Inflammation of the kidney (nephritis)

As I had mentioned before, because the kidney is that organ involved in the filtering of impurities, it seems to be the one that is most under the threat of infection. Also, you will recall from this column of April 29, that the kidney consists of (i) specialized tissue (units called nephrons) by which urine is secreted and then collected and finally discharged into (ii) a ‘basin’ called the renal (kidney) pelvis, before it is conveyed by tubes (ureters) to the bladder from which the urine is periodically discharged.

One or both kidneys may be involved with a bacterial infection. Usually, this is preceded by an infection lower in the system. For example, there may be a blockage or congenital malformation of the urinary tract. In some cases, bacteria gain entrance to the kidney via the bloodstream.

A sudden onset of acute pyelonephritis (inflammatory condition in the kidney) begins with fever and pain in the kidney area. The word ‘acute’ suggests that the ailment is sudden and unexpected. A stiff-legged gait and a hunched-up posture are characteristic signs. Pus may appear in the urine. It is often bloody. The abdominal area is often tender to the touch. Disturbances in the normal pattern of voiding are common. For example, dogs/cats which are properly house-trained suddenly start urinating all over the place instead of in the litter box or outside the house. Very often a loss of appetite, depression and vomiting may accompany the ailment.

Chronic pyelonephritis is an insidious disease; ‘chronic’ suggests that the ailment is long standing and there is a slowness in developing. It may be preceded by signs of acute infection, but often these are either lacking or the signs are not very obvious. When the disease is of long duration, you may see signs of kidney failure. If chronic pyelonephritis is found before irreversible changes occur in the kidneys (for example, during a periodic health check-up) immediate treatment may prevent the development of any disastrous complications.


A cheerful, hopeful male dog is looking for a good home. He has been neutered, and he is waiting for some kind person to collect him at the GSPCA.

First episodes of urinary tract infections should be treated for three weeks with an appropriate antibiotic based on culture and sensitivity tests. In the absence of a culture, broad-spectrum antibiotics that achieve high concentration in the urine should be used. The urine should be cultured again 5-7 days after the antibiotics have been discontinued. No further treatment is given if the culture is negative. If positive, the animal should be evaluated for predisposing causes so that these may be treated and eliminated. If no predisposing causes are found, antibiotic therapy is reinstituted for 6-8 weeks. Urine is again cultured after antibiotics are discontinued. If the culture remains positive, antibiotic suppression therapy may be indicated: a broad-spectrum antibiotic is given once daily, in the evening, at one-quarter the normal daily dose for 4-6 months, after which urine cultures are repeated. Life-long therapy is required in some cases. Always seek veterinary advice.

Next week we’ll continue with this topic.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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