Healthy kidneys perform a range of essential functions, dogs with acute kidney failure experience a sudden and rapid reduction in kidney function that requires urgent veterinary care. Our Las Vegas vets explain the signs of acute kidney failure in dogs, and what you should do if your pup shows signs of kidney failure.
Kidney Failure in Dogs
Toxins are eliminated by healthy kidneys, hydration is regulated, an electrolyte balance is maintained, and hormones required for red blood cell production are released. The kidneys in dogs with kidney failure are no longer performing these vital functions efficiently.
Kidney failure - also referred to as renal failure - can be caused in dogs by a number of diseases that impact the functioning of your pet's kidneys. There are two different types of kidney failure seen in dogs, chronic kidney failure and acute kidney failure.
Below are some of the signs, symptoms, causes, and treatments for acute kidney failure in dogs, as well as the prognosis for dogs with acute kidney failure.
Causes of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs
When kidney function suddenly decreases - within hours or days - this is known as acute kidney failure or acute renal failure. It is most often related to the ingestion of toxins or infections but dehydration and leptospirosis can also cause your pet's kidneys to suddenly stop working properly. Other causes of acute kidney failure in dogs include the ingestion of:
- Antifreeze (often licked up off of garage floor or driveway)
- Grapes and raisins (hidden in other foods or alone)
- Human heart medications
- Overdose of canine medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aminoglycoside antibiotics
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
If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms above, immediate veterinary care is essential. Acute kidney failure can progress rapidly and quickly become fatal.
Diagnosing Acute Kidney Disease in Dogs
Your veterinarian will perform a battery of blood and urine tests to confirm that your dog has kidney failure and to determine the extent of the disease. When diagnosing acute kidney failure, radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound, blood tests, and urinalysis are commonly used. The results of these tests will also give your veterinarian a more complete picture of the severity of the condition. A kidney biopsy may also be recommended in some cases.
Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs
Acute kidney failure is a very serious health risk for dogs. Hospitalization and intensive care may be required to save your beloved pet'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 common side effects 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.
Survival Rate for Dogs With Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney failure is extremely serious and sadly the prognosis for dogs with acute kidney failure is poor. Estimates on life expectancy suggest that more than half of pets suffering from acute kidney failure either die from the condition or are euthanized to prevent suffering.
Nonetheless, 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.