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Chronic kidney failure in dogs: Symptoms and ways to manage them

 by lucy on 26 Sep 2017 |
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You dog’s kidneys regulate his blood pressure, sugar levels and volume along with the water composition of his body, his red blood cell count and certain hormones. With so many vital roles to play, his kidneys are crucial to his health. It may come as a surprise, then, that the signs of chronic kidney failure often develop so slowly that they’re overlooked until it’s too late to cure the disease.
 
There are two types of kidney failure in dogs: chronic and acute. While acute kidney failure develops suddenly due to an event, such as ingesting antifreeze, or an underlying condition, like a bacterial infection, chronic kidney failure happens gradually. While renal failure has often progressed so far by the time symptoms show that a full recovery isn’t possible, there are ways to manage symptoms and slow progression of the disease.
 
Symptoms of chronic kidney failure include vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, depression, weight lost or loss of appetite, extreme thirst, increased urination or urine that is overly concentrated or diluted. In extreme cases, blindness, seizures, comas and blood in the urine indicate renal failure. While canines of any age can suffer from kidney disease, it is most common in older dogs. Some breeds, such as German Shepherds and English Cocker Spaniels, are more susceptible to kidney disease, too. Causes of kidney failure include blockages of the urinary tract, certain prescription drugs, lymphoma and diabetes. Unfortunately, symptoms of chronic renal failure often develop so slowly that by the time they’re evident, it’s too late to effectively treat the disease. It’s still important to take your dog to the veterinarian, however, for bloodwork and diagnosis. If your pet is diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, there are effective ways to manage his symptoms and slow progression of the disease.
 
Because chronic renal failure is progressive, diagnosed dogs need to be monitored with frequent veterinary check-ups. This helps keep your pet up-to-speed on his medications and diet, which may need to change with the disease. Fluid therapy is the foundation for treating kidney disease as dehydration is a major concern for dogs with the condition. Special diets low in protein, phosphorus, calcium and sodium and high in potassium can help slow the progression of the disease, and supplements can also improve your dog’s nutritional uptake while limiting some of the secondary symptoms of kidney disease, such gastric ulcers. Make sure your pet has constant access to fresh water and monitor his uptake: If he starts drinking less water, you may need to use IV fluids to keep him hydrated. With proper treatment, some dogs diagnosed with chronic kidney failure experience several weeks to years of stability.

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