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What Are the Signs of Kidney Failure in Dogs?

It is very normal for dog owners to feel overwhelmed in the first weeks and months with their new addition. The vast majority of overwhelming issues related to puppyhood can be resolved with training and time. Honestly, as a pet parent, you will always be concerned about your dog at all stages of their lifetime; after all, your dog is your child, an important part of your family.

At Brightcare Animal Neurology, we know how important your dog is to your family and that, as their human parent, you want to give them the best possible life. However, part of being a responsible pet parent is educating yourself about the most common symptoms of a sick dog and ensuring you have access to a veterinarian. Some conditions can be hard to detect, and you never want to wait until it’s too late.

Your furry best friend is prone to the same illnesses as humans are. So, it’s important that you learn some of the most common health issues in dogs and the clinical signs to watch out for to ensure your pet’s highest quality of life.

As your trusted veterinary neurological center today, we will be taking a look at renal failure, which is one of the most common health issues faced by dogs aside from skin issues, ear infections, urinary tract infections, vomiting, diarrhea, parasites, dental disease, and obesity.

Before getting deep into everything regarding renal failure, let’s take a look at some of the symptoms that can be warning signs indicating that your dog isn’t feeling well.

Symptoms of Sickness in Dogs

Dogs are smart, to say the least, but unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us how they are feeling, so the only way to know if your pooch is sick is by paying attention to the potential signs. Some of the most common dog symptoms include:

  • Changes in energy level
  • Sudden changes in daily habits, behavior, or personality
  • Changes in urine, stool, or frequency of urinating or defecating
  • Evidence of pain while walking or running
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing or hacking
  • Excessive salivation or thirst
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite and fever.

Just like with your human children, you will need to pay attention to your pet; after all, no one knows your pet better than you.

Dog’s bodies function very similarly to human bodies. Dogs have kidneys to balance nutrients in their bodies and filter out waste. Kidneys also help control blood pressure, increase red blood cell production, and help calcium metabolize.

The impairment of regular kidney function in your pet can cause a mountain of health problems.

What Is Renal Failure?

Chronic renal failure or CRF is the inability of your dog’s kidneys to efficiently filter the blood of its physiological waste products, not the inability to produce urine. However, most dogs in kidney failure produce large quantities of urine, but the body’s toxic wastes are not being effectively eliminated.

Kidney problems in dogs can be acute or chronic. Acute kidney failure happens quickly over several days, while chronic kidney failure happens slowly over time.

Causes of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute kidney problems are most frequently attributed to your dog ingesting a toxin. It may be a chemical like antifreeze, household cleaners, or bad food.

Problems can also occur from a urinary obstruction in your best friend’s body. When blood flow decreases, it leaves your dog’s kidneys less oxygenated and more prone to infection.

What Else Can Cause Kidney Failure in Dogs?

  • Severe dehydration
  • Heat strokes
  • Snake Bites
  • Leptospirosis

Causes of Chronic Kidney Failure.

Chronic kidney disease is more common in older dogs, and the exact cause is often difficult to pinpoint because of its slow onset. Early symptoms of chronic kidney disease may not be easily noticeable because they are mild in nature.

For example, dental disease is the most common cause of chronic kidney failure in older dogs. Bacteria build up on your dog’s teeth enters the digestive system when eating and drinking. While your dog’s kidneys help them filter waste, bacteria can lessen kidney function over time.

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Dogs?

Aside from the symptoms of sickness mentioned above, some signs specific to kidney failure are:

  • Drinking more or less water
  • Change in volume and frequency of urination
  • Loss of interest in playing or interacting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood in urine
  • Signs of dental disease like pale gums, smelly breath, and mouth ulcers

What Is the Treatment for Kidney Failure in Dogs?

Before starting any type of treatment for renal failure or any other health issue faced by your dog it is crucial that you consult your vet as there are many treatment methods and therapies and each dog reacts differently. Usual treatments include:

  • IV Fluids: the initial treatment for acute kidney failure is intravenous (IV) fluids. These fluids can help restore good hydration and flush out substances that the kidneys would remove from your pet’s bloodstream. Urine production is monitored throughout the IV fluid therapy as a decrease in urine can indicate the need for other therapies.
  • Medications: in addition to fluid treatment, other medications can prove useful. Antibiotics are your emergency vet’s primary choice if the cause of the kidney failure is known or suspected to be an infection. More medications could prove necessary depending on the clinical status of the patient.
  • Temporary Feeding Tube: because kidney failure drains the body’s resources, and pets with kidney failure frequently refuse to eat, a temporary feeding tube may be necessary.
  • Careful Monitoring: the clinical condition of dogs and cats with acute kidney failure can change rapidly. Careful monitoring is necessary. This may include repeatedly checking blood pressure, body weight, electrocardiogram, and blood tests. It may also be necessary to place a urinary catheter to measure urine volume.

Although at Brightcare Animal Veterinary Clinic we will do everything possible to ensure the health and recovery of your beloved best friend, you must be aware that not all dogs with acute kidney failure will respond to the prescribed treatments. Advanced renal therapies such as peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis may be necessary.

What’s the Prognosis for Kidney Failure in Dogs

Despite all the advances in treating acute kidney failure, it still remains a complex and aggressive disease that many dogs ultimately die from. About 60% of dogs and cats with this disease either die or are put to sleep.

Dialysis is usually reserved for dogs in which medical treatment has failed, and the chance of death without dialysis is almost 100%. In those patients, dialysis may allow up to half of them to recover, depending on the underlying cause of kidney failure.

Of the ones that recover, some may recover completely, or they recover partially and end up with long-lasting kidney damage that can be treated at home.

Consult With an Emergency Vet

If you suspect your dog is suffering from symptoms related to renal failure or you are having an emergency, please request an appointment immediately or come to our emergency department.