Park Ridge, NJ: What Are the Signs of Kidney Failure in Dogs?
Older dogs are amazing companions: you’re past the housebreaking phase, they know your personality and routine, and their personalities are established and you’re both in sync. As your pup ages, you notice they’re slowing down a little or seem slower getting up in the morning.
Just like in humans, dogs can show signs of age in their joints from arthritis. Other concerns can pop up as well, including kidney disease, which is a common concern with dogs, especially as they start to get older. You want to keep your best friend happy and healthy as long as you can, so what signs should you look for regarding kidney disease? We’ll go over what kidney failure in dogs is and what signs to look out for in Park Ridge, NJ.
What is kidney failure in dogs?
The kidneys are two organs in the lower abdomen that work to filter the blood and help maintain normal water and salt levels in the body. They also help regulate blood pressure and prevent the build up of substances in the body that can be toxic in large amounts. Normally, these substances are harmlessly excreted in the urine before they can build up and cause damage.
When kidney function is impaired (this can be acute or chronic, more on that in a minute), potentially toxic substances begin to build up in the body instead of being excreted out. This can cause illness. Acute kidney failure happens quickly: from the dog drinking antifreeze or eating a toxic substance, from an accident or traumatic injury, from a bad infection, or even from certain medications.
Chronic kidney disease occurs slowly (this is usually what we see when dogs get older). The main cause of kidney disease in older dogs is from dental problems or disease. Bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream and causes organ damage (this is why vets stress brushing your pup’s teeth and dental screenings, it really does keep them healthy and happy in the long run!).
Unfortunately, with chronic kidney disease, symptoms are slow to develop and you may pass them off as part of the aging process. Bloodwork as part of a routine vet exam can help identify kidney disease (or other potential problems) early on and will give you the best chance to treat it early on. If identified quickly, sometimes a special diet only can keep kidney disease at manageable levels for years.
What are some symptoms of kidney failure in dogs?
One of the first things you may notice is your dog drinks a lot of water and they always seem thirsty. If you seem to be refilling the water bowl a lot, it may be time to head to the vet. Increased drinking can be a serious sign of other diseases or problems in addition to kidney disease, so it’s always a good idea to get this checked out before things get worse.
If you pup is drinking a lot of water, they will be producing more urine. If you notice your dog asking to go outside a lot or start to notice accidents in the house, his could be another sign of kidney trouble. When you’re cleaning up accidents, try to note if the urine looks “normal” or yellow, or if it looks really pale (“dilute”).
Dilute urine is a classic sign of kidney disease, as the kidneys aren’t filtering the blood well. This means urine becomes less concentrated and has less color and begins to look more like regular water. Again, dilute urine is a sign of other concerns in addition to kidney disease, so always get this checked out.
Your vet will take a urine sample and check its specific gravity, which measures dehydration or if your dog is drinking too much water or has kidney disease (this is done in addition to checking for a urinary infection and other urine factors).
Your Dog Seems More Tired Than Usual
With kidney disease, your pup may also seem really tired or even depressed. Again, you may think this is part of the aging process and it is normal for everyone to slow down as they age. But if your dog doesn’t seem to care when you rattle their leash when they used to at least perk up their ears of if they’re sleeping through meals, it may be a sign of something more than getting older.
If their favorite things don’t seem to excite your dog anymore, checking in with your vet is always a good idea to get them feeling better.
Your Dog is Skipping Meals
Skipping meals or not really wanting to eat can also be a sign of kidney disease, too. It is important to also note that if your dog does need a special kidney diet, it may take some trial and error to find a prescription diet they will like. As kidney diets are low in sodium, they sometimes aren’t as appealing to dogs.
Work with your vet, there are many different brands and flavors of kidney foods now, and many manufacturers will give money-back guarantees if your dog won’t eat it. Having your dog on a kidney diet is essential for their health, so it’s worth working through several kinds to find one they like and will eat.
Vomiting/Strange Odor in Breath
Vomiting can be another sign of kidney disease, as well as a strange odor to your dog’s breath. If you notice changes like this, note it and ask your vet. Keeping a list of signs and symptoms will help your vet determine what is causing these issues, whether it is kidney disease or something else.
Your Dog is Losing a Lot of Weight
Dogs normally tend to lose muscle mass as the age, but if it seems like your pup is getting really skinny or just looks different than they used to, it may be a good idea to get regular weights.
You can do this at home or vets also love regular check ins just to get a weight (they don’t charge for these, but they can note the weight in the medical record and keep track themselves). Weight loss can be a sign of kidney failure.
Other Serious Signs of Kidney Failure in Dogs
Some more serious signs of kidney disease are mouth ulcers, blood in the urine, or pale gums. Mouth ulcers and pale gums can be signs of late kidney disease. Blood in the urine can be seen with a bad urinary tract infection or later-stage kidney disease.
Any of the above symptoms should be addressed with your vet, but if you see pale gums or stumbling in you pup, take them to an emergency room or vet as soon as you can. These indicate a medical emergency.
Don’t Hesitate to Bring Your Dog to Your Vet in Park Ridge, NJ
The words “kidney disease” can be scary and cause a lot of worry for your dog and their health. Regular check ups with your vet can help you have the best chance of catching kidney disease early on and give your pup the best outcome. Keeping their teeth clean is also important: if your dog hates having their teeth brushed, they may prefer dental chews which will also help prevent dental disease.
If you notice any strange symptoms or behavior in your older dog, never hesitate to call your vet just to ask questions It’s always best to keep them up to date on what’s going on to help your pup stay happy and healthy!
Share This Post
About Park Ridge Animal Hospital
Progressive Medicine, Heartfelt Care.
As your one-stop-shop veterinarian in Park Ridge, NJ, we make it easy for pet parents to access full-service, high-quality, less-stress pet care all in one visit. Tailor your pet’s stay with us!