The answer is yes! Provided that the other kidney is in good shape, dogs can live a normal life with just one kidney. Keep reading to find out how kidneys work, the reasons why your dog might need to have a kidney removed, and what you can do to help your pet adapt to life with one kidney.
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Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Problems in Dogs
It's only once approximately two-thirds of kidney tissue has been destroyed that you'll usually start to recognize some of the telltale signs.
If you've noticed your pet needing to urinate more frequently than usual, perhaps needing to head outside during the night or even having accidents inside, this is the most common early indicator of kidney problems.
If the kidneys aren't functioning at full effectiveness to filter the blood, the body responds by pumping more blood through the kidneys in the hope of removing more toxins from the body. This leads to the increased production of urine, which, in turn, leads to dehydration and an increased thirst for affected pooches.
More specifically, cancer of the kidney is one of the most common reasons a dog might need to have a kidney removed. If your dog has developed a kidney tumor, as well as increased thirst and urination you may also notice bloody urine, an abdominal mass, weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, and signs of pain.
If this is the case, book your dog in for a veterinary check-up to get to the bottom of the problem.
- Low tail carriage
- Dropped Ears
- Increased thirst and urination
- Lethargy and depression
- Bloody urine
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Bas breath
The Science Behind Dogs Living with One Kidney
- Filtering the blood to remove toxins and waste
- Producing a hormone crucial to the production of red blood cells
- Maintaining the correct balance of water, salts, and minerals in the body
- Producing urine
Like us, dogs have two kidneys and these organs are located in the abdomen along the side of the spine. Each kidney is connected to the bladder by a ureter, a tube with the job of transporting urine.
Dealing with Kidney Removal
Kidney cancer could take the form of cancer that originates in the kidney, or that spreads there from another part of the body. Tumors that originate in the kidney include renal carcinomas, renal adenocarcinomas, transitional cell carcinomas and nephroblastomas. Although malignant renal tumors are relatively rare in dogs, treatment typically requires the removal of the affected kidney.
The formal term used to describe the surgical removal of a kidney is nephrectomy. Before this procedure is recommended for your dog, however, several steps will need to be taken. One of the most important is the assessment of the health of your pet's other kidney — is it functioning normally and will your dog be able to rely on it to perform its many life-sustaining tasks?
Other steps that will need to be taken pre-surgery vary depending on the condition being treated. For example, in cancer cases, your vet will need to determine whether the cancer has spread to any other parts of the body, whereas in cases of acute trauma the procedure will often be performed immediately.
Kidney removal is a serious and invasive procedure that needs to be performed under general anesthetic. During surgery, the kidney is removed from the tissue that separates it from the rest of the abdomen and the renal artery, vein and ureter are all tied off and cut. The kidney and ureter are then removed.
Pain medication is essential to help your dog recover from the procedure, and a trip back to the vet a couple of weeks later will allow the sutures to be removed. Your pet will also require regular monitoring to not only check for any complications but also assess the level of kidney function.
The prognosis for your dog after surgery depends on their overall health and the health of their remaining kidney. If both of these are in good shape, your dog will be able to live normally with just the one kidney. However, speak to your vet for expert advice on the best treatment option for your dog.
How to Promote Good Kidney Health:
The most common form of kidney problem in dogs is kidney disease, which is usually caused by the wearing out of kidney tissue over time.
Recognize the early signs of kidney disease, such as increased thirst and urination, and get them checked out by your vet.
Take your dog for regular veterinary check-ups so that health problems can be detected early.
Feed a high-quality, balanced diet and make sure your pet always has access to plenty of fresh water.