Causes of Canine Chronic Renal Failure
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 and a number of other kidney-specific disorders.
Most cases of chronic renal failure are not preventable. Dogs diagnosed with CRF and those with a family history of the disease should not be bred. Companion dogs – especially those over 7 years of age -- should receive an annual veterinary examination with blood and urine screening to monitor kidney function and the health of other vital organs. Early diagnosis of CRF and good supportive care can delay progression of the disease in some cases.
The prognosis for dogs with CRF is highly variable and difficult to predict; life expectancy can range from days to years after diagnosis. Once a dog is in chronic renal failure, a veterinarian is in the best position to discuss the course of disease and potential management options with the owner. Regardless of treatment protocols, chronic renal failure almost always worsens with time and ultimately is terminal.