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Dogs/High BUN level misdiagnosed kidney problem?


QUESTION: Please help, I saw that you answered a similar question here:

I pulled my dog from a local emergency veterinary hospital I was referred to. From the second I walked him I got bad vibes and mixed messages from the Vets and not to mention after doing a little research they hadhorrible reviews.

The reason why we were referred by the local vet office was because my dogs BUN levels taken from our local vet was 55 - 59. My dog had been vomiting for almost 2 days over the weekend (Sat/Sun) So I decided to bring him to the vet first thing Monday morning. So almost guaranteed he was dehydrated. (Which could cause elevated BUN)?

The ER I was referred to is saying he could be experiencing acute kidney failure. But also mentioned an entire list of other things. He is 80% worse after spending 2 days in the ER and I am now looking for a second opinion. Despite the vomiting he had that triggered his visit, his behavior was normal. They had him on a ton of IV Fluids, and injected a whole bunch of Antibiotic/Nausea suppression medication by IV pump.

1. I am worried about as he is experiencing the exact side effects now.
2. Still no concise diagnosis after several tests,Which is why am bringing him somewhere else for a second opinion.
3. Is it possible that my dog was misdiagnosed (Which this ER had a rep of doing based off reviews) and the symptions hes experiencing now is from all the IV and medications he was on?

Hi Robert,

Your dog's  vomiting for almost 2 days that triggered his visit to a doctor is a symptom of kidney disease. There may have been other symptoms, but they can be easy to overlook. Hindsight is 20/20.

The normal BUN levels in dogs rarely reach higher than 25 to 30 mg/dl. (mg/dl means milligrams of material per 100 milliliters of blood.) So your dog's BUN level of 55 - 59 is quite elevated. Though dehydration can cause higher BUN levels, the creatinine level would more than likely still remain normal. You didn't say what your dog's creatinine levels were, the normal range is 1.6 mg/dL, or 141 micromoles per liter (micromoles per liter is a measure of amount-of-substance concentration, in this case they're measuring the creatinine). When creatinine is elevated above the normal range, it usually means there is a problem with the kidneys.

It is the normal treatment of a dog that's having renal failure to give "Fluid Therapy", which involves rehydrating the dog for about 2-10 hours and maintaining normal hydration after that. This is typically done with intravenous fluids at the veterinary hospital so the appropriate amounts can be given and the pet can be monitored for appropriate urine output.

The article at the Livestrong website you mentioned is about the side effects of IV Fluid over infusion… in HUMANS. Trust me, your dog was needing the IV fluids he was given at the vet, he wasn't overly infused, they had to give fluids to check your dog's kidney function.  You didn't give me any numbers on the blood work, but the fact they gave him an antibiotic probably means there was an infection present, and the nausea suppression medication helped him to stop vomiting.

By all means, if you were dissatisfied with the veterinarian you recently used, you should have your dog seen by another doctor. That said, you should not delay in this! If your dog really is having kidney failure it's very serious, even life threatening. Even if you aren't convinced that they diagnosed your dog correctly, err on the side of safety, and have another vet examine your dog now. A board-certified veterinary specialist in Internal Medicine is the doctor who would cover kidney disease. If your regular vet can't give you a referral, you might be able to locate an Internist here:

Did the vet give you a dog diet to follow? To be on the safe side, until you get an accurate diagnosis, know that a high protein diet can have a negative impact on kidney health. Some over the counter foods you can consider are:

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight
California Natural Low Fat Adult
Innova Adult Low Fat
Doctors Foster and Smith Senior
Solid Gold Holistique Blendz Adult Dog
Wellness Super 5 Mix Healthy Weight
Nature’s Select Ultra Lite

These foods won't be found in the supermarket. Read the labels, and select the food with the lowest protein and  phosphorus levels.
Besides the special diet, your dog also needs more water because he is less able to concentrate his urine. Mix water in with his food to help ensure that he's getting enough, and give him more opportunities to relieve himself outside. Ask your vet about using Pedialyte to help maintain proper levels of electrolytes in your dog's body.

Here are some sites on kidney disease in dogs you might find helpful:

I hope I've been a help.
Feel free to write back if I can be of further help.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the quick response Patti!
My dog has been checked in to an AAHA accredited vet hospital now in which I was referred to by a friend. They are keeping him over night for observations. Maybe I should of started with I was never provided actual BUN/Creatine/Protien/Urinalysis/Ultrasound/Xray/Blood/UrineCulture results. All results were given to us verbally with explaninations of what they mean. The only ones I captured were the BUN levels and I believe the Creatinine level mentioned was 2.0 The vet is requesting all those records as they were not willing to share with us upon checkout. and we are still "Waiting" on the results from the UrineCulture nearly 5 days later.. So all in all, the Xray/Ultrasound/Blood and Urinalysis has been done but never actually saw the results myself.

My dog was sent home on a strict bland diet. We fed him Boiled chicken and boiled rice last night. And he ate a little of the Hill's prescription bland canned food.

He didn't sleep very well last night and seems really out of it. But today up until I brought him to the new vet he seems a lot better and more energetic.

Hes not drinking abnormally nor has he been using the potty abnormal. I am really interested to see what the new Vet says. In any case I appreciate the feedback and guidance.


Hi Robert,

I'm glad to hear your dog is getting the care he needs, so that you can move forward with this unexpected twist in the road.

As far as the bland diet paired with your dog's illness (which can take his appetite away) it might make mealtimes more of a battle than it used to be. Keep in mind therapeutic prescription dog foods are guaranteed, so that even opened bags can be returned to your vet's clinic for a full refund. If making a home made dog food is something you'd be interested in, these sites can help:

Talk to your vet about giving your dog fish body oil supplement (such as Salmon oil or an Omega 3 fatty Acid, but not cod liver oil). Studies show these oils to help with kidney disease.
Always run the home made diet past your vet for approval, as well as getting approval for dietary supplements. If supplementing your dog's treatment with Antioxidants, vitamins and herbs interests you, you might want to have a holistic vet examine your dog. It's something you can do in conjunction with the more conventional medical treatments. Another thing to consider is acupuncture, it can help improve blood flow, energy and appetite. You can locate a holistic veterinarian here:

Also, the International Renal Interest Society (IRIS) has feeding guidelines. They recommend changing a dog's diet to a renal food when a his creatinine level is in the 2.1-5 mg/dl range (Stage III renal failure). The IRIS has a lot of good information that might interest you, and be helpful:

Best of luck to you and your dog!


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To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.


My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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