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Kidney failure in dogs

Kidney failure is a fairly common disease in dogs. There are two forms of kidney failure: acute and chronic. Here we tell you how to best identify what type of kidney failure your dog has suffered from and what symptoms to look out for - as well as what treatment is available.
A tired Golden Retriever under a blanket

Symptoms in dogs with kidney failure

  • Fatigue/lethargy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Drinking more than usual
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Weight-loss
  • Anaemia
  • Abdominal pains

Diagnosis for dog with kidney failure

Chronic kidney failure occurs when the kidneys lose their capacity to filter the blood in the body. Unfiltered blood will remain in the bloodstream and the amount of residual substances and toxins to be excreted with the urine will remain in the body. This is an insidious disease that may initially cause your dog no symptoms at all.

In acute kidney failure, the kidneys suddenly stop working. Unlike chronic kidney failure, it is not about a gradual deterioration of the dog's general condition. Acute kidney failure is often caused by some form of poisoning. If you suspect that your dog may have ingested something inappropriate, you should immediately contact a veterinarian. Acute kidney failure can also be due to infection or a tumour in the kidneys.

In order to establish a correct diagnosis, urine and blood samples are taken to measure kidney function. About 70% of the kidneys may have stopped working before symptoms are seen and the kidney values ​​rise in the blood.

Often, the kidneys and urinary tract are examined with ultrasound to be able to measure the size of the kidneys and see any other abnormalities on the kidneys and bladder. Failing kidneys usually look smaller and have an irregular shape due to scar tissue, while so-called cystic kidneys are often much larger.

Treatment of dogs with kidney failure

A dog with failing kidneys must receive treatment quickly for the prognosis to be good. Even if it is chronic kidney failure, with the help of the right medication and an adapted diet, your dog's situation can be significantly improved. Especially in the case of acute kidney damage, it is important that your dog receives treatment at an early stage. Otherwise, the risk of your dog developing chronic kidney damage that is more difficult to treat is high.

A very common form of treatment for acute kidney failure is intravenous fluid therapy in combination with blood pressure-lowering drugs. It is common for dogs with acute kidney failure to suffer from dehydration. During the treatment period, the kidney values ​​and blood pressure are measured continuously. The idea is to get urine production started so that the kidneys can start filtering the blood again.

A change of feed can in some cases be a complement to other medical treatment. There are special feeds that have been developed especially with the kidneys in mind. Among other things, it contains a lower protein content and not as many minerals as in a regular feed.

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