The kidneys are one of the most important organs in a dog’s body. They filter toxins out of the blood, maintain the body’s blood pressure, and helps produce red blood cells. With these functions it is no wonder why kidney disease can be serious.

Kidney Disease in Dogs: How to Prevent and Treat

What are some causes of kidney disease?

There can be many causes of kidney disease in dogs. Here are some of the most common:

1) Toxin Ingestion

Toxin ingestion can involve chemicals and even food. Anti-freeze –  many dogs are attracted to anti-freeze because of its sweet taste. Unfortunately, when ingested this chemical causes major changes with the kidneys leading to kidney failure.

2) Grapes and Raisins

Though they are a tasty treat for many humans they can be deadly for many dogs. The specific mechanism behind the poisoning is uncertain but ingestion can lead to kidney failure.

3) Human Medications

This can happen when people tend to self medicate their pets. The common culprit in this scenario includes drugs like advil, ibuprofen, or Naproxen. Dogs don’t metabolize these drugs the same way humans do so when dogs are given these drugs they can cause organ failure including the kidneys and liver.

4) Genetic Defects

Some dogs can be born with abnormalities associated with the kidneys that can lead to kidney failure early on. A common abnormality in dogs is called polycystic kidney disease. This is where the architecture of kidney is replaced by large cysts leading to dysfunction.

Kidney Disease in Dogs: How to Prevent and Treat5) Age Related Changes

Unfortunately as bodies age, organs slow down. Some will slow down enough to cause failure. The kidneys are one of the most common organs to fail in pets with age. With failure you may see increase in drinking, urinating, weight loss, and loss of appetite.

Diagnosis of Kidney Disease

The most common way to diagnose kidney is by bloodwork. There are certain factors in the bloodwork that are outside normal range that could indicate that there is evidence of kidney disease. The two most common factors  are Blood Urea Nitrogen and Creatinine. Other values that are looked at are phosphorus and concentration of the urine.

Treatment of Disease

Treatment  and success of the disease depends on the cause of it. Typical treatment usually involves intravenous fluids to help flush the kidneys and bring down the values in serious conditions. Other issues that may have to be addressed may include anemia and high phosphorus levels. There are dogs that may require additional medications such as aluminum hydroxide and a special kidney diet.

Sometimes dogs are sent home with a at home treatment which involves giving fluids under the skin at regular intervals.

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Prognosis of Kidney Disease

Prognosis of kidney disease depends on initial cause. With kidney disease caused by toxin ingestion, prognosis will depend on how much of the toxin was ingested and how early it was treated. With age-related changes treatment can slow down the progress of the disease, but eventually the dog will succumb to the disease.

Final Thoughts on Kidney Disease

Kidney disease can be challenging and devastating in dogs. Early treatment and diagnosis can be the key to improving the success for this disease. Unfortunately long-term prognosis may be poor.

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Dwight Alleyne head shotDwight Alleyne, DVM
Dwight Alleyne, DVM is the author of the Animal Doctor Blog, a blog that provides veterinary information about cats and dogs through articles and product reviews. He has almost 20 years of animal experience with 10 years as a veterinary technician and more than 9 years as a veterinarian. He currently practices in Georgia at a small animal practice where he provides veterinary services through surgeries and medical consultations. When he is not working, Dr. Alleyne enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and 7 year old cat named Queen.

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