Kidney disease is a common problem of older dogs, affecting an estimated 10% of canines in their lifetimes1. There are a number of causes that may affect different age groups and have different consequences, ultimately though, chronic kidney disease (occurs over time) or acute kidney injury (occurs suddenly) will always have the same result—one sick pup. The signs of illness in your dog reflect the failure of the kidneys to do their many jobs well enough.
Learn the basics of chronic kidney disease in dogs.
Below you will find a brief description of ten common causes of kidney disease. These are the targets of your veterinarian’s testing:
1. Damage to the kidney filters (glomerular disease)
The glomerulus of the kidney (kidney filtration mechanism) is commonly involved in canine kidney disease. Early on, we expect no signs of illness, but since glomerular disease may be caused by infections (like Lyme disease) or cancer, amongst other things, time can make the problems worse. Over time, inflammation, in the glomerulus of the kidney, damages the surrounding kidney tissues, creating the chronic kidney disease that makes your dog feel sick.
Learn more about glomerular disease in dogs.
2. Infection of kidney tissues (pyelonephritis)
Infection of kidney tissues with bacteria, or rarely, fungal organisms, is one of the kidney diseases that may have a more favorable outcome, so your veterinarian will be on the lookout for it. Our goal with pyelonephritis is to kill the bacteria that can cause the damaging inflammation. This should limit progression of any chronic kidney disease or assist with recovery from an acute kidney injury. A bacterial urine culture and susceptibility can verify the infection and identify which antibiotic might work the best.
3. Kidney stones (nephrolithiasis)
Kidney stones can be the product of chronic bacterial infection, genetics or diseases that alter blood or urine characteristics. Nephro (kidney) liths (stones) don’t seem to cause dogs much pain, but this can change if they cause blockage within the kidney or its collecting ducts; it can also change if they contribute to infection (see pyelonephritis).
Learn more about kidney stones in dogs.
4. Kidney blockage (ureteral obstruction with hydronephrosis)
Kidney stones can fragment and be carried along with urine into the ureter, the long narrow tube that connects each kidney to the urinary bladder. They are probably painful during their transit, but the bigger concern is the consequence to the kidney if they become lodged there, causing partial or complete blockage. New urine cannot exit the kidney easily and it backs up, causing the kidneys to swell. With enough pressure, the kidneys enlarge (hydronephrosis) and become damaged. If both ureters obstruct at the same time, it can prove disastrous.
5. Damage to kidney tubules (tubulointerstitial disease)
Inflammation and damage to the kidney tubules and supporting tissues commonly leads to chronic kidney disease. In many cases there is no identified cause, and thus no option for specific treatment. This type of kidney disease can only be confirmed by microscopic examination of a kidney biopsy specimen, but biopsies are not usually recommended.
6. Bacterial infection (leptospirosis)
Bacterial infection with leptospires causes kidney disease and other organ challenges in dogs and people all over the world. Normally, the effects of leptospirosis will be quite sudden and cause an acute kidney injury. Occasionally, the infection might cause chronic kidney disease. Quick recognition of this highly treatable disease should lead to a better outcome and protect your dog’s friends and family (YOU!) from becoming infected by contact with urine or other body fluids.
Learn more about leptospirosis in dogs.
Lots of household items can damage the kidneys, not just antifreeze. Ordinary table foods like grapes and raisins; certain commercial jerky treat products; common OTC medications like aspirin or other nonsteroidals (NSAIDs); or prescribed medications can all cause kidney disease. Venoms, pesticides and heavy metals are less common toxins. We know dogs like to lick stuff, eat stuff, roll in stuff or bathe in stuff, but that can put them at real risk. To reduce your buddy’s risk of kidney injury, consider limiting his free-roaming behaviors and refrain from giving him any medications without discussing it first with your veterinarian.
See the top 5 most damaging kidney toxins for dogs.
If you have any reason to believe your dog has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian right away. You may also contact:
- ASPCA Poison Control (888) 426-4435
- Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661
Fortunately, kidney cancer is not very common in dogs. Unfortunately, treatment options for kidney cancer are rather limited. Solitary tumors affecting only one kidney can be removed by surgery with a good outcome, if the cancer is benign or has not spread to other parts of the body (including the opposite kidney). Your dog only needs one good kidney to function normally. If the cancer is more widespread, as usually occurs with lymphosarcoma, surgery will not be an option for cure. Microscopic analysis of a biopsy or small needle sample is needed for the correct diagnosis of cancer and appropriate treatment plans.
Learn 10 signs of cancer in dogs.
9. Protein issue (amyloidosis)
Patients with amyloidosis lose function in certain organs, including the kidneys, because protein deposits replace the normal tissue. It is an uncommon consequence of chronic inflammation affecting other parts of the body. It may also be genetically programmed in some dog breeds. Amyloid deposits cannot be cleared away, and the functional kidney tissue that is lost cannot be replaced, so the prognosis is not good.
Learn more about amyloidosis in dogs.
There are genetic links to various kinds of kidney disease for many purebred dogs. Some young dogs fail to develop normal kidneys, or have kidneys that are large and grape-like, with many fluid- filled cysts. These dogs show signs of kidney disease as youngsters. Other dogs with congenital problems of the glomerulus or with a predisposition to amyloidosis might only show signs or symptoms of kidney disease when they’re adults.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
- Brown SA. Renal dysfunction in small animals. The Merck Veterinary Manual website. Updated October 2013. Accessed January 14, 2015.
Top 10 Most Common Dog Diseases that Easily get Ignored
The quality of your dogвЂ™s life reflects in how truly active they are. If your dog has anxiety problems since the beginning but you can control them. But what if all of a sudden they start to behave weirdly?В
Could this be related to their health? Dog health is important. But sometimes it is easily ignored as a sign of anxiety or behavior problem thinking it as вЂњnormalвЂќ like
1- Chronic Ear Problems
ItвЂ™s a basic ear infection that you need to follow through with. If left untreated or taken too casually can lead to bigger problems. It can become painful and itchy for your dog. Dogs that spend the most time outdoors can have this problem.
Dirt, dust, or any foreign object can be the cause of it which often leads to ear infections. So how do you know your dog has an ear infection? If your dog paws a lot at their ears this is a major giveaway.
Vets usually recommend antibiotics like ear drops to prevent the infection from spreading.
2- Dental Problem
One of the common dog health issues is if the dog has bad breath, itвЂ™s not acceptable. We think itвЂ™s okay because they are animals right? But if you are taking your dog for grooming sessions then why does your dog have dental issues? Inflamed gums are one reason. Just imagine your dogs in pain or a tooth went bad because you were neglecting to notice it.
Doggy breath is officially a serious concern. The dog may stop eating their favorite homemade doggie treats or veggies they used to. Take your dog to the vet.
3- Skin Problems
The dog experiences the discomfort twice as much as they cannot scratch the way we can if they get bitten by the fleas or the biting pests. Sometimes chronic rashes can be the problems of a skin rash. This means crazy itching and scratching!
ItвЂ™s time for parasite control. So do not ignore the signs of excessive scratching it can also lead to excessive chewing problems. Fleas are easier to handle than ticks. In case your dog has ticks itвЂ™s a serious dog health concern as it can cause death too. A homemade vinegar spray can kill ticks and fleas.В
Only if your dog could speak about the pain in his bones this would make it a lot easier. As your dog gets old, this is one of the most common possibilities. A common health problem in senior dogs is Arthritis. Your dog slows down with old age and nothing about this will make him or you feel any better.
But what you can do is try to keep your dog active with exercises that help to control the pain, control the weight and use anti-arthritic drugs. This is not a permanent solution but it can help overcome the pain of Arthritis.
5- Kennel CoughВ
If you adopted your dog from a shelter home, chances are your dog has a higher probability to suffer from kennel cough. Unfortunately, it cannot be avoided with exercises or any sort of training but it sounds a lot worse than it actually is.
Consider it as a common cold.
The best solution to this chronic cough is to give plenty of clean water, organic veggies, fruits, and good food. Also, keep a close eye on the calorie your dog is eating per day, once the antibiotics started.В
6- DiarrheaВ В
Another common health dog disease is diarrhea. It can happen because of a number of reasons like food poisoning, or even an allergic reaction to fruits or veggies. Sometimes a few chew toys can trigger an allergic reaction.
Vomiting, stress, infections like parvovirus, intestinal parasites and etc can also be some of the causes too. Diarrhea can cause dehydration, so water intake for dogs is a must. If the condition persists, take your dog to the vet.
ItвЂ™s best to provide a stress-free environment for your dog. Avoid any sudden change in diet plan too. Sometimes rice water in the diet can help with the condition.
Diabetes is a complex disease. Diabetes in dogs makes it twice as hard to treat. Your dog may either lack a hormone or may have an inadequate response to insulin.
After eating, when the digestive system of your dog does not break the food component as itвЂ™s supposed to do, it causes big problems. When a dogвЂ™s body does not produce the insulin then the blood sugar elevates. Yes, itвЂ™s exactly similar to humans.
If you notice vomiting, chronic skin infection, change in appetite, weight loss, cataract formation, etc. your dog is showing signs of diabetes.
Some may require injections but spaying is usually recommended for females.
A viral disease that affects a dogвЂ™s brain and spinal cord. They say if a rabid dog bites a human they die. ItвЂ™s one of the most dangerous dog diseases. Perhaps the main reason it provokes fear in humans too.
Sometimes a dog is fine but may immediately show signs of rabies if they had exposure to a rabid animal. Symptoms vary from animal to animal. But the usual signs in dogs include behavior changes, biting or snapping, attacking other animals, fever, hypersensitivity, hiding in dark places, paralysis of throat and jaw muscles are prominent.
The virus can remain alive on a dogвЂ™s skin for two hours, so avoid touching your dog if you are suspicious. Take your dog to the vet in a dog crate for a rabies booster vaccine.
If you thought your dog catching rabies is worse, then you cannot imagine even the dogs who suffer from cancer. Yes, even dogs can suffer from these self-destructive diseases. ItвЂ™s best to take a second opinion. A veterinary oncologist is a person who treats cancer in dogs.
Lumps, swelling, persistent sores, abnormal discharge from the body parts, bad breath, lethargy, black tarry stools, or difficulty breathing, are the major highlights of cancer in dogs.
Running X-rays, ultrasound, blood evaluation, and other diagnostic tests are helpful to determine the reason behind cancer. Boxers, Boston terriers, and Golden Retrievers are the most prone breeds to cancer, unfortunately.
The common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, or sometimes a combination of therapies.
We all love feeding our dogs, but counting calories help to avoid this one problem that is the root cause of several other problems.
Obesity is not to be treated lightly. If your dog is obese he has a higher chance of developing all sorts of heart diseases, kidney problems, and especially arthritis earlier. If your dog is overweight, speak with your vet. Make a proper feeding schedule for your dog that will help him stay healthy not gain weight. Also include certain exercises and playtime.В
Avoid sugary food, include fresh foods, or mix canned food with homemade food in the right quantities.
DonвЂ™t mess up with your dogвЂ™s health. It is important to you know, it is understandable the above-mentioned dog health problems can be easily overlooked but now that you know make sure you take good care of your doggie.
Common Causes of Kidney Disease in Dogs
It turns out, there are many ways dogs can find themselves with kidney problems. One is acute, or sudden, which usually occurs after a pet ingests a toxin like antifreeze or certain prescription medications.
Other causes of acute renal failure include severe urinary tract infections and decreased blood and oxygen flow to the kidneys. Why would blood and oxygen flow be lowered or blocked? Trauma, dehydration, or heat stroke can lower or block these vital substances.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is harder to detect. It usually affects older dogs and can stem from cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or genetic factors. However, it’s important to note that CKD can also be caused by a dental infection.
It is common for veterinary professionals to advise pet owners that dental health affects overall health, and kidney disease serves as one example of how this occurs. Bacteria from dental disease can actually enter a dog's bloodstream, particularly when gums are inflamed and provide an "access point." This bacteria can affect not only the kidneys, but the heart and liver as well. In this way, advanced dental disease can actually be a contributing factor for a dog's kidney disease. This is another reason to make sure to attend to your dog’s dental hygiene!
Some veterinarians refer to CKD as the kidneys basically “wearing out.” There is no cure for CKD, but there is treatment to help maintain your dog’s quality of life.
In both acute and chronic kidney disease in dogs, the key is to pay attention to your dog and notice any unusual behaviors.
Kidney disease in dogs: Spot the warning signs
One out of 10 dogs will develop canine chronic kidney disease during their lifetime. Learn to prevent this condition or make the most of treatment.
When you adopt a dog, you also take full responsibility for its health. Although it is impossible to predict all potential health issues, it is possible to be aware of diseases that are common regardless of breed. Chronic kidney failure is the disease that one in 10 dogs will develop during their lifetime, according to research.
Even though the probability seems small, you should know about the symptoms and treatment of kidney disease, although we certainly want this information to remains only theoretical for you.
Kidney Disease In Dogs
Chronic kidney disease is one of the most common diseases in older cats and dogs. However, it can occur in animals of any age. There are multiple causes of kidney disease and one of the very frustrating things about this disease is that often by the time it is identified, the cause itself is no longer present and is no longer treatable. And by the time there are obvious abnormalities in kidney blood values, which is a common mode of kidney disease detection, you have marked kidney disease.
The best method of early detection is a urinalysis. But usually animals with early renal disease are not showing any signs of illness, or if they are, the signs are minimal. So, unless it’s part of a routine wellness check with astute techs and vets, the disease is often missed.
Kidney function 101
To understand a little about kidney disease, let’s discuss some of the many functions of the kidney. The kidney is one of the most amazing organs in the body and has numerous critical functions. It filters around 20 percent of the body’s blood, regulates body water and electrolyte balance, and helps regulate arterial pressure and acid base balance. It also regulates the excretion of calcium and the production of the active form of vitamin D. It plays a key role in the metabolism of some important body minerals and produces almost all of a special substance called erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. In addition to all this, the kidney is responsible for getting rid of metabolic waste products and chemicals through excretion in the urine. If this vital organ is not functioning as it should, there are lots of systemic consequences.
The most common signs that an animal may be experiencing kidney dysfunction are increased thirst and urination. In later stages of the disease, gastrointestinal signs such as bad breath, vomiting, poor appetite and diarrhea may appear. There may also be a gradual decline in body condition with weight loss and poor hair coat. Some animals show no signs at all, and their disease is picked up, as stated above, during routine physical examination and screening tests of blood and urine.
Kidney disease 101
A large number of medical problems can cause kidney disease in dogs and cats. The most common causes of kidney disease in dogs are toxins and infectious diseases. Commonly encountered kidney toxins in dogs are antifreeze (ethylene glycol), vitamin D, and grapes and raisins. Cholecalciferol (vitamin D) is a common ingredient in rodent poison, vitamin supplements and even psoriasis creams. (Toxic exposure is more common in dogs than cats.) When consumed, it is metabolized by the body into calcitriol, which changes renal absorption and resorption of calcium. The result is extremely high blood calcium and phosphorous levels that severely damage the kidneys. If animals are exposed to vitamin D, treatment needs to be prompt to ensure a good prognosis.
The most common infectious diseases causing kidney disease in dogs are pyelonephritis, leptospirosis and Lyme disease. So, it’s important to be aware of these precursors and follow up with a visit to your vet as soon as possible should you suspect your animal may have come into contact with, or been afflicted by, any of the above.
Kidney disease is typically irreversible. Animals with kidney disease can be stable for long periods with good treatment, but ultimately the disease will progress. Cats with chronic kidney disease tend to tolerate the disease and live much longer than dogs. Treatment has multiple goals, one of which is keeping animals hydrated. One good strategy is providing flavored water you can try low sodium chicken or beef broth. Some animals will tolerate subcutaneous fluids (fluids given under the skin). There are also special prescription diets formulated for animals with kidney disease that have demonstrated some clinical benefit, and studies have shown benefit from supplementation with essential fatty acids.
As veterinarians, we also pay attention to blood electrolytes in our kidney disease patients. Some animals need special drugs to bind phosphorus, and some need potassium supplementation. Depending on the degree of kidney disease, some animals leak protein into their urine and require medication to help with this. Often, our kidney patients develop high blood pressure and anemia. Animals with kidney disease need ongoing regular visits with their veterinarians so we can fine-tune and individualize therapy.
The good news is that there are some exciting newer treatment options. In cats, renal transplant has worked quite successfully. In cats and dogs, continuous renal replacement therapy has been used in universities and teaching hospitals. In a form of dialysis, the patient's blood is passed through filtration tubing into a machine where waste products and water are removed. From there, the patient's blood is taken into the Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) unit. The uremic toxins are removed and the electrolytes are normalized, and then the blood is returned to the patient.
Though animals with kidney disease will eventually succumb to their disease, they can live longer and happier lives with new treatment options.