Kidney Diseases: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
Dr. Marty Greer, DVM joins host Laura Reeves for a deep dive on diseases that affect the kidneys in dogs. They cover symptoms of kidney problems, causes and treatments for various common kidney issues.
“The symptoms that most people catch first are a change in water consumption, an increase in water consumption and increase in urination,” Greer said. “Now, that’s not the only reason that dogs can need to drink more and urinate more, and what goes in must come out. So those usually go hand in hand.
“The most common things are changes in water consumption, changes in urination. Now other things that frequently cause that are going to be diabetes; which happens in dogs and cats, Cushings disease; which happens in dogs, which is an adrenal gland dysfunction, and other things like pyometra, high calcium that can be related to different forms of cancer. So, there can be other things that we’re looking for. But we’re going to start looking at kidneys, diabetes and Cushing’s disease in the dog most commonly.
“We’re going to get blood work and urinalysis as our basic starting point. But that’s not the only place we’re going to go. We’re going to start with those two things. Because if the dog is still able to concentrate their urine, well, then that tells us something different than if the dog’s urine was really dilute and the BUN and creatinine start to go up.
“Once that happens, that means that only one fourth, only 25%, of the dog’s kidneys are still working correctly, unless it’s a secondary cause from dehydration like vomiting, diarrhea, other causes of dehydration, so it’s super important. You go in and if your vet says we should do lab work, you shake your head up and down and you say yes, yes, yes we should. Please do not argue with them. Do not fight them on it because you can very quickly tell from a urinalysis and a blood panel.
LR: Can a bladder infection go to the kidneys?
“Number one, it can. It’s not common, but it can.”
LR: OK, so what’s going to cause a kidney infection? Where’s our causation?
“It’s usually hematogenous, meaning it starts off in the bloodstream, so can start as a pyometra. It can start as any way that bacteria gets into the bloodstream, but usually the kidneys are protected by the fact that the urine is concentrated so that helps to kill bacteria and remember urine is flowing from the kidneys down the ureters and into the bladder so that constant flushing should keep bacteria from being able to ascend up into the ureter and up into the kidney. So can they still happen? Yes, they can. They’re not at all common, but they happen. And they’re tricky to diagnose because sometimes it doesn’t look obvious. So that’s where that blood and the urine sample is really important because it is life-saving to a dog or a cat to have that diagnosed and be able to resolve that.
Additional causal factors, Greer noted, can include tick born or infectious diseases such as Lyme Disease and Leptospirosis.
For additional details on causes and treatments, listen in to the entire episode, or check the YouTube pod, and click to subscribe, @PureDogTalk.