Risk Factors Associated with Renal Failure

In a recent study, University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine researchers looked for patterns in horses referred to the hospital with renal (kidney) insufficiency in order to detect the disorder earlier. Renal insufficiency is often a result of dehydration, and it is commonly associated with horses that are colicking and/or horses with increased creatinine (a kidney enzyme) levels. If left untreated, this disorder can be life-threatening.

In the study, which evaluated 167 horses presented at the university, Amelia Woolums, DVM, MVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVM, assistant professor of large animal medicine at the University of Georgia, and her colleagues identified three main risk factors associated with renal insufficiency, which include gastric reflux (stomach contents removed via a nasogastric tube), abnormal rectal examination findings, and decreased chlorine levels in the horse's blood.

"Interestingly, diarrhea ended up not being a risk factor in our study," Woolums said.

"In certain cases when colicking horses came into our clinic, they end up having kidney failure as a result of the colic (and dehydration)," explained Woolums. We wanted to see if we could figure out factors to help predict kidney failure in these types of situations."

Woolums explained that being able to detect an early onset of renal insufficiency will allow attending veterinarians to proactively treat the problem and reduce further complications. She said horses that had renal insufficiency resolve within 72 hours of presentation were more likely to be discharged from the clinic than those that didn't.

Researchers are considering additional prospective studies to learn more about risk factors for renal failure. In the meantime, Woolums said the study "gives veterinarians an idea of the red flags they should look out for that indicate a horse is going into kidney failure."

Researchers for this study, which was published in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, were Woolums; Erin Groover, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM; Dana Cole, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM; and Bruce LeRoy, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVP.

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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