When To Euthanize A Dog With Kidney Disease

When To Euthanize A Dog With Kidney DiseaseKidney disease in dogs is a scary diagnosis that can leave owners with many questions. With such a large range in severity of kidney disease in dogs, it can be challenging to get a straight answer. Such as, when is it time to say goodbye to your furry friend. 

In this article we will dive into the details of kidney disease, ways to possibly prolong your dog’s life with the disease, and how to know when it’s time to say goodbye. 

What Do Our Dog’s Kidneys Do?

Before we dive into the details of kidney disease and kidney failure, it’s important to understand the function of the kidneys in general. Our dog’s kidneys serve an important purpose when it comes to regulating their overall health. This is why it’s a serious condition when these organs begin to fail. 

Our dog’s kidneys help to remove waste products from the bloodstream, conserve water, produce urine, and even regulate the levels of minerals in the blood. With having such an important job, it’s no wonder our pups can become so ill when their kidneys begin to falter. 

What is Kidney Disease in Dogs?

Though many dog owners see kidney disease as the complete failure of the kidneys, that’s not the case at all. Kidney disease is simply the deterioration of the kidneys over time, causing the inability to effectively remove waste products from the blood. Though dogs with kidney disease can still produce urine, the amount of waste products accumulating in the bloodstream will cause a dog to become extremely ill over time. 

The most unfortunate part of kidney disease is the fact that most dogs do not display any symptoms until they have lost about ⅔ of their kidney function. This usually means that most dogs have been experiencing kidney destruction for years leading up to their diagnosis. Due to how long it takes our dogs to display symptoms, it’s so important to keep up with your dog’s yearly diagnostics and blood work as they age. 

Symptoms Of Kidney Disease In Dogs

Here are some of the symptoms of kidney disease in dogs. Though each dog can vary, the most common symptoms include:

  • Increase in thirst & excessive drinking
  • Increase of accidents around the house
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Increase in urination

Once your veterinarian notices any of the above symptoms, they can then perform a few diagnostics to get to the bottom of the cause. Your vet will likely run routine blood work and a urinalysis, both of which can create a clear picture of your dog’s kidney health. 

Is There a Treatment For Kidney Disease in Dogs?

Though you may be able to slow down the process of kidney disease in your dog, you will not be able to treat it. Though some dogs do experience acute kidney injury that can be cured, this is not the case of chronic kidney disease and deterioration of the kidneys. Any supportive care is essentially like putting a band aid on a wound, but it does not mean you should not try. 

The management of kidney disease will vary from dog to dog. There are some common routes of management that your vet will likely recommend. These options include:

  • Putting your dog on a kidney diet
  • Administering subcutaneous fluids at home
  • Prescribing medications based on your dog’s case (blood pressure meds, phosphorus binder, etc)

Though these options are great for long term management, it’s important to realize that many dogs require an initial hospital stay to pull them out of crisis before long term management occurs. This involves days in an animal hospital on aggressive IV fluids to help flush the kidneys. Once your dog improves, your veterinarian can then address long term care. 

Signs That It’s Time To Say Goodbye

So how do you know when your dog has reached the end stages of kidney failure? Since our dogs can’t tell us how they are feeling, it’s up to us to observe changes in their daily behavior that may suggest that it’s time to let go.

Some signs that it may be time to say goodbye to your dog with kidney disease includes:

  • No longer interested in food, no matter how many varieties you offer
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe lethargy or weakness
  • Disinterest in things they once enjoyed
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Pale gums
  • Weight loss

If your dog begins to show any of the above symptoms, it may point to the fact that your dog is beginning to suffer in their disease. Your vet may be able to intervene with aggressive care, but it will of course vary from dog to dog. Though it’s a tough decision, it may be time to discuss quality of life with your veterinarian. 

Is It Okay To Keep Trying?

Though a diagnosis of kidney disease in your dog is scary, it does not automatically mean it’s time to let your dog go. Though some cases are more severe than others, not all dogs are suffering when they are first diagnosed. Many dogs can be managed for years with proper care, meaning it is never frowned upon to give it a try. Your veterinarian will be honest with you when it comes to a realistic expectation for at home care, so always be sure to ask if your pup is a candidate for kidney disease management. 

Kidney disease in dogs is tough, making it so important to understand the stages of the disease. Be sure to review the information we discussed above, and you will be able to make an informed decision about your dog’s condition going forward.

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