Treating a Canine with Chronic Kidney Disease

Canine disease check up

The kidneys maintain the correct balance of water and electrolytes in the blood and serve as filters for the waste products leaving the body. When the kidneys don’t function properly, toxins build up in the blood causing dog health issues. Canine kidney disease is classified as being either acute or chronic. Acute kidney disease can affect dogs of all ages, has a sudden onset, and the damage to the kidneys may or may not be reversible. Chronic kidney disease affects mostly older dogs, develops slowly over time, and the damage is irreversible.

The following information will teach you about causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and finally, how to treat canine kidney disease after the initial diagnosis has been made.

Acute Kidney Disease

  1. Canine Kidney Disease Causes –
    • Trauma – Any type of trauma that causes the blood pressure to fall dramatically, such as shock and blood loss from being hit by a car
    • Disease – Leptospirosis (a type of bacteria), fungal infections, heart disease
    • Poison – Ingestion of antifreeze or rat poison
    • Medications – Certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugscanine kidney disease
  2. Symptoms and Signs of Kidney Disease –
    • Dehydration
    • Pain around kidneys
    • Low or no urine output
  3. Diagnosis of Acute Kidney Disease-
  4. Treatments – Treatments for acute kidney disease focus primarily on treating the underlying cause first. Other therapies for canine kidney disease may include:
    • IV fluids – Helps to remove toxins from the body
    • Temporary dialysis – If treating the underlying cause and IV fluids aren’t enough, temporary dialysis may be used to eliminate toxins from the body, giving the dog’s kidneys a chance to heal. For peritoneal dialysis, fluid is injected into the belly and later drawn back out to help remove toxins. In hemodialysis, a machine is used to filter the toxins from the bloodstream. Hemodialysis is quite expensive and not all veterinary facilities are equipped to provide this treatment.

Chronic Kidney Disease

  1. Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease-  This is a problem that can be caused by infection, heart disease, diabetes, poisoning, or physical trauma. There are also many kidney disorders that are present at birth and can lead to chronic kidney disease. Some of these are:
    • Renal dysplasia – Kidneys aren’t normally developed
    • Renal hypoplasia – Kidneys aren’t completely developed
    • Polycystic kidney disease – Cysts in kidneys
    • Renal agenesis – One or both kidneys is missing at birth
  2. Kidney Disease Symptoms –
    • Increased thirst and urination – Your dog will drink everything in his dish and search for more and may have urination accidents in the house.
    • Anorexia, weight loss
    • Weakness
    • Depression
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea or constipation
    • Pain around kidneys
    • Dark tongue
    • Breath smells like ammonia
  3. Diagnosis –
    • Blood tests
    • Urinalysis
    • X-rays and ultrasound
    • Kidney biopsy – To make a more accurate diagnosis
  4. Treatments – There is no cure for chronic kidney disease. Therefore, the treatment goal is to stop or slow the progression of the disease to prevent dog kidney failure. Treatments will vary depending on what stage of the disease your dog is in. Treatments may include:
    • Provide plenty of water at all times.
    • Give your dog a food made especially for dogs with kidney disease. This specialized food has a reduced amount of protein, minerals, and salt.
    • Steroids, blood transfusions, or erythropoietin to treat anemia.
    • Anti-vomiting medications
    • Sodium bicarbonate to help regulate pH levels in the blood.
    • B vitamins to make up for lost vitamins.
    • IV fluids to help remove toxins from the body.

Unlike some canine health problems, the prognosis for a dog with acute kidney disease is good, provided there hasn’t been a significant amount of permanent damage to the kidneys, and the underlying cause has been successfully treated. The key for chronic kidney disease is to diagnose it early before the kidneys are severely damaged, potentially giving the dog months to years of quality life to live; therefore, it is vital to pay attention to dog kidney failure symptoms. If the diagnosis isn’t made until the dog is in a more advanced stage of the disease and the symptoms have been ignored, then supportive care and/or euthanasia may be the only options. Potential canine kidney failure demands that you work closely with your veterinarian to decide which treatments are best for your dog.


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