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Renal failure in dogs: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

There are two forms of renal failure in dogs. Whether it is acute or chronic, this pathology affects more particularly the older dog because of the aging of its organs. But it can also be due to a kidney infection that has not been treated, to recurrent urinary infections or to a serious disease such as cancer, lymphoma, diabetes... It is important to spot the symptoms of renal failure in order to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible so that the dog can benefit from an adapted treatment. But is it possible to prevent kidney failure in dogs?

Kidney failure in dogs: symptoms that should alert you


The manifestations of this disease depend on its form. In the case of acute renal failure, they appear suddenly, while those of chronic renal failure are insidiously established over a long period of time, which can sometimes last for years. By the time the symptoms appear, it is too late to save the animal. Kidney failure can be irreversible.

Symptoms of acute renal failure in dogs


Urinary obstruction, strong dehydration, bacterial infection, intoxication of the animal following the ingestion of a dangerous substance are the main causes of the acute form of the disease. It can also be caused by a heart problem, an important hemorrhage, a kidney injury, or a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. This form of kidney failure suddenly manifests itself as:
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Difficulty urinating,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Drowsiness (lethargy),
  • Physical weakness,
  • Disorientation,
  • Poor coordination of movements.
These symptoms justify an emergency veterinary consultation because the animal's life is in danger.

Symptoms of chronic renal failure in dogs


The symptoms of the disease appear gradually. The chronic form of renal failure can be suspected if the dog presents several of the following manifestations.
  • Intense thirst,
  • Frequent urination, day and night,
  • Bloody urine,
  • Vomiting,
  • One or more mouth ulcers,
  • A bad breath,
  • A muscular weakness,
  • A loss of mobility,
  • A stooped back position,
  • A lack of balance,
  • Water retention that leads to edema (swelling) in the legs and/or body,
  • Retinal detachment,
  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Seizures.
When these symptoms are noticed, it is necessary to consult the veterinarian, especially since certain manifestations suggest that chronic renal failure is already well established and that if a serious disease is the cause, it has begun to do serious damage.

Renal failure in dogs: diagnosis and treatment


After an auscultation, additional examinations are essential for the veterinarian to confirm his diagnosis. They are for example:
  • A rectal examination,
  • A blood pressure test,
  • A urine analysis,
  • A complete blood test,
  • A search for Lyme disease or any other infectious disease,
  • An imaging examination...
After having perfectly identified the form of the renal failure and its cause, a treatment is prescribed. The treatment protocol is therefore applied on a case-by-case basis. Everything must be done to avoid the destruction of the animal's kidneys. In addition to alleviating the symptoms, the treatment aims to limit the progression of the pathology.

Can renal failure in dogs be prevented?


Many of the causes of kidney failure can be prevented. The dog must be able to be active on a daily basis to be in good health and it is fundamental that he has access to his water bowl so that he is never dehydrated. It is also important to prevent all kinds of infections, to have him treated as soon as a urinary problem is suspected, and to give him a high quality diet, perfectly adapted to his needs. An excessive amount of meaty food is very harmful to your dog's health. A small annual depurative treatment to drain the body can be useful. Let's not forget that taking care of your dog's kidneys from an early age will prevent their destruction.

To do this, the owner must ensure that his little companion is under regular medical surveillance through periodic visits to the veterinarian. Of course, animal health is expensive, but this problem can be solved by simply taking out a contract with a mutual insurance company for dogs, which reimburses part or all of many expenses incurred by the pet owner.