-three fatty acids.
These fatty acids will help strengthen your pup’s immune system, help to maintain healthy skin and coat, support your dog’s heart and decrease joint pain. These omega-three fatty acids are typically added to dog food through fish oils or fish meals.
Foods that have also been fortified with probiotics will also be easier for your pet to digest.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Wet, Semi-Moist, or Dry? Which low-phosphorus food is best for your dog?
Many pups with more kidney health tend to drink a lot and urinate excessively. As a result, they need to consume more water.
Canned or wet food can help supply your pet with the extra moisture he is lacking. In addition, wet foods are softer, so they are often easier for older dogs to consume.
The tasty, smelly gravy of canned foods can also help tempt sick dogs to eat their food, as some pets with kidney problems will lose their appetite.
To grain or not to grain: Do dogs need grain-free low-phosphorus food?
Many limited ingredient diets are also grain-free and gluten-free. This is because grains like wheat and corn are commonly associated with allergies in pets.
Grain-free diets are thus gentler on the digestive system of your pet and are unlikely to cause any adverse reactions.
That said, the FDA is currently investigating a link between grain-free pet foods and dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart condition in pets. If you decide to include grains in your dog’s diet, opt for whole-grain options like rice and barley.
Can you give homemade low-phosphorus food to your dog?
As you can see, there are many commercial low phosphorus dog food options.
That said, you may decide to make your own homemade low phosphorus food for your pet. That way, you know exactly what’s included in your dog’s diet.
Your homemade food should contain high-quality protein, some wholesome grains, and healthy fruits and vegetables. Dairy and salty foods should be avoided as these can cause inflammation and high blood pressure.
Here is a low phosphorus recipe you can try at home.
- 1 cup chicken
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp. plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/4 cup steamed carrots
- 1/4 cup steamed green beans
- Boil the chicken and chop finely once cooled
- Hard boil the egg and mash once cooled
- Chop all the other ingredients finely
- Combine the egg and the chicken with all the other ingredients in one bowl
- Feed ½ cup to your pet for every 20-25 pounds of body weight
Should you give prescription treats to your dog?
Dog owners of pets with kidney disease have to be careful what dog treats they dish out.
Treats with a high salt content should be avoided, as should processed cheeses and meats. Peanut butter, another typical doggie treat, should also be avoided.
This is because most brands of peanut butter are high in salt and contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic for dogs.
Thankfully, some prescription treats have been specifically made for pets on renal diets. These treats are designed to support your dog’s kidney and heart health and can be fed to your dog alongside a low phosphorus diet.
Talk to Your Vet Before Introducing Low-Phosphorus Dog Food into Your Dog’s Diet
While kidney disease is not curable, you can slow down the progression of the disease in a few ways. One of these ways is to put your dog on a low phosphorus diet.
However, before you change your pet’s food, be sure to chat to your vet, who will be able to give you advice according to the severity of your pet’s disease.
Pets also tend to react negatively to sudden changes in diet, so any change to your dog’s diet must be done so gradually.
Have you transitioned your pet onto low phosphorus dog food? We’d love to know more about your experience. Let us know in the comments below.