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Kidney Failure in Dogs: Signs & Symptoms

Kidney Failure in Dogs: Signs & Symptoms

Acute kidney failure in dogs is a very scary condition for any dog owner and their pet. Here, our Charlotte vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment options for kidney failure in dogs.

Kidney Failure in Dogs

Kidney failure in dogs is also known as renal failure and may be caused by many diseases that impact how your pup’s kidneys function.

In healthy dogs, kidneys play a pivotal role in regulating hydration, removing toxins from the body, releasing hormones needed to produce red blood cells, and maintaining a normal electrolyte balance. By contrast, dogs diagnosed with kidney failure no longer have kidneys that function efficiently. The two different kinds of kidney failure that appear in dogs are chronic kidney failure and acute kidney failure.

Causes of Kidney Failure in Dogs

Within hours or days of the triggering incident, kidney function may suddenly decrease. This is referred to as acute kidney failure and is most often associated with toxins or infections.

Kidney failure in dogs can be caused by the bacterial infection leptospirosis (which is contracted by ingesting contaminated water) or dehydration. Other causes include the ingestion of:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Grapes and raisins (alone or in other foods)
  • Antifreeze (often licked from a garage floor or driveway)
  • Human heart medications
  • Overdose of canine medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Signs of Canine Kidney Failure

Signs of acute kidney failure in dogs will appear quickly, usually within a couple of hours or days of ingesting the toxin. You may notice one or more of these symptoms if your dog is suffering from acute kidney failure:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Increase or decrease in water consumption
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Increase or decrease in volume of urine
  • Uncoordinated movement such as stumbling
  • Significant decrease in appetite
  • Breath that smells like chemicals

Diagnosing Kidney Disease in Dogs

Your vet will run a series of blood and urine tests to confirm that your pup is suffering from kidney failure and to get a complete picture of the extent of the disease. Radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound, blood tests, and urinalysis are typically used when diagnosing kidney failure.

The results of these tests will also provide your vet with a more complete picture of the extent of the condition. In some cases, a biopsy of the kidney may also be recommended.

Treating Canine Kidney Failure

Renal failure is a very serious health risk for dogs. Hospitalization and intensive care may be required to save your pup's life.

Staff at our clinic will very closely monitor your dog's heart rate, blood pressure, and overall condition while providing appropriate medications and treatments such as IV fluids to hydrate and flush out the kidneys.

Once IV fluids have been administered your veterinary team will monitor your pet's urine production for signs of improvement.

Kidney Dialysis (Hemodialysis)

Peritoneal dialysis (feeding a tube directly into the pet's stomach to supply fluids that will be removed after some time to help flush out toxins) may be required.

Antibiotics may be administered if the cause of your dog's kidney failure is an infection. Medications may be given to prevent or treat stomach ulcers (which are a common side effect of acute kidney failure).

In some cases, a feeding tube may be needed until your dog is feeling better and able to eat on their own.

Prognosis of Kidney Failure in Dogs

This condition is very serious and sadly the prognosis for dogs suffering from acute kidney failure is poor. It is estimated that more than half of pets suffering from acute kidney failure either die from the condition or are euthanized to prevent suffering.

That said, if caught early and treated aggressively some dogs can recover acute kidney failure.

Your vet will be able to provide you with a realistic prognosis for your pet's recovery following a complete examination and testing. Your veterinarian will provide you with an estimate of treatment costs and help to guide you through the most appropriate approach to treatment for your pup.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.
Are you worried that your dog may be suffering from acute kidney failure? Contact our Charlotte vets to get your pup the urgent care they need. 

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