Kidney disease in dogs is more common than we would like. Kidneys are an essential part of our dogs’ bodies, but due to different conditions (such as infections, diseases, poisoning, or birth defects), they can stop working properly, and therefore, cause severe damage to our pups' health and wellbeing.
What is kidney disease?
First of all, let’s start by clarifying what is it. We refer to kidney disease as any condition that causes kidneys to fail or don’t function the way they are supposed to.
But, why are kidneys so important?
Kidneys have different functions in our dogs’ bodies, but we can sum them up by saying that they are in charge of filtering up waste from the bloodstream, they regulate different minerals’ blood levels, help control blood pressure and create new blood red cells, conserve water, and produce urine.
Causes of kidney disease
- Malformation of the kidneys due to a birth defect (glomerular disease)
- High blood pressure
- Kidney stones
- Bacterial infections (leptospirosis)
- Poisoning (due to NSAIDs, toxic foods, ethylene glycol, among others)
- Cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases
Last but not least, dental infections can also be a risk factor for kidney disease. Bacteria from dental infections can enter the bloodstream and affect dogs’ hearts, liver, and kidneys. Almost 80% of dogs suffer from dental disease, so proper dental care is essential for good health. Check Mokai dental wipes and dental care.
Some breeds are more prone than others to suffer chronic kidney disease since it is usually inherited. The most common breeds affected by CKD (chronic kidney disease) are Bull terrier, Dalmatian, Shar-pei, Bernese mountain dog, English cocker spaniel, among others.
CKD doesn’t mean kidneys are not working. In fact, kidneys effectively make urine (and sometimes in even larger quantities), but they no longer filter the toxins of the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, kidney disease is not very easy to spot in an early stage. At least, 65% of the kidneys must be dysfunctional for external signs to be noticed.
- Lack of activity or lethargy
- Increased urinating and drinking
- Lack of appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Once the kidney disease is in a more advanced stage, the symptoms can get significantly worse, and dogs can present anemia (which shows signs as pale gums and overall weakness), blood in urine, focal seizures, and uncoordinated movements.
Stages of kidney disease in dogs
According to the International Renal Interest Society (IRIS), chronic kidney disease in dogs can be divided into 4 stages, being 1 the less serious and 4 the most severe.
These stages are classified depending on the urine serum creatinine concentration. In stage 1, the frequency of monitoring should be every six months; in stage 2/3 every three months; and in stage 4 every one or two months.
Is there a treatment for kidney disease in dogs?
First of all, before considering any possible treatment or palliative care, kidney disease should be properly diagnosed. There are two ways of diagnosing kidney disease and stating its stage: through a blood test, in which red cell values are checked; and through a urine test, in which the quantity of urine proteins is tested.
The right diagnosis is essential since acute kidney disease and chronic kidney disease are not the same, and hence, they don’t have the same prognosis. CKD cannot be cured, it can be managed and if your dog suffers from it, vets will probably recommend palliative care. While, on the other hand, acute kidney disease can be reversed if found and treated at an early stage.