The last thing that any dog owner wants to hear is that their dog has kidney failure. Most people don’t even want to think about the possibility that it can happen to them, but the truth of the matter is that nine out of 1,000 dogs suffer from this unfortunate chronic renal disease. However, if you recognize symptoms early enough, treatment is often much easier than you think. When symptoms are ignored, the condition can worsen rapidly and treatment becomes more risky and difficult.
Understanding the Condition
The kidney is responsible for regulating blood pressure, blood volume, blood sugar levels, pH levels and water composition. It also produces certain hormones and red blood cells. These are all crucial responsibilities, so when a kidney is unhealthy and not doing what it is supposed to, overall health is compromised.
Kidney failure is the inability to remove toxic waste products from blood in the body. These toxins build up in the blood and produce symptoms of uremic poisoning. Failure can be a slow process that comes on gradually over several months, or it can appear quite suddenly.
Causes of Kidney Failure
Many owners feel guilty or assume that there was something that they could have done to prevent their dog’s condition, but this is rarely the case. Common causes include:
• Congestive heart failure
• Shock that causes inadequate blood flow
• Urethra or bladder rupture
• Urinary tract obstruction
• Lyme disease
• Poisoning, primarily from antifreeze
• Kidney disease
• Certain prescription medications
• Diabetes mellitus
Signs and Symptoms
Drinking and urinating more often are generally the first symptoms that most owners notice right away. Even dogs that have never had a problem in the past may begin to have accidents in the house because they can’t hold it. This is because the kidneys are not able to properly concentrate the urine. Larger urine output occurs, resulting in excessive thirst and dehydration. As kidney function declines, ammonia, acids, nitrogen and other waste remains in the blood and tissues. All dogs are different, so yours may experience one or all of the following symptoms:
• Lack of appetite
• Weight loss
• Acute blindness
• Blood in urine
Symptoms must never be dismissed, and self-diagnosis and treatment is dangerous. It is vital that you see a traditional or holistic vet to determine the severity of the condition and which treatment method is most appropriate.
Maintaining hydration is crucial, many dogs will need to undergo fluid therapy. It is often recommended that protein be restricted from the diet since it is hard for the dog to metabolize. However, some vets believe that as long as the protein given is considered high biological value, it can actually be beneficial.
A customized diet may be necessary, consisting of a high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids and potassium. Phosphorus binders as well as vitamin D supplements are often given to treat dog kidney failure, and to help improve balance and reduce secondary effects. Depending on severity, medications such as anti-hypertensive, Enalapril and Erythropoietin may be prescribed. In more advanced cases, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be necessary.