There are two main types of kidney disease in dogs- a chronic form of kidney disease or acute kidney disease due to an acute injury.
Chronic kidney disease develops over time. Gradually the dog loses kidney function as more of the nephrons (the microscopic filtering tubes in the kidney) are damaged and lost. This form is often seen in older dogs but can be seen in younger dogs as some causes of kidney disease are hereditary and seen more commonly in particular breeds. Other chronic cases may be as a consequence of dogs having recovered from acute kidney injury.
Acute kidney injury occurs when a dog is exposed to a toxin (usually by ingestion), through infection or disease e.g. Leptospirosis, a blockage in the urinary tract e.g. bladder stones, severe hypoxia (reduced oxygen supply) or a variety of other insults or traumas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the signs of kidney disease in dogs?
Kidney disease is more commonly seen in ageing dogs with Chronic Kidney Disease, although it may be seen in dogs of any age.
The typical signs include:
- an increase in thirst and urination
- a reduction in appetite and weight loss over a period of time.
When kidney disease is very severe or the onset is acute you may see sudden vomiting, decreased urine production or even the inability to pass urinate at all.
How is kidney disease in dogs diagnosed?
Kidney disease is diagnosed via clinical examination by your vet, blood tests to check the kidney parameters and a urine test to check for the kidneys ability to concentrate the urine and for urinary tract infections.
It is also recommended that a blood pressure measurement and ultrasound evaluation of the kidneys is performed.
Occasionally, diagnosis of particular conditions will require kidney biopsy or specific genetic or serological tests.
How is kidney disease in dogs treated?
Once diagnosed, treatment is indicated to help the kidneys to work more efficiently and to reduce ongoing damage to the kidneys.
If an underlying cause can be identified e.g. an infection than this will be targeted with specific treatment. Patients with severe kidney disease may be admitted to hospital to be placed on fluids, anti-sickness medications and supportive care.
Chronic cases can be managed at home with treatment such as dietary modification and supportive medications. Regular monitoring with your vet is recommended to ensure your dog is continuing to cope well at home.
What is the prognosis for a dog with kidney disease?
The prognosis depends on the severity of the individual case- the worse the damage to the kidneys, the poorer the prognosis.
Acute cases often require intensive treatment and nursing and are often life threatening, but chronic cases can usually be managed well at home to give your dog a happy and comfortable life.
We will always talk through individual cases with you so that you are fully informed about your dog’s condition and how it may affect his or her life.