Kidney Disease: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Kidney Disease: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

The kidney is an important part in a dog's body. It removes waste from the blood, maintains fluid balance in the body and many other functions for the to function efficiently. If the kidneys are not able to do the job properly, it can cause a life-threatening disease to your pet.

The Function of the Kidneys

The kidneys of dogs function similarly to humans - it filters out protein waste to turn into the urine. The kidney also does the following:

  • Conserve and balance salt, water, and acids.
  • Helps with the production of red blood cells.
  • Control blood pressure.
  • Helps in calcium metabolism.
  • Keeps phosphorous levels balanced.

If your dog's kidneys do not function properly, toxins will build up and your dog will become ill. It typically goes undetected until the kidney is only about 33% to 25 of their full capacity.

What Causes Kidney Problems in Dogs

The kidneys can be damaged in varying conditions. It could be damaged from infection, injury, toxins, and even cancer. The damage to the kidney is irreversible. Thus, early diagnosis and treatment are essential.

These are the factors that could make your dog prone to developing kidney disease.

  • Age - Dogs are prone to having kidney problems by age 7.
  • Breed - German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, and Bull Terriers are more likely to develop kidney disease than most dog breeds.
  • Dogs that have ingested a toxic substance. Examples of which are medications, anti-freeze, grapes, etc.
  • Kidney stones (Nephrolithiasis) can cause kidney failure. There are many ways kidney stones can accumulate in your dog's kidney. Some of which are increased calcium levels, high pH levels, and infections.
  • Renal Arteries that are under high blood pressure or renal hypertension.
  • Urinary tract infection caused by bacterial infections.


Signs That Your Dog Has Kidney Disease

The signs of kidney disease can be hard to recognize since the signs of acute and chronic kidney failure is similar. Acute lasts in a few days while chronic can last for months to years. If you notice any of these signs, your dog may have a kidney problem:

  • Gets thirsty often.
  • Urinates often.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Sore mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Lack of energy
  • Depression

If your dog shows these signs, you need to consult your veterinarian immediately.

How is the Kidney Disease Diagnosed

It is important that you know your dog has kidney disease as soon as possible. The signs do not appear until the disease has progressed to a certain point. Your veterinarian will be able to detect the problems right away via physical examinations. Next, your vet will perform lab work. Laboratory tests include:

Urinalysis. This test lets them know what is leaving your dog's body through urine. The test measures protein levels, urine concentration and signs of infection.

Complete Blood Count (CBC). The test checks red blood and white blood cell counts. Your vet will look for infection, anemia and other abnormalities in the blood.

Blood electrolytes. This test checks the number of electrolytes present in the blood to check if it is balanced.

Blood Chemistry. This test measures the components in the blood and checks how the organs are functioning.

The results of these tests will usually give your vet an idea if your dog has kidney disease. If the disease is present, there are elevated levels of creatine. Blood phosphorus levels are high. The urine is diluted and it could have excess protein. Anemia may be present on the CBC.

When the diagnosis has been made, and it is confirmed that your dog has kidney disease your vet will then check how severe the disease is. Your vet may request more lab tests to confirm that.

How Kidney Diseases Are Treated

Now that your vet has a complete idea of your dog's health, a treatment procedure is then developed. The treatment will vary on the severity of your dog's disease. The treatment can change to match the condition of your dog's health. The treatment can be short of a few days or weeks particularly if your dog has acute kidney failure. But, it could be a long-term treatment when your dog has chronic kidney failure. Below are some of the common treatments for kidney diseases:

Since your dog is dehydrated, your vet will likely recommend a treatment that involves drinking plenty of fluids. Your vet will also decrease the high levels of nitrogen in your dog's blood. To correct these problems, your vet will administer intravenous fluids.

Your veterinarian will also aim to restore electrolyte and other imbalances caused by the disease. Dogs with kidney disease are likely to accumulate kidney stones and infections. Thus, your vet will administer a variety of medications to bring your dog's metabolism to normal.

At home, your dog will be on a strict diet and intensive regime. Your dog will undergo