In dogs, as in humans, the kidneys work to remove waste from the blood and tissues in the body. They also help regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, hormones and pH levels. Nephritis is an inflammation of the kidneys due to a trauma, obstruction or chronic renal failure, and uremic poisoning occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to remove waste, creating a buildup of toxins in the body. Uremic nephritis symptoms typically surface after kidney failure occurs, resulting in a poor prognosis.
Nephritis, or kidney inflammation, can occur due to many different reasons. Causes can be genetic predisposition or birth defects. Infections, either bacterial or fungal, can cause inflammation of the kidneys and, if left untreated, can cause severe kidney damage, leading to uremic nephritis. Kidney damage, toxic poisoning or a blockage of urine flow, such as with kidney stones, can also lead to kidney damage. Common diseases that can contribute to kidney damage include cancer, such as leukemia, autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosis, congestive heart failure and lyme disease.
In a dog suffering with uremic nephritis, waste and toxins buildup quickly in the blood. As the body senses this buildup, it sends messages to the brain that increased fluid is needed to reduce the buildup. This means your dog will experience increased thirst, as well as increased urination. While urination typically means waste is being eliminated, in dogs with uremic nephritis, the urine is diluted and not removing waste as it should. As the condition worsens, urination may slow. Other symptoms of uremia include depression, weight loss, loss of appetite, a dry coat and an ammonia-like smell in the mouth. As the condition worsens, your dog may experience vomiting, diarrhea, coma and death.
While uremic nephritis can occur in any dog breed, certain breeds are predisposed to kidney conditions. These breeds include Basenjis, Bernese mountain dogs, bull terriers, cairn terriers, German shepherds, English cocker spaniels and Samoyeds.
By the time symptoms of uremic nephritis surface, kidney failure is already occurring. According to WebMD, signs of uremia do not typically surface until 75 percent of functioning kidney tissue is destroyed. Unfortunately, damaged kidney tissue is unable to repair itself and a cure for kidney failure is not available. Treatment options can include dialysis and kidney transplantation, but these are very costly. In most cases, treatment focuses on reducing symptoms and making life as comfortable as possible. Your veterinarian may administer medications for vomiting and antibiotics to reduce or treat additional infections. Your veterinarian may recommend an altered diet to help reduce toxins and reduce the amount of work required by the kidneys, as well as vitamin supplements, such as vitamin D and phosphorus binders.
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