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How conventional and holistic view points
This article discusses kidney disease in dogs and seeks to make dog parents more aware of:
Conventional vets focus mainly on treating the "symptoms" of kidney disease with traditional prescription drug protocols as approved by the FDA.
Whereas holistic vets treat the "root causes" of kidney disease. This includes treating the general well being and harmony of every cell in the dog's body, rather than just the symptoms of the disease.
I have a preference for taking an holistic approach for treating my dogs Molly and Rosie when they are not well. This is because holistic vets use prescription drugs sparingly and focus primarily on natural therapies, e.g. acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese herbs together with homeopathic remedies.
Kidney disease is becoming more and more prevalent in dogs these days, and sadly not just in senior dogs, as used to be to be the norm. You may even know someone whose dog has kidney disease.
Whilst prevention is always the best method of treating any disease, early symptoms and moderate cases are often missed and not recognised by the untrained eye. In fact, in many cases the damage to dogs kidneys by the onset and continuance of renal disease has already been done before pet parents notice anything wrong.
Suffice to say early detection of symptoms of renal failure are imperative to effectively manage the condition, and more importantly, for there to be any chance of being able to reverse the damage this insidious and debilitating disease can do to dogs.
How dogs' kidneys work
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs, located just behind your dog's rib cage. These organs each contain about a million tiny units called nephrons, which process blood to filter out waste products and extra water, which becomes urine.The dog's bladder is a special muscle, which performs the very important function of filling and emptying urine. Urine flows into it from the dog's kidneys, and out of it through tubes called ureters each and every time your dog relieves him or herself.
Waste in your dog's blood comes from the normal breakdown of active muscles and from his food intake.
After the dog's body has taken from his or her food what it needs for energy and self repair, the waste is sent via the blood system to the kidneys for the process of filtering to take place.
Without this cleansing process, waste products would build up and damage the dog's body.
The kidneys are also responsible for regulating the levels of chemicals like sodium, phosphorus and potassium and releasing them back into the blood system to return to the dog's body. The right balance is necessary for life, and excess levels can be harmful.
Types of kidney failureThere are two types of renal (kidney) failure, "acute" and "chronic".
Acute renal failure (ARF)
In acute renal failure, the symptoms appear suddenly and can be quite severe, the most common are:
ARF is a potentially fatal condition and must be treated immediately in order to save your pet's life.
ARF is often caused by waste products and toxins that build up in the body, known as nephrotoxins. Common toxins and poisons that are well known to cause kidney failure include:
If your pet has ARF, the best approach is to consult with a homeopathic vet immediately. There are a number of Homeopathic remedies that are effective, depending on the cause and the symptoms.
Animals with ARF should also receive intravenous fluids under the care of a vet.
The good news is that ARF can be treated successfully if caught early enough. Unfortunately, in some cases it becomes chronic and is more difficult to treat.
Chronic Kidney Disease and Failure (CKD, CRF, CRD)
Chronic kidney disease is defined as kidney disease that has been present for months to years. Chronic renal disease (CRD), chronic renal failure (CRF), and chronic renal insufficiency refer to the same condition.
CKD is not a single disease. There are many different causes of CKD, but by the time the animal shows signs of kidney disease the cause may no longer be apparent. Some potential causes of CRF include:
Often the cause of CKD is unknown.
Timely diagnosis with ongoing vet care and a good home prepared diet will help to maintain your pet's quality of life.
Preventing kidney disease
Not every cause of renal failure in dogs is known or understood, nor can every case of ARF or CRF be prevented. However, there are a number of things within your personal control that can go a long way toward promoting the health and longevity of your precious furry friend's kidney function.
Early signs and symptoms
The first symptoms of CRF are:
These changes can be gradual and are easy to miss, so it's a good idea to perform laboratory tests annually or semi-annually on older pets. Testing should always include blood tests and a urinalysis. Kidney disease usually shows up first in the urinalysis.
An increase in protein in the urine often appears prior to increased drinking and urination. Early detection of this protein allows your holistic vet to help slow the progression of the disease.
As the disease progresses, your pet will lose the ability to concentrate his or her urine and this results in an increase in urine production.
At this stage of kidney disease, your pet will have lost approximately two-thirds of its nephrons in the kidneys. (Remember, nephrons are the functional units that remove waste and extra fluids from the blood.) Usually, the only noticeable changes in your pet at this time are the increased drinking and urination.
As the disease progresses to a point where three quarters of the nephrons are not functioning, blood work starts to reveal changes.
These usually include an increase in Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine (A creatinine test reveals important information about your kidneys.
Creatinine is a chemical waste product that's produced by muscle metabolism and to a smaller extent by eating meat.
Healthy kidneys filter creatinine and other waste products from the blood. The filtered waste products leave the dog's body in its urine. At this stage your pet may have all or some of the following symptoms:
Unfortunately, this is often the stage at which many pets are first taken to the vet. By then they are usually depressed and dehydrated. They need to be hospitalized and receive IV fluids until their blood urea nitrogen and creatinine come down to an acceptable level.
This is very stressful for pets and expensive for their owners – another reason why early detection and prevention are so important.
Why conventional treatment can be ineffective
Conventional treatment aims to lower the level of protein in the blood by feeding a prescription diet low in protein. However, a diet low in protein impedes the formation of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine because both are byproducts of protein metabolism.
Lowering protein intake only "masks" the problem and does not treat the underlying kidney disease.
In fact, reducing the protein level in a dog's diet may actually reduce the effectiveness of its kidneys, because:
Reduction of protein intake should only be resorted to when the dogs kidney function decreases to a point where toxin build up results in:
Most conventional treatments for renal failure only marginally slow the progression of the disease, whereas alternative treatments are often very successful at arresting or even reversing kidney disease.
Recent studies indicate that acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as nutritional supplements have been successfully used to prevent and even reversed CRF in dogs.
Certain Chinese herbs have thousands of years of documented success. These herbs work much better than conventional treatments because they cause increased blood flow through the kidneys, which results in more toxins being cleared from the bloodstream.
The following homeopathic remedies can successfully treat many symptoms of CRF:
Even if your pet has advanced kidney disease, don't be discouraged. I have seen amazing results, especially with traditional Chinese medicine, which has saved many pets who had been pronounced incurable.
Acute renal failure is a life-threatening condition and there is no effective home treatment. If you suspect your dog has this condition, or has ingested anything that may be toxic, you should call your holistic vet immediately. Your vet may instruct you to induce vomiting before bringing your pet to the hospital.
Administer any medications prescribed by your vet. Follow-up examinations and laboratory tests are important to assess your dog's response to treatment.
Allow free access to fresh clean water daily.
Genetic breed predisposition to renal failure and renal diseases
There are some breeds that are naturally more susceptible to kidney diseases than others, these are:
If, after reading this article you feel your precious furry friend may be experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, please contact your vet (preferably a holistic vet) and ask to have a blood test for the presence of renal failure. The test is very inexpensive and only takes a minute or two to do.
Reference: Courtesy Dogs Naturally Magazine Inc
This article and information forms part of the Carole's Doggie World Library and is presented for informational purposes only and not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information researched and written by Carole Curtis for www.carolesdoggieworld.com
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