Signs and Diagnosis of Kidney Disease: Is Your Dog Showing Signs Of Kidney Disease?

One of the first things that your veterinarian will want to do is get your dog’s history from you.

You can help by being able to answer basic questions such as

  • is your dog is eating normally
  • has been any change in their drinking habits
  • were there any changes in urination
  • are they acting abnormally (vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, etc.)

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Signs and Diagnosis of Kidney Disease: Is Your Dog Showing Signs Of Kidney Disease?

Physical examination

The next thing that your veterinarian will need to do is a physical examination.

This exam should evaluate your dog from nose to tail and everything in between.

A thorough examination can reveal abnormalities that will help diagnose your dog’s illness. It allows the evaluation of your pet’s overall physical condition. As well as it helps determine the need for other diagnostic tests.

Blood testing for kidney disease

Blood testing is an essential part of both diagnosing and monitoring the progress of kidney disease. Here are some of the tests that your veterinarian will likely want to perform.

  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine are both tests that measure the amount of nitrogenous wastes accumulated in the bloodstream. In both canine and feline kidney disease, these values are likely to increase.
  • Blood electrolytes, such as phosphorus, calcium, and potassium may change due to kidney disease. Their measurement often informs treatment.
  • Blood protein levels, especially albumin, are usually part of the testing. In some forms of kidney disease, albumin may be lost through the kidneys. As a result, blood levels may decrease. Protein levels can help determine the level of dehydration.
  • A complete blood cell count measures red blood cell and white blood cell values. This group of tests may indicate:
    • anemia (low red blood values)
    • dehydration (which causes elevated red blood cell values) or
    • changes in the white blood count resulting from kidney disease

Urine testing for kidney disease

Urine testing is also an important part of diagnosing kidney disease in dogs and cats. Some of the urine tests we commonly perform are:

  • Urine specific gravity, which measures the concentration of your pet’s urine. In kidney disease, the urine is usually quite dilute.
  • Urine protein levels. Protein may leak from the kidneys in some forms of kidney disease and show up in the urine.
  • Other tests that look for blood, red blood cells, white blood cells, crystals, and other abnormal substances in the urine, which may indicate:
    • a disease of the kidneys or the lower urinary tract or
    • the presence of abnormal substances in the bloodstream which overwhelm the kidneys (such as bilirubin from the liver.)
  • Urine protein: creatinine ratio, which compares the amount of protein in your pet’s urine in relation to the concentration of his urine. This gives a truer measure of the significance of protein found in the urine.

Other tests

Other tests may be necessary, depending on the results of the basic tests listed above. For instance, if a specific disease like leptospirosis is suspected, testing for this disease may be indicated. On the other hand, if an anatomical defect of the kidney is suspected, different testing may be recommended.

Related articles:
Canine Kidney Function Screening: Checking Your Dog’s Kidney Function
SDMA Kidney Function Test: Veterinarian Share Opinions and Experience With The New Way Of Monitoring Kidney Health In Dogs
Kidney Disease in Dogs – Say What? Canine Kidneys and the Associated Verbiage
Kidney Failure in Dogs: What Happens In The Dog’s Body When The Kidneys Fail To Function Properly?

Further reading:
Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs

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