Dog Kidney Problems
The scientific name for kidney inflammation is nephritis. Pronounced inflammation of the kidneys may be recognized by excessive thirst, some fever, and sometimes by pain indicated when pressure is applied over the kidney area. If the thirst is great, the urine may be very diluted. Protein may be present in the urine, and this can be determined only by testing. There may be nausea occasioned by a rise in the uric-acid and waste-product content of the blood; a weak and rapid pulse; blurring of the eyes; lessened appetite; and a stiff gait. During the onset of nephritis, the dog loses its appetite and thirst. Its urine will then be more concentrated than normal urine and highly colored, perhaps orange or red from blood. It may even appear opaque from pus.
When a dog suffers pain from this trouble it frequently passes only a small amount of urine at a time, even though there may be a considerable amount in the bladder. In a severe case the dog may be dizzy, stagger, have convulsions, and eventually, lapse into a coma. In some cases, these acute symptoms terminate not in death but in a chronic state of affliction. Often dogs cured by proper medication can be kept in good condition by proper diet. One fact is strongly in the dog’s favor: the kidneys normally do not use their entire filtering mechanism all the time. Consequently only a comparatively small part may be damaged and, when the condition is corrected, the balance of the organ may still be able to function.
In its most severe turns nephritis may cause the kidneys to enlarge – even to double their size or it may cause them to shrink until the organs are only half their normal size.
Nephritis is caused by bacterial infection of the kidneys, by food toxins, or by poisons. It may also be brought on by blows over these organs. Bacteria carried in the blood become lodged in the tiny tubule and grow, destroying all or part of one or both kidneys.
tiny, delicate tubules are especially vulnerable to poisons and often become useless after an attempt to filter out an overload of these toxic substances. In many instances, all organs of a dog except the kidneys may recover from an excess dose of poison.
Kidney inflammation often follows an attack of some disease elsewhere in the body and is due to the stress placed upon the kidneys in trying to eliminate the toxins caused by the bacteria producing the disease. A bitch whose uterus is infected very often suffers severely damaged kidneys. After a serious attack of septicemia or peritonitis, a dog may be affected in the same way.
The symptoms are indicative of other diseases. One easy test that anyone can make will help to establish a fairly accurate diagnosis. Catch some of the dog’s urine and ask your veterinarian for an analysis. When the kidneys are damaged they are unable to handle the albumin as they should and the excess will be found in a soluble form in the urine. In this form it is colorless. The proper evaluation of the condition should be left to your veterinarian, as should the treatment.
If a dog can’t handle albumin properly, large amounts should not be fed. A dog with chronic kidney disease needs a small number of high-grade proteins to live. This it can get in whole milk and specially prepared home-cooked foods.
Since permanently damaged kidneys cannot adequately filter the wastes out of the blood, one often finds weak hearts associated with kidney failure. With these two organs functioning improperly, fluids naturally accumulate in the body. The heart loses the strength it once had to force the blood through the circulatory system and back again so it stagnates along the way. The abdomen is the easiest place for it to filter out large amounts of fluid accumulating in that cavity. The legs often swell, as do the skin and tissue under the chest and abdomen. If you pinch this tissue it causes the dog no pain but leaves a pit, indicating edema.
If water is withheld, the dog may be forced to absorb much of this fluid back into its circulation. The treatment is rigorous and not desirable. The dog’s great thirst drives it to beg for water or milk, and its owner often gives in. The dog is then ready for tapping again, and even that may be useless. We have seen several young dogs with severe dropsy that recovered without additional treatment after an enwrapping, but in old dogs, it usually brings only temporary relief. However, this is an indication of a medication referred to by many as water pills. It is amazing how often pet owners will remark that they or other family members take the same medication for the same problem.
The debate over high- versus low-protein diets for dogs with dam-aged kidneys has gone on for years and continues to this day. It seems to us that, since the kidneys must eliminate nitrogenous wastes among other things, a diet low in the production of such wastes is desirable. here are prescription diets available to accomplish this result which a veterinarian can tell you. You can begin with a diet of one-third by volume of cooked inexpensive hamburger, one-third boiled rice or noodles, and one-third stewed tomatoes. If several urinalyses indicate a reduction in protein eliminated on this diet, vitamins are added to the mineral supplements. Many dogs can exist for years on this diet or prescription diet.
Kidney Stones. When a dog occasionally passes small amounts of blood in the urine, there is a rare chance it may have stones in a kidney, especially if its bladder and urethra are found to be clear. Even though kidney stones are detected much less frequently than bladder stones, postmortem examinations show them more often than most people suppose. In the majority of cases, the dogs’ owners had no suspicion of their presence.
In acute cases, affected dogs may show great pain, walk with arched backs, cry, or whine. These are not diagnostic symptoms, however, because they can indicate many other disabilities. X-rays are necessary to show the stone(s).
Of all the cases with which we have dealt, most were brought to us by owners after the dogs had been exercising heartily jumping, swimming, and retrieving. It appeared that the exercise had altered the positions of the stone and produced a spasm of pain and/or blood in the urine. Unless the attacks are severe or frequent, an operation is not advisable. One of our hounds lived to be eleven years old and always had a kidney stone. It suffered mild attacks and passed blood only after it had when hunting.
I lf one kidney appears to be normal and the other is diseased, the diseased kidney may be removed to eliminate a stone or serious disease condition. A dog that has this done will be healthy as long as the remaining kidney functions normally.
Uremia. Many old dogs die because their kidneys fail to function as they should. Eventually, the whole chemistry of the body is disturbed by an excess amount of uric acid in the blood. This condition is called uremia. It is a kind of blood poisoning, but not the bacterial sort, since it is a toxic condition. (Younger dogs may die from these conditions as well possibly due to other causes, such as long retention of urine because of stones in the bladder or a ruptured bladder.)
The poisoning or toxemia associated with uremia produces nausea. After a few days,, the dog will vomit anything it consumes, including water, and it may evince a great thirst or none at all. Some dogs act dizzy; some become blind; some have convulsions, and some end in comas. Often an old dog exhibits all these conditions.
The odor of stale urine is obvious upon smelling the dog’s breath, and if there is doubt in your mind your veterinarian will recognize it. When the point of obvious uremia is reached treatment is usually unsuccessful. In humans, hendiadys or peritoneal dialysis is used but authentically is not available for dogs. Peritoneal dialysis may prove helpful but cannot be repeated for thirty-six hours weekly for the remainder of a dog’s life as it can be in humans.
See more: Dog Laparotomy
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