The kidneys are the great waste management machines of the body, taking out wastes and toxins from the bloodstream and regulating fluid levels. We all have them, and if they don’t work properly then our lives can be under serious threat. The same, of course, goes for dogs, and kidney problems are often an issue, especially for older canines.
The causes of kidney disease are many and varied, ranging from the effects of injuries and cancers to the impact of particular drugs or toxins. The first symptom to show up is often an increased thirst and more frequent urination (this can also be an early warning sign of diabetes). You might also spot weight loss and general weakness, a lack of energy and a lifeless quality to the coat. Of course, all these things can be signs of other conditions, but unfortunately if they do indicate kidney problems the disease is probably already quite advanced. For this reason it’s well worth getting any elderly dog checked out – particularly if you have noticed some of the warning signs. Unfortunately it’s not usually possible to reverse the effects of chronic kidney disease, but if they’re caught early they can often be stopped from developing further. Your vet will also help you to modify your dog’s diet, cutting down on the salt, phosphorus and proteins which put a strain on the kidneys.
The liver is another major organ, as vital to keeping your dog’s body on an even keel as the kidneys, and it too can suffer various ailments. The liver has myriad functions, not least in filtering toxins from the bloodstream, and as such it is particularly vulnerable to anything particularly poisonous. Viral and bacterial infections too can have an impact on the liver, and there are certain breeds that have congenital liver-related health issues.
Some symptoms which may be signs of liver disease include weight loss and loss of appetite and energy; these are always good reasons for a visit to the vet. The only true tell-tale sign of a liver problem is jaundice, as in humans, as the eyes, gums and even skin take on a yellowish tint caused by a substance usually filtered out by a properly functioning liver.