Our Santa Cruz vets describe symptoms and causes of both acute and chronic kidney failure. We also explain treatment methods and give prevention tips for this condition.
Kidney Failure in Dogs
Kidney failure, also known as renal failure, is caused by a variety of diseases that affect the kidneys and other organs. A healthy kidney regulates hydration, maintains a normal electrolyte balance, releases hormones required for red blood cell production, and eliminates toxins.
Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys can no longer function properly. There are two types of this condition in dogs:
Chronic Renal Failure
Chronic renal failure happens when the kidneys gradually lose function (over a period of weeks, months, or years). It is most commonly caused by degeneration associated with old age. While all kidneys have a lifespan, some dogs' kidneys may deteriorate faster than others.
Acute Renal Failure
Kidney function can deteriorate rapidly over a period of hours or days. This is referred to as an acute renal failure, and it is usually caused by consuming toxins or contracting infections.
Chronic renal failure differs from acute renal failure in that acute kidney failure can be reversed if treated early and aggressively, whereas chronic kidney failure can only be managed.
What are the common causes of kidney failure in dogs?
Any disease that affects the kidneys can cause them to fail, such as:
Congenital Disease: This category includes hereditary conditions and underlying illnesses such as cysts and agenesis (being born missing one or both kidneys).
Dental Disease: Bacterial buildup on teeth and gums can lead to advanced dental disease. The bacteria agglomerate here before entering the bloodstream and attacking multiple organs, causing irreversible damage to the kidneys, as well as the liver and heart.
Bacterial Infections: Drinking or swimming in contaminated water puts the body at risk of bacterial infections such as leptospirosis. This can result in inflamed kidneys and the death of renal cells.
Toxicosis: When the kidneys are poisoned, the cells within the kidneys can be damaged. This can occur if your dog ingests drugs or poisons (including substances or foods that are toxic to them).
Geriatric Degeneration: As your dog ages, the cells in his or her kidneys may break down and die, resulting in kidney disease.
What are the signs of kidney failure in dogs?
Watch for these common symptoms of kidney failure:
- Significant weight loss
- Pale gums
- Breath that smells like chemicals
- Significant decrease in appetite
- Increase or decrease in water intake
- Increase or decrease in urine volume
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Drunken behavior or uncoordinated movement such as stumbling
- Blood in urine
- Intestinal seizures
A few factors, such as the type of kidney failure your dog may be experiencing, the extent of kidney function loss, the progression of the condition, and its underlying causes, can indicate whether kidney problems or other issues, such as diabetes mellitus, are causing the symptoms.
How is kidney failure in dogs treated?
The condition and underlying cause of your dog's kidney issues will determine treatment, just as it does for many other conditions. Acute kidney failure can cause severe illness in dogs. They may need to be admitted to a hospital for intensive care.
Outpatient antibiotics, fluids, and medications may be used to treat milder cases. Dialysis, while expensive, can also be effective.
In general, veterinarians intend to treat chronic kidney failure by slowing the disease's progression and considering ways to improve the patient's quality of life. Fluid imbalances, nausea, blood pressure fluctuations, and other symptoms will need to be treated, usually with dietary and medication changes.
After being diagnosed with kidney failure, pets can live a normal life for years (in some cases, up to four years). To manage the condition, your veterinarian may also advise you to follow a therapeutic diet, take nutritional supplements, or supplement with specific nutrients.
How can I prevent my dog from suffering kidney failure?
Because acute kidney failure is frequently caused by ingesting tainted foods, foods they should not eat (including grapes), or interactions with toxins, dog owners can often prevent this condition.
Examine your home through your dog's eyes, and remove potential toxins like ethylene glycol-based antifreeze (which is toxic to dogs), and keep medications and other dangerous-for-dogs foods or substances out of reach of their inquisitive nose.
Unfortunately, chronic kidney failure is frequently age-related and genetically predetermined. Bringing your dog in for regular physical exams and annual wellness checkups, on the other hand, increases the likelihood of detecting these issues early. Your veterinarian may then be able to devise a treatment plan.
Your dog's kidney failure can be diagnosed and possibly treated with the help of your veterinarian, giving them the chance to live a long and happy life. It's time to make an appointment if you suspect your dog is suffering from chronic or acute kidney failure.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets.