Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

In your pup, healthy kidneys perform a wide range of essential functions. Dogs suffering from acute kidney failure, however, experience a rapid decline in kidney function which requires urgent vet care. Here, our Simi Valley vets explain the signs of acute kidney failure in dogs and what actions you should take.

Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Renal failure, which is another name for kidney failure, can be brought on by a variety of illnesses that affect how well the kidneys work in dogs. Healthy kidneys put in a lot of effort to remove toxins from your pup's body, keep their electrolyte and hydration levels in check, and release a hormone that encourages the development of red blood cells.

When a dog suffers from kidney failure, their kidneys do not properly function anymore. There are two types of kidney failure found in dogs, chronic and acute. 

Causes of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute kidney failure occurs when your dog's kidney function abruptly and rapidly declines (over hours or days). Most frequently, it has to do with toxins or an infection in your dog's body.

Acute kidney failure in dogs can be caused by dehydration, a bacterial infection caused by consuming contaminated water, or the ingestion of the following toxic substances:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Antifreeze (often licked up off of garage floor or driveway)
  • Human heart medications
  • Grapes and raisins (hidden in other foods or alone)
  • Overdose of canine medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aminoglycoside antibiotics

Symptoms of Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute kidney failure in dogs will appear rapidly. Generally, you will notice its symptoms within hours to days of ingesting a toxin. Some of the signs of acute renal failure in dogs you should keep an eye out for include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Increase or decrease in water consumption
  • Increase or decrease in volume of urine
  • Uncoordinated movement such as stumbling
  • Breath that smells like chemicals
  • Significant decrease in appetite
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Blood in urine
If your dog is showing signs of acute kidney failure, contact your veterinarian immediately. This condition can be deadly if not quickly treated.

Diagnosing Acute Kidney Disease in Dogs

Your dog's blood and urine will be subjected to a number of tests by your veterinarians to determine the severity of your dog's condition and to determine whether or not your dog has kidney failure. They'll do this by using equipment like X-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests, and urinalysis. The kidneys may need to be sampled in some circumstances.

The results of these tests will help your pet determine how to proceed. 

Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute renal failure is a dangerous condition that can lead to death in dogs. To save your pet's life, hospitalization and intensive care may be required. The following treatments, in addition to monitoring their condition, may be used to treat their condition:

  • Kidney dialysis (Hemodialysis)
  • IV fluids to hydrate and flush out the kidneys
  • Peritoneal dialysis (Flushing toxins from your pet's system with fluids directly fed into their stomach)
  • Administering antibiotics
  • Medications treating stomach ulcers caused by kidney failure

Can Dogs Survive Acute Kidney Failure

This is a very, very serious condition. And, sadly, the prognosis for dogs suffering from acute kidney failure is not good. It's estimated that less than half of pets suffering from acute kidney failure survive.

If caught early and treated aggressively, however, your dog may be able to recover.

Following a thorough examination and testing, your veterinarian will be able to give you a realistic prognosis for your pet's recovery. Your veterinarian will give you an estimate of treatment costs and will assist you in determining the best course of treatment for your puppy.

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.

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from acute kidney failure, contact our veterinary team at Park Animal Hospital, or your nearest emergency vet, for rapid, compassionate, and expert service.