Kidney Disease in Dogs (April 2019)

Kidney disease is an important topic to talk about, especially because it affects approximately 1 out of 10 dogs during some point in their life.

Unfortunately, kidney disease isn’t caught in most dogs until it’s a problem. Owners will typically take notice while it’s becoming a problem in their dog’s life, which is usually when the kidneys are functioning at less than half of their capacity.

Kidneys are in charge of filtering blood, maintaining healthy red blood cells, processing protein waste and making urine, as well as balancing and conserving the acids, salts, and water of the body.

Kidney diseases and issues with the kidneys, in general, are problems that must be helped and identified as soon as they occur.

Complications with the kidneys create a life-threatening circumstance, so pay attention.

Once diagnosed by a vet, you will be given a further diagnoses of either acute or chronic.

Kidney Disease in Dogs

Pups who experience kidney disease require a watchful eye and an adequate amount of care, especially if it’s an advanced case.

If your dog is constantly dehydrated or drinking excessively, has a decrease in diet, and is lethargic or more tired than usual, it’s time to take him for testing at the vet. Though there are a lot more symptoms than these, these are usually the ones that are noticed right off the bat.

Kidney transplants and dialysis aren’t always an option for dogs, so testing, preventing, and making the right choices is extremely important, especially where kidneys are concerned in any species.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Dogs

Knowing what to look for is the best way to save your dog, in any health-related circumstance.

Listed below are the symptoms of kidney disease:

  • Dehydration
  • Excessive Drinking
  • Urinary Incontinence – Urine Leakage and Accidents
  • Decrease in Appetite
  • Lethargic Behavior
  • Weight Loss
  • Vomiting
  • Dry Gums
  • Foul Breath That Smells Like a Chemical
  • Pale Skin/Appearance
  • Oral Ulcers
  • Noticeably Sore Mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Low Body Temperature
  • Poor/Unkept Coat
  • Depression
  • Excessive Skin Tenting

If you spot any of the symptoms, bring your dog to the vet immediately. Identifying kidney disease as early as possible is the best way to give your dog a strong chance of safely pulling through and avoiding total kidney failure.

Causes of Kidney Disease in Dogs

Unfortunately, there are a lot of reasons why a dog may be suffering from kidney disease.

  • Cancer
  • Kidney Stones and Related Blockages
  • Infection of the Kidneys
  • Genetic Problems
  • Protein Problems
  • Leptospirosis

Unfortunately, there are a lot of natural factors that increase a dog’s chance of developing kidney disease and other kidney-related health problems.

Certain breeds are more prone to kidney disease than others, including German shepherds, bull terriers, and English Cocker spaniels, for example.

The environment a dog is living in can also increase their chances. Lead-based paint, certain human medications, antifreeze, and certain disinfectants can damage a dog’s kidneys.

Dog and human foods that are high in phosphorus with increased protein levels can progress kidney disease pretty quickly.

A dog’s age is another strong factor. Pups who are over the age of 7-years-old are at more of a risk for kidney disease than younger dogs.

Acute Kidney Disease and Chronic Kidney Disease

Acute or sudden kidney disease can be caused by many things, including what’s listed below:

  • Surgical Stress
  • Shock
  • Blood Loss
  • Severe Dehydration
  • Drugs
  • Poisons
  • Obstruction in the Flow of Urine
  • Infection

Chronic or long-term kidney disease is a lot more complicated, with contributing factors listed below:

  • Hereditary/Breed Tendencies
  • Nutritional Complications
  • Defects of the Immune System

Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease is irreversible and very progressive, but your vet, based on the symptoms and your dog as an individual, will be able to give you the best advice and treatment options.

Treating Kidney Disease in Dogs

As I just mentioned, treatment will vary based on the severity of your dog’s kidney disease – there is no singular treatment.

No matter how severe your dog’s kidney disease may be, there is still hope. A diagnosis of chronic kidney disease can be helped with aggressive, consistent treatment. Many dogs who have it can still live for years.

Though treatment will vary, here are some of the most commonly used treatments for both acute and chronic kidney disease in dogs:

  • Ensuring Fresh, Clean Water is Around At All Times
  • Aggressively Treating High Blood Pressure and Protein Problems
  • Balancing the Body’s Acid and Salt-Based Levels
  • Switching to a Kidney-Friendly Diet

Nutrition plays a large part in treating kidney disease. You will need to alter your dog’s diet by reducing your dog’s intake of salt, phosphorus, and protein. Phosphorous, especially, can actually progress damage to your dog’s kidneys and worsen his symptoms.

Because dog’s who have kidney-related health problems require more pee breaks, you need to make sure they are always able to go to the bathroom as soon as they need to. Extra trips outside and indoor puppy pads for nighttime pee breaks are necessary.

Testing for Kidney Disease in Dogs

There are multiple tests used to detect and determine the severity of kidney disease in dogs.

A simple physical examination is often the first course of action. The vet will check for painful, enlarged kidneys, changes in the urinary bladder and prostate, and will also look for flank or bank pain.

Other testing includes:

  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Kidney Sampling
  • Urine Tests
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Infectious Disease Testing

Your vet will decide what the best course of action is in regard to which tests are used.

Giving Your Dog the Best Shot

Unfortunately, kidney disease is very common among dogs, but that doesn’t mean you should give up if your dog is diagnosed with it. Many dogs have lived long, happy lives while being treated for kidney disease.

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