A dog with acute kidney failure experiences a sudden and rapid decline in kidney function, necessitating immediate veterinary attention. Our Norristown veterinarians discuss the symptoms of acute kidney failure in dogs and what to do if your dog exhibits these symptoms unexpectedly.
Acute Renal Kidney Failure in Dogs
Kidney failure, also known as renal failure, can be caused in dogs by a variety of diseases that affect the kidneys' ability to function. Toxins are eliminated, hydration is regulated, electrolyte balance is maintained, and hormones required for red blood cell production are released by healthy kidneys.
In dogs diagnosed with kidney failure, the kidneys are longer performing their various functions efficiently. There are two different types of kidney failure seen in dogs, chronic kidney failure and 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 toxins or infections.
Dehydration and a bacterial infection called leptospirosis, which is contracted through the ingestion of contaminated water, can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. Ingestion of the following substances can also cause acute kidney failure in dogs:
- 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
Signs of Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney failure symptoms in dogs appear quickly, usually within hours or days of ingestion of the toxin. You may notice one or more of the following symptoms if your dog has acute kidney failure:
- 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 pup is showing any of the symptoms above, immediate veterinary care is required. Life expectancy for dogs with acute kidney failure is not good. Early treatment is essential to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes.
Diagnosing Acute Kidney Disease in Dogs
Your veterinarian will conduct a series of blood and urine tests to confirm that your dog has kidney failure and to determine the full 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 condition's severity. A kidney biopsy may also be recommended in some cases.
Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs
Acute renal failure is a major health concern for dogs. To save your puppy's life, hospitalization and intensive care may be required. Your dog's heart rate, blood pressure, and overall condition will be closely monitored by hospital staff, who will administer 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 its own.
Survival Rate for Dogs With 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.
If caught early and treated aggressively some dogs can recover from acute kidney failure.
Following a thorough examination and testing, your veterinarian will be able to give you an accurate prognosis for your pet's recovery. Your veterinarian will give you an estimate of treatment costs and will assist you in choosing the best treatment option for your puppy.
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.