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Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

A dog with acute kidney failure experiences a sudden and rapid decline in kidney function, necessitating immediate veterinary attention. Our Poway veterinarians discuss the symptoms of acute kidney failure in dogs and what to do if your dog exhibits these symptoms unexpectedly.

Acute Renal Kidney Failure in Dogs

Kidney failure, also known as renal failure, can be caused in dogs by a number of diseases that impair the ability of the kidneys to function. Healthy kidneys eliminate toxins, regulate hydration, maintain electrolyte balance, and release hormones required for red blood cell production.

In dogs diagnosed with kidney failure, the kidneys are longer performing their various functions efficiently. There are two different types of kidney failure seen in dogs, chronic kidney failure and acute kidney failure.

Causes of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

When kidney function suddenly decreases (within hours or days), this is known as acute kidney failure or acute renal failure. It is most often related to toxins or infections.

Acute kidney failure in dogs can be caused by dehydration and a bacterial infection called leptospirosis, which is contracted through the ingestion of contaminated water. The following substances can also cause acute kidney failure in dogs if consumed:

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

Signs of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute kidney failure symptoms in dogs manifest quickly, usually within hours or days of toxin ingestion. If your dog has acute kidney failure, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Increase or decrease in water consumption
  • Increase or decrease in volume of urine
  • Vomiting
  • Uncoordinated movement such as stumbling
  • Breath that smells like chemicals
  • Significant decrease in appetite
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Blood in urine
  • Lethargy
If your pup is showing any of the symptoms above, immediate veterinary care is required. Life expectancy for dogs with acute kidney failure is not good. Early treatment is essential to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes.

Diagnosing Acute Kidney Disease in Dogs

A series of blood and urine tests will be performed by your veterinarian to confirm that your dog has kidney failure and to determine the full extent of the disease. Radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound, blood tests, and urinalysis are commonly used to diagnose acute kidney failure. The results of these tests will also provide your veterinarian with a more complete picture of the severity of the condition. In some cases, a kidney biopsy may be recommended.

Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute renal failure is a serious health issue for dogs. Hospitalization and intensive care may be required to save your puppy's life. Hospital staff will closely monitor your dog's heart rate, blood pressure, and overall condition, and will administer 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 (Feeding a tube directly into the pet's stomach to supply fluids which will be removed after some time to help flush out toxins).
  • Antibiotics may be administered if the cause of your dog's kidney failure is an infection.
  • Medications may be given to prevent or treat stomach ulcers (which are common side effects of acute kidney failure).
  • In some cases, a feeding tube may be required until your dog feels better and can eat on its own.

Survival Rate for Dogs With Acute Kidney Failure

This condition is severe and sadly the prognosis for dogs suffering from acute kidney failure is poor. It is estimated that more than half of pets suffering from acute kidney failure either die from the condition or are euthanized to prevent suffering.

If caught early and treated aggressively some dogs can recover from acute kidney failure.

Your veterinarian will be able to give you an accurate prognosis for your pet's recovery after a thorough examination and testing. Your veterinarian will provide you with a treatment cost estimate and will help you choose the best treatment option for your puppy.

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.

If you think that your dog is suffering from acute kidney failure immediate veterinary care is required! Contact us, our experienced and compassionate Poway vets are here to help.

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