Today we have one question that is not pleasant. In reality, it is the worst thing that can happen to you and your dog. How do you know if your dog is dying from kidney failure? The topic is something certain dog owners will have to know and should learn more about it. Below we are going to discuss the complete matter with all related and important facts.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Dying From Kidney Failure
Renal Failure: All Things You Need To Know
How do you know if your dog is dying from kidney failure? First, you need to know what this condition is. Kidneys in a healthy dog will regulate hormones that affect red blood cell production, electrolytes, and toxins from the blood, as well as regular hydration. When the kidneys are affected, they won’t be able to regulate these processes properly. As such, your dog will experience severe symptoms. Renal failure is simply known as kidney failure.
Keep in mind that there are two main types here, and there are a lot more things that can affect the kidneys in a dog. Your vet will find the cause and provide the needed treatment. In general, we can see acute renal failure where the main cause is infection or a toxin.
This means that the kidneys in your dog will fail within hours or days. Chronic kidney failure will take a lot more time—even years. All kidneys have a lifespan, and in some dogs, they can fail much sooner than in others.
Causes For Kidney Failure Are Multiple
The most common is Geriatric degeneration when the cells inside the kidneys fail and die eventually. Congenital Disease may be caused by cysts, a dog born with just one kidney, or many other causes. Bacterial infection can cause renal failure as well. This happens when a dog drinks or swims in polluted water that contains these bacteria. These cause kidney cells to end up inflamed and eventually destroyed. Kidney poisoning can be caused by chocolate, antifreeze, or any other toxin that affects these cells. It is very common these days.
Last but not least important is the fact that any condition or issue that can affect kidneys is called kidney failure.
Kidney Failure Stages
There are 4 stages of this condition and each one is worse than the other. In essence, the blood waste will become more and more increased in the blood due to poor kidney function. Below we are going to discuss the stages in detail.
This is the first stage and it lasts usually over 400 days. During it, the creatine will be under 1.4 mg/dl. SDMA will be above 14 in µg/dL.
This stage lasts between 200 and 400 days. There are a lot of variations and each dog is different hence we cannot generalize the matter. During this stage, creatine will be between 1.4 and 2.0 while SDMA will be above 14.
Stage 3 lasts between 110 and 200 days. Creatine will be between 2.1 and 5.0 and SDMA will be elevated than in the previous stage.
This is the last stage and it can last between 14 and 80 days. During this stage creatine will be above 5.0 and SDMA will be significantly elevated. There is no cure for this disease hence this is the last stage!
How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Dying From Kidney Failure?
The answer lies in the symptoms your dog will show. There are a lot of them and we will have to explain each one. Each dog is different hence we can see that some dogs have all the symptoms while others don’t.
- Uremia– The toxins and waste in the blood will increase its levels. You can notice a smell that is similar to ammonia and it is most commonly present as your pet breathes.
- Dry and pale gums- You can notice that your pet has pale and dry gums. You will feel the difference when you touch them.
- Ulcers in the mouth- This is actually caused by uremia and these ulcers are very painful and can be seen all over the mouth.
- Bloodshot eyes- The white part of the eyes will become bloodshot. This is one of the most common symptoms and one of the first some dog owners notice.
- Excessive thirst- All dogs with kidney failure will have to drink a lot more water. This is known as increased thirst or excessive thirst and it is very common.
- Dehydration- Your dog will drink a lot more water but because of decreased kidney function, he will suffer from dehydration.
- Loss of appetite- He will eat less and less. Decreased appetite is extremely common.
- Losing weight- All dogs with this condition start losing weight at stage 1 and it progresses.
- Emaciation- This is caused by loss of fat and muscle mass and it is a byproduct of weight loss and other symptoms from this list.
- Dull coat- His fur will suffer as well. It will look old, dull and he will shed all the time.
- Lethargy- Your pet will have a lot less energy than before and he will refuse to walk, run or even move around.
- Fatigue- Your pet will sleep almost all day long and the entire night. He will be tired all the time.
- Anemia- This is not the most common symptom here and some dogs may develop it.
- Vomiting- Dogs with kidney failure will usually vomit every single day.
- Increased blood pressure- It affects most dogs with this condition and it is a severe one. You need to adapt to this symptom.
- Inability to control urination- This is also known as incontinence and your pet won’t be able to control his bladder anymore.
- Breathing issues- Most dogs will start breathing heavily or have other issues with their breathing.
- The heart will work slower- This symptom is common in the fourth stage and it is a severe one. It means that his heart works slower and slower every single day.
- Depression- Most dogs are sad and depressed at this stage. They don’t have any interest in running, playing with you or doing anything else. This is the worst symptom for owners.
- Confusion- Your dog may be confused and disoriented all the time.
- Loss of balance– A dog won’t be able to walk right and he may lose balance all the time.
- Shaking- Your dog may experience significant tremors and shake.
- Seizures- This is a common symptom that occurs only in stage 4 and it is a severe issue. These seizures occur periodically.
Things You Can Do
As you were able to see, kidney failure is a severe disease and it cannot be treated successfully. But, there are still a lot of things you can do. Below we are going to talk about certain things that dog owners can do in this case scenario and why these are important.
Spend a lot of time with your pet. You are the only thing that can help him now. Dogs are extremely happy when they are next to their owners. Now you need to be close to him all the time. Just keep him in the same room where you are. Give him his favorite blanket and toys. He should be kept warm and cozy.
If you have other pets (even cats) make sure they are not rough with a dog with kidney failure. Most pets may use his leathery and depression so make sure this doesn’t happen.
Clean his fur and brush it all the time. As you were able to see these dogs will shed extremely, hence removing dead hair is important. You will also spend more time with your pet which is something he deserves and likes. Pet him as well and talk to him. Watch a movie together. Always replace his bedding on a daily basis. This is done to help him stay warm and cozy.
A Low Protein Diet Is Mandatory
It is recommended to all dogs with kidney failure and it is something dog owners need to use starting at stage 1. There are a lot of special diets developed for these dogs only.
Most dogs will refuse to eat at some point. You can talk to your vet and try to see if there is anything you can do about it. In some cases, there is a simple trick or a tip that can help you more than you may believe.
Sadly, when a dog reaches stage 4 you will have to prepare! This stage can last up to 3 months but it is the last time you have with your friend and there is nothing you can actually do accept the things we have mentioned above. Be prepared to deal with the massive loss and try to prepare all the things that will be needed once your pet is gone.
When a dog enters stage 4 you can start using a home or hospice plan that will keep him comfortable. A vet may use dialysis, stomach tube, and also pain medications among other things.
But, not all dogs will like it. Also, some dogs are in massive pain while all of them are extremely uncomfortable due to the symptoms we have mentioned. Some dog owners may opt for euthanasia which is far from the best option. This is commonly used when a dog is unable to take the treatment anymore, he is in severe pain, or when he suffers too much.
Kidney Failure Treatment
Yes, this is not a curable condition and there is no surgery or a treatment that will solve it. But, there are still some treatments available that should make your dog more comfortable and prolong his lifespan. The first one is using IV fluids. These are used in order to remove the toxins from the blood. It also promotes hydration. If the urine amount decreases, other treatments will be used.
Dogs with kidney failure will also get antacids. These are medications that should prevent ulcers inside the stomach. Dogs may develop ulcers in the stomach due to increased levels of acids. Medications just keep the level of acid normal. If ulcers still appear, other medications will be prescribed.
Regular tests are needed. Your vet may install a urinary catheter in order to measure the amount of urine produced. Other tests include measuring blood pressure, weight, and many more. Potassium levels will be measured on a regular basis as well. When acute kidney failure is present, the level of potassium will rise massively.
Chronic renal failure will lower down potassium levels.
When potassium is too high it can slow down the heart and even stop it. High blood pressure is another issue. It can cause certain blood vessels to crack. Swollen legs, belly or another body part may be the symptom.
IV fluids are used most commonly and to most dogs, they work well. But not in all pets. If they do not work, your vet will start using hemodialysis or another option, peritoneal dialysis.
These will be used if your pet has fluid present in the lungs or potassium levels are extremely high. Peritoneal dialysis means that the tube will be inserted into the stomach cavity and it will be drained every couple of hours.
A vet must be present all the time with your dog.
Hemodialysis removes part of the blood from a vein and removes toxins and waste from it. It is then returned to the bloodstream.
The Final Word
How do you know if your dog is dying from kidney failure? Look for the symptoms we have mentioned above. This condition is not extremely common but it does happen. As sooon as you indentify any of the symptoms above, go to your vet. You will have to start the treatment as soon as you can in order to prolong the time you have left with your dog. There are a lot of things you can do and it is much better if you start as soon as the disease occurs.