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What is Kidney Enlargement?

Kidneys are essential to your dog’s health because they remove the toxins and wastes from his body through urine. If one of both of your dog’s kidneys are enlarged, a serious problem needs attention by your veterinarian right away. The cause of enlarged kidneys can be many different things and the main objective is to determine the cause and fix that problem before too much kidney damage is done. Your veterinarian can give your dog a physical examination and perform tests to find the cause right away. It could be as simple as a kidney infection or as serious as cancer. The sooner the cause is found, the better the outcome will be for your dog.

Kidney enlargement in dogs, also referred to as canine renal enlargement, is the swelling of one or both of the dog’s kidneys. The length of a dog’s kidneys is approximately three times the size of the second lumbar vertebrae. Many things, including but not limited to, cysts, abscess, neoplasia, hematoma, hydronephrosis, edema, and injury, can cause kidney enlargement.

Kidney Enlargement Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,000

Symptoms of Kidney Enlargement in Dogs

  • Extreme thirst
  • Increased body temperature
  • Back or belly pain
  • Increased urination
  • Bad breath odor
  • Mouth sores
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Stiff walking
  • Appetite loss
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Vision problems
  • Dark urine
  • Dizziness
  • Staggering
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

 Types

Acute kidney enlargement comes on suddenly and is usually caused by trauma or serious illness. This type is easier to recognize and determine the cause.

Chronic kidney enlargement is a gradual disease that comes on slowly and is hard to recognize. Usually by the time the symptoms get bad enough for you to notice them there is already substantial damage done to the kidneys.

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Causes of Kidney Enlargement in Dogs

Acute Kidney Enlargement

  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Toxins
  • Kidney stones
  • Acute renal failure
  • Urinary obstruction

 Chronic Kidney Enlargement

  • Certain breeds of dogs are predisposed to kidney disease, such as Beagle, Terrier, Chow, Cocker Spaniel, Bernese Mountain Dog, Doberman, Lhasa Apso, Retriever, Schnauzer, Corgi, Shar-Pei, Rottweiler, Samoyed, Newfoundland, Shih Tzu, Malamute, and Poodle
  • Old age
  • Previous record of renal diseases
  • Chronic kidney infection
  • Lymphoma
  • Tumor
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Diagnosis of Kidney Enlargement in Dogs

The first thing your veterinarian will do is talk to you about your dog’s medical history and recent symptoms. The veterinarian will then do a complete thorough examination of your dog’s entire body, concentrating on your dog’s abdomen (palpation), heart rate, blood pressure, and mucous membranes. Some tests that are essential for diagnosis are:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Chemical panel (urea, creatinine, nitrogen)
  • Blood gas
  • Urinalysis (protein, sediment, specific gravity)
  • Fungal culture
  • Bacterial culture
  • Electrolytes panel
  • Anemia test
  • Radiographs (x-rays)

Your veterinarian may also need to do further testing if he suspects other problems:

  • Ultrasound (kidney shape, size, and density)
  • Biopsy
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • IV pyelogram (dye imaging)

 Depending on the results of these tests, your veterinarian may decide to do more tests to determine the extent of the damage in your dog’s kidneys.

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Treatment of Kidney Enlargement in Dogs

The treatment depends on the type and cause of the kidney enlargement in your dog.

 Acute Kidney Enlargement

Infection

Your dog will need to stay overnight in the hospital to get IV fluids and antibiotics. If your dog’s kidneys seem to be handling the fluids well and he is able to urinate, he will be sent home with oral antibiotics.

 Injury

Your dog will need to stay overnight in the hospital to get IV fluids and antibiotics.

If the injury is mild or moderate and can heal on its own, your dog will be sent home as soon as the swelling goes down and he is able to urinate on his own. Your veterinarian may prescribe pain medicine or steroids to control swelling.

 Toxins

Your veterinarian will immediately perform a gastric lavage to empty your dog’s stomach and give him charcoal to absorb the toxins. Your dog will also get IV fluids and possible an antitoxin or antibiotic. Once he is stable, your veterinarian will send you home with strict instructions to come back immediately if your dog starts having symptoms of relapse.

 Kidney stones

Your veterinarian will have to find out whether the stones are triple phosphate (struvite), urate, or calcium stones. A special diet of low protein, magnesium, and phosphorus is used for three months to dissolve struvite stones. If the stones are still not dissolved, the veterinarian will remove them surgically. Urate stones need diets low in purines and protein as well as a drug (allopurinol) to dissolve the stones. Calcium stones and any other stones that do not dissolve quickly through diet or medication need to be removed with surgery. The veterinarian will also do surgery right away if your dog is in intense pain or if the stones are too large to dissolve quickly.

 Chronic Kidney Enlargement

Hereditary

Hereditary kidney disease that causes chronic kidney enlargement is usually treated with palliative care and management. There is no treatment to get rid of a hereditary kidney disease so the best that can be done is to treat the symptoms as they arise. A special diet is also usually prescribed to help reduce inflammation and infection.

 Age

Kidney enlargement caused by old age is treated with IV fluids to relieve the inflammation and reset the kidneys to get them to work again. This is a temporary solution and your dog will need to see the veterinarian often to evaluate the kidney function and prescribe medication or a diet that can help relieve symptoms as they arise.

 Tumor

IV fluid therapy to stabilize your dog’s electrolytes will be done in the office while the biopsy and other tests are being done. Tumors of the kidney are not common in dogs, but when they occur, they are usually malignant (cancerous). The only way to treat this is with surgery to remove the tumor(s) and chemotherapy. However, these treatments do not usually work well and prognosis is not good.

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Recovery of Kidney Enlargement in Dogs

Acute kidney enlargement has an excellent prognosis with proper treatment and follow-up examination.

 Chronic kidney enlargement prognosis depends on the diagnosis, but since this disorder is not usually noticed until significant damage is done, the prognosis is not good. Sometimes, a cancerous tumor can be removed surgery, and your dog can live for several more good years with an aggressive chemotherapy treatment.

 The most important part of your dog’s recovery and management is to feed him a healthy diet, provide plenty of exercise, and regular veterinarian visits.

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Kidney Enlargement Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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Kidney Enlargement Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Tango

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Shitzu

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13 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

My 13 year old shitzu had and kidney removed. It was. 3x its natural size. Tumor was non cancerous. Prior to surgery other kidney seemed to be working fine. Month after we are concerned about kidney flushing.

July 23, 2018

Tango's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

After a nephrectomy the remaining kidney should be monitored closely to ensure that it is functioning normally, a dog should be able to survive with around half a kidney. Without examining Tango and seeing test results I cannot really weigh in here but you should discuss this with your Veterinarian for more information. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 23, 2018

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Skye

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Westie

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Weight Loss
Extreme Thirst
Loss Of Appetite
Tired
Throwing Up
Loose Bowel Movements

Our 10 year old Westie started throwing up 3 weeks ago. We took her in, and they said elevated levels of something in her pancreas. She was better for 2-3 days, and started throwing up again. She's lost 4 lbs in 3 weeks (she was only 18lbs to begin with), very loose stool (if any), hasn't eaten in a day, peed without her even knowing she did it yesterday in the house, and just in general feels terrible. I took her in today, and after bloodwork, urine tests, Xray, both of her kidneys are enlarged. We could do an ultrasound, but we're worried we're going to spend the extra money to do that and still not be able to fix her. What are our chances that this is something she can recover from?

Jan. 29, 2018

Skye's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without knowing the specific cause of the kidney enlargement it is difficult to say what the overall prognosis is going to be; an ultrasound would be beneficial in this case to look at the structure of the kidney and to look for any structural anomalies or anything else which may be an indicator of what is occurring. If an ultrasound doesn’t give a diagnosis, then a kidney biopsy or fine needle aspirate would be next in the diagnostic process. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 30, 2018

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Snoopy

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Mixed

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

HI, he's suffering from skin allergies due to weeds happens every year. I'm using hemp oil for the 1st time this year. I noticed his kidneys are swollen he's fine otherwise. Good appetite, active no extra urinating, no fever. I'm wondering if the hemp oil is to blame.I did cut back the dose to once every 2 days and now have stopped all together. What do recommend. I can't afford the steep vet tests and haven't gone since he's fine. Thank you, Vicky

Oct. 15, 2017

Snoopy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

I am unaware of any relationship between kidney enlargement and the use of hemp oil; kidney enlargement may be caused by a variety of different causes which may include urinary tract obstruction, infection, stones, kidney failure, cancer and other issues. I understand that the cost of veterinary care may be prohibitive for some, but we need to determine what the specific cause of the enlargement is; try to see if you have a charity clinic in your area which can offer at least a low cost examination and blood tests. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 15, 2017

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Dolly

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Beagle/bassett

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16/17 years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Low Urine Production
Decreased Appetite
Dark Stools

My boyfriend's beagle/Bassett mix (maybe a few other things in there too, she was adopted from a shelter, ~4 years old at the time), has more or less stopped eating in the past day or 2-when we can get her to eat, it's very little and takes her forever. We had noticed that her appetite had slowly decreased over the past few weeks because she is losing weight. She's very old, so the decreased appetite wasn't *immediately* alarming but the weight loss was. I noticed today that her abdomen looks swollen on her right side towards the bottom of her rib cage. I have not noticed an increase in thirst. Her stool has been small and a little dark, and there's not much pee. She doesn't seem to be in any pain, but she's clearly not feeling great. We have a vet appointment on Wednesday but I'm very concerned and am considering taking her to an after hours or emergency vet if it gets worse in the next day or 2. Are there any additional, subtle symptoms I should keep an eye out for that would signal that I should take her in immediately? I was hoping we'd be able to get her an appointment sooner :(

July 26, 2017

Dolly's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

I would recommend taking Dolly to an Emergency Veterinarian as the level of weight loss, lack of appetite, dark stools (may indicate gastrointestinal tract bleeding) and low urine output (may be dehydrated) are not symptoms to be ignored. Check Dolly’s level of hydration by pressing on her gum until it is white, let go and count until the gum turns pink; it should be two seconds or less, any longer and she is dehydrated. Other symptoms like weakness, disorientation, pale gums or dark red gums as well as changes in respiration are all things to look out for; but I would recommend going to an Emergency Veterinarian sooner rather than leaving it another day. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

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Prince

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Shetland Sheepdog

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Urination

My dog, Prince, has a lump in the abdominal area, near his ribs. He is not experiencing most symptoms in this article, I can only observe thirst and increased urination. He just went to the vet a month ago (he had to have a castration because he had a huge lump in one of his testicle), but the vet did not mention anything about the lump. I had just noticed it after the castration. Other than that, he's doing fine. He has a healthy appetite and he's active (though he is a little overweight)

July 26, 2017

Prince 's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

I doubt that the lump is due to kidney enlargement (due to the kidney’s location and relative size), but a lipoma is a likely cause. Lipomas form in the layer of fat under the skin and may be non-infiltrative or infiltrative. Lipomas usually don’t cause any direct problem and are usually removed due to cosmetic or functional reasons. A visit to your Veterinarian with ultrasound and fine needle aspirate will give an indication to the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVMwww.vetary.com/dog/condition/lipoma

July 26, 2017

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Kunnu

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Female Black Lab

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fever
Lazy
Fever,
Belly Balloon

Hi Sir, my female labrador is 9years old and had pyometra in the past no mating or breeding done, now she is has little fever everyday we did ultrasound and came to know she has enlarged kidney and stomach that has lumps inside and crysts we are trying treating her condition with antibiotics and few other medications before we do biopsy or culture. She is sleepy or gets tired fast, her appetite is normal and she loves dances to go out, am worried for my dog however regularly vets visit and her health check is being followed need your expert advice please advice.

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Cassie

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Cocker Spaniel x Poodle

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bloody Urine
Discolored Skin
Swelling Of Kidneys

Hi, I am very worried about my doggie Cassie. Just a couple days ago she began to cry and indicated to us that her belly was hurting. We thought she had eaten something she couldn’t pass, because we found ripped up trash in our bathroom. We took her to the vet and they told us to monitor her. A day or so later we took her back to the vet again because she had been crying so much and appeared she couldn’t expel waste. Now today her skin is turning black around her abdominal areas, around the kidneys, on both her back and her lower stomach. We took her into the vet a third time where she got an ultrasound which revealed that her kidneys weren’t the correct shape and were swollen. She seems to be in a great deal of pain, and just tonight seemed to be urinating blood. We don’t know exactly what’s going on, is there any expert advice you could give us?

Kidney Enlargement Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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