Renal Failure in Dogs

Renal failure in dogs is a severe condition that may be present in dogs of any age, breed or sex. Typically, dogs older than 7 or 8 years are more prone to renal failure, as the kidney function tends to diminish with age. It is important to apply treatment for the renal failure and prevent it from becoming chronic, which can be a fatal condition. Unfortunately, the chronic renal failure is an irreversible condition but may be manageable.

The Canine Kidneys and Their Function

The canine kidneys have multiple functions, the most important being that of excretion and the filtering of the waste from the blood flow to the urine as well as the conservation of fluids.

The kidneys are also in charge of secreting hormones such as the erythropoietin, which helps the bone marrow to produce the red blood cells. A deficit of red blood cells can lead to leukemia and other health problems.

Consequently, the kidneys are vital organs and if these hare affected, the dog will be seriously ill.

Causes of Renal Failure

The causes of kidney failure include old age, as the function of the kidneys start to decline.

The hereditary causes must also be considered. Some dog breeds are more prone to developing kidney problems and kidney failure.

Symptoms of Renal Failure

The most common symptoms of renal failure include an increased thirst and increased urination, as the body tries to flush out the waste materials in the blood flow that cannot be broken down and assimilated by the kidneys.

A dog with kidney problems will also be more lethargic, dehydrated and experience lack of appetite.

Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, halitosis or bad breath, mouth ulcers, pale gums and mucous membranes and a general state of weakness.

Diagnosing Kidney Failure

Kidney failure can be diagnosed by running a few tests and a physical exam. An x-ray or ultrasounds may also be recommended and will reveal that the kidneys are smaller than the normal size.  The dog will also have a lower red blood cell count, pale mucous membranes, bad breath and mouth ulcers.

A kidney biopsy may also be performed.

Kidney Failure Treatment

The prognosis for canines with renal failure is poor, as the disease is progressive and irreversible. However, the treatment aims to improve the function of the kidneys and make the dog feel more comfortable.

Dietary changes must be made; prescription dog food is highly recommended to take off some workload from the kidneys. The food must be wet and should have low levels of proteins and phosphorus. The dog must also drink plenty of water.

It is important to manage the dog’s condition to avoid the kidney failure to become chronic. If more than 70% of the kidney function is lost, the condition becomes chronic.

Chronic renal failure may cause blindness and can be fatal. Most dogs with chronic kidney failure have less than 1 year to live.

Kidney failure is not a preventable condition, but if there is a genetic predisposition, these dogs shouldn’t be bred.