Kidney failure in dogs: Phases and life expectancy

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sick dog

The kidneys play an important role as responsible for filtering the blood, cleaning it and eliminating its toxins. When their functioning is altered, a medical problem known as kidney failure occurs in dogs.

If you suspect that your dog may have this problem or even if it has already been diagnosed, this information will be very useful for you.

Index of contents

  • 1 The urinary system in dogs
    • 1.1 Acute kidney failure
    • 1.2 Chronic renal failure
  • 2 What are the symptoms of a kidney problem?
  • 3 What is the right treatment?
  • 4 What is the life of a dog with kidney failure?

The urinary system in dogs

The kidneys have a special structure to filter blood. This, by going through them, gets rid of toxins that are eliminated through the urine. When something fails in this system, compensation mechanisms are activated that are able to keep it working.

Meanwhile, the dog will remain asymptomatic, even if kidney damage already exists. Only when a large part of the kidneys is affected can we observe symptoms.

The negative of this compensation is that, in many cases, dogs are diagnosed when the disease is already well advanced.

Kidney malfunction has consequences derived from the accumulation of toxins, which alters urine production and water intake to try to minimize this problem. Kidney failure in dogs can present itself in two ways, as we will see below.

dog with kidney failure

Acute kidney failure

Kidney failure in our dog can appear suddenly. An obstruction at some point in the urinary tract, a ruptured bladder, or poisoning can affect the functioning of the kidney system, causing acute failure.

These cases represent a vital emergency and require immediate veterinary attention. The dog may recover without sequelae but if irreversible kidney damage has occurred it will become a chronic kidney disease.

Chronic renal failure

It is the most frequent kidney injury presentation. This type of kidney failure develops over time, being more common in older dogs, but we will not observe symptoms until the damage is advanced.

Hence the importance of veterinary check-ups at least once a year, especially in those over 7 years old, since an early diagnosis helps to maintain quality of life.

What are the symptoms of a kidney problem?

Although these can vary depending on whether it is an acute or chronic process, the most characteristic symptoms of kidney failure are:

  • Polyuria, that is, an increase in urine excretion, which will be clear, less dense. In acute cases, on the contrary, anuria may occur, which is the inability to produce urine. Is an emergency.
  • Polydipsia Because to compensate for the large urine output, the dog drinks more.
  • Weight loss, poor body condition and poor appearance of the coat of hair and skin.
  • Dehydration from fluid loss. This imbalance can produce edema.
  • Vomiting and digestive discomfort, plus an ammonia-smelling breath and even mouth sores.

In the most serious cases the dog could go into a coma, hence the importance of going to the vet as soon as we notice any of these symptoms.

Kidney failure can be diagnosed through a urine and blood test, where high values ​​such as creatinine, urea and phosphorus will appear. Tests such as blood pressure measurement, radiography, or ultrasound may also be done.

veterinary review

What is the right treatment?

We will distinguish at this point how to treat kidney failure in dogs depending on whether it is acute or chronic:

  • Acute kidney failure: it is, as we have said, a veterinary emergency that will require hospital admission for the administration of fluid therapy. Depending on its cause, treatment can vary from surgery if, for example, we are facing a ruptured bladder, to the administration of drugs that control different symptoms such as antiemetics for vomiting, gastric protectors, etc. The prognosis is reserved.
  • Chronic renal failure: Treatment will be based on symptom control, for which different drugs can be administered. The veterinaryn, according to the clinical data and the results of the tests, will indicate which of the four stages of kidney disease our dog is in, based on its severity, which will determine the need for medication.

In addition, food specifically formulated for dogs with kidney failure is basic, the most recommended being food from natural products. This disease is not cured but we can try to maintain, with these measures, a good quality of life as long as possible.

What is the life of a dog with kidney failure?

A dog with this disease requires specialized feeding that facilitates the work of the kidneys and preserves them. In the market we will find various options of feed and wet food.

If the dog rejects them, we will let him eat what he asks for, because it is important that he eat, but much more so that he does not stay on an empty stomach, as his condition would worsen his condition and disease.

It is also essential that you drink water, that we follow the administration guidelines if the vet has prescribed medications, and that we contact him with any symptoms. With these precautions, a dog with kidney failure can lead a normal life.