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Canine Kidney Disease

Canine kidney disease (CKD) can occur due to several reasons, the most common being ingestion of harmful substances, physical trauma and chronic conditions like diabetes.
DogAppy Staff
Canine kidney disease (CKD) occurs when the kidneys lose their ability to function properly. In this condition, the kidneys are unable to remove waste products, resulting in toxic build up. This disease is a serious condition, and can become life-threatening, if left untreated.

There are mainly two forms of canine kidney diseases, viz. chronic and acute. Both types can cause irreversible damage to your pet's kidneys. Chronic kidney disease develops slowly, and occurs mostly in older dogs. Acute kidney disease occurs suddenly, progresses rapidly and in most cases, without any prior intimation.

Chronic CKD: Symptoms
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Increased thirst (the dog consumes greater amount of water than normal).
  • Frequent urination, that is pale in color
  • Nausea and fatigue
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness and inability to tolerate exercises
  • Tendency to bruise or bleed easily
  • Bad breath (smells like ammonia)
Chronic CKD: Causes
  • Diabetes
  • Physical trauma
  • Abnormally developed kidneys
  • Cysts in kidneys
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • An unbalanced or poor quality diet can cause CKD. Food that has high phosphorous content can be problematic for dogs. If the food contains an insufficient amount of calcium, then the kidneys are unable to remove the phosphorous effectively. This leads to formation of kidney stones, which eventually leads to kidney failure. Very high doses of vitamin D in your dog's diet can also lead to kidney problems. Evidences have shown that grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs and can cause kidney malfunction.
Acute CKD: Symptoms
  • Dehydration
  • Pain around kidneys
  • Arched back and stiff-legged gait
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Vomiting
  • Dark tongue
  • Little or no urine output
Acute CKD: Causes
  • Trauma such as a physical injury that leads to rapid fall in blood pressure. An accident that causes significant amount of blood loss
  • Consumption of rat poison, turpentine or external toxins such as antifreeze, pesticides, and certain plants
  • Illnesses related to the heart result in lack of, or inadequate supply of blood to the dog's kidneys, which in turn can lead to accumulation of toxins in the bloodstream.
  • Chemotherapy drugs, antifungal medicines, and certain antibiotics
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bladder or urinary tract obstructions due to kidney stones
Treatment for CKD: Chronic and Acute

Acute CKD is highly fatal and occurs suddenly. Veterinary doctors first try to identify the cause of acute kidney failure, after which a suitable treatment is administered to the dog. The focus is to successfully treat the underlying cause. Hence, immediate veterinary treatment and hospitalization is necessary. Unfortunately, chronic kidney problems in dogs cannot be cured. Treatment is given to stop the progression of kidney damage. The following treatment may be recommended for canine kidney disease (acute or chronic):
  • Giving plenty of water
  • IV fluids that eliminate toxins from the body
  • Steroids and blood transfusions to treat anemia
  • Anti-vomiting medications
  • Vitamins B and C to compensate for lost vitamins
  • Sodium bicarbonate to normalize blood pH levels
Food for dogs diagnosed with kidney disease should contain reduced amount of minerals, salts and protein. Natural remedies can also be useful to treat CKD. Certain herbs like hawthorn and ginkgo are helpful to improve circulation of blood in the kidneys. They also reduce pain and increase urine output. Herbal tea is also useful to decrease bacterial infection of urinary tract.

If CKD is diagnosed at an early stage, further damage to the kidneys can be avoided. Proper and timely treatment will definitely increase the life span of the affected dog.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.