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Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Diagnosis

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize CRF and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination

  • Complete medical history including questions regarding change in water consumption and urination, exposure to ethylene glycol (antifreeze), recent surgery or anesthesia, drug therapy, appetite, weight loss, previous illness, and medications

  • Complete physical examination

  • Biochemistry tests

  • Urinalysis

  • Complete blood count (CBC)

    Other diagnostic tests may include:

  • Kidney ultrasonography
  • Excretory urography
  • Blood gas analysis
  • Endogenous or exogenous creatinine clearance
  • Urine protein/creatinine ratio
  • A fine needle aspirate
  • Fractional excretion of electrolyte
  • Kidney biopsy
  • Radioisotope clearance

    Treatment

    Although there is no cure, early detection can slow the progression of the disease. CRF can be a life threatening condition that requires hospitalization and treatment for stabilization in extremely ill pets. Treatments may include:

  • Fluid therapy for dehydrated pets
  • Management of blood abnormalities such as hyperkalemia or hypokalemia (abnormal potassium blood levels), metabolic acidosis and hyperphosphatemia
  • Dietary therapy with protein a phosphorus restriction
  • Free access to water
  • Supportive care and careful monitoring of urine output
  • Control of vomiting with diet and drug therapy as needed
  • Management of anemia if needed (with Epogen)

    Home Care

    Chronic renal failure is life-threatening, and if you suspect your pet has this condition, you should see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Follow-up with your veterinarian for examinations, laboratory work and urinalysis. Blood and urine analysis should be repeated within five to seven days after discharge.

    Feed your pet the diet recommended by your veterinarian. Provide free access to fresh clean water at all times. Some owners can administer subcutaneous fluid to their pets at home, if necessary. Your veterinarian can provide instructions when indicated.

    Administer any prescribed medications as directed by your veterinarian. Drug therapy may include: phosphate binders; potassium supplementation; or drugs for vomiting (such as cimetidine or famotidine); or anabolic steroids for some patients. Epogen may be given for anemia two to three times weekly.

    Preventive Care

    There are no specific recommendations for prevention of chronic renal failure. However, general suggestions include:

  • Providing frequent attempts to urinate and free access to fresh clean water.

  • Avoiding exposure to ethylene glycol that can cause acute kidney damage.

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