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Acute Kidney Injury in Dogs

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Kidney Disease & Your Dog

Kidney disease can be very serious.

Infections, toxins, drugs, and even some foods can cause renal damage.

Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and a poor appetite.

Treatment requires IV fluid therapy. Other medications depend upon the cause.

The kidneys, along with the brain and heart, are among the body's most important organs. They keep the blood clean and balanced by filtering out waste products and excess water. These wastes occur from the normal breakdown of tissues and food. The kidneys regulate other body processes such as electrolyte balance. They produce three important hormones: erythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell production, renin which controls blood pressure, and calcitriol which is involved in calcium metabolism, keeping bones healthy.

Damage to the kidneys, sometimes called renal disease, can be very serious if enough renal tissue is affected. There are several things that can cause kidney damage, from drugs, to toxins, to infections. Kidney disease can be sudden (acute), or it can occur over time (chronic renal disease). So what causes acute kidney injury (AKI) in dogs?

Causes of AKI

Leptospirosis is a bacterial, worldwide disease that can also affect humans.  Dogs are usually exposed by contact with the urine of affected animals, often wildlife, or by drinking contaminated water. There is a vaccine that can protect dogs from four strains of Lepto.

Antifreeze toxicity is another common cause of renal damage. Dogs like the sweet taste, and ingesting even a small amount can affect the kidneys. They are often exposed by licking the garage floor where the car radiator has leaked.

Drugs can cause kidney damage; NSAID's, some antibiotics, and heart medications have been incriminated.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) can cause renal damage, especially if over dosed. This most frequently happens when a dog, receiving a chewable form for arthritis, chews up and eats the whole bottle of pills!  Be sure these bottles are out of reach of all your pets. A class of antibiotics called aminoglycosides can cause kidney damage if over dosed or if the dog is dehydrated.  Heart medications can stress the kidneys, as well as the heart disease itself can stress the kidneys. Heart patients on meds will usually have their kidney function checked regularly.

A bad infection of the kidneys called pyelonephritis will cause renal damage.  A variety of bacteria can cause this. Cultures of the urine are important to determine which antibiotics are effective, then to assess if and when the infection resolves.

Foods and treats can even cause kidney damage. Raisins, grapes, and currants can cause kidney damage, although the toxin is unknown.  It does seem to be from the flesh of the fruit and not the seed. Even just a handful of grapes has sickened dogs.  

The chicken jerky treats from China have sickened, and even killed, hundreds of dogs. The FDA has released warnings, but the treats are still available on the market.  There has been a great deal of study, and inspection of facilities in China, but the toxin has still not been identified. There are reports that the duck jerky and veggie jerky treats may also cause kidney disease.

Watch for Symptoms

Symptoms of acute kidney disease are vomiting, lethargy, poor appetite or not eating at all, possible diarrhea, not passing urine, or possibly urinating more volume than normal. Depending on the cause, there may be fever and abdominal pain.

Treatment always includes hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy. Time is critical as the longer the disease process endures, the more kidney tissue damage may occur and may become permanent. If it is possible that your dog ingested antifreeze, call your emergency hospital right away as there is an antidote but it needs to be administered within a few hours. Other treatments, depending on the cause, may include antibiotics and drugs to control nausea.

If you suspect your dog may have developed kidney damage, an examination, blood tests, and urine tests are in order. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat your dog.  Better yet, discuss with your veterinarian methods to try to prevent kidney damage!

Sources:

"Acute Kidney Injury in Dogs of the Central Coast". Colleen Brady, DVM. DACVECC,  Pacific Tide newsletter , Volume 2, issue 1.

"Aminoglycosides: Nephrotoxicity". Mingeot-Leclercq and Tullen,  Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 1999 May; 43 (5) 1003 - 1012

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  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

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    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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