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Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Chronic renal (kidney) failure (CRF) is a common problem in all dog breeds. The digestion of food produces waste products, which are carried by blood to the kidneys to be filtered and excreted in the form of urine. When the kidneys fail, they are no longer able to remove these waste products, and toxins build up in the blood producing clinical signs of kidney disease.

All breeds of any age can be affected. However, older pets are commonly affected as the prevalence increases with age. The average age of diagnosis in dogs is seven years.

Breeds thought to be more susceptible include:

  • Cocker spaniel
  • Lhasa apso
  • Shih tzu
  • Norwegian elkhound
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Soft-coated wheaten terrier
  • Golden retriever
  • Bull terrier
  • Cairn terrier
  • German shepherd
  • Samoyed

    CRF affects almost every body system causing many changes throughout the body and usually results in the following:

  • Abnormal filtration of blood and retention of waste materials
  • Failure of hormone production (including substances that stimulates the production of red blood cells [erythropoeitin])
  • Disturbance of fluid, electrolyte and acid-base balance

    CRF can be caused by several different processes. These may include diseases, some of which can be secondary to other disease processes or trauma, that may have caused acute kidney failure such as:

  • Toxins
  • Poor blood flow and lack of oxygen (ischemia)
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Infections
  • Cancer (neoplasia)
  • Immune system abnormalities.

    What to Watch For

  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Anorexia
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination when walking
  • Depression

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