Kidney Disease In Dogs
Estimated Read Time: 5 minutes
Summary: In this blog, we learn all about kidney disease in dogs. We’ll explore the causes, signs, and treatment methods when it comes to dog kidney disease and whether prevention is possible…
The kidneys are classed as an essential organ because they’re vital for proper body functions and without them, the body would die. Kidneys remove toxins from the bloodstream and move them to urine for the body to release as waste. They also regulate blood pressure, prevent essential water loss, keep the blood’s acidity levels in check and maintain proper metabolic balance.
Kidney (or renal) disease, in all animals and humans, is when the kidneys stop working at their proper or expected function levels, but means there’s some tissue still in place that’s still working. This can vary in severity. Kidney (or renal) failure is when the kidneys completely stop working, which can be life-threatening.
There are a variety of causes of kidney disease in dogs:
- Breed disposition (Kidney disease is more common in German Shepherds, English Cocker Spaniels, and Bull Terriers)
- Aging (Dogs over 7 years of age are more likely to develop kidney disease than younger dogs)
- Toxic foods
- Some medications
- Environmental factors like chemicals (antifreeze, rat poison, etc.) and pollution
- Bacterial diseases like leptospirosis
- Advanced dental disease
There are two types of kidney disease in dogs.
Chronic: Chronic kidney disease in dogs is irreversible and worsens over time. Unfortunately, you may not notice any symptoms of chronic kidney disease until it’s quite advanced because dogs have more kidney tissue than they require, despite early intervention being very helpful for slowing the disease's progression.
Acute: Acute kidney disease in dogs is often brought on by another condition like cancer or by consuming a portion of toxic food. Symptoms will typically appear very quickly and be severe, but may be fully resolvable depending on the cause.
Signs Of Kidney Disease In Dogs
The kidneys are responsible for so many functions in the body, that symptoms and signs of a problem with the organs can vary dramatically. However, signs of kidney disease in dogs can include:
- Drinking excessively
- Urinating more often
- Uninterested in food
- Pale gums
- Unexplained weight loss
- Mouth ulcers/sore mouth
- Fragile bones
- Overall lethargy, dullness, or weakness
- Bad breath
- Lackluster coat
- Sudden sight loss
Many of these symptoms can be signs of other conditions and illnesses, so don’t jump to conclusions without a veterinary consultation. If you suspect any health issue with your pet, it is always advisable to have them looked at by a vet as soon as possible.
Again, treatment will vary depending on the severity, cause, and type of kidney disease a dog has.
Supplements to replace vital vitamins and minerals may be recommended by your vet, or certain medications may be offered to help diminish the symptoms and signs of kidney disease which can be uncomfortable for a dog. You may also be offered fluid therapy, which essentially manually supports the kidneys in flushing the body of toxins and aids in replenishing depleted fluid levels. This is usually administered via injection or IV drip.
However, the main way kidney disease in dogs is managed is via diet. A vet will usually instruct a tailor-made diet with a focus on low protein, calcium phosphorus, and sodium but keep it high in omega 3 fatty acids. However, the dietary changes recommended will depend on the severity, stage, type, and cause of your dog’s kidney disease. Keeping your dog eating regularly and well hydrated is imperative when dealing with kidney disease.
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: If you know your dog has kidney disease, always follow your vet’s advice when it comes to food and supplements as the wrong levels of vitamins and minerals can make their condition worse.
In severe and exceptional cases, kidney dialysis may be your vet’s recommendation but this can be very expensive and arguably just prolong the inevitable…
Kidney disease can be genetic, so breeding responsibly is imperative. Do your research and only buy puppies from a respectable breeder that can provide the dog’s genetic history and isn’t shady when these are requested.
Keep your pet away from toxic substances, foods, and plants, and keep your pet up-to-date on all their vaccinations (your vet can advise on these).
Check out the PetLab Co. guide on what foods are known to be toxic to dogs below:
Make sure they’re also seen for regular, annual health check-ups by their vet, and always have them seen by a veterinary professional if you have any concerns about their behavior, character or health. You should also stay on top of their dental and oral hygiene.
A balanced, appropriate diet full of essential nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and fiber as well as regular exercise and being kept at a good weight, will give your dog the best chance of a long, healthy life.
“Kidney Failure & Disease In Dogs” Blue Cross, Feb 07. 2020 https://www.bluecross.org.uk/advice/dog/kidney-failure-and-disease-in-dogs
“Facts About Kidney Disease In Dogs” Hills Pet, Sep 01. 2015 https://www.hillspet.co.uk/dog-care/healthcare/kidney-disease-in-dogs#:~:text=Breed%3A%20Some%20dog%20breeds%2C%20including,was%20diagnosed%20with%20kidney%20failure.