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Kidney Disease & Infections in Dogs

Kidney issues, like infections and disease, have a range of causes, and if left untreated, they can lead to serious complications. Today, our Rancho Cucamonga vets discuss the difference between kidney infections and disease in dogs, their causes, symptoms and how to treat them.

Kidney Problems in Dogs

Kidney stones, parasites, and other diseases can cause dog kidney infections. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should immediately consult a veterinarian so that treatment can begin. The following are the signs, causes, and treatments for dog kidney infections.

Is there a difference between kidney failure, infection, and disease?

Kidney failure: This is when the kidneys have stopped functioning altogether.

Kidney infection: This is an infection of the kidneys, often caused by bacteria, although other causes can also exist.

Kidney disease: This is when the kidneys stop working properly, but there is still some functional tissue.

Symptoms of Kidney Infections in Dogs

Because bacteria take time to grow and affect organ function, symptoms of kidney infections in dogs may not appear immediately. When symptoms occur, they may be severe and necessitate immediate medical attention. Kidney stones can also cause similar symptoms that worsen over time and can lead to infection.

Here are the most common symptoms dogs have if they are suffering from a kidney infection:

  • Excessive urination or difficulty urinating
  • Excessive thirst
  • Blood in urine or discolored urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Pain in the side or abdomen
  • Hunching over
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

Signs of Kidney Disease in Dogs

It is critical to see a veterinarian at the first sign of infection to avoid sepsis or renal failure, both of which can be fatal. Kidney disease in dogs can include the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bad breath
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Blindness
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Causes of Kidney Infections in Dogs

Pyelonephritis is a bacterial kidney infection caused by kidney stones, infections, a weakened immune system, water imbalances in the urine, kidney dysfunction, or age. Infectious diseases, such as leptospirosis, can cause interstitial nephritis or kidney inflammation.

Kidney worms can be obtained by consuming earthworms, frogs, or raw fish. Capillaria plica and Dioctophyma renale are two types of giant kidney worms that affect dogs, but they are uncommon, fortunately.

What causes kidney disease in dogs?

Your dog may develop kidney disease for several reasons:

Congenital disease: This category can include underlying illnesses and hereditary conditions - everything from being born without one or both kidneys to cysts.

Bacterial infections: If your dog swims in or drinks contaminated water, bacterial infections such as leptospirosis can attack their system, causing the kidneys to become inflamed and renal cells to die off, leading to kidney failure.

Toxicosis: If the kidneys are poisoned, this can lead to cell damage within the kidneys. Toxicosis can occur if your dog consumes drugs, toxins or poisons such as foods or substances that are harmful to pets.

Periodontal disease: If bacteria is left to build up on the teeth and gums, it can lead to advanced dental disease. The bacteria can then enter the bloodstream and attack multiple organs, causing irreversible damage to the kidneys, as well as other organs, including the heart and liver.

Geriatric degeneration: Gradually, as your dog gets older, the renal cells can begin to break down and die, eventually leading to chronic kidney failure.

In some cases, certain dog breeds, including English Cocker spaniels, bull terriers and German shepherds, are more likely to develop particular types of kidney disease.

Diagnosing Kidney Issues in Dogs

Your vet will perform a variety of diagnostic tests when identifying kidney issues and the underlying cause(s). This includes urinalysis and a CBC (complete blood count). Ultrasonography can also be used to look for abnormalities at the earliest stages, allowing for quick diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment for Kidney Infections in Dogs

Most bacterial kidney infections in dogs are treated with antibiotics prescribed in response to a urine test. Surgery may be considered if the bacteria causes a blockage in the urinary tract.

Vets may try dietary changes or shock wave therapy to dissolve kidney stones. In the case of worms, they may try to remove them surgically, but if the damage is too extensive, the entire organ may have to be removed surgically. Dogs can survive with one functioning kidney, but the infection is more likely to return if the kidney has already been infected. Keep an eye on your dog for signs.

How is kidney disease in dogs treated?

If your dog has kidney disease, the treatment will be determined by your pet’s overall health and the underlying cause of their kidney problems.

If your pet is experiencing acute kidney failure, immediate and intensive treatment is required. Typically, treatment for acute kidney disease will require a stay in the intensive care at your animal hospital. However, if acute kidney disease is caught early, milder cases may be treated with fluids, antibiotics and medications on an outpatient basis. Dialysis, although costly, can also be a very effective treatment for acute kidney failure.

When it comes to dogs suffering from chronic kidney disease, treatment will primarily focus on slowing down the progression of the disease and finding ways to improve your pet's quality of life. Symptoms of the disease, such as nausea, fluid imbalances, and blood pressure fluctuations, will be treated with medications and changes to your dog's diet.

Many dogs being treated for chronic kidney disease go on to enjoy a good quality of life for several years (some indications are up to four years). To help manage your dog's condition, your vet may recommend specific nutrients, nutritional supplements or a therapeutic prescription diet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your dog may have a kidney infection or disease? Contact our Rancho Cucamonga vets for diagnosis and prompt treatment.

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Rancho Regional Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Rancho Cucamonga companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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