The kidneys are a vital part of healthy body function. When a dog develops kidney failure, he may not exhibit any signs until the third stage of the disease. Early diagnosis is very important and there are many things you can do to improve the dog's quality of life.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease is considered to be the end stages of renal (kidney) failure or stages III and IV, and typically affect older dogs. Stage III of kidney disease is when the dog begins to show significant signs of kidney failure and stage IV is when the dog becomes lethargic and weak.
Chronic kidney disease can be caused by a few things. These include kidney dysplasia, immune system disease, parasitic problems and kidney defects. This disease affects up to 10 per cent of dogs as stated in the Merck Vet Manual website. Some breeds are susceptible to inherited kidney disease. However, non-inherited kidney disease can affect any breed or sex of dogs.
Dogs in the final stages of kidney disease will typically exhibit symptoms such as weakness, loss of appetite, decreased ability to exercise, a tendency to bleed easily, seizures and weight loss. These symptoms are usually not shown until 65 to 75 per cent of renal tissues has already been destroyed, according to the Bears Camp Newfs website.
Laboratory tests will show that potassium will be depleted, there will also be lipid abnormalities, inability to maintain a balance of acid, increased secretion of gastric acid and a steady decline in renal function.
There is no cure for chronic renal failure. However, there are things that can be done to increase the dog's life for a few months or even a few years. Some of these things include a specific diet prescribed to the dog, supplements, mouthwashes, avoiding stress, access to clean drinking water or possibly IV fluid treatment, anabolic medication and intestinal phosphorous binders.
In the final stages of kidney failure, the same treatments will apply. However, the dog should be tested every two to three months by a veterinarian. A urinalysis should be done, along with blood tests, according to Merck Vet Manual.
You should consult with your veterinarian about the choice to euthanize your dog because of kidney failure. Choosing the correct time to euthanize can be very difficult and many things should be taken into consideration. Is the dog incontinent? Is the dog in pain? Has the dog given up the fight? Are the symptoms unmanageable? Can he breathe easily? Can he sleep comfortably? Know all the answers to these questions before making the final decision for your dog in the last stages of kidney disease.