Caring for a dog in the last stages of kidney failure is a sad time, but knowing what to expect can help you make your friend as comfortable as possible. Kidney failure in dogs arises from several causes including old age, bacterial diseases, high blood pressure, immune system diseases, urinary tract blockage, poisoning and dental disease. The final stages of kidney failure occur after a long battle with chronic kidney disease or a short episode of severe kidney problems, and symptoms worsen until dogs lapse into comas just before the end.
Dogs experience the last stages of kidney failure when their kidneys stop functioning or function poorly. Kidneys process waste, regulate the amount of water in the blood, retain substances needed by the body, help create new blood cells and perform other essential functions. When they stop working, the whole body is affected, and symptoms vary. There's no cure for the last stages of kidney disease, but vets can prescribe medications and treatments to reduce suffering, and owners can help their pets cope with psychological effects, such as depression and irritability.
Chronic kidney disease and the last stages of kidney failure cause common symptoms in dogs. Dogs often drink more and pass large volumes of water, which can cause nighttime incontinence, or they may urinate less. The buildup of waste in their blood can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and their urine may be stained with blood. Dogs usually don't feel like eating, so they lose weight. Poor blood cell production leads to anemia and weakness, and dogs can develop pale gums and mouth ulcers. Weakness causes dogs to stumble, and their breath might have a chemical odor.
The last stages of kidney failure can affect dogs in ways their owners might not expect. Kidneys regulate essential minerals and vitamins, such as calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous. Lack of calcium and vitamin D leads to weakened bones and fractures, and calcium and phosphorous deposits in the skin cause itchiness and discomfort. Dogs can suffer stomach bleeds or bruised skin due to blood problems, and high blood pressure can cause sudden blindness. Dogs also can develop a brownish tongue.
Owners and Vets
Owners and vets form an effective team to help dogs experiencing kidney failure. Access to plenty of fresh, clean water helps dogs cope with their symptoms, and a specialized kidney diet prescribed by a vet also helps slow down the disease's progress. Your vet can prescribe supplements according to the deficiencies your dog shows in tests. Dogs suffering from kidney disease can't process salt well, so don't give your pet salty treats unless approved by your vet. Keeping your dog warm and avoiding stressful situations such as boarding kennels or parties at home also helps him stay comfortable and calm.