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Kidney Failure in Dogs

Kidney Failure in Dogs

Kidney failure not only causes problems associated with urination, but also causes anemia, lethargy, and ulcers in the mouth. The symptoms are quite noticeably miserable for the dog. It needs immediate veterinary assistance as the disorder is irreversible, and goes on worsening if not controlled on time.
Kalpana Kumari
The kidneys are said to have failed when they are unable to collect urine and eliminate waste from the body. It is an irreversible disease that goes on aggravating with age and lack of precautionary measures. Older dogs are at a higher risk of suffering from kidney failure. In medicine, the condition is also referred to as renal failure. It is of two types: acute and chronic. Acute failure occurs due to toxicity, and is marked by sudden, severe symptoms. On the other hand, chronic failure develops slowly, with fairly unspecific signs and symptoms. In both the cases, the dog needs medical attention.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Voiding urine during nighttime (nocturia)
  • Bad breath
  • Incontinence
  • Hematuria (blood in urine)
  • Excessive drinking of water
  • Vomiting
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Presence of significant amount of protein in the urine
  • Elevation in the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels
  • Poor hair coat
  • Reluctance to move and hunched posture
  • Age
  • Microbial infection
  • Kidney tumors
  • Deposition of a certain type of protein in the body, called amyloidosis
  • Trauma
  • Chronic glomerulonephritis
  • Chronic pyelonephritis
  • Ingestion of toxic substances
  • Prolonged exposure to toxins
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Congenital and inherited disorders
  • Inflammatory diseases such as chronic interstitial nephritis

The medical treatment for kidney failure takes place in two stages. The first stage aims at restarting the function of the kidney. Large quantities of intravenous fluids are given to clean the kidney. This helps in flushing out toxins, and hence rid it of deposited chemicals and pathogens. This process of flushing is called diuresis. In the majority of the cases, the kidney cells start to function normally again.

The second stage focuses on keeping the kidney in a functioning state for as long as possible. A special diet, low in proteins, phosphorus, and acids, is prescribed to the dog. It reduces the workload on the kidneys. Impaired kidneys cannot filter out phosphorus from the body. It accumulates in the blood, and leads to lethargy and loss of appetite. A phosphorus binder is given to the dog. It binds to excess phosphorus in the intestinal tract, leaving little phosphorus in the blood. When the kidney begins to start functioning normally once again, fluids are injected subcutaneously. The frequency of such injections depends upon the severity of the condition. Medicines are given to the dog to regulate the activity of the parathyroid gland. This helps the gland in maintaining levels of calcium and phosphorus in blood in the ratio of 2:1. Under normal conditions, kidneys produce erythropoietin, a substance that stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. With diseased kidneys, there isn't sufficient formation of red blood cells in the body. This eventually leads to anemia. So, a drug called epogen, which is a synthetic form of erythropoietin, is given to the dog. However, epogen may give rise some sort of autoimmune diseases in many cases.

Kidney failure in dogs is irreversible and cannot be treated completely. It can only be controlled and stalled. The postponement of its adverse effects is the only available option. Therefore, it is very important to monitor your canine friend for the signs of failure given in the article. In case you find the presence of two or three at the same time, you should consult a veterinarian for appropriate action.