Kidney failure, or acute renal failure, is a life-threatening condition that renders kidneys ineffective. Renal failure makes the kidneys use more water and secrete fewer toxins; waste builds up to dangerous and potentially fatal levels. Ingesting toxins, including certain plants found in and around the home, can cause renal failure.
Never allow your dog to eat grapes or raisins in any amount, the ASPCA recommends, due to potential for serious -- possibly life threatening -- reactions. In cases reported to the ASPCA animal poison control center between January 2001 and August 2004, more than 200 potential poisonings by grape or raisin ingestion were reported. Even pups who have safely eaten grapes or raisins in the past are at risk for grape poisoning, which can impede your pup's kidney function, potentially causing failure as they prevent cycling of waste and washing of toxins from her body in the form of urine.
While it may be delicious in a pie, hence its nickname "pie plant," rhubarb is toxic to your pooch. Consuming rhubarb can leave your dog in a weakened state with tremors and stomach upset. Other symptoms include heavy salivation, blood in the urine and a noted change to your dog's thirst and urination. Poisoning in dogs can occur when a significant amount is ingested; while symptoms are generally mild to moderate, kidney failure can result.
Milkweed plants, noted for releasing featherlike seeds from pods that open in the late summer and fall, are common sights in many backyards. While your pup may have fun chasing milkweed fluff as it floats about in the late summer and fall, this plant is not her friend -- all parts of the milkweed plant are considered toxic to dogs. Clinical symptoms include gastrointestinal upset, respiratory difficulty, a rapid, weak heartbeat and even liver failure or kidney failure.
Castor Bean Plant
The castor bean plant is commercially grown in the United States for ornamental use. This large, fast-growing plant is noted not only for its striking appearance but for being highly toxic. Castor bean plants contain the dangerous and often deadly element ricin, and all parts of the plant -- especially the seeds -- are poisonous to dogs. Ingesting even a small amount can result in life-threatening clinical symptoms, including kidney failure, in as few as 12 hours.
Plants Not Listed
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control specifically notes that kidney failure can result from canine consumption of grapes, milkweed, rhubarb and the castor bean plant, but this list is by no means meant to be exhaustive. While kidney failure may not be listed as a clinical sign or symptom for many plants listed as toxic to dogs, including mums, geraniums, azaleas, aloe and wisteria, to name just a few, numerous plants can cause diarrhea or vomiting if consumed. Both diarrhea and vomiting, when they lead to dehydration, can indirectly result in acute kidney failure.