Diet for Addison's Disease in Dogs

Updated July 19, 2017

Addison's disease, or hypoadrenocorticism, affects a dog's adrenal glands of the kidneys. Addison's disease causes low sodium and high potassium by limiting the production of certain hormones. High potassium lowers blood pressure, but at the same time also reduces the heart's ability to beat faster to make up for the loss of pressure. While a serious condition, Addison's disease can be controlled with medicine and diet.

Association of American Feed Control Officials

Pet food is regulated and this includes ingredient definitions and nutritional requirements in commercially produced dog foods. While the agency has established industry protocols for ingredients, these ingredients can still be less than desirable for owners of dogs with Addison's disease, such as "meat by-products." Meat by-products generally refer to organs and fatty tissue from animals, which can introduce unknown qualities into a dog's food.

Commercial Dog Food

While commercial dog foods may contain less than desirable ingredients, they shouldn't be discounted as options for dogs with Addison's disease. Owners should familiarise themselves with definitions when selecting commercial dog food for their Addison's-inflicted canine. Look for commercial dog foods that contain human-grade, whole ingredients. Avoid foods with ethoxyquin, an additive which has been linked to organ malfunctions, including the kidneys. Its use was limited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997.

Home-Cooked Food

Instead of buying commercial food, some owners of dogs with Addison's disease opt to prepare their dogs' meals. This allows precise control over what the dog is eating, and recipes are available in a number of locations, including online and canine health books, such as "The Healthy Dog Cookbook: 50 Nutritious & Delicious Recipes Your Dog Will Love." Veterinarians, especially those with holistic specialities, can provide appropriate recipes to fit a dog's Addison's diet requirements.

Raw Food and BARF Diets

Don't shy away if hearing about feeding BARF to the Addison's afflicted dog. BARF, or biologically appropriate raw foods, or bones and raw foods, is becoming a popular option. Raw food diets focus on feeding raw meat, which attempts to re-create a dog's original diet. Raw meat, vegetables and bones make up the meals, as canines would eat if in the wild.

Herbal Additions

Holistic veterinarians may recommend adding some specific herbs to combat the effects of Addison's disease. Liquorice, garlic and ginger have properties that directly counter some of the results of Addison's disease but in a natural way. Mix the herbs directly into the dog's food, or brew a tea for the dog to drink. While they are not considered medicinal, some herbs may provide natural remedies that might play a role in alleviating the symptoms of Addison's disease.

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About the Author

Becky Salmela Haase has written professionally for newspapers, magazines and websites since 2004. She began her career writing for the University of Wisconsin-Madison "Daily Cardinal," the "Oregon Observer" and "ANEW/Brava" magazine. Haase has a bachelor's degree in international relations from the George Washington University, and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.