There are certain conditions that can have a serious impact on your dog's health. These conditions can have a number of causes from genetic factors to everyday toxins. Today, our Deer Park vets talk about kidney disease in dogs, what the causes are and how it can be prevented.
Kidney Failure in Dogs: What is it?
Kidney failure (also referred to as renal failure) generally affects the kidneys of your dog causing the,m to lose their function. When your dog's kidneys are healthy they work to eliminate toxins, regulate hydration, maintain a normal electrolyte balance, and release hormones required to produce red blood cells. When your dog suffers from kidney failure it can have a detrimental effect on their health and potentially lead to other serious complications.
What are the different types of kidney failure affecting dogs?
Our vets typically see two different types of kidney failure in dogs. These are:
- Acute renal failure - When kidney function suddenly decreases (within hours or days), this is known as acute renal failure. Typically this form of kidney failure is caused by an infection or exposure to toxins.
- Chronic renal failure - When the loss of kidney function is gradual (over weeks, months, or years), it’s called chronic renal failure. Chronic kidney failure is typically caused by degeneration associated with old age. All kidneys have a lifespan however, some dogs experience deterioration faster than others.
When it comes to the two types of kidney failure the main difference is that acute is curable while chronic kidney failure will need to be managed but can never be fully treated.
Are there different types of kidney failure?
Kidney disease can be caused by any condition that affects your dog's kidneys, some of these include:
- Congenital disease - This can include underlying illnesses and hereditary conditions - everything from agenesis (being born without one or both kidneys) to cysts.
- Bacterial infections - If your dog swims or drinks in contaminated water, bacterial infections such as leptospirosis can attack their system, causing the kidneys to become inflamed and renal cells to die off.
- Toxicosis - When the kidneys are poisoned, this can lead to cell damage within the kidneys. It can happen when your dog consumes drugs or poisons (such as foods or substances that are toxic to them).
- Dental disease - When bacteria build up on the teeth and gums, this can lead to advanced dental disease. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream and attack multiple organs, causing irreversible damage to the kidneys in addition to the heart and liver.
- Geriatric degeneration - As with all living creatures, your dog's cells will break down as they age. This also happens in the kidneys and can lead to kidney disease.
What are the symptoms of kidney failure in dogs?Some of the commonly seen symptoms that are associated with kidney failure include:
- Significant weight loss
- Pale gums
- Uncoordinated movement, or stumbling
- Breath that smells like chemicals
- Significant decrease in appetite
- Increase or decrease in water consumption
- Increase or decrease in volume of urine
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Blood in urine
- Intestinal seizures
The type of kidney failure your dog is experiencing, and the extent of loss of function in the kidneys, the progression of the condition, and the underlying cause can indicate whether kidney issues or another problem such as diabetes mellitus are causing your dog's symptoms.
Can kidney failure in dogs be treated or cured?
While your vet will offer any possible type of treatment to manage the symptoms, the specifics will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. If your dog suffers from acute kidney failure, immediate and intensive treatment will be required. If caught early, milder cases of kidney failure may be treated with fluids, antibiotics, and medications on an outpatient schedule. One of the most successful methods of treatment includes dialysis although this can be expensive for many pet owners.
If your dog is diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, your veterinarian will primarily focus on slowing down the disease’s progression and looking at ways to improve the quality of life for your pup. Nausea, fluid imbalances, blood pressure fluctuations, and other symptoms will be treated with medications and changes to your dog's diet.
When a dog is treated for kidney disease it can allow them to live comfortably for the next few years. To help manage your dog's condition, and possibly improve your dog's quality of life, your veterinarian may recommend nutritional supplements or a therapeutic diet.
What are some ways that you can prevent your dog from developing kidney failure?
Acute kidney failure is often caused when dogs consume toxins, tainted foods, or foods they shouldn’t ingest, such as grapes or chocolate. To help prevent your dog from developing acute kidney failure, take inventory of your house and remove potential toxins such as antifreeze, medications, and potentially harmful foods out of your pup's reach.
Chronic kidney failure is typically age-related and predetermined by genetics, making it much more difficult to try and prevent. That said, regular wellness exams twice yearly at your vet's office will help to increase the chances of detecting symptoms early so that treatment can begin before the condition becomes more severe.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.