As dogs reach 7 years of age and up, pet parents must carefully and actively monitor their kidney health. Kidney disease, which becomes increasingly more likely as animals age, is a serious threat that often leads to their death. This article will help pet owners recognize signs of kidney disease in dogs as well as what steps can be taken to try and prevent further episodes.
Kidney disease is a condition in which gradually decreasing kidney functionality reduces its ability to filter toxins out of the blood stream, often going undetected in its early stages. Over time however, its signs may become more apparent and more visible such as drinking more water, passing more urine, losing weight or drinking excessively while passing urine; additional symptoms include vomiting, lethargy or loss of appetite.
Veterinarians will conduct blood tests to assess kidney function and measure how advanced any disease may be. Tests typically include measuring blood creatinine, blood urea nitrogen levels and urine analysis to ascertain which stages of kidney disease exist, so treatment plans can be made accordingly. Stages range from I, where kidneys are still functioning normally, up to IV when kidneys begin failing altogether.
Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, your vet will recommend a specific diet designed to slow the progression of disease. The diet should contain low amounts of proteins, phosphorus and calcium while being high in omega 3 fatty acids. It is vitally important that dogs receive sufficient fluids and electrolytes; heat processed kibble foods require too much body fluid in order to break them down for digestion; to ensure adequate hydration consider providing moisture-appropriate fresh foods and broths as feeding options.
As part of their treatment plans, veterinarians strive to help dogs maintain optimal kidney health through medication and fluid therapy. Pets on these medications should be closely monitored to ensure correct dosages are being given; anti-rejection drugs, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (to reduce pressure on kidneys) and proteinuria therapy may all be useful approaches in combatting chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Dogs with kidney disease can live many months to years with an excellent quality of life if given appropriate treatments and are kept hydrated. Their condition will never be fully resolved; but quality of life may be significantly enhanced; once treatment stops however, kidney function will begin deteriorating once again and home treatment should continue accordingly.