Many of the same ailments that affect us humans as we age are problems for your dog, too. One of the most common conditions associated with aging in certain breeds is kidney disease. In fact, it is one of the top three illnesses that affect older dogs. Kidney disease isn’t only caused by aging, though. Bacterial, viral or fungal infections can cause kidney disease, as can cancer, large deposits of protein in the kidneys, exposure to toxic substances, and parasites. Genetic factors, prescription medications, urinary blockages and diabetes can also cause kidney problems. Kidney disease is a very serious illness, and it needs to be treated quickly to help your dog live a healthier, longer life.
Some breeds are more susceptible to kidney disease than others are. Lhasa Apsos, German shepherds, Norwegian Elkhounds, golden retrievers, Samoyeds, Doberman pinschers and some terrier breeds are particularly prone to developing this condition.
Symptoms to Look For
If you have one of the breeds that are naturally prone to kidney disease, or if you have a senior dog, be on the lookout for the following signs: excessive drinking or urination, increased thirst, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation, seizures, coma, acute blindness, blood in the urine and chronic bad breath. Take your dog to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog.
The vet will order blood lab work for your dog to get a complete chemical blood profile, blood count and a urinalysis. This will check for elevated blood pressure, anemia, abnormal levels of electrolytes and high levels of certain enzymes and chemicals in the blood.
Prevention and Treatment
Currently, there is no way to prevent kidney disease. However, regular vet checkups are important because early detection can help you better manage the disease and prolong the life of your pet. Your vet will likely put your dog on a special diet that adjusts the amount of protein and fat your dog gets while still providing adequate nutrition. Although a high protein diet has not been shown to have significant adverse effects on dogs with renal disease, your vet may still recommend foods that are lower in protein than the dog’s current food. Strict adherence to the recommended diet plan is important to your dog’s health; never feed a dog scraps of food or anything that is not approved by your vet. Fluid therapy may be necessary to keep your dog hydrated.