Causes of Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs

Kidney failure in dogs, also known as renal disease, is a common affliction of older pets and is grouped in two categories: acute and chronic. Acute kidney disease can appear very suddenly and can be very severe, whereas chronic renal failure can take a long time to culminate into full blown disease and is less specific than its acute counterpart. To determine the difference between the two, one must look to the cause.

Causes of Acute Kidney Failure

As mentioned, acute kidney failure is typically very quick and severe, thus its causes differ from chronic failure which takes time. Acute kidney failure can be caused by, for example, trauma to the internal region or a toxic reaction to either poisons or medications. In both cases, the problem involves a sudden disruption of the renal system, leading to failure in a quick manner.

Causes of Chronic Kidney Failure

Chronic kidney failure, on the other hand, can be very slow going and take time to fully realize in dogs. There are many possible causes of chronic kidney failure, age being perhaps the most common. Infection brought on by viruses, fungus or bacteria are causes, as are inflammation, parasites, cancer and amyloidosis. The last cause is a result of having too much of a certain protein in the kidneys. Dog kidney cancer is very uncommon and is usually a result of a leukemia disorder, although prostate cancer can lead to kidney failure. Though not a complete list, it gives you an indication of the number of possible causes of chronic kidney failure in dogs.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease

The best thing you can do as a dog owner is to watch for any of the visible symptoms of chronic kidney failure. Chances are if it is acute failure, there is nothing you will be able to do about it. This is not the case with chronic failure. Among the symptoms:

  • An increase in water consumption
  • Increased or decreased frequency of urination, or blood in urine
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea
  • Hunched/Arched back and an unwillingness to move

It is important to keep an eye out for these symptoms in order to catch them early. Catching any problems before they become big will increase the chances of your pet's survival. Dog kidney dialysis is an option, albeit not possible for everyone due to its expense and time. It requires your dog to undergo 3 treatments per week lasting 3 to 5 hours each during which time the pet's blood will be treated with a solution to cleanse the blood. This can be indefinite for chronic renal failure.

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from one form of kidney disease, a urine test is necessary. After that, there are several ways veterinarians determine the type and extent of the failure. Radiography and ultrasounds can be performed to view the kidneys and lead to a diagnosis.

Often the cause of kidney disease is old age. Anything you can do to prevent the disease is better. A proper, healthy diet, an avoidance of toxins to the fullest extent, and keeping watch over the dog for any troubling symptoms all will help your pet's chances.