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Chronic and acute kidney disease.

Species: Dog
Age: 2-5 years
My dog is a 3 and half year old toy poodle. About 3 month before, he was diagnosed as acute pancreatitis. Fortunately, he succeeded to survive from that and everything seems fine then. Until recently, he appeared to have myasthenia with his back legs, along with vomiting, anorexia and mental fatigue. I took him to the local vet. He was diagnosed for acute kidney failure. Now he is still being treated with infusion in the vet. I am really worried about him. My questions are:
1. Is it possible that he is having chronic kidney failure rather than acute kidney failure? The doctor didn’t tell me the differences and I have seen some people saying that acute kidney failure is reversible, however chronic does not.
2. He seems not interested with any food at the moment. What should I do to let him start to eat?
3. I fed him with hills i/d pet food before. Should I switch to hills k/d pet food?
4. Is it possible to see him recover from the illness based on your experience?
Great thanks for your reply.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm sorry to hear that your little dog is not doing well. I'll see if I can help to answer some of your questions.

You are right that there are two types of kidney disease, acute and chronic. Sometimes it is hard to tell which type a dog has.

Chronic renal failure (kidney disease) is most common in an older animal. This is what happens when the kidneys just get old and don't work well and eventually shut down. We can also see this in young animals if they are born with a problem where their kidneys are not properly formed. In many cases, chronic kidney failure can't be reversed because there is nothing that can be done to fix the kidneys. Sometimes we can buy some time with IV fluids, but not always.

In a young animal, acute kidney disease is much more common than chronic. Acute kidney disease means that the kidneys have been damaged by something. In most cases, if we can remove the damaging factor we can nurse the kidneys back to health. But, if there has been too much damage to the kidneys then there are some dogs that do not survive. Unfortunately it can be very difficult to tell how much damage has been done.

Some cases of acute kidney disease are easy to figure out. For example, if a dog drank antifreeze, then we know that the antifreeze is toxic to the kidneys. But, sometimes we don't know what the toxic insult was. I have seen dogs that can get kidney disease as a result of the toxins that can be produced during a bout with pancreatitis, so it is possible that this is what is happening with Pidan.

The treatment for kidney disease, whether acute or chronic is the same and that is to flush the system with intravenous fluids. This is why he is getting IV fluids at the vet hospital. He may need this for several days.

His appetite will be an indication of how he is feeling. When dogs are sick with kidney disease, because the kidneys are not relieving toxins from the body properly, the dogs will often feel nauseous and will not want to eat. I will often have people ask me what kind of food they can feed to get the dog to eat, but usually the problem is not the food, but rather the toxins. So, the key to getting Pidan to eat is to keep up with the IV fluids to help the kidneys repair. Your vet is likely also giving him a medication such as famotidine which will help with some of the nausea that is present.

Your vet will advise you on which food is best for him to eat. k/d is an excellent food for kidney disease, but your vet will have to decide which is most important - feeding for kidney disease or preventing pancreatitis (i/d). They will guide you on this.

I have seen lots of dogs recover from kidney disease with good treatment. The best advice I can give you is to trust your vet. It sounds like he is in good hands.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thanks for your reply and advice.

I still have some questions regarding his diet in the future. I'm feeding him with hills k/d dog food at the moment. I'm thinking to cook something rather than simply feeding him with that, since he has lose too much weight during the treatment of kidney failure. Do you have any suggestion on that? What must I pay attention to when I cook his meal?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I am not really a fan of home cooking for pets with kidney disease. One of the most helpful things we can do is to feed a prescription kidney diet. It's not just about the protein level in the food. The companies that make these renal foods are constantly testing and refining the diets so that they give the best benefit to an animal's kidneys. They have just the right balance of omega fatty acids, vitamins, etc.

The only animals that I recommend home cooked diets for during kidney disease are those who have known food allergy issues and for some reason or another can't eat a commercial diet.

Don't believe what you read in online forums about commercial foods having fillers and other unhealthy things in them. They really are a good treatment for kidney disease.

Regarding the weight loss, the commercial renal diets do tend to be higher in fat than other foods (because they are reduced in protein). This will hopefully help Pidan to gain some weight.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.