Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

In your pup, healthy kidneys perform a wide range of essential functions. Dogs suffering from acute kidney failure, however, experience a rapid decline in kidney function which require urgent vet care. Here, our Ventura vets explain the signs of acute kidney failure in dogs and what actions you should take.

Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Kidney failure, also known as renal failure, can be caused by a number of different diseases found in dogs which impact the function of their kidneys. Healthy kidneys work hard to eliminate toxins from your pup's body, maintain a normal electrolyte and hydration balance in their body, and release a hormone which promotes the growth of red blood cells.

When a dog suffers from kidney failure, their kidneys do not properly function anymore. There are two types of kidney failure found in dogs, chronic and acute. 

Causes of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

When the function of your dog's kidneys suddenly and rapidly fails (over hours or days), this is referred to as acute kideny failure. It is most often related to toxins or an infection in your dog's body.

Acute kidney failure in dogs can be caused by dehydration, bacterial infection caused by consuming contaminated water, or the ingestion of the following toxic substances:

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

Symptoms of Acute Kidney Failure

Acute kidney failure in dogs will appear rapidly. Generally you will notice its symptoms within hours to days of ingesting a toxin. Some of the symptoms you should keey an eye out for include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Increase or decrease in water consumption
  • Increase or decrease in volume of urine
  • Uncoordinated movement such as stumbling
  • Breath that smells like chemicals
  • Significant decrease in appetite
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Blood in urine
If your dog is showing signs of acute kidney failure, contact your veterinarian immediately. This condition can be deadly if not quickly treated.

Diagnosing Acute Kidney Disease in Dogs

Your veterinarians will conduct a series of tests on your pet's blood and urine to confirm whether your pup is suffering from kidney failure and to get a sense of the extent of their condition. They will do so using tools like blood tests, urinalysis, ultrasound and x-rays. In some cases a biopsy of the kidneys may be required.

The results of these tests will help your pet determine how to proceed. 

Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute renal failure is a dangerous condition for dogs, threatening their lives. Hospitalization and intensive care may be required to save your pet's life. The following treatments may be used to treat their condition alongside monitoring their status:

  • Kidney dialysis (Hemodialysis)
  • IV fluids to hydrate and flush out the kidneys
  • Peritoneal dialysis (Flushing toxins from your pet's system with fluids directly fed into their stomach)
  • Administering antibiotics
  • Medications treating stomach ulcers caused by kidney failure

Can Dogs Survive Acute Kidney Failure

This is a very, very serious condition. And, sadly, the prognosis for dogs suffering from acute kidney failure is not good. It's estimated that less thank half of pets suffering from acute kidney failure survive.

If caught early and treated aggressively, however, your dog may be able to recover.

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 your suspect that your dog is suffering from acute kidney failure, contact your vet immediately. Contact our emergency veterinary team at Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) for rapid, compassionate and expert service.

Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs | Ventura Animal Hospital

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