Reduced function of your dog’s organs (kidneys, heart or liver) can mean you have a really sick dog. While symptoms of organ failure will vary according to the affected organ, your dog will probably need some sort of special management, either medical or dietary, for the rest of their life. But the proper treatment can really help with the quantity and quality of life.
Dogs with kidney failure, liver failure or heart disease
The working of the kidneys, heart and liver all affect each other. If the heart is not pumping properly then the kidneys and liver don't get enough blood to work properly. Also kidney disease can lead to high blood pressure causing strain on the heart.
Signs of organ failure in dogs vary depending on the affected organ, but it is important to understand that any type of organ failure is serious and needs veterinary support.
Kidney disease in dogs
The kidneys manage waste and water exit for the body. They adjust the levels of salt and calcium and they make sure useful elements remain in the blood. The kidneys also move protein waste, excess minerals and water into the urine where they can be disposed of.
As dogs get older the kidneys can start to wear out. Kidney problems can also occur if a dog ingests poison or has a bad reaction to a medications. Kidney damage can also occur if they don't receive an adequate blood or oxygen supply.
The good news is that with the right managment dogs with kidney disease can often live a long and active life.
Symptoms of Kidney Failure
Symptoms of sudden acute kidney problems include loss of balance, vomiting, depression and loss of appetite. Chronic kidney failure usually happens to older dogs, with more subtle signs that include increased drinking and urination, a chemical smell to the breath, appetite and weight loss, and blood in the urine.
What should I feed my dog with kidney failure?
Diseased kidneys cannot be repaired but a food that reduces the amout of waste the kidney has to dispose of can help slow down the weakening of the kidney function and it can also improve the symptoms.
Liver disease in dogs
Liver disease is common in dogs and especially common in certain breeds such as West Highland Terriers and Doberman Pinschers. The liver is the cleaning system for the body, removing toxins and waste. It also produces bile, needed for digestion. When the liver is damaged then toxins and waste may build up in the body, affecting other bodily systems like the brain and heart.
Symptoms of liver failure
Symptoms of liver faliure include appetite and weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration - symptoms that occur with many illnesses - and jaundice, a yellowing of the eye whites and gums. Stomach ulceration also often occurs in liver disease, so a dog might throw up blood and his faeces might turn dark. Fluid build-up in the abdomen can also be a symptom and some dogs experience seizures.
What should I feed my dog with liver disease?
A liver disease diet is an important help for dogs with impared liver function. The right diet can help the liver regenerate while giving them the nutrients they need. NB! There are different types of liver diseases and some may require another specialised food so it is very important that you speak to your vet.
Heart disease in dogs
The heart pumps blood around the body to transport oxygen, nutrients and waste products. If your dog has a heart problem then blood is not pumped around effectively allowing water and fluid to builds up in organs such as the lungs. This may make your dog cough, become breathless and less active, lose appetite and weight and build up fluid which can enlarge the belly.
Symptoms of Heart Failure
If the left side of your dog's heart is failing, he'll generally experience coughing because of fluid build-up in the lungs. Low blood pressure will make him prone to fainting. If the right side is primarily affected, fluid build-up, or edema, will occur in his legs, chest and abdomen.
What should I feed my dog with heart disease?
Your dog’s diet is a very important part of the support of heart disease – and it’s the one where you can really make a difference. The right dog food may be able to slow the progression of heart disease, reduce the number of medications required and improve the quality of life for your dog. Fatty acids present in fish oil (called omega-3 fatty acids) have been shown have a positive effect in dogs with heart disease.
Recommended for dogs with heart, kidney or liver problems
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SPECIFICTM Nutrition Team, Dechra