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Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

When a dog's kidneys are healthy, they perform a number of essential functions. However, dogs experiencing acute kidney failure suffer from a sudden and rapid decline in kidney function that will need urgent veterinary care. In this post, our New York vets list signs of acute kidney failure in dogs, and what you should do if your dog suddenly shows signs of kidney failure. 

Kidney Failure in Dogs

Also called renal failure, kidney failure in dogs can be caused by many diseases that may impact your pet's kidney function. Healthy kidneys work to help your dog's body maintain a normal electrolyte balance, release hormones required to produce red blood cells, eliminate toxins and regulate hydration. 

If a dog is diagnosed with kidney failure, the kidneys no longer perform their various functions efficiently. Dogs can be impacted by one of two different types of key failure - chronic kidney failure or acute kidney failure. 

Causes of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute kidney failure or acute renal failure occurs when kidney function suddenly decreases (within hours or days). It's most often related to infections or toxinss. 

Acute kidney failure in dogs may happen due to dehydration or a bacterial infection called leptospirosis, which a dog can contract by ingesting contaminated water. Other causes of acute kidney failure in dogs include ingestion of:

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

Symptoms of Acute Kidney Failure

Signs of acute kidney failure in dogs will come on quickly, usually within a couple of hours or days of ingesting the toxin. If your dog is experiencing acute kidney failure, you might notice one or more of these symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Increase or decrease in volume of urine
  • Breath that smells like chemicals
  • Significant decrease in appetite
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Increase or decrease in water consumption
  • Blood in urine
  • Vomiting
  • Uncoordinated movement such as stumbling
If your pup is showing any of the symptoms above, immediate veterinary care is required. Acute kidney failure can be fatal. Early treatment is essential to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes.

Diagnosing Acute Kidney Disease in Dogs

Your vet will run a series of blood and urine tests to confirm that your pup is suffering from kidney failure and to get a complete picture of the extent of the disease. Radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound, blood tests and urinalysis are typically used when diagnosing acute kidney failure. The results of these tests will also provide your vet with a more complete picture regarding the extent of the condition. In some cases, a biopsy of the kidney may also be recommended.

Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute renal failure is a very serious health risk for dogs. At Rivergate Veterinary Clinic, we offer veterinary internal medicine services, and diagnose and treat a wide variety of internal medicine conditions in dogs and cats, including kidney failure. Our board-certified internal medicine specialist can provide your pet with the highest possible quality of veterinary care. 

Hospitalization and intensive care may be required to save your pup's life. Hospital staff will very 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 (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 a common side effect of acute kidney failure).
  • In some cases, a feeding tube may be required until your dog is feeling better and able to eat on their own.

Can Dogs Survive Acute Kidney Failure?

This condition is very serious 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.

That said, if caught early and treated aggressively some dogs are able to recover from acute kidney failure.

Your vet will be able to provide you with a realistic prognosis for your pet's recovery following a complete examination and testing. Your veterinarian will provide you with an estimate of treatment costs and help to guide you through the most appropriate approach to treatment 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.

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

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