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Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

There are a lot of different reasons your dog might develop acute kidney failure, so it is important to understand how to prevent it and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of this potentially deadly disease. 

What Is Kidney Failure In Dogs?

Kidney failure (also referred to as renal failure), may be caused by a number of conditions that impact the kidneys and related organs. If the kidneys are working properly, they will eliminate toxins, regulate hydration, maintain a normal electrolyte balance and release hormones required to produce red blood cells. If your dog experiences kidney failure the kidneys are no longer performing their function efficiently. 

Are There Different Types Of Kidney Failure In Dogs?

There are two broad categories of kidney failure seen in dogs:

  • 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 referred to as 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.

The primary difference between acute and chronic kidney failure in dogs is that while acute kidney failure is likely reversible if diagnosed early and treated intensively, chronic kidney failure can only be managed.

What Causes Kidney Failure In Dogs?

Any disease that affects the kidneys can cause the kidneys to fail. These conditions can include:

  • Congenital disease - This category 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 your dog ages, cells can break down and die. This also happens in the kidneys and can lead to kidney disease.

If you are worried that your pet may be at risk for developing acute or chronic kidney failure, contact our Sonora vets today. We can provide a comprehensive checkup along with diagnosis for internal medicine conditions in dogs and cats and come up with a treatment plan that suits their needs. 

Symptoms Of Kidney Failure

If your dog is suffering from kidney failure you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Significant weight loss
  • Pale gums
  • Breath that smells like chemicals
  • Uncoordinated movement, or stumbling
  • Vomiting
  • Significant decrease in appetite
  • Intestinal seizures
  • Blood in urine
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Increase or decrease in volume of urine
  • Lethargy
  • Increase or decrease in water consumption

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.

How Is Kidney Failure In Dogs Treated?

Your dog's treatment for kidney failure will largely depend on their overall health and the underlying reason that their kidneys failed in the first place. Here are the general treatment plans for acute and chronic kidney failure in dogs:

Acute Kidney Failure - If your dog suffers from acute kidney failure, immediate and intensive treatment will be required, typically intensive care involves a stay at the animal hospital. If caught early, milder cases of kidney failure may be treated with fluids, antibiotics and medications on an outpatient schedule. Dialysis, although costly, can also be effective.

Chronic Kidney Failure - If your dog is diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, your vet 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.

Oftentimes, dogs who are undergoing treatment for kidney failure can still enjoy a good quality of life for years. Their life expectancy can range up to 4 years after diagnosis. To help manage your dog's condition, and possibly improve your dog's quality of life, your Sonora internal medicine vet may recommend specific nutrients, nutritional supplements or a therapeutic diet.

Can I Prevent My Dog From Suffering From Kidney Failure?

Acute kidney failure is most often the result of your dog eating tainted or toxic foods 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.

If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact our Sonora vets today to book an examination. We can diagnose and treat a number of internal conditions in pets. 

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Mono Way Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! All of our knowledgeable vets are passionate about helping companion animals in Sonora feel happy and healthy. Contact us to schedule your pet's appointment.

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