Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs User Group
Is this Kidney disease?
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A group for information and discussion and for emotional support for owners and companions of dogs with Chronic Kidney Failure. This is a complex and traumatic illness and affects about a third of all dogs over the age of 12yrs. While there is (as yet) no cure for this disease, there are things that can be done to improve and extend the quality of life for our best friends - and when all else fails, there are people that have traveled this path already that can offer empathy and support to grieving owners. If you wish to ask questions or talk about a particular dog, please head your thread with your dog's name, as this will help identify the discussion.

Founded by tonyb286 on June 3, 2014
122 members
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Is this Kidney disease?

Hello everyone!

Back in early December 2013, my beloved fur baby Boomer had routine blood work done.  The vet said his levels were slightly high and mentioned possible kidney disease.  The kidney disease-related levels were as follows:
BUN: 31 (normal 7-27)
Creatinine: 1.8 (normal 0.5-1.8)
Phosphorous: 5.5 (normal 2.5-6.8)
Hematocrit: 53% (normal 37-55%)
Urine specific gravity: 1.015 (normal 1.016-1.080)

The vet threw around the possibility of kidney disease at this time, and said to bring him back in 4 weeks later.  Boomer had no symptoms at all, and was acting as energetic and playful as always.  (By the way Boomer turned 9 last month, so was 8.5 years old at the time of this visit).

So, we took him back in mid January, and his levels were as follows:
BUN: 21 (normal 7-27)
Creatinine: 1.7 (normal 0.5-1.8)
Phosphorous: 4.1 (normal 2.5-6.8)
Urine specific gravity: 1.021 (normal 1.016-1.080)
Protein/creatinine ratio: 0.1 (normal below 0.5)

So it seemed that his levels had slightly improved in the 4 weeks since his last blood draw.
Last month (5/28/14) Boomer had a dental cleaning, and they took his blood.  His levels were as follows:
BUN: 22 (normal 7-27)
Creatinine: 1.8 (normal 0.5-1.8)
Phosphorous: 3.0 (normal 2.5-6.8)
Urine specific gravity: 1.020 (normal 1.016-1.080)
Urine protein: 30 (which I think is 1+) (normal 0-30)
Hematocrit: 54% (normal 37-55%)

His BUN and creatinine both went up slightly in the 4.5 month period.  However, his phosphorous went down, and his hematocrit went up.  I know that in kidney disease phosphorous is high and hematocrit is low, so these levels seems to be pretty good.   Also, Boomer's creatinine levels have always been between 1.2 and 1.6 prior to the blood tests mentioned above.  Is it possible that he just has naturally higher levels?

I guess I am just asking if you all think that I am over-worrying, or if this could possibly be the beginning of something.  My vet (and a second opinion vet) both assured me that while some levels (BUN and creatinine) are on the high end of normal, they are still within normal limits, and therefore, Boomer is fine. I started measuring his water intake because I know that increased water intake is a symptom.  He drinks ~66 ounces of water a day and he weighs 70 pounds.  I read that a normal amount of water for a dog to drink is 1 ounce per pound, so his water intake seems normal.  Also, he can go about 10-12 hours without peeing at night, and has not had any accidents.

Please let me know if you have had any experiences with kidney disease is your fur baby.  Also, please give me your opinion on Boomer's levels.

Hi and welcome to the User group. Boomer's results look fairly good, though the creatinine is at the extreme end of normal, so I don't think you have much to worry about just yet. I would like to know what kind of dog is Boomer? I ask because certain breeds of dog actually have higher than normal BUN and creatinine levels, even though they are perfectly healthy.

If you really want to find out whether kidney disease is a possibility, ask your vet to perform a urine sample analysis to check for protein and other relevant changes. This is a useful diagnostic test, which can disclose early onset of kidney failure long before other symptoms begin to show. More details on this and on kidney failure generally can be found in my article about it here: http://www.infobarrel.com/How_Diet_Affects_Dogs_with_Chronic_Kidney_Disease

Hope this helps.

Hi Tony,

Boomer is a mixed breed, though we are fairly certain he is part Rhodesian Ridgeback.  I believe he is mixed with Ridgeback and something smaller since he is only 70 pounds where as full blooded Ridgebacks are around 90 pounds.

I have access to all of Boomer's blood results dating back to 2008.  His creatinine has never been below 1.2, and has usually been between 1.4 and 1.6.  I currently am feeding him Orijen Six Fish, which he loves.  It is fairly high in protein, but he has a history of food allergies so I would hate to change his diet unless I knew for sure that it would help.

When he went to the vet a few weeks ago they did take a urine sample.  His USG was 1.020, his protein was 1+ (I was told that this is some protein but still in the normal range), and he had no blood or bacteria in his urine.

I know I sound like a crazy person, especially since he is showing no symptoms at all, but I just want to know what's going on in my baby's body.  
Hi. Well, Ridgebacks are a controversial inclusion in the sight hound list. It really does depend what his other mix is. If it's any of these:

    Afghan Hound
    Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound)
    Chart Polski (Polish Greyhound)
    Galgo Español
    Hortaya Borzaya
    Irish Wolfhound
    Italian Greyhound
    Magyar agár (Hungarian Greyhound)
    Scottish Deerhound
    Silken Windhound

then his creatinine and BUN would be NORMALLY higher than normal, because they have more muscle mass. I am tending to think this could explain those high end results. The problem really is ... identifying early onset kidney disease is very very difficult, because virtually no symptoms will show until the kidneys are down to about 25% functioning. Regular (suggest 6 or 12 monthly) blood analysis is perhaps the only thing you can truly do to keep assessing things. The urine analysis is also important because early onset will certainly show as elevated protein.

If the creatinine rises above 1.8, then there's a chance it could be kidney disease, but right at the very early stage. This is worth identifying, because early management can prolong life considerably.

I think you are being cautious, but not overly so, because like many owners, you just want to protect your best friend - and there's nothing wrong about doing that. At the moment, without any other symptoms, I think you can afford to relax and just rely on the vet maintaining a close eye on those levels.

My only concern is about Orijen Six Fish, which is a dry (kibble) dog food. While this is one of the best dry foods available, and contains a great mixture of products, it is still a dry dog food - and people know I am not a fan, because there is some evidence all dry foods can produce chronic dehydration in dogs - which in turn can lead to kidney problems. I would suggest adding water to the dry food and soaking it for at least 10 minutes, before feeding it. This will help maintain hydration. If you want to know more about why I don't like dry dog foods, you can read my article on it here: http://www.infobarrel.com/Why_Dry_Dog_Food_Is_Bad_For_Dogs

Hope this helps.

Hi Tony,

We got Boomer from the shelter when he was only 2.5 months old.  The shelter had no idea what kind of dog he was, so I have no way of knowing what he is mixed with.  I included some links below that lead to pictures of him (maybe you have an idea?).

I started taking him for daily walks back in November, and I also started to exercise him more just to ensure he would not become overweight.  Then, in December, we started to see an increase in his creatinine.  I wonder if it could be related to his increase in muscle mass.I really do hope that the creatinine level of 1.8 is natural and normal for him rather than being the beginning of something.  I know that high phosphorous is also a good indicator of kidney disease.  Thankfully, Boomer's phosphorous levels are on the low end of normal.

He gets blood work every 6 months already.  I am considering getting a complete urinalysis and blood panel in about a month.  I will try to collect his first urine of the day for the urinalysis.  The vet did tell me he had protein in his urine (30/1+), but she told me it wasn't enough to cause worry.  He had a Protein/creatinine ratio done in January, and the results were 0.1, which was good.

I have considered doing a raw diet; it's just that he is allergic to so many things.  Currently, he is doing very well on lamb and fish.  He can not have beef, and he breaks out in hives when he has potatoes (especially sweet potatoes).  I am about to read your blog, and do some more research on a raw diet.

Thank you for all of your help!  You are awesome!

Also, please take a look at his pics when you get a chance and let me know what you think he may be mixed with. :)



Hi. He looks great in the pictures, though I admit I also have no idea what he may be mixed with. In any event, it is certainly true that dogs with more muscle mass do have slightly elevated creatinine, just like human beings, so it could be this is what we are seeing with Boomer. I think you can afford to be reassured that at the moment there isn't a huge problem - and probably nothing you can treat. I would stay with the 'close observation' of blood and more so urine analysis, as that will be a clear indicator of any kidney problem before the blood really shows anything.

Raw diets are something you might want to look at in due course. For now, and until the next series of tests are run, I would leave the diet just as it is, otherwise it may confuse any results.

Best wishes,

Tony x
Thank you so much Tony for all of your wonderful advice!  I will continue feeding him Orijen Six fish until after his next blood test.  I think I will schedule a full urinalysis and blood panel for early next month to see where we are at.

Thanks again! :)
No problem - you are very welcome.