As is the case with humans, uremia in dogs occurs when toxins and waste compounds, typically filtered out by the kidneys, instead build up in the blood and carried by the bloodstream throughout the body. This can result due to kidney damage or blockage in the urinary tract.
What is Uremia in Dogs?
Notably, uremia in dogs occurs more frequently in the winter due to ingesting antifreeze. Antifreeze, however, is not the only chemical that can damage the kidneys. Toxins that are not filtered out by the kidneys travel through the bloodstream throughout the body and can damage vital body systems such as the digestive, nervous, respiratory, and immune systems.
Uremia can be fatal. Therefore, it is crucial that you consult your vet immediately if your pet has a blockage in the urinary tract, damaged kidneys, or has ingested chemicals and is displaying signs of uremia to get a proper diagnosis and begin a treatment plan.
Uremia Symptoms In Dogs
Depending on the body system or function impacted, symptoms will vary. At the onset, your dog may seem to display very subtle symptoms, such as a general lethargy or depression. However, as the condition worsens, the symptoms will become more apparent.
Symptoms that should trigger you to consult your vet include:
- Blood in the stool
- Loss of appetite
- Increase or decrease in urination
- Dry coat
- Brownish cast to the tongue or inflamed tongue
- Mouth ulcers
- Breath that smells of ammonia
- Abnormally slow or rapid pulse
- Kidneys enlarged and tender when touched
- Bleeding in the digestive tract
- Organ failure
Causes In Dogs
Because the condition in dogs is the result of poor kidney filtration, anything that damages the kidneys or blocks the urinary tract can cause uremia. If you notice signs of blockage or kidney failure, you should also be alert to signs of uremia.
Factors that cause uremia include:
- Ingestion of toxins (mercury, antifreeze, etc.),
- Inflammation of the kidneys
- Kidney disease/failure
- Kidney stones
- Urinary tract blockage
- Heart failure,
- Inordinate consumption of meat
- Excessive bleeding
Treatment for Uremia In Dogs
The treatment for uremia in dogs is going to depend on what caused the condition in the first place. For example, if it is a result of the animal ingesting something toxic, then the vet will try to neutralize or remove the toxin by cleaning the stomach. This is done through gastric lavage or by trying to absorb the toxin with activated charcoal. If an antidote for the toxin ingested exists, then this can also be used to treat the condition.
Should it be caused by stones in the kidneys or the urinary tract, then the veterinarian may opt to treat the cause with medication. This medication breaks down the stones so as to pass them in the urine stream. Or, the vet may opt for sonic vibration so as to attempt to break down the stones. Some blockages, however, must be surgically removed.
Changes to your dog’s diet and/or fluid therapy can hydrate the body, restore fluid balance, and so reduce the buildup of toxins. Diuretics may flush waste and also restore normal urination, and vomiting can be treated with antiemetics. If the kidneys are severely damaged, then surgery or dialysis may be required.
Uremia Prognosis in Dogs
With a mortality rate of about 50 percent in dogs, the seriousness of uremia cannot be overstated. So, if your dog exhibits symptoms of uremia, it will be crucial that you closely follow your veterinarian’s instructions.