Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure (CRF) in Dogs

Overview of Canine Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)

Chronic renal failure, commonly referred to also as chronic kidney failure and abbreviated as 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.

Dog breeds thought to be more susceptible include:

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

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:

What to Watch For

Signs of chronic renal failure in dogs may include:

Diagnosis of Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs

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

Other diagnostic tests may include:

Treatment of Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

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:

Home Care

Chronic renal failure is life-threatening, and if you suspect your dog 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 dog 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:

In-depth Information on Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs

Other medical problems can lead to symptoms similar to those encountered in CRF. Laboratory testing (blood work and urinalysis testing) will often diagnose CRF. Further diagnostic testing may be needed to determine the underlying cause.

Diseases that can appear similar to those with CRF include:

Causes of Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

In-depth Information on Diagnosis

Diagnostic tests must be performed to confirm the diagnosis of CRF and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms.

Tests may include:

Other diagnostic tests may be recommended on a case-by-case basis.

Tests may include:

In-depth Information on Treatment

Treatment of chronic renal failure in dogs must be individualized based on the severity of the condition, the cause, secondary diseases or conditions and other factors that must be analyzed by your veterinarian. A search for reversible causes of kidney failure should be completed. The ultimate goal of the management of CRF is to provide supportive care while trying to treat and eliminate secondary factors aggravating kidney failure such as, infections, dehydration, malnutrition, anemia, etc.

Treatments for CRF may include:

Follow-up Care for Dogs with Chronic Renal Failure

Optimal treatment for your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Specific instruction for home therapy is determined by kidney damage. Follow-up can be critical and may include: