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Kidney failure

Species: dog | Category: medical-surgical | Submitted: 19 February 2010 10:21AM | viewed 14665 times
Q Beverley asks:

Could I have caused kidney failure in my greyhound by giving her too much salt in her food as I know that salt is poisonous to greyhounds?

Q Our vet says: Adding salt to a dog's food or feeding a salty diet is not really an ideal thing to do, but it is unlikely that you actually caused your dog's kidney failure by doing so.

You do not say how much salt you have been adding or which salty diet you have been feeding. It may be best to investigate diets which are specially formulated for dogs with renal failure now. ( I am sure your vet will be able to advise you).

Salt poisoning generally only results when high salt diets are fed and access to water is restricted. The signs are serious and involve neurological problems, so you would have noticed that your dog was really unwell if this had been the case.

So why do we worry about salt?

Basically if the diet is too salty the kidneys must work harder to maintain the fluid balance of the body which is one of their main jobs.

The kidneys are remarkable organs and have several functions including maintaining the balance of the water in the body together with electrolytes and they also help to eliminate toxins. Part of their function includes maintaining fluid balance and salt can make this work harder to do because it tends to "hold water".

The kidneys have a great deal of reserve capacity so we only see signs of failure when around 75% of their function has been lost.

Nephrons or kidney cells are lost over time as part of the natural aging process. You do not say how old your dog is, but if she is middle aged to older then it is likely that the kidney failure is more due to the aging process than anything else.

Of course infections and toxins can also cause renal failure too but the kidneys can often overcome many problems simply because they have such a large reserve capacity.

Although a salty diet means that the kidneys have to work harder it is unlikely that this alone would cause renal failure unless you were feeding large amounts over a long period of time.

It can be difficult not to feel guilty when your pet is unwell, but do not blame yourself. It is very unlikely that you caused any real harm. It may be best to consider feeding your dog(s) a good quality dog food suitable for their life stages, breed and state of health from now on.

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