Monday, June 4, 2018

Hill's Science Diet K/D, Plan B

Smooch was recently diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, 
a common condition in senior dogs. Our vet explained that the most important thing 
I can do to help manage the disease is to put Smooch on a special diet,
specifically Hill's Science Diet K/D. She sent us home with some samples.
Smooch loved it. I looked up the price. I didn't love it.

I wondered if I could cook something similar that would be 
as good for Smooch's kidneys and not as harmful to my bank account.
I googled around for "homemade dog food for kidney disease" 
and shared a recipe I found with our vet. She supported the idea
and encouraged me to give it a try.

and here are the ingredients:
Simple? Yes. Quick? Hell no.

I'm a messy, disorganized cook, so it took the better part of Saturday morning
 to make this double batch, which I'm hoping will last two weeks.

As I was slaving over the stove cooking the rice and the sweet potatoes
and the green beans and the egg whites and the ground beef,
and every stinkin' pot I owned needed to be washed,
that Hill's Science Diet stuff was starting to seem like a bargain...

...until I fed my homemade version to Smooch at dinnertime.
She licked her bowl clear across the kitchen and into the next room
trying to get every morsel. Never has anyone appreciated my cooking as much.

I'm committed to making this recipe for Smooch at least until the fall,
when we'll re-test her blood and see how her kidneys are doing.
Meanwhile, I'm going to look into those instant pot things
and see if there's a way to speed up the cooking,
or at least make less of a mess.


  1. There’s a really awesome veterinarian-run website called “” that can help you make custom recipes for your dog (and even allows you to make recipes for dogs with specific diseases). Some recipes are free and some you have to pay for (usually if they have something like CKD), but you can choose more of your own ingredients and it’s all done by a boarded veterinary nutritionist so you know it’s balanced.

  2. Be very careful with the Instant pots. I have been reading more and more of them blowing up on people. Not to mention the danger to you, Smooch and the coming pup, could you imagine the mess that would make to your walls.

    Emily in NC

  3. I took a quick look at the pricing of the small bag (don't know how many servings) and it is pricey.

    As far as the cooking of the individual ingredients, depending upon your freezer size, there are some things you can cook ahead and freeze like the rice, green beans, beef. Then just pull out the portions, let thaw and combine with other ingredients that are better prepared at mixing time.

    Green beans can be cooked in the microwave.
    My mother doesn't care for sweet potatoes in the microwave, but Smooch may not be as particular since it is a part of the recipe. Microwaves a definitely easier for veggies. That should make them easier to combine with the canned pumpkin.

    The tricky part for me would be the blending. I only have a small/prep size food processor and a standard Waring blender.

    let us know how it goes.
    Hopefully Smooch likes this change and won't be trying to snitch puppy food in the coming months.

    M in NC

  4. I have been cooking sweet potatoes for my German Shepherd Dog for about a year and a half (many health problems, principally Pancreatic ). When I started using an Instant Pot, my life got easier. I am NOT a cook and the kitchen is a foreign place to me. I can buy four cans of Kroger green beans for $2 at Smith's grocery so I don't cook them. I also feed him Science Diet i/d, so I know what you mean about the price. I'm going to check out You can do this.

  5. One of our dogs is eating the W/D formula as it's the only thing that keeps her bowels calm. Yes, it's very expensive. I have an Instant Pot and love it for some foods. When I was cooking chicken and rice for my dog, I could take frozen chicken breasts and cook them in no time at all. Most important....I hope you are able to keep Smooch healthy for a long long time.

  6. I'm glad Smooch has you in her corner!

  7. Smooch is lucky to have an in-house chef! Denise

  8. This is very similar to the Dog Stew that I make to supplement our pups' diet. Half this stuff, half kibble. I worked out the recipe years ago, when Emma was referred to a holistic vet for arthritis and stenosis in her spine. The first thing the vet did was insist that Emma eat more real food ... and dog stew was born.

    I make a vat of this stuff every few weeks. Meat gets cooked in one pot. Lately, it's been a mix of beef, turkey, and pork liver. Don't know if Smooch can have the liver, since this is for kidney care for her. Veggies are stewed in another even bigger pot. It's evolved into a mix of green beans, peas, carrots, lima beans, broccoli, and some sort of leafy greens, usually kale or whatever I can get. When veggies are cooked, I whirl them relatively smooth with my immersion blender. Rice cooks in the rice cooker. All of this gets stirred together in a HUGE bowl, with quick-cook oatmeal and canned pumpkin.

    I portion the finished stew into containers, weighed on a food scale to make sure that I have the right amount in each, and freeze them. Each container has 4 meals in it, two for Ruby and two for Petal. This is a supplement for our pups, mixed into their kibble along with a bit of water. If it gets to be too much to keep up with Smooch's diet 100% home-cooked, perhaps you can do the same 50/50 kidney food with stew. Speaking of kidney food, have you checked That's where we get Dorothy's canned urinary-issues food. Auto-delivered every few weeks, price is great, and no more worrying about running out or ordering it from the vet.

    1. Second the rec for /Gretchen

    2. I was also thinking maybe a half and half mix would be easier to keep up with while cutting down the cost significantly and still giving Smooch fresh whole food.

    3. I don't buy either from my vet, I found a website (France) where I buy for 3 months, so I get a cheaper price on the food and also I dont pay delivery. The more I order, the cheaper it gets with the years also. and recently I even found cheaper sites than the one I use! I also do that for the medicine and found amazing bargains (like half price of the vet price). so look out on the Internet.

  9. I'm going to suggest keeping some of the pricey Hill's food on hand.....for "just in case" times.
    Some years ago I had a cat with kidney disease. She LOVED the free samples of the KD, but then refused to eat it when I actually paid for it!! Grrrr. Kids!! ~ Linda K.

  10. Hill's Science Diet - no matter the formula - is crap. It's all corn. And vets get a kickback for selling the stuff. Your recipe for Smooch looks very healthy and tasty. Do let us know how it goes.

  11. I think a rice cooker and a food processor plus the microwave you already have are what will help here rather than an Instant Pot. (I have an Instant Pot and I'm a fan, I just don't think this is a good application for it.) As M in NC points out, the microwave is great for the veggies. A rice cooker is cheap and makes rice like a dream. A food processor will be much more efficient than a blender -- hopefully you already have one. Such a good momma making delicious food for Smooch, so glad she appreciates it! /Gretchen

  12. Smooch is lucky to have such a good mommy! I have had to cook for some of my dogs in the past, it is a lot of work, but worth it! One of my dogs is allergic to beef so I'm wondering if chicken would work as a substitute for the beef? (just thinking ahead as he's only 6) I hope Smooch has good results from her new diet!

  13. I'm so glad Smooch liked it! I was a bit trepidacious reading the story that you'd go to all that work and she'd turn her nose up at it! Cooked with love for sure. I cooked for my kidney-kitty for a long time, for her it really helped.

  14. I spent one year making sweet potatoes,rice, steamed chicken breast and broth for my dog with liver disease. Basically his meals were sometimes better than my own. I do not regret the extra work and experience she involved as it probably extended his life and I knew what ingredients he was getting.
    Smooch is a delight (like all animals at 7MSN) is very fortunate to have such a loving and responsible staff. Does Alex come home this week?

  15. I started out my dog with bladder stones on a homemade diet until he stopped liking it and I got tired of cooking it, then my vet had heard that Royal Canin had a good urinary diet. We started him on that even though it cost an arm and a leg about 12 yrs ago and this year he is 17 yrs old. Worth every penny. If the labor of love gets to be to much, sometimes the pre-made stuff can save the day. Sue

  16. I used to have a dog that was very finicky about her food. I ended up cooking her dog food - it was the only thing she would really eat. I just used one big stewpot and would add the ingredients in order of the cooking time required. Rice went in first, then meat, then the bigger veggies that took longer to cook like the carrots and squash. Then last were the eggs and other quick-cooking items. Then I only had one dirty pot and the dog was quite happy with the result.

  17. I did the same for my Bella dog. Interestingly, and sadly, I found most of the information on diets for dogs in kidney failure is proprietary (mostly for vets). However, information on foods for humans in kidney failure is readily available (I know, because my twin was in kidney failure several times during his life). You can also use the following foods (low in potassium/obviously low in protein): coucous, pearl barley, frozen peas, green beans, carrots. Since you were lucky enough to find a vet, you might also run these by her, if you have any desire to vary Smooch's diet. Fay and the cardis 3 and the new SPoo

  18. My cat is on Hills or Royal canin alternatively for urinary infection, costs a lot but was told it is very tricky to manage all ingredients and their exact proportion (phosphore and all this stuff). What the vet told me also is that green beans should not be given too often as they contain something not good for urinary pb, also beef is not good for creatinine, prefer white meat, and lastly be careful about salt and sugar in processed food. that is real danger to kidney, mainly salt. but you give me great ideas to try cooking also, YOU ARE A GENIUS!

  19. Years ago, when I worked in an animal hospital that also sold K/D, I remember the Hill's company had a recipe replacement for K/D canned. Maybe keep searching for kidney diets, just as a change once in a while. I was going to suggest an instant pot, but don't know how they work. Good luck to you in this endeavor, it will be very interesting to see how her blood work turns out in a few months.

  20. Oh you are Chef le Carson. Miss Smooch is going to LOVE you even more than she does already.
    This site was mentioned by my vet for our dear choc lab who is having seizures. Since he is 100 lb guy, I felt like I would need to have a full time job of cooking for him. Not that I would not do this for him, but I just didn't think I could make the meals and be sure he was getting all that he neede vitamin wise, etc. I do add pumpkin, frozen(thawed) green beans to his food. ( cutting back on his dry food serving). I just recently started adding The Missing Link to his food. After speaking with my vet, we both agreed to this. With his seizure meds I was reading about those causing kidney issues etc. Missing Link is full of good stuff. I purchased one with joint help. He is 9 yrs old, so is slowly becoming our Old Man. We love him.

    Please read the labels on the green beans to be sure that the sodium content is 0. Canned green beans are loaded with salt. Would not be helpful for Miss Smooch.
    I am thinking that you may want to invest in a rice cooker. Less to worry about for food prep. Microwaving the vegetables would be wonderful. Then you can concentrate on the meat part while the other parts are cooking.

    Yes I agree with keeping some of the food from vet or pet store on hand at home. Just in case of emergency. Or a special treat!
    Only suggesting another brand to look at is the one mentioned already, Royal Canin. The other one is solid Gold or Wellness brand.

    You are an AMAZING Fur Mama!

  21. We had two diabetic dogs and the only way to control their sugar was to cook for them. So for 7 years I did just that. Each week I did green beans, often from a can and then I would cook a protein and a variety of other vegetables. Our vet said she has never seen more stable diabetic dogs. I also made all their treats as all the store bought stuff is full of sugar. Buying a dehydrator was a must. They lived for all the dried jerky treats!
    Once I got in to the routine I would cook enough for two weeks and freeze half of it. So twice a month was super easy and so worth it! What you are doing is the best thing for your further children!!! Keep it up! Blessings, Lisa G in TN

  22. Good luck to you in this, glad that you have the time to help Smooch out in her advancing years. My last three cats and dog all had kidney disease. Such a challenge to manage with the special diet and as it advanced, subcutaneous fluids - but it was a labor of love. One cat lasted for several years but his sister had an acute episode and passed away quickly. I remember buying a phosphorus neutralizing powder from an online company and adding it to the "junk" dog food when my dog got to the point of not wanting to eat the k/d food. As long as his quality of life was good, I did whatever it took to make him comfortable.

    Anna G

  23. An American in Tokyo6/4/18, 11:58 PM

    My friend always cooks for her doggies and she freezes what she can in small containers (one portion each) and then just microwaves them when it's time to eat, then mixes it with a little bit of dry food. I don't know if this would make anything easier for you though.

    Smoochie-poo sure is lucky to have you! And I'll bet she is enjoying her new menu!
    Please give her a hug for me!

  24. If I'm not wrong kidney failure has something to do also with not drinking enough water, so the less dry food Smooch eats, the best as dry food is just that food without water. so if you buy Royal canin or Hills for your emergency cases, it would be better to buy their "humid food" rather than dry croquettes

  25. Got to get Smooch feeling her best, so she can properly break in her new ranch dog apprentice. She'll need some extra energy.

  26. I highly recommend Purina probiotic Forti Flora along with his new diet. This supplement has helped many cats and dogs in my care and over in Africa with a missionary farm and poisonous grasshoppers. This helps get the gut bacteria up and running. Here is a link to kidney info for cats
    and here is a link to Purina Forti Flora probiotic supplement:

    1. yeah, that is the medicine I was talking about, excellent. I found out it is better to give for 2 weeks that stop 2 weeks than start again

  27. It is possible to manage the protein this way but the phosphorus is more difficult. Talk to your vet about adding a phosphate binder to the food.

  28. ive lost pets to kidney disease and this story breaks my heart. this is a recipe that friends have had good luck with and perhaps when smooch gets tired of the one you're currently using, you can switch it out. they're probably all pretty much the same, though. please read the lead-in story and save the recipe for the future.

    warmest wishes for a speedy recovery and loads of hugs and smooches.

  29. Carson, we are now actively looking for another dog (after the death of our beloved Ripley)...these receipes will come in handy! I DISLIKE commercial dog food...too many artificial ingredients. We always fed our German Shepherds raw hamburger, rice, eggs, and cottage cheese (per the breeders). Good to see all the vegetables now added. I will update you as to our progress.
    ~Cheryl Ann~