By Dr. John De Jong / Askthe Vet | Sunday, September 16, 2012 | | Lifestyle

Dear Dr. John,

I need your expert second opinion regarding my 8-year-old Maltese. Recently, my little dog started drinking and urinating more frequently. The volume increase was also clearly noticeable since my dog is small and uses pads in the house so I knew right away when there was a change. I immediately made an appointment to have my dog seen and I also did some research on my own online. From what I could gather and what I was informed, there were several possibilities including diabetes, Cushing™s and kidney failure. After blood testing and urine testing, I was relieved to find out that there was really not a whole lot wrong with my pup other than a slight increase in BUN, or blood urea nitrogen levels. The result was that my dog was placed on a prescription diet to slow down any further trouble. Is there anything else I can do, and how common is it for dogs to get kidney failure? Thanks. I just want to do what is right for my sweet dog.

Dear K.K.,

What you have just learned by your dogs condition is that clinical signs of any kind can be indicative of several different disease or disorders. Polydipsia or increased thirst is often accompanied by polyuria or increased urine production. The mystery lies in which came first. Regardless, the three conditions you listed are the first that come to mind as rule-outs when those two clinical signs are presented. Another possible cause is a salty diet! Some animals are either given salt or find it. Various toxins may also be implicated but testing blood and urine for various values often clue a doctor in as to a diagnosis. BUN and creatinine are the two blood values that we look at to assess kidney function along with urine values like specific gravity and other factors. With only a slight increase in your dogs BUN, a prescription diet low in salt and protein will help to slow down any potential for eventual deterioration of renal (kidney) function. Your veterinarian may suggest a follow-up for blood work in a few months and then regular rechecks depending on where the values go. More serious kidney failure or loss of function may lead to a need for dialysis with regular subcutaneous fluid administration, but hopefully that will not happen for a long time. You have been doing the right things. Hope this has been helpful.

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