When healthy, your dog's kidneys are able to perform a wide variety of essential functions to their overall health. Dogs with acute kidney failure—or acute renal failure—experience a sudden and quick degradation of their kidney function. Here, our North Asheville vets explain the signs of acute kidney failure in dogs and what can be done if your pup's kidneys fail.
Kidney Failure in Dogs
When healthy, kidneys work hard to eliminate toxins, maintain their normal balance of electrolytes and release hormones that help to produce new red blood cells in your dog's body. When kidneys stop working properly, as they do in dogs diagnosed with acute kidney failure, these important functions cease happening as they should.
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.
Here are some of the causes, symptoms and treatments for acute kidney failure in dogs as well as the prognosis for pups with acute kidney failure.
Causes of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs
When your dog's kidney function suddenly decreases over a matter of hours or days, this is called acute kidney failure or acute renal failure. This condition is generally related to ingested toxins or serious infections, however, conditions like severe dehydration ad leptospirosis can also cause your pooch's kidneys to suddenly cease working properly. Some other causes of acute kidney failure in your pup can include:
- Human heart medications
- Grapes and raisins (hidden in other foods or alone)
- Antifreeze (often licked up off of garage floor or driveway)
- Overdose of canine medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aminoglycoside antibiotics
Symptoms of Acute Kidney Failure
The signs of acute kidney failure in your dog will appear quite quickly—often within a matter of hours after ingesting a toxin. If your dog is suffering from acute kidney failure, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Blood in urine
- Ulcers in the mouth
- 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
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 veterinarians will run a series of tests on your dog's urine and blood in order to confirm that they are indeed suffering from acute kidney failure as well as the full extent of their condition. Diagnostic tools from radiographs to ultrasounds are generally used when diagnosing acute renal failure. The results collected will also be able to provide your vet with a comprehensive look at the extend of your pet's condition, including whether or not your pet will require a biopsy of their kidney for definitive treatment planning.
Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs
Acute kidney failure is an incredibly serious health risk for our canine companions. Intensive care and hospitalizations may be required to save their life. During this process, hospital staff will closely monitor your dog's heart rate, their blood pressure and their overall health to ensure they remain stable while administering some combination of the following treatments:
- Kidney dialysis (Hemodialysis)
- Antibiotics may be administered if the cause of your dog's kidney failure is an infection.
- 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.
- In some cases, a feeding tube may be required until your dog is feeling better and able to eat on their own.
- 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).
- Medications may be given to prevent or treat stomach ulcers (which are a common side effect of acute kidney failure).
Survival Rate for Dogs With Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney failure is extremely serious and sadly the prognosis for dogs suffering from acute kidney failure is poor. Estimates 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 give your a realistic sense of your pet's prognosis after their examination and diagnostic testing. They will also be able to provide you with an estimate of treatment costs and help guide you through what the best approach to treating your pup may be.
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.