Many dog owners would like an answer to “what causes kidney failure in dogs.” There are many reasons why your dog may develop kidney failure. The causes vary and will differ depending on whether the condition is acute or chronic. Understanding the difference between the two types of kidney failure is essential because it helps recognize the importance of treatment. One of the most important facts to remember is that although acute kidney failure can occur suddenly without warning, it can also disappear independently and without any medical intervention. A sudden attack of acute kidney failure can mainly be assigned to one or more of the following circumstances:
- Infections of various types
- Presence of blood clots in one or both of the dog’s kidneys
- Poisoning – even licking small amounts of anti-freeze from a puddle in the street can cause acute kidney failure
- Congestive heart failure or CHF
Although some of the conditions mentioned above can have a deadly effect on the ability of the kidneys to filter toxins from the dog’s body properly, the results can be reversed. However, unlike chronic kidney failure, it is sometimes unnecessary to take your dog to the vet for treatment.
In most cases, finding and removing what’s causing the problem will cause acute kidney failure to disappear with no medical intervention and no future adverse effects. Alternatively, it can sometimes require immediate medical attention, especially if there is a blockage causing the problem.
Chronic kidney failure is more severe and will always require medical attention, and the effects are irreversible. How well your canine companion responds to treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Unfortunately, even if your dog responds well to treatment, it can only control kidney disease to the point where your dog can live a little longer. Below are some of the following causes of chronic kidney failure:
- A defect within the dog’s immune system
- A kidney defect that occurs before the birth of a puppy
- Kidney stones
- Parasitic infestation such as the Dioctophyme renale, a giant worm that infects the kidneys
- Kidney dysplasia, or a defect in the kidney that cannot be attributed to heredity or genetics.
A Closer Look at What Causes Kidney Failure in Dogs
There is no intent to challenge the consequence of kidney failure in dogs; the harshness and irreparable nature of chronic kidney failure make it a topic of more pressing concern for veterinarians and dog owners alike. It is well-known that it is impossible to recover from the damage it causes; you need to inherit a deeper understanding of some of the direct factors involved starting with what causes kidney failure in dogs and how it affects your pet’s day-to-day activities and overall health.
Kidney Stones in Dogs
Although kidney stones are not common in dogs, sometimes they do occur. Symptoms you may notice relate mainly to the frequency and amount of urine output compared to the amount of fluids your dog consumes. Your dog may urinate more often but in tiny amounts, sometimes no more than what you may classify as a dribble. If your dogs are housebroken, you may notice that they’re having frequent accidents around the home.
Also, you may see the presence of a urine trickle, and your dog may also experience straining because of a recurrent urge to go. The worse sign of kidney stones to look out for is blood in the urine. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weakness, pain in the abdomen, and vomiting. However, if your dog has a severe case of kidney stones, he may not pass any urine, which will compromise his health to an even greater degree. Kidney stones in dogs is serious; therefore, it is in your dog’s best interest that you take him to the vet as soon as possible.
If you were to visualize a kidney stone, you’d see it the same way you view a pearl within an oyster. The situation starts with a single irritant called a nidus. This irritant consists of minerals, crystals, and other irritants that gather on the surface, and the formation grows until it forms a stone. The stones can travel throughout the urinary system and then exits the body in some cases. However, they become problematic if they get wedged somewhere along the way.
When kidney stones do form, there is a good possibility they will obstruct openings to the ureters causing a disorder known as hydronephrosis. This condition results from the kidneys swelling due to the pressure of large amounts of backed-up urine that needs to pass. As a result, serious injury could occur, causing a life-threatening situation for the dog.
Renal Dysplasia in Dogs
The hereditary condition known as renal dysplasia affects many dog breeds, but it is more common in the Shih Tzu. According to Kenneth C. Bovee, DVM, “Renal dysplasia is defined as the formation of abnormal nephrons with excessive mesenchymal stroma and without inflammation.” He mentioned this statement at the World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings in 2003. There have been other less specific terms to define this condition, such as juvenile renal disease, hereditary nephropathy, and familial renal disease. However, those terms are missing the terminology necessary to correctly determine the specific dominant traits of the disorder, namely that of persistent fetal glomeruli.
The severity of renal dysplasia in dogs depends on the number of abnormal and normal nephrons present. During more severe cases, a puppy may survive only a short time after birth or live 3 to 6 months before succumbing to a chronic case of kidney failure. The puppy may show signs of chronic kidney failure in addition to stunted growth. However, the puppies with moderate dysplasia could live up to 2 years before succumbing to the condition.
Immune System Disease in Dogs
Immune system disease in dogs makes it impossible for them to fight common conditions, including diseases of the kidneys. Whether an acute illness such as kidney infection or a chronic disorder such as kidney stones or cancer, a diminished immune system will inhibit the dog’s body from fighting both chronic and acute kidney disease.
A robust immune system will most likely reduce the harshness of common ailments such as colds, but it can also help prevent life-threatening conditions, including kidney disease and cancer.
Cancer in Dogs
Most people think that only dogs with renal cancer are most likely to suffer from renal failure, but this is not always the case. When cancer begins to metastasize, it can affect all of the vital organs, including the kidneys. Even brain cancer can create an adverse reaction if the brain stops sending signals throughout the body.
The organs affected, including the kidneys, will stop performing their duties and create additional problems for the dog’s already compromised health.