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Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Your dog's healthy kidneys perform many vital functions. However, dogs experiencing acute kidney failure may undergo a sudden, rapid decline in kidney function, requiring urgent veterinary care. In this blog post, our veterinarians in Mount Vernon outline signs of acute kidney failure in dogs and what steps to take if your dog displays symptoms.

Kidney Failure in Dogs

Renal failure in dogs, also known as kidney failure, can stem from various diseases affecting your pup's kidney function.

Healthy dogs rely on their kidneys to regulate hydration, eliminate toxins, release hormones essential for red blood cell production, and uphold electrolyte balance.

However, dogs suffering from kidney failure experience inefficiency in kidney function. This condition manifests in two forms: chronic kidney failure and acute kidney failure.

Causes of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Within hours or days of the triggering incident, the kidneys may experience a sudden decrease in function. This condition, known as acute kidney failure, is most commonly linked to toxins or infections.

In dogs, acute kidney failure can stem from the bacterial infection leptospirosis, which dogs contract through ingesting contaminated water or from dehydration. Additional causes include the ingestion of:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Grapes and raisins (alone or in other foods)
  • Antifreeze (often licked from a garage floor or driveway)
  • Human heart medications
  • Overdose of canine medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Symptoms of Acute Kidney Failure

Signs of acute kidney failure in dogs will appear quickly, usually within a couple of hours or days of ingesting the toxin. You may notice one or more of these symptoms if your dog is suffering from acute kidney failure:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Increase or decrease in water consumption
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Increase or decrease in volume of urine
  • Uncoordinated movement, such as stumbling
  • Significant decrease in appetite
  • Breath that smells like chemicals

Diagnosing Acute Kidney Disease in Dogs

Your vet will conduct a series of blood and urine tests to confirm your pup's kidney failure and assess the full extent of the disease. When diagnosing acute kidney failure, vets typically employ radiographs (X-Rays), ultrasound, blood tests, and urinalysis. These diagnostics tests yield results that offer a comprehensive understanding of the condition. Additionally, your vet may recommend a kidney biopsy in some instances.

Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute renal failure is a very serious health risk for dogs. Hospitalization and intensive care may be required to save your pup's life. Our clinic staff will closely monitor your dog's heart rate, blood pressure, and overall condition while providing appropriate medications and treatments, such as 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.

Kidney Dialysis (Hemodialysis)

Peritoneal dialysis may be necessary, wherein a tube is inserted directly into your pet's stomach to supply fluids, which will be removed after some time to aid in flushing out toxins.

Antibiotics might be prescribed if your dog's kidney failure stems from an infection. Medications may also be administered to prevent or treat stomach ulcers, a common side effect of acute kidney failure.

Occasionally, your dog may require a feeding tube until they regain strength and can eat independently. 

Can dogs survive acute kidney failure?

This condition poses a grave threat, with a bleak prognosis for dogs afflicted by acute kidney failure. Research suggests that over half of pets affected by this condition succumb to it or are euthanized to alleviate their suffering.

However, proactive detection and aggressive treatment can facilitate recovery for some dogs grappling with acute kidney failure.

After conducting a thorough examination and tests, your vet will provide you with a clear outlook on your pet's recovery. Additionally, they will offer an estimate of treatment expenses and assist you in determining the most suitable treatment path for your pup.

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.

Do you suspect your dog is suffering from acute kidney failure? Contact our Mount Vernon vets to arrange emergency assistance during regular business hours or visit local area hospitals after hours.

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Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Mount Vernon is accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about the health of Mount Vernon cats, dogs, and horses. Get in touch today to book your animal's first appointment.

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