Reptile Kidney Failure

Reptile kidney failure is a serious condition that can affect a variety of reptiles, from lizards to snakes and turtles. It occurs when the kidneys are unable to filter waste properly due to damage or disease. The resulting buildup of toxins in their blood can lead to organ malfunction, organ failure, and eventually death if left untreated.

Kidney failure can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms that vary among species. The most common signs to watch out for include lethargy, appetite loss, weight loss, dehydration, vomiting or regurgitation, poor skin condition, weak muscles and bones, and eye or mouth discoloration. Some reptiles will have increased urination, foul-smelling urine, or bloody / cloudy urine.

The most common cause of kidney failure is a bacterial infection known as a renal infection. This type of infection can be caused by exposure to contaminated water sources or improper nutrition. Certain medications, such as antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can cause kidney damage and lead to kidney failure. Chronic diseases such as kidney stones or cancer can be responsible for reptile kidney failure.

Symptoms of Reptile Kidney Failure

The most common symptoms of reptile kidney failure include:

  • Lethargy
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Poor skin condition
  • Weak muscles and bones
  • Eye or mouth discoloration

Some reptiles will have increased urination, foul-smelling urine, or bloody or cloudy urine.

Diagnosing Reptile Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is usually diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, blood tests, urine tests, and imaging. During the physical exam, your vet will look for signs of dehydration or other symptoms that could indicate organ malfunction. Blood tests can reveal elevated levels of toxins in their blood and help diagnose bacterial infections. Urine tests are also used to identify abnormal levels of proteins or other substances in their urine. Imaging tests, such as ultrasounds or X-rays, can be used to detect any abnormalities in the kidneys or other organs.

Stages of Reptile Kidney Failure

Reptile kidney failure is typically split into four stages based on the severity of the condition.

Stage 1

In the early stage of kidney failure, there might not be any symptoms present. At this point, your vet will likely diagnose the condition through blood tests or imaging.

Stage 2

In this stage, some symptoms can be present, such as lethargy and appetite loss.

Stage 3

In this stage, more serious symptoms will be visible, such as dehydration and weight loss.

Stage 4

This is the most severe stage of kidney failure and requires immediate medical attention. At this point, organ failure can occur and the reptile’s life will be in danger.

Treating Reptile Kidney Failure

Treating kidney failure will depend on the underlying cause. If the condition is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed. In some cases, fluid therapy or dialysis will also be necessary. If the condition is caused by another medical issue, such as kidney stones or cancer, treatment will focus on addressing that issue in order to reduce the risk of organ failure and death.

Preventing Reptile Kidney Failure

The best way to prevent reptile kidney failure is to make sure your pet has access to clean water and a balanced diet. Regular veterinary check ups can help catch any potential problems early on. It’s important to be aware of the medications you are giving your pet, because some drugs can cause kidney damage and lead to kidney failure.