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Azotemia | High Levels Of Blood Nitrogen In Dogs

High levels of blood nitrogen in dogs or azotemia occur when there is an accumulation of waste products in the dog’s blood. Usually, the symptoms of the disease appear after there has been some kidney damage.

It is, therefore, important to see your vet as soon as you see any of the symptoms.

Classifications of Azotemia in Dogs

This condition can be classified as:

Pre-Renal Azotemia

azotemia in dogs

Reduction of kidney function from low blood pressure or blood loss.

Renal Azotemia

Acute or chronic kidney failure with 75% or higher kidney damage.

Post-Renal Azotemia

Damage or blockage to the excretory tubes or ureter.

Causes of Azotemia

  • Acidosis (low pH blood)
  • Chemical exposure
  • Dehydration
  • Heart problems
  • High fever
  • Liver damage
  • Low blood pressure
  • Renal disease
  • Sepsis (Bacteria in the blood)
  • Stress
  • Urinary tract obstruction

Symptoms of Azotemia

  • Excess Urination
  • Weakness and Lack of Energy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Weight Loss
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Foul Smelling Breath
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
  • Pale or Bluish Skin

Diagnosis of Azotemia in Dogs

Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical exam of your pup while concentrating on the abdomen and kidneys.

At the start, your vet will need to have your dog’s entire medical history, the symptoms that your dog developed and when the symptoms started to occur.

Your dog’s temperature and blood pressure will need to be taken.

There are a few tests that your vet will typically perform:

  • CBC Test: a complete blood cell count that measures the red and white blood cell count as well as the platelet and hemoglobin count.
  • Urinalysis Test: to see if anemia has developed or any specific gravity, protein levels and white blood cell levels.
  • Biochemistry Test: check the levels of calcium, phosphorus, and the ratio of potassium to sodium
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen Test:  determines the nitrogen level in the dog’s blood.
  • Radiographs Test: the abdomen is usually x-rayed.
  • Clotting Test:  this test assesses if your dog is able to bleed properly.

Azotemia Treatment

The treatment will depend on the cause of the disorder and the test results.

Your dog will need fluid therapy immediately to help restore fluids and reduce the toxins in his/her body.

In cases of kidney, infection antibiotics will be needed.

Dogs with chronic kidney failure will need a special diet that is low in sodium and protein and high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Most of the special diet food will have potassium citrate to help combat the acidity and less phosphorus. This helps stop unnecessary accumulation in the bloodstream.

Your dog will also need specific vitamin supplements that your vet will prescribe that help with anemia and weight loss.

There might also be a need for medication for your dog’s hypertension.

Typically, a type of ace inhibitor medication could be prescribed that helps repair kidney function.

Cost of Azotemia Treatment

The cost of treating high levels of blood nitrogen in dogs can run anywhere from $500 to $700.

With all the continued testing throughout your dog’s life in addition to the prescribed food, the total could run annually up to $1,000.

Pet insurance can offset some of these costs as well as the cost of all the future testing needed, as long as you have already insured your dog and this condition is not pre-existing.

This is yet another reason to start with pet insurance while your dog is young.

Healthy Paws, for example, offers unlimited and even lifetime benefits in all of their plans with up to 90% reimbursement of your vet bill.

Therefore, once your dog develops this or any other condition, you will be very relieved to have pet insurance to cover most of these costs!

Azotemia Recovery

With the new diet recommended by your vet and supplements, your dog’s life should be normal and happy.

It is important for you to continually keep notes of the times and regularity that your dog urinates to determine that the kidneys’ are regulating properly.

Every five to six months, you will need to have follow-up blood tests and urinalysis.

The medication levels will need to be tested at those visits to be sure that they are working properly on the kidney.

In fact, if the kidney is working too much, it can cause even more harm. Therefore, the right dose of medication is vital.

Living and Management

As with any disease, the prognosis depends on the level of kidney damage.

However, if you keep up with all the vet visits and carefully monitor your dog’s urinary habits, the prognosis is very encouraging.

Your dog can still live a happy and fulfilled life.

And, as always, don’t add any vitamins, supplements or new medications without consulting your veterinarian.

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