Things to Know About Kidney Disease in Dogs

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Why Kidney Disease is a Killer in Dogs…But Doesn't Have to Be
Most people recognize cancer as the silent killer of dogs, but did you also know kidney disease can take your dog's life unexpectedly? In fact, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is commonly considered the number two killer of dogs in the U.S after cancer. To better prepare and protect your dog from this horrible affliction, read on and learn a bit more about how kidney disease affects dogs.

1. Kidneys are Vital
According to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, your dog's kidneys "act as a complex filter that removes from blood wastes that are generated from break down of food, old cells, toxins or poisons and many drugs that are given for treatment of other diseases." Your dog's two kidneys also help regulate blood pressure and calcium and vitamin D metabolism, as well as produce a substance that helps with the creation of new red blood cells. Due to the various functions of the kidneys, a dog with kidney disease may display a multitude of signs. However, these signs may not become apparent as quickly as you'd imagine.

2. Visible Kidney Disease Signs May Take Time
Kidneys are made up of microscopic nephrons. As your dog ages or if the kidneys become damaged, some nephrons begin to die and other reserve (or "resting") nephrons take over. Once there are no extra nephrons remaining, your dog may begin to display signs of kidney damage such as, loss of appetite, weight loss, increased thirst, and anemia. However, this often only occurs once 75% of kidney function (2/3 of nephrons) has been lost. This is why it is so important you bring your dog to your veterinarian at least once a year and remain vigilant for unusual signs in your dog's behavior. It may help prevent your dog from developing kidney disease in the first place.

For the complete slideshow on 4 Must-Know Facts About Kidney Disease in Dogs, visit petMD.