Dog Kidney Disease
From Pet Health Learning Center
Dog Kidney Disease (Canine Kidney Disease)
Signs and Symptoms
Kidney disease is a common and serious condition that affects many dogs. In fact, kidney disease is one of the leading causes of death for older dogs. This disease can manifest itself in two forms -- acute or chronic. While the acute form occurs quickly and suddenly, the chronic form begins slowly and progresses with time. Kidney disease basically refers to a loss of approximately seventy-five percent of normal kidney function. These organs act as the body's filtration system, so when they cease to work properly toxins and waste products begin to build up in the blood. This then leads to a variety of problems and, eventually, to death.
As a dog's kidneys lose their ability to function properly and toxins begin to build up in the canine's body, a number of symptoms and warning signs will likely become apparent. Depending on whether your dog is suffering from acute or chronic kidney disease, a different set of symptoms may be displayed. For the acute form of this condition, symptoms may appear more suddenly. A dog suffering from this type of kidney disease can suffer from Dog Dehydration. As a pet owner, you can test for dehydration by gently pulling on the skin of your dog's stomach. If the skin does not spring back right away, this could be a sign that your dog is dehydrated. In addition, significantly reduced urine production or no urine production at all can also be warning signs that your pet is a victim of acute kidney disease. Finally, since this disease can lead to painful kidneys, some dogs may move with stiff legs or an arched back.
In cases of chronic kidney disease, other symptoms may be present. Changes in appetite are common, with many dogs losing their desire to eat and going off their food. This will then often lead to weight loss. Increased thirst and water consumption are also symptoms frequently exhibited by dogs with this condition, and many times these are the first warning signs to appear. Increased and frequent urination often occur, and a dog may begin to lose control of its bladder. Furthermore, blood will sometimes appear in an afflicted dog's urine and urination maybe painful or, in occasional cases, impossible. Many dogs with this condition also begin to vomit and become depressed and lethargic. Since canine kidney disease is serious and can be deadly, it's extremely important to alert your veterinarian as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms or warning signs. If caught quickly, it may be possible to gain some measure of control over the disease, increasing your dog's quality of life and length of life.
When a case of canine kidney disease is suspected, a veterinarian will follow four steps in order to confirm a diagnosis of this condition. First, the practitioner will conduct a thorough physical exam. Secondly, the veterinary doctor will want to speak to you, as a pet owner, about your dog's relevant history and regarding the behaviors and symptoms you have observed at home. After completing these first two steps, the veterinarian will then conduct two tests, a urinary test and a blood test. Both of these tests are necessary, as conducting one without the other will lead to a less certain diagnosis.
The urine test, or urinalysis, involves the procurement of a urine sample from the canine patient in order to test its concentration. When a dog is suffering from kidney disease, its urine becomes more dilute. Therefore, the veterinarian will measure the urine sample's Specific Gravity, a measurement that compares the concentration of the urine to that of distilled water. Urine from a dog afflicted with kidney disease usually has a concentration quite close to that of distilled water. In addition, elevated levels of protein or sugar may be present in a urine sample from a dog with kidney disease, and blood and bacteria may be as well.
By conducting a blood test, a veterinarian can measure the levels of toxins and waste products present in the canine patient's blood. Higher than normal levels of such substances are typically present in dogs with kidney disease. As this disease progresses, the amount of such toxins in the blood will increase until they reach critical levels. Two chemicals that veterinarians most commonly test for under such circumstances are blood urea nitrogen and creatinine. Often, veterinary doctors can test for these chemicals in their own clinic. However, if this is not the case, blood samples can be sent out to a larger animal hospital for testing. By following these four steps of examination, a veterinarian will be able to confidently confirm a diagnosis of kidney disease in an afflicted dog.
Finding out that your beloved pet is suffering from kidney disease can be very upsetting and stressful. Many times, pet owners won't really understand what is happening to their dog on a physiological level. Having some general knowledge about kidney function and dysfunction can be of help when trying to comprehend what is going on and when trying to care for your pet in the best possible way.
The part of the kidney that carries out most of the organ's tasks and functions is the nephron. The nephron is made up of a collection of microscopic tubes, capillary beds, and cell membranes. Nephrons, and kidneys as a whole, are responsible for numerous vital physiological tasks. One responsibility involved in the function of a dog's kidneys is the regulation of blood osmotic pressure. In other words, the kidneys are in charge of keeping blood concentration within healthy limits by regulating the different types of solids in the blood and the amounts in which allowed solids are present. The kidneys are also charged with controlling the acidity or pH levels of the blood. Thus, these organs regulate the acid-base balance in the blood by causing either the retention or elimination of ions such as bicarbonate, ammonium, and potassium. Another vital task carried out by healthy kidneys is providing a waste filtration system for the body. The kidneys are responsible for removing toxins, foreign substances, and waste products.
When kidney cells are damaged or wear out, the remaining cells have to compensate by working harder than normal. In cases of chronic kidney disease, where the disease develops slowly, this compensation can be occurring long before any symptoms of the disease are displayed by your pet. Eventually, however, kidney function will decrease to the point where nearly two-thirds of proper function is lost. This is the point when signs and symptoms of kidney disease tend to become apparent. By this stage, the responsibilities listed above are no longer being taken care of. Waste products and toxins are not sufficiently removed from the blood and vital concentrations and balances are no longer maintained. The impact of such a lack of function can be very unpleasant for your dog and, if not addressed, can quickly become deadly.
Dog kidney disease can be caused by a variety of different factors or triggers. The sudden form of this condition, acute kidney disease, can be caused by various forms of trauma and blood loss. It can also be triggered by toxins such as antifreeze and by certain antibiotics known as aminoglycoside antibiotics. Chronic kidney disease, which progresses more slowly, can be caused by numerous factors and conditions, including the normal wear and tear that comes with old age. In addition, this type of kidney disease can result from congenital defects or abnormalities. In such cases, a dog's kidneys may have an abnormal structure and this can lead to improper function and kidney disease, often relatively early in life.
Infections, such as bacterial and fungal infections, can also cause kidney disease in dogs. These types of infections can cause damage to the tissues of many organs in the body, including the kidneys. This then impairs the ability of the kidneys to work properly and carry out their vital responsibilities. Blockages of urine flow in the form of bladder stones and Dog Kidney Stones can also damaged the kidneys and lead to kidney disease. Other potential causes of this condition include cancer, immune diseases, hypertension, and both internal and external toxins.
Kidney disease can be difficult to treat and is usually impossible to cure. This is due to the fact that seventy-five percent of normal kidney function is already lost when most diagnoses are made. Moreover, once the kidney's tissues and cells are damaged, they often cannot be repaired. However, there are a number of ways available to help your pet live as close to a normal life as possible and to extend the length of his or her life. Most importantly, these treatment options can increase your dog's comfort.
In some of the most severe cases, a kidney transplant may be required in order to give your dog a chance at an extended and more comfortable life. However, this course of treatment is only undertaken in rare cases. In more common cases, treatment may consist of a number of factors including hospitalization, medication, and fluid therapy. Diet is also a vital aspect of treating kidney disease. A veterinarian will likely suggest certain dietary changes that will decrease or increase certain minerals and vitamins. For example, restricting the salt intake of your dog can be helpful when treating this condition. Furthermore, if your dog is suffering from kidney disease, it's important to make sure that he or she has access to plenty of fresh water at all times.
In addition to these treatment factors, homeopathic remedies can be of great benefit for dogs with this disease. Products consisting of natural herbs and substances can relieve the troublesome and irritating symptoms of this condition, reducing stress and discomfort. Some such products can also help your dog to overcome and prevent kidney infections. Natural ingredients such as cinnamon bark, marshmallow, wild hydrangea, and many others promote kidney health by reducing inflammation, soothing irritation, protecting against harmful bacteria and infections, and by reducing the buildup of potentially dangerous substances. Before employing any of the above courses of treatment, however, consultation with a veterinarian is always imperative.