Treating Acute Canine Kidney Disease Through Temporary Dialysis

Canine kidney disease usually appears in dogs in their senior years as either an acute (rapidly occurring) or chronic (slowly occurring process) disease. There are many causes of renal disease, some of which include: age, parasites, dog kidney cancer, trauma, inflammation, infections (viral, bacterial or fungal), congenital (inherited) disorders, autoimmune disease, toxic reaction to poisons or medications or amyloidosis (caused by abnormal protein deposits in the kidney).

Symptoms Can Indicate Other Diseases

Some of the following signs can also be indicators for other diseases of the pancreas, liver or urinary tract, as well as renal disease.

  • Increased water consumption
  • Increased/decreased/lack of urination
  • Urinating during the night
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea
  • Blood in the urine
  • Decreased appetite
  • Poor coat
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Hunched over posture with reluctance to move
  • Bad breath
  • Ulcers in the mouth, especially the gums, tongue or inside of the cheek
  • Dehydration
  • High blood pressure resulting in changes in the retina
  • Pale mucous membranes resulting in anemia
  • Swelling of the limbs or abdomen due to fluid accumulation
  • Softening jaw bones in young dogs (hereditary)
  • Enlarged kidneys or small, irregular kidneys

Diagnosing Canine Kidney Disease

Urinalysis, blood tests and imaging techniques are used to determine if kidney disease is present, its causes and severity. An increase in phosphorous, nitrogen and/or creatinine in the blood and a decrease in red blood cells is an indication that the kidneys are not working properly. However, an increase of concentration of urine (less water content), protein and sediment in the urine is present in kidney disease. Urography (x-rays using dyes), X-rays and ultasonography are used in determining the size of the kidney and therefore whether or not kidney disease is present or if the diagnosis is dog kidney failure. A biopsy may also be necessary for determining which disease is present.

Treatment for Kidney Disease in Dogs

Rehydrating through the use of intravenous fluids is done over the first 2 to 10 hours and continued thereafter. Urine output is monitored by placing a catheter in the dog's penis. Medications are used to try to induce the kidneys into producing urine. A high quality lower quantity protein diet is introduced if the dog is capable of eating on its own without vomiting or through tube feedings. Antibiotics and blood pressure medications may also be administered to regulate secondary problems. Acute renal failure may be reversible with early and aggressive treatment, including the temporary use of dialysis. Chronic kidney disease needs include keeping the dog hydrated and eating a high protein diet frequently in smaller quantities.

Kidney Dialysis

Dog kidney dialysis may be necessary for those dogs that fail to respond to normal therapies, those with toxins in the kidneys, those not producing urine or those that require emergency kidney surgery due to traumatic injuries. The veterinarian may also flush toxins from the dog's system by using IV fluids or temporary dialysis. In this way, a dog may be readied for a kidney transplant; however, currently kidney transplants are offered only at a few hospitals.

With proper treatment dogs with chronic renal failure can live for years.