Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs
Definition of Chronic Renal Failure
Chronic renal failure, sometimes called chronic generalized nephropathy or CRF, is a progressive disease that impacts the kidneys’ ability to do what they’re supposed to do: concentrate urine and remove waste products from blood. The causes of CRF aren’t understood. As dogs age, their kidneys may just wear out. Genetics probably also play a role. Other factors may include exposure to toxins, congenital kidney disorders, bouts of acute renal failure, urinary tract infections, administration of drugs, polycystic kidney disease, lymphoma and diabetes mellitus. CRF causes toxins to build up in the blood. Owners usually don’t notice symptoms until the condition is irreversible. Affected dogs become excessively thirsty, drink lots of water and urinate more than normal. Unfortunately, once signs of CRF appear, the kidneys have lost most of their ability to function. CRF can be managed, but it can’t be cured. It usually worsens with time and ultimately is fatal.
Why dogs develop chronic renal failure (CRF) is not known. It may be that with advancing age, the kidneys simply wear out. Genetics appear to be a factor as well, with a predisposition for familial inheritance reported in certain breeds. Other contributing factors include exposure to toxins, congenital kidney disorders, prior episodes of acute renal failure, chronic urinary tract obstruction or infection, nephrotoxic drugs (drugs toxic to the kidneys), polycystic kidney disease, lymphoma, diabetes mellitus
Chronic renal failure (CRF) can be present without obvious symptoms for a very long time. When kidney disease is asymptomatic, it usually is called renal “insufficiency,” rather than renal “failure”. Unfortunately, once overt signs appear, the kidneys probably have lost over 75% of their ability to perform their normal functions of filtering toxins from the blood, excreting the end-products of metabolism in the urine and regulating the concentrations of hydrogen, sodium, potassium, phosphate and other
Dogs with CRF that is severe enough to cause symptoms usually arrive at the veterinary clinic weak, lethargic, depressed, underweight and disheveled, with a history of vomiting, stumbling, diarrhea or constipation, bad breath and dehydration despite abnormally high water intake and urine output. In addition to a thorough physical examination, the initial diagnostic database usually includes a complete blood count, a serum biochemistry profile and a urinalysis. The results of these tests may reveal anemia,
Chronic renal failure can be present for a long, long time before a dog shows any symptoms of illness. Unfortunately, by the time an owner suspects that something is wrong, enough kidney tissue usually has been damaged to make the condition irreversible. Nevertheless, there are a number of management techniques and supportive treatments that may help delay progression of renal failure and enhance the dog’s quality of life.It is critical to flush circulating waste products