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Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will take a complete medical history specifically questioning exposure to ethylene glycol (anti-freeze), recent surgery or anesthesia (possibly causing decreased blood flow to the kidneys), exposure to drugs toxic to the kidneys (aminoglycoside group of antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and previous illnesses. The following diagnostic tests may also be necessary to recognize acute kidney failure and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:

  • Complete physical examination
  • Serum biochemistry tests
  • Urinalysis
  • Complete blood count
  • X-rays of the abdomen
  • Culture of the urine
  • Ultrasound examination
  • Kidney biopsy
  • Ethylene glycol test
  • Blood tests for certain infections

    Treatment

    ARF is a life-threatening serious condition that requires hospitalization and intensive treatment. Treatment consists of identification and correction of life-threatening problems while searching for the underlying cause of ARF. Treatment for ARF may include one or more of the following:

  • Induce vomiting
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Drugs that encourage urine production
  • Management of blood electrolyte abnormalities
  • Monitor urinary output
  • Control of vomiting
  • Management of anemia
  • Peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis
  • Treatment with 4-methylpyrazole (Antizol®) or ethanol

    Home Care

    Acute renal failure is a life-threatening condition and there is no effective home treatment. If you suspect your pet has this condition, or if you even suspect your pet may have consumed even a small amount of anti-freeze, you should call your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian may instruct you to induce vomiting before bringing your pet to the hospital.

    Administer any medications prescribed by your veterinarian. Follow-up examinations and laboratory tests are important to assess your pet's response to treatment. Allow free access to fresh clean water.

    Preventative Care

    Avoid exposure to ethylene glycol (anti-freeze), and avoid exposure to drugs known to be toxic to the kidney (e.g. aminoglycoside antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Don't allow dogs to roam outside unattended.

    Vaccinate your dog for leptospirosis as recommended by your veterinarian. This vaccine usually is included in routine vaccination protocols.

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