If left untreated, kidney infections in dogs can cause serious symptoms and conditions such as kidney failure and death. Kidney infections and problems are usually caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract and moving into the kidney. Today, our Elk Grove veterinarians detail how to spot signs of a kidney problem in your dog, and what to do.
Kidney stones, parasites, and other diseases can all cause kidney infections in dogs. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should consult a veterinarian right away so that treatment can begin. The following are the signs, causes, and treatments for kidney infections in dogs.
Is there a difference between kidney failure, infection, and disease?
Kidney disease is a broad term that refers to a variety of conditions that affect the kidneys. Kidney failure is a condition in which kidney function is compromised, resulting in the ineffective removal of toxins and other waste products from the blood. Acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease are examples of these (aka chronic renal insufficiency).
Acute kidney injury refers to sudden damage to the kidneys that can range from mild to life-threatening. Toxins, certain infections, and underlying health issues can all contribute to it. The condition can progress quickly, and kidney damage may be reversible with proper treatment.
Chronic kidney disease develops slowly and is permanent and irreversible, but it can be managed with therapeutic kidney food, medications, and fluids. Chronic kidney disease, however, worsens over time and can result in kidney failure. It is important to talk to your veterinarian at the first sign of a change in habits to protect your dog's urinary tract health.
Symptoms of Kidney Infections in Dogs
Because bacteria take time to grow and affect organ function, symptoms of kidney infections in dogs may not appear right away. When symptoms do appear, they may be severe and necessitate immediate medical attention. Kidney stones can also cause similar symptoms that worsen over time and can lead to infection.
Here are the most common symptoms dogs have if they are suffering from a kidney infection:
- Excessive urination or difficulty urinating
- Excessive thirst
- Blood in urine or discolored urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Pain in the side or abdomen
- Hunching over
- Lethargy or depression
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
Symptoms of Kidney Failure
It is critical to see a veterinarian at the first sign of infection to avoid sepsis or renal failure, both of which can be fatal. All of the above, as well as the following, are symptoms of kidney failure:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Bad breath
- Mouth ulcers
Causes of Kidney Infections in Dogs
Pyelonephritis is a bacterial kidney infection caused by kidney stones, infections, a weakened immune system, water imbalances in the urine, kidney dysfunction, or age. Infectious diseases, such as leptospirosis, can also cause interstitial nephritis, or kidney inflammation.
Kidney worms can be obtained through the consumption of earthworms, frogs, or raw fish. Capillaria plica and Dioctophyma renale are two types of giant kidney worms that affect dogs, but they are uncommon, fortunately.
Treatment for Kidney Infections in Dogs
Most bacterial kidney infections in dogs are treated with antibiotics, which are prescribed in response to a urine test. If the bacteria causes a blockage in the urinary tract, surgery may be considered.
Vets may try dietary changes or shock wave therapy to dissolve kidney stones. In the case of worms, they may try to remove them surgically, but if the damage is too extensive, the entire organ may have to be removed surgically. Dogs can survive with one functioning kidney, but the infection is more likely to return if the kidney has already been infected. Keep an eye on your dog for signs.