Kidney failure in dogs - Symptoms and treatment

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When we talk about kidney failure in dogs We refer to a disease that affects one or both kidneys and that causes alterations in their functioning. These can manifest acutely, that is, sudden, or chronic, when the renal system progressively degenerates.

In this AnimalWised article we are going to discuss the causes of this insufficiency, the symptoms that it produces and that we can observe in our dog and the most appropriate veterinary treatment to maintain a good quality of life as much as possible. Keep reading and discover how to tell if your dog has kidney failure.

You may also be interested in: 4 symptoms of kidney disease in cats Index
  1. Kidney disease in dogs
  2. Symptoms of kidney failure in dogs
  3. Treatment of kidney failure in dogs
  4. Can kidney failure in dogs be cured??
  5. Life expectancy of a dog with kidney failure

Kidney disease in dogs

The kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood and thus eliminate waste substances through the urine. When a failure occurs in this system, which can happen for multiple causes, the body will try to compensate for it, so that we will not observe symptoms until the damage is already very advanced. Thus, kidney disease in dogs can manifest itself acutely or chronically. The most common symptoms, polydipsia (increased water intake) and polyuria (increased urination), will occur in both cases. The difference is that in the acute onset the symptoms will appear suddenly, causing a serious clinical picture. In the chronic, the symptoms persist for months in which the kidneys deteriorate until they can no longer bear it, which affects the entire organism and ends up causing the death of the animal..

Kidney failure in dogs over 10 years old it has a considerable incidence, whereas it is more rare that renal failure occurs in young dogs. In elderly dogs it is possible that the symptom we observe is that they begin to urinate at home. Behind this incontinence may be an increase in urine output due to the kidney not working well. Kidney disease in these older dogs is a consequence of age. Sometimes it is a heart problem that ends up affecting the kidneys. It is important that dogs, from approximately 7 years of age, go to the vet at least once a year for a complete check-up in which it will be possible to detect these diseases early.

If kidney disease occurs in young dogs it may be the effect of some other pathology, that could also attend at any age. For example, kidney failure in dogs with leishmania occurs because this parasitic disease damages the kidneys. There are also other possible causes such as infection, such as leptospirosis, poisoning, urinary obstruction, or heat stroke. Other times, kidney involvement occurs as a side effect of some drugs. In these cases, the primary cause of the damage must be treated..

Symptoms of kidney failure in dogs

Kidney failure in dogs usually manifests itself with the following symptoms:

  • Polyuria: As we have said, that our dog urinates more is one of the most common symptoms of kidney disease, but it can also be the case that the dog stops urinating (anuria).
  • Polypsia: to compensate for the elimination of liquids the dog drinks more water.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes even with bleeding.
  • Blindness.
  • Dehydration.
  • Slimming and generally poor appearance, poor body condition, and muscle weakness.
  • Anorexy.
  • Ulcers in the oral cavity and bad smell.
  • There may also be ascites (accumulation of fluids in the abdomen) and edema (liquid in extremities).
  • Shock and, in the later stages, coma.

In short, all these symptoms are produced by the effects that the malfunction of the renal system has on the entire organism. Any of these signs should make us go to our vet.

Kidney disease in dogs can be diagnosed with urine and blood tests. In the former, the value of the density of the urine is important, since a sick animal will not concentrate it. In the blood test, parameters are taken into account that allow knowing kidney function, such as creatinine and urea. It is also established whether or not there is anemia and important parameters such as phosphorus or albumin are assessed. At present, the measurement of the SDMA, a biomarker that allows determining whether or not there is kidney failure before creatinine, which is also affected by other parameters such as muscle mass. Early diagnosis is essential when establishing treatment. It is also convenient measure blood pressure and abdominal x-rays or ultrasound may be done.

Treatment of kidney failure in dogs

In cases of kidney failure in dogs of acute presentation intensive veterinary treatment is essential, which will usually include, admission and fluid therapy, in addition to drugs that stabilize the animal and control symptoms.

In the chronic cases, The treatment of kidney disease in dogs usually includes the following points:

  • Diet: in the market we find feed and cans specially formulated for the care of the renal system. It is important that the diet is nutritious and has high-quality protein. In addition, if the food is humid, we increase the intake of water, which is very necessary in these animals. And if you prefer a natural diet, you can consult the article "Homemade diet for dog kidney failure ".
  • Hydration: we must make sure that our dog drinks properly. The veterinarian should assess the need to administer serum, either orally, subcutaneously or intravenously. To promote the comfort of the dog, we must give him more opportunities to urinate if he has increased the frequency of urination.
  • Drugs to control symptoms: they are those that can be used to treat symptoms secondary to the disease, for example, those that are administered to control vomiting.
  • Drugs for maintenance: are those that are prescribed to promote the quality of life of the animal. On some there is scientific evidence that proves that they are effective in prolonging the life of sick dogs, such as ACEI.
  • Veterinary monitoring: it is convenient to repeat the tests two or more times a year, depending on the evolution of the disease. In addition, an intensive veterinary control allows treating the symptoms that arise as soon as they appear, which will result in a better quality of life.

Can kidney failure in dogs be cured??

Kidney failure in dogs causes damage to one or both kidneys. In the acute cases the dog can be cured, although it is possible that non-recoverable injuries have occurred. Depending on their extension, they will have more or less consequences for the future life of the dog. The chronic cases are incurable and progressive, so that the prescribed treatment will only be able to control the symptoms and try to maintain the dog's quality of life for as long as possible. This will be the objective of the treatments that we have discussed.

Life expectancy of a dog with kidney failure

Veterinarians classify kidney failure in dogs into several stages based on their severity. The milder the phase in which our dog is, the greater, in general, its life expectancy, since they correspond to the initial moments of the disease, where an early intervention favors an increase in life expectancy. This classification distinguishes four stadiums, I being the mildest and IV the most serious. In the last two there will be more symptoms that complicate the picture and, therefore, worsen the prognosis. In these cases, the life expectancy of the dog with kidney failure can be only a few months. Thus, when deciding the treatments, it is necessary to take into account, not only the quantity of life, but, and preferably, its quality.

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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