The occurrence of acute kidney injury in canine babesiosis is not well documented. Furthermore, interpretation of urine specific gravity (USG) to assess renal concentrating ability is hampered by the frequent presence of hemoglobinuria in this disease.
This cross-sectional study aimed to test the hypothesis that renal azotemia (RA) is underdiagnosed according to current canine babesiosis literature by determining its occurrence at presentation, using urine osmolality instead of USG to measure urinary concentration. The second objective was to examine potential associations between the presence of RA and selected clinical and laboratory variables at presentation. Medical records available from 3 previously performed prospective data collections were reviewed retrospectively. Client-owned dogs that were diagnosed with babesiosis caused by Babesia rossi, were included if a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis was performed at admission. Urine osmolality was measured to identify dogs with RA. Differences between dogs with RA and dogs without RA were assessed by nonparametric statistics.
One hundred and fifty-two dogs were included, of which 26 (17%) were azotemic at admission. The occurrence of RA was 14% (21/152), hence 81% (21/26) of all azotemic dogs were diagnosed with RA. In contrast, when diagnosis of RA was based on an admission USG < 1.030, only 23% (6/26) of the azotemic dogs would have been considered to have RA. Several signalment and clinicopathological findings were found to be associated with the presence of RA, including older age, and the presence of collapse, hypoglycemia, hyperphosphatemia, cerebral babesiosis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Lastly, survival at discharge was significantly lower in dogs diagnosed with RA at presentation.
Our results clarified that RA is more common than previously reported in B. rossi. This study also demonstrated that USG determination is not a reliable method to evaluate renal concentrating ability in azotemic dogs with babesiosis. Thus, if available, urine osmolality should be part of the diagnostic work-up of dogs infected with B. rossi to avoid misclassification of dogs with RA as having prerenal azotemia. If urine osmolality cannot be measured, clinicians should realize that most azotemic dogs with B. rossi infection have RA.