Unlike some forms of acute kidney failure chronic kidney disease/chronic renal failure (CKD/CRF) in dogs is an irreversible, progressive disease that commonly affects other organs and systems in the dog's body. Toxins that are no longer being eliminated by the kidneys will accumulate in the dog's bloodstream causing painful, life-threatening symptoms that affect the brain, heart, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. Advancement of the disease will cause vomiting which can progress to expelling liquid from the gastro-intestinal tract commonly described as yellow bile.
Kidney failure symptoms in dogs
Kidney failure, one of the most commonly diagnosed canine diseases, can be described as acute or chronic. Acute kidney failure occurs suddenly and symptoms can develop in a matter of days. Chronic kidney failure worsens over time with slowly progressive symptoms. A dog in renal failure may drink to excess and urinate more than usual. Dogs may become anorexic (unwilling or unable to eat food) and become lethargic and depressed. Dogs can begin vomiting, have diarrhea and develop ulcers in the mouth and on the tongue and gums.
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Causes of bright yellow vomit
In the latter stages of kidney failure, pet owners may notice the dog's breath smells metallic due to the accumulation of toxins and nitrogen in the dog's bloodstream. Uremia in dogs indicates that other systems in the dog's body are showing the effects of toxicity. Many dogs will show signs of heart failure and develop hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias. They may become anemic, have difficulty breathing and show signs of neurological disorders. Often when a dog feels nauseous, depressed, or unwell they will lose their appetite. The gallbladder will continue to release bile into the small intestines to aid digestion. Meanwhile the inappetence has caused decreased gut motility leading to the bile backing up into the stomach. This process is what produces the foul bright yellow vomit commonly seen.
Treatment of chronic kidney disease
By the time uremia is noted in dogs with renal failure, veterinary treatment is normally designed to decrease the symptoms of renal disease and increase kidney function. Dogs may be placed on subcutaneous or intravenous fluids with added supplements of electrolytes and needed nutrients. If the animal is anemic, veterinarians may recommend a hormone called epoetin that forces bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Dogs with gastrointestinal symptoms may receive sucralfate, a medicine that reduces nausea and vomiting; and many vets will recommend they be placed on a bland diet low in sodium and protein.
Canine kidney failure considerations
Veterinarians and dog owners will need to determine the underlying cause of renal failure in order to provide the appropriate treatment. Sepsis, dehydration, cancer, certain congenital or genetic conditions, malnutrition, old age, exposure to nephrotoxic drugs (poisonous to the kidney) are all possible causes in kidney failure. Infectious diseases such as Leptospirosis are also believed to be a cause according to Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Older dogs are particularly susceptible to this disease. Dog owners also need to consider that they may be required to give the animal subcutaneous fluids at home on a daily basis; they can be taught this technique in the vet clinic.
Canine kidney failure prognosis
The prognosis for dogs diagnosed with kidney failure is poor; most kidney failure is not symptomatic until 75 percent of the kidney is dysfunctional beyond repair. According to a study published in Frontiers of Veterinary Science chronic kidney failure is a prime example of the importance of annual wellness exams and bloodwork screening. If caught early enough diet, medications and other factors may be able to be changed or administered to slow the progression of the renal disease. Once it is in the advanced stages treatment is mostly intended to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life of the animal. Inevitably, owners may need to consult with the veterinarian about using euthanasia as a humane and loving option.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.