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Difference Between Diabetes and Renal Failure in Your Dog

Updated on August 20, 2014

German Shepard

Canine renal disease or CRD is failure of the kidneys due to aging, or illness. What happens is as the kidney age the “little” filters called glomeruli, that are located in the kidneys begin to become scarred, lost or congested by proteins and inflammation. Once these glomeruli are lost they can never be regenerated, repaired or replaced.

The kidneys are a filter; they scrub the blood of impurities. Impurities accumulate during the body’s metabolism, and the kidneys cleanse the blood of water, salts, and metabolites. It is imperative that the kidney function properly, however, the body can compensate for a short time.

In humans the heart is usually the first organ to fail, but in dogs the kidneys are the first organ to fail. The wear and tear of time takes its toll on how the kidney’s function. They can fail slowly over time or suddenly.

The difference between diabetes and renal failure is that diabetes has to do with the pancreas. With diabetes the pancreas has the inability to produce insulin ~ type 1. Type one is the type that affects dogs, type 2 is not typical in dogs, but it is insulin resistance.

Renal failure is the decline and failure of the kidneys due to damage over time, age is the biggest factor. Diabetes can be controlled, but the only thing that can be done for kidney failure is to slow down the progression and treat the side effects.

What are the symptoms of Renal Failure?

The symptoms of renal failure are much the same as diabetes. The very first sign that you will notice is excessive drinking. Many times pet parents will over look this for a time. This is easy to miss; your pet may even start getting you up at night to go to the bathroom. You might notice that your pet’s water bowl needs to be filled more often than usual.

As the disease progresses you will notice that your pet will begin to lose weight and become a picky eater. Around this time you will notice that you pet has become lethargic. This is when most pet parents will notice something is wrong and take their pet to the veterinarian.

Some of the other symptoms of renal failure are playing less, sleeping more, dull coat, and with advanced renal failure you will see them not eating. With advanced renal failure comes nausea, throwing up and diarrhea. At this point they will begin drinking less, and will become dehydrated.

Diagnosing Kidney Disease

The first thing your veterinarian will do is a physical exam. With renal failure it is possible to feel the hardening of the kidneys. The kidneys will feel hardened, lumpy and small, but this will be followed by blood work.

What are the treatment options for your pet? Honestly, the only thing that a veterinarian can do is to work to slow down the rate that the kidneys are failing, and deal with the side effects of the loss that has occurred. It is important to know that it cannot be stopped, it will continue and with time it will get worse. This is treated with regulating their diet, medications and fluid injections. A transplant is an option if you have the money to do so.

Main Symptoms

  • Excessive drinking

  • Increased urination

  • Weight loss, loss of appetite

  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting

  • Weakness

  • Anemia

  • Depression

Less Obvious Symptoms

  • High blood pressure

  • Itchy skin

  • Weak bones, bone fractures

  • Bruising of skin

  • Bleeding into the stomach

Upon examining your pet you may find weight loss, ulcers in the mouth, pale gums and dehydration. However, keep in mind that these are symptoms that can be seen with other diseases in your pet. So, be sure to see your veterinarian for diagnoses.

Cute Dogs

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What kind of a diet should a dog kidney failure eat? Veterinarians recommend a diet low in phosphorus, low in protein and supplemented with potassium.

This diet combined with fluid therapy is the recommended treatment for this disease. Fluids are administered subcutaneously (under the skin) with a needle. This treatment can be done at home, once you have received a tutorial from your veterinarian.

I must note that acute kidney failure may sometimes be reversed, but the chronic kidney failure cannot be reversed or cured. However, with the right diet and care you can slow down the process.

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