A dog’s healthy kidneys perform many essential functions. But dogs suffering from acute kidney failure may experience sudden, rapid decline in kidney function that requires urgent veterinary care. Today, our Baltimore vets list signs of acute kidney failure in dogs, and what to do if your dog shows signs of the condition.
Kidney Failure in Dogs
Also referred to as renal failure, kidney failure in dogs can be caused by numerous diseases that affect the functioning of your pooch’s kidneys.
Healthy kidneys work to remove toxins, maintain a normal electrolyte balance, release hormones needed to produce red blood cells, and regulate hydration. In dogs diagnosed with kidney failure, the kidneys no longer work efficiently. The two different types of kidney failure seen in dogs are chronic kidney failure and acute kidney failure.
Causes of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs
Kidney function may suddenly decrease (within hours or days). This is known as acute kidney failure or acute renal failure, and is most often related to infections or toxins.
Dehydration or the bacterial infection leptospirosis (which is contracted by ingesting contaminated water) can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. Other causes include the ingestion of:
- Human heart medications
- Overdose of canine medications such as aminoglycoside antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
- Antifreeze (often licked from a driveway or garage floor)
- Raisins and grapes (alone or hidden in other foods)
Symptoms of Acute Kidney Failure
Signs of acute kidney failure in dogs will appear quickly, typically within a couple of hours or days of ingesting the toxin. If your dog is suffering from acute kidney failure you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Increase or decrease in water consumption
- Increase or decrease in volume of urine
- Uncoordinated movement such as stumbling
- Breath that smells like chemicals
- Significant decrease in appetite
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Blood in urine
Diagnosing Acute 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 acute kidney failure.
The results of these tests will also provide your vet with a more complete picture regarding the extent of the condition. In some cases, a biopsy of the kidney may also be recommended.
Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs
Acute renal failure is a very serious health risk for dogs. Hospitalization and intensive care may be required to save your pup's life. Hospital staff 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 which will be removed after some time to help flush out toxins).
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 required until your dog is feeling better and able to eat on their own.
Can dogs survive acute kidney failure?
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 are able to recover from 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. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.