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Constant drinking is warning sign of renal failure?!

Dogs may suffer renal failure too Manhattan Veterinary Hospital/Dr David Tan

Constant drinking is warning sign of renal failure?!

Dogs may suffer renal failure too

Dogs have much the same organs as humans so their kidneys function much the same way. Dogs can therefore also suffer kidney problems without proper care. When humans feel unwell they can visit the hospital, get their blood tested and the doctor will have a preliminary diagnosis. Dogs in the early stages of renal failure may exhibit some symptoms but their owners usually miss this golden window of opportunity. By the time symptoms become more severe, the disease has already become a lot more serious.

Kidneys' main job

For animals, the "kidneys" are a quite important organ. It is mainly used to excrete waste as well as regulate fluids and electrolytes. When we eat, the organs of the body start breaking down food for digestion and absorption. Once these nutrients have been delivered to the cells and used up, wastes are produced. The wastes are then treated by the liver before being sent to the kidneys to be excreted out of the body. To the human body, this is the most important role of the kidneys.

The kidneys do serve other functions apart from removing waste products. They keep the blood's acidity/alkalinity, ionic content and osmotic pressure in balance. These are the functions of the glomerulus and tubules. The endocrine system also relies on the kidneys to produce Erythropoietin (EPO) because it is needed to keep the body in balance and to expel waste products.

What is renal failure?

Simply put, renal failure means that the kidney loses the above functions. When a kidney stops functioning, waste products cannot be removed and toxins start building up. Once the toxins build up the body starts experience certain symptoms. These include loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea or blood in the urine. The urinary system also starts having problems causing symptoms such as constant thirst and frequent urination. No or little urination may also occur.

If renal failure is suspected in dogs the vet usually takes a blood test to check the Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) level. Normal BUN is generally under 30. The higher the BUN, the more problems the kidneys are having with excreting toxins. When toxins build up in the body they produce a substance called creatinine. This is a metabolic product of the muscles that is also known as "Creatine." Creatinine levels should normally be under 2. If the blood test reports both BUN and creatinine are too high then renal failure is confirmed. Higher readings also mean greater danger.

Causes of renal failure

When pet owners hear that their dog is suffering from renal failure, many can't help but ask their vet for answers. The truth is, the causes of renal failure are complex. For some dogs, it is hereditary. For others, they accidentally ate poisonous food that damaged their renal function; infections and old age may also be the cause of renal failure in dogs.

People might still remember the scandal over pet food that caused renal failure. As a vet, I hope that everyone can take the time to thoroughly discuss the situation with the vet. This may help give your pet more protection for their health because every pet is their owner's one and only treasure.

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