What is Chemical Imbalance of Urine?
If you have noticed an increased or decreased intake of water in your dog, or urination that is more frequent, your dog may have a chemical imbalance due to high or low specific urine gravity. It is important to take your dog in to get a urinalysis as soon as you possibly can to be certain there is no kidney function disorder. Your dog’s kidneys are essential to his health and any kind of urine abnormality has to be addressed right away to ensure your dog stay healthy. The abnormalities could be caused by too much or too little water or it could be something more serious like cancer, diabetes, thyroid disease, poisoning, or kidney failure.
A chemical imbalance of urine (hypersthenuria or hyposthenuria) is a condition that occurs when the specific gravity of the urine is either abnormally high (hypersthenuria) or abnormally low (hyposthenuria). Both of these conditions can be as simple as a high or low water intake or it can be indicative of kidney function disorders, such as kidney failure or diabetes.
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Symptoms of Chemical Imbalance of Urine in Dogs
The symptoms your dog shows can be important to which kind of chemical imbalance your dog has. Too concentrated urine (hypersthenuria) and urine that is not concentrated enough (hyposthenuria) are both signs of a possible kidney problem and need to be assessed by your dog’s veterinarian. The symptoms of each of these imbalances are:
- Frequent urination
- Drinking more water than usual
- Excessive hunger
- Excessive thirst
- Urinating more or less often
- Loss of bladder control
- Bad breath
- Loss of appetite
Hypersthenuria is an increased specific gravity of the urine from concentrated urine due to water loss. Hyposthenuria is a decreased specific gravity of the urine from urine that is not concentrated enough because of excess water.
Causes of Chemical Imbalance of Urine in Dogs
The causes of a chemical imbalance in the urine vary depending on the type of imbalance:
- Urinary or bladder infection
- High glucose in the urine
- Narrowing of the renal arteries
- Liver disease (cirrhosis, liver failure)
- Kidney damage (injury or disease)
- Kidney disease (renal failure)
- Heart failure (heart disease or myocarditis)
- Kidney failure
- Uterine infection (pyometra)
- Too much water
- Thyroid disorder
- IV therapy
Diagnosis of Chemical Imbalance of Urine in Dogs
Your veterinarian will first need to know your dog’s complete medical history, the symptoms you have noticed, when the symptoms started, whether the symptoms have changed and when they changed, any changes in your dog’s diet, and changes in your dog’s temperament. The veterinarian will do a complete physical examination including blood pressure and body temperature. Some other tests will need to be done as well, such as:
- Urine specific gravity
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Blood glucose (test for diabetes)
- Blood chemical panel (test for high calcium, urea, phosphate, potassium, creatinine)
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
- Digital radiology (x-rays) of the kidneys and chest
- Adrenal gland test (ACTH)
The veterinarian may also need to do more tests if these are inconclusive. These other tests are:
- CT scan
- Biopsy (kidney, liver)
Treatment of Chemical Imbalance of Urine in Dogs
The treatment for chemical imbalance of urine also depends on the cause of the imbalance.
Urinary or bladder infection is treated with antibiotics and possibly IV fluids. This can be done in the veterinarian’s office unless your dog is too sick or dehydrated, in which case it will be done in the hospital. Narrowing of the renal arteries, which is usually a complication from untreated high blood pressure, can be treated with atenolol or another beta-blocker. Liver disease (cirrhosis, liver failure) can be treated with fluid therapy, blood transfusion, medications (anti-inflammatory, antibiotics, and colchicine), or surgery to remove the damaged portion of the liver. The veterinarian may even suggest liver transplant if your dog is still young and healthy, but the chance of success is low.
Kidney damage (injury or trauma) is treated by IV fluid therapy, rest, antibiotics, diuretics, and possible surgery if the damage is severe. Kidney disease (renal failure) is treated similarly to kidney damage with IV fluid therapy, rest, and medication. If the disease has progressed too far, there may not be any treatment except to make your dog as comfortable as possible. Heart failure (heart disease or myocarditis) is treated by removing any excess fluid build up, medication, and possible surgery if the condition is severe. The vet may suggest heart transplant if your dog is young and healthy, but the cost is high and chances of success are low.
Uterine infection (pyometra) is treated by removing your dog’s uterus immediately. The risk is low and without the surgery, she will not survive. Thyroid disorder is treated by a hormone medication such as levothyroxine and possible surgery if the disorder is not corrected by medication. Diabetes will probably be treated by hospitalizing your dog to get the glucose level under control with medication and IV therapy. Your dog will have to be on medication or given insulin shots to stay healthy. Cancer can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and possible surgery if necessary. The treatment may be different due to the type and location of the cancer.
Recovery of Chemical Imbalance of Urine in Dogs
Regardless of what causes your dog’s chemical imbalance, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and return for any follow-up visits. With most of these illnesses, the prognosis is good if the illness is caught early and treated right away. In the case of heart, liver, or kidney failure or cancer, the prognosis may not be as good, but your veterinarian will let you know of all the possible options that can help.