Studies suggest that 1 in 10 dogs are likely to die from chronic kidney disease and it becomes more likely they will develop this condition as they age. The particular breed of the dog may also be a risk factor.
In healthy dogs, kidneys serve a number of functions. They filter blood, process protein wastes and get rid of them through urine. In addition, they conserve and balance body water, salts and acids,
and help maintain and control the dogs red blood cells. The kidneys create a hormone called erythropoietin which causes the bones to produce more red blood cells.
Dialysis and transplants, while options in humans are not options for dogs as they have not been successfully developed. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys’ function becomes inhibited and they are no longer able to do their job. Toxins and waste products begin to build up in the dog and they will show signs of deterioration.
There is no way to cure this condition or reverse it. For many dogs, this goes undetected until other organs begin to malfunction, a sign the disease has progressed into more severe stages.
Many of these signs occur die to a condition called uremia or high levels of urine in the blood. Later, blood urine nitrogen and creatinine, which is a waste product from muscle use build up in the blood as well. Dogs with chronic kidney disease are prone to dehydration, tend to be lethargic and have poor appetite. The appetite of the dog will wax and wane and they will begin to noticeably lose weight.
Other symptoms include, bad breath with a chemical odor, oral ulcers, and pale appearance. Vomiting tends to show up later, but dogs with chronic kidney disease are likely to have ulcers in their stomach. This will lead to blood in their vomit.
Urinary problems such as infections are also very common. Dogs will be drinking more water as they suffer from dehydration and this will end up eliminating the urine’s natural acidity which keep the harmful infection from happening. This will go unnoticed because the dog is less likely to urinate in small amounts.
Dogs will also suffer from high blood pressure. This occurs in 50 to 93 percent of all dogs suffering from chronic kidney disease and requires medication. Regularly administering this medication to the dog is important, but can be very difficult if the dog is not eating regularly.
One method is compound the medication into powder, rub it in the dog’s ears, where it can be absorbed by the skin. The kidneys also filter out phosphorus in the blood stream. Phosphorus build-up in the bloodstream will only make the condition of the dog worse, so vets will prescribe diets which have no phosphorus in it.
Dogs will also become anemic if erythropoietin is not produced. During end stage chronic kidney disease, it is important to be in contact with the vet. As symptoms and changes occur, it is good to be able to consult on what procedures should be carried out.
In some cases, a dog my need hospitalization or specialized care. Medications should be monitored and administered at their scheduled time. Anti nausea medications is critical to help the dog eat. In addition, a veterinarian might put the dog on phosphorus binders, blood pressure medication and potassium supplements.
In all treatments, the finances of the owner need to be factored in. The veterinarian visits, hospitalization and medication expenses cost a considerable amount of money. Many dog owners simply do not have the finances to take care of a pet with chronic kidney disease, particularly end stage chronic kidney disease. As painful as the prospect is, oftentimes euthanizing the pet may be the best option for the owner and pet.