Causes of Kidney Problems in Dogs

Kidney problems in dogs can be fatal if not treated in time. The kidneys are responsible for the elimination of toxins through urine but also regulate the blood pressure and produce the red cells.  The symptoms only appear when kidney function is under 25% of its normal capacity. Kidney problems in dogs can be acute or chronic (i.e. kidney function declining gradually, over several months).

Symptoms of Kidney Problems in Dogs

While more severe symptoms are not specific for kidney failure and tend to appear when the kidneys are affected in a large proportion, small changes in your dog's habits can signal the beginning of kidney problems. Going to your veterinarian in time is essential.

Increased thirst is one of the first signs of kidney problems, followed by:

  • increased urination
  • Urinating during the night or in the house
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of urinating
  • Weigh loss
  • Lethargy
  • Anemia
  • Vomiting

Causes of Kidney Problems in Dogs

Whether kidney failure is acute or chronic depends on the causes of the condition:

Toxins are the most usual cause of acute renal failure. Antifreeze and rat poison are substances dogs commonly swallow. Treatment needs to be given as early as possible. The first thing to do is to induce vomiting and to flush the toxins from the stomach.

  • Drugs taken for other conditions can also cause acute renal failure: blood pressure medication, aspirin, anti-parasite drugs or antibiotics.
  • The presence of a kidney tumor also causes acute kidney failure.
  • Poor blood supply to kidneys due to heart disease can allow toxins to build up in the bloodstream and cause renal failure.
  • Kidney stones obstruct the urinary tract causing damage to the kidneys in time.
  • Parasites can cause blood in the urine and difficulty urinating
  • Viral infections can cause acute renal failure
  • Leptospirosis, caused by an infectious agent, Leptospira spp.
  • Bacteria can cause both acute renal failure or chronic renal failure
  • The buildup of calcium or of other substances can cause gradual problems affecting kidney function.

Prevention of Kidney Problems in Dogs

To eliminate risk of poisoning you should handle antifreeze liquid carefully, as just a few drops of this liquid is enough to poison your dog. Also, keeping on eye on your dog will help avoid poisoning.

Leptospirosis caused kidney failure can be avoided by vaccination.

Kidney problems are more common in older dogs so you will need to take him for urine tests annually after the age of 5.

Treatment of Kidney Problems in Dogs

If your dog has acute renal failure or severe chronic failure, he will need to be hospitalized. Diuretics and vasodilators will be administered. Other treatments will also be initiated:

  • Hydration will be necessary, so IV fluids will be administered
  • Antibiotics will be needed if kidney failure is caused by an infection
  • Antitoxins such as ethanol or 4-methylpyrazole will be administered to the dog if he has antifreeze poisoning.
  • Your dog will need a change in his diet with restricted levels of protein and phosphorus. Your veterinarian will recommend a diet which allows less metabolic waste to build up in the organism.