No one likes to see their dog sick. However, your dog will get sick several times in its lifetime. As a dog parent, you must be able to recognize symptoms of illness and seek the appropriate medical attention. Renal disease is one of the problems you may need to deal with.
A renal disease or failure diagnosis for your dog can be scary. It leaves you with questions regarding the severity of the disease and whether it may be time to bid your dog goodbye.
According to Pet Health Network, at least one in ten dogs gets a kidney disease at some point in their lifetime. Therefore, it is a challenging yet necessary subject for dog owners.
Renal Failure In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Various conditions can affect the functioning of your dog’s kidneys hence causing renal failure. When healthy, the kidneys release hormones, produce red blood cells, maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes, and remove toxins.
However, in the event of renal failure, they cannot perform these functions. Depending on the circumstances, your vet may help prolong your dog’s life. However, there are instances where euthanasia is necessary.
There are two kinds of dogs’ renal failure:
Acute Renal Failure
This kind of renal failure is associated with infections and toxins. It can cause your dog’s kidney function to decline in just a few days. The scariest thing about it is that your dog can go from perfectly fine to critically ill in a matter of days or hours.
Chronic Renal Failure
This kind of kidney failure is gradual. It may happen over several years, months, or weeks. It is often caused by degeneration from geriatric decline. Although both kidneys should have the same lifespan, it isn’t always the case. In some dogs, one kidney deteriorates faster than the other one.
What Causes Kidney Failure?
All dog diseases that affect the kidney can eventually cause renal failure. These include:
From cysts to abnormal developments and agenesis, your dog could be born with plenty of conditions that might eventually cause abnormal kidney function. If left untreated, this can result in renal failure.
As your dog ages, its kidney cells decline. They may not function as well as they used to, hence causing kidney diseases. Old age is the leading cause of renal failure.
Dogs are naturally curious, and you never know what they might get their paws on. Toxicosis can occur when your dog eats certain drugs, chocolate, or antifreeze. These can damage kidney cells, causing failure over time.
The severity of damage varies depending on the number of toxins ingested.
Such infections are typically transmitted through water. Your dog may get them if they drink contaminated water or while swimming. Bacterial infections can cause kidney inflammation and eventually destroy cells.
When your dog is in pain, renal failure may seem like an overnight catastrophe. However, it happens gradually. You may not see the symptoms until it is too late.
What are the Symptoms of Renal Disease and Failure?
For a dog with kidney failure, shaking becomes second nature. They also become lethargic and may be unable to eat. The signs of renal disease vary depending on severity. Here are a few of the most common ones:
- Increased urine volume in their bladder
- General weakness
- An increase in water consumption
- Increased depression and lethargy
Signs Your Dog’s Kidneys Are Shutting Down
- Blood in their urine
- Mouth ulcers
- Intestinal seizures
- Dramatic weight loss and an emaciated appearance
- Pale gums
- Stumbling and uncoordinated movement
- Chemical smell in their breath
- Loss of appetite
By the time your dog has renal failure, the disease has advanced, and the symptoms are severe. Your vet will try to determine the main cause of the disease. Treating it could ease your dog’s symptoms.
The Stages of Renal Failure in Dogs
The severity of chronic kidney disease is indicated by an increase in blood waste products and protein in the urine. The International Renal Interest Society classifies the stages of chronic kidney disease from number 1 through 4. With 1 being the mildest and 4 the most severe.
The average survival time for dogs in Stage 1 is over 400 days. In stage 3, it ranges from 110 to 200 days.
Treating Kidney Disease in Dogs
By treating its cause, your dog can live a long, healthy life. Some dogs live for years as long as they have the appropriate treatment. The secret is to reach out to your vet as soon as possible.
Fortunately, you can treat the early stages of chronic kidney disease at home. Hydration and medication could ease the discomfort.
Your dog will get thirsty often, and they must have constant access to fresh water and hydration supplements. If they are severely dehydrated, your vet might recommend IV drips and other subcutaneous fluids.
In the event of acute kidney failure, antibiotics may be necessary. Your dog might even need a temporary feeding tube. If one kidney has to be removed, your dog can live with the other comfortably.
What Is the Process of Dog Dying of Kidney Disease?
Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease has no cure. By the time your dog starts showing signs of illness, the damage is too severe to be reversed.
During end-stage kidney failure in dogs, the remaining nephrons are working harder than usual to compensate for the lost ones. This is unsustainable, and they are bound to fail over time.
So, how do dogs die of kidney failure?
If more than two-thirds of your dog’s kidney tissue is damaged, there will be an increase in waste in the blood. Unfortunately, the destroyed tissues cannot regenerate. The kidneys have limited ability to regulate nutrient levels and remove metabolic waste from the blood.
The dog’s body will fill up with toxic waste, and you’ll start seeing symptoms such as weight loss, lethargy, and increased consumption of water. Your vet can offer suggestions to slow down the progression of the disease.
The prognosis and survival time reduce with every stage. At stage 4, the median survival time may be as low as 14 days.
How to Keep Your Dog Comfortable During Their Last Days
Even when there is no chance of recovery, your dog doesn’t have to be miserable. You can do a few things to keep them comfortable during their final days. Here are a few tips:
- Spend as much time with them as you can
- Give them a healthy low-protein diet
- Provide them with a warm, clean, and cozy sleeping environment
- Pet them often and offer their favorite toys and blankets
- Clean and change their bedding and change it frequently
- Wash their fur with a hypoallergenic pet shampoo regularly
- Be gentle with them and supervise their interaction with other dogs and kids
- Schedule regular trips to the vet to observe their health
When to Euthanize Your Dog with Renal Failure
Your dog is a valuable part of your family, and the thought of euthanizing them can be gut-wrenching. It might even feel cruel.
Both acute and chronic kidney diseases ultimately cause the dog’s kidneys to fail. The only difference is that chronic kidney failure is gradual, and acute kidney failure can be sudden. If you are lucky, your dog can remain in the early stages of kidney failure for several years.
During the final stages of kidney disease or failure, there may be no hope of recovery. Many dog owners ask, “Is kidney failure in dogs painful?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Sometimes, your dog’s discomfort is accompanied by pain.
Every dog has a different response to kidney disease. If yours isn’t responding to treatment or it seems to be deteriorating further, euthanasia should be an option. It would be cruel and pointless to prolong your dog’s suffering.
However, it is all easier said than done. When you are sad and confused, it is easy to blame yourself. You may hold on to hope for recovery even though you know there isn’t any.
If you wonder when to euthanize a dog with renal failure, your vet will offer advice. They will base the decision on the progression of the condition, the severity of kidney function loss, and the amount of pain your animal is going through.
Signs Your Dog Is Ready for Euthanasia
- They spend most of the day sleeping
- Their condition seems to be remaining the same or getting worse
- They are no longer interested in playing and activities that they once enjoyed
- They no longer drink or eat
- They seem to be in pain most of the time
- They have become incontinent
- Your touch has become annoying rather than soothing to them
- They no longer enjoy the company of other dogs that they once loved
However, these are just guidelines to help you determine if their quality of life is declining. Ultimately, it would be best to base the decision on your gut feeling. No one knows your dog’s temperament and personality better than you. Therefore, you are in the best position to know when to put them down.
Take note of how much the quality of their life has declined and the prognosis for their illness. Trust your instinct and get advice from professionals.
How Long Can Your Dog Live With Kidney Disease?
Your dog’s lifetime after diagnosis with kidney disease depends on how advanced their condition is. While some dogs may only live a few months, others can live several years with kidney disease.
Although the prognosis for canine kidney disease varies for each case, it is always considered terminal. It eventually results in kidney failure. At some point, the question of euthanasia will come up.
The good news is that you rarely need to go through the process alone. Most vets will walk the journey with you. They will advise you through the different stages of the disease and help you understand why euthanasia is the best option.
You can never be fully prepared for euthanasia. However, having some information about it can ease the shock and anxiety. It reassures you that you are making the right choice for your family.
Conclusion for When to Euthanize a Dog With Renal Failure?
Canine renal failure is one of the most challenging things a pet owner will ever have to deal with. It leaves you torn between wanting to keep your dog alive and ending their misery. It isn’t always possible to do both.
However, it is a decision that you need to make. No one understands your dog’s pain better than you. If it is time to put them down, you will know. With the help of a good vet and your loved ones, it can be a peaceful and fulfilling experience.
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