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Kidney Failure in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis

It can be both disheartening and tragic for every pet owner to see their pet crumbling into disabled people with deadly disorders. Kidney failure is a disorder which many don’t want to discuss. The sole reason for this ignorance is the inability to accept or adhere to the fact that your pet might suffer from some serious ailment. However, ignoring the early signs of kidney failure in dogs might put your pet in a disadvantageous situation and worsen the circumstance. 

So how can we retaliate against the kidney failure associated with dogs? The first step would be to take note of the symptoms your pup might be showing. Check up on them and get a medical diagnosis as early as possible. Check out the points mentioned below to know more about the signs, early symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of kidney failure in dogs. 

What is Kidney Failure in Dogs?

Similar to humans, dogs have their kidneys located in the mid-abdomen region. The functions performed by the kidneys are similar as well. Some vital functionalities performed by kidneys are listed below:

  • They maintain blood electrolyte balance. 
  • They help keep a check on the pH level of blood. 
  • Help in the urine formation process as well. 
  • These are necessary organs to maintain osmotic balance in the blood. 
  • They also help to trap essential nutrients back into the blood from the urine. 

As some people may have heard, kidney failure or renal failure results from an improper-functioning kidney. The metabolic functions of the kidney get disturbed and result in undesirable symptoms. 

Renal failure in dogs may be of two different types, acute and chronic. Here are the kidney disease in dogs stages.

#1 Acute Renal Failure

As the name suggests, this type of kidney failure develops quickly. Sometimes, kidney functioning might get impaired within hours or days out of nowhere. This is why this type of renal failure is regarded as acute kidney failure in dogs. Fortunately, if diagnosed earlier, dogs can be saved with complete recovery. 

#2 Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure or chronic kidney infection in dogs is a ceaseless condition in which kidneys start degenerating with time. Unfortunately, there’s no way to cure this condition yet. If your dog has now turned into an adult for several years, then chances are they might develop this disorder due to age-related factors. 

What Causes Kidney Failure in Dogs?

Although these two disorders’ development rates might differ, the causative agents or triggers can be the same. Some common causes of acute and renal failures in dogs are:

#1 Age

Age is an irreversible factor, and it is undeniable that the body starts to degrade with increasing age. Accumulating such diseases can be accountable for dogs with increased age. 

#2 Genetic History

There is no way we can deny the genetic possibilities of accumulating diseases in our bodies. Similar is the case with the dogs. If a certain disorder runs in the family hierarchy of a dog, then they are most likely to develop the same. 

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#3 Chemical Toxicants

Sadly, we have created environmental conditions so bad our pups can’t reside here healthily. Dogs have habits of licking everything and anything they love. Doing so, they inhale several toxins, which result in kidney failures. 

#4 Physical Triggers

A sudden stroke, trauma, or impaired blood flow to the kidneys may lead to renal failure. Kidneys are delicate organs, and bearing such shocks could be troublesome. 

If you cannot detect the cause of the renal failure of your puppy, you can look after these signs and symptoms to know the severity of the dog’s condition. 

Signs of Kidney Failure in Dogs

Before we look into the dog kidney failure signs, there’s a fact that you dog lovers should know! Luckily, just like humans, dogs can also survive on a single functioning kidney. Below are some commonly observed symptoms of kidney failure in dogs. 

  • Sudden loss of weight. (Weight may constantly decrease up to the point your dog gets extremely weak).
  • Consistent vomits. 
  • Diarhheoa.
  • Anaemia.
  • Less consumption of food. 
  • Weakened bones. 
  • Frequent urination (blood may be visible in urine). This is an alarming sign and shouldn’t be ignored at any cost. 
  • Increase in blood pressure. It may lead to blindness of the dog as well. 
  • Increased sleep duration. 
  • Dull skin. This may result due to dehydration. Keep a check on the amount of water your dog is drinking. 
  • Not playful anymore.

If your pet is witnessing more than two or three of these dog kidney failure symptoms, you should check your pet immediately. 

Dog Kidney Failure Treatment

How is kidney failure in dogs treated? As heart-throbbing it may seem, it feels traumatizing to witness your puppy going through all of this pain. Fortunately enough, there are certain modes of treatment that can help recover the life of your pet. 

(NOTE: All of these treatments are most successful for acute renal disease. Sadly, there’s no cure for chronic kidney disease, though.)

#1 Kidney Dialysis and Medications

In the mid-stages of acute renal failure, dialysis for dogs can help the dog to survive by meeting the metabolic needs of its body. You can take your dog for dialysis treatments as and when the vet advises you to do so. Along with this therapy, your furry friend can be put on certain supplements to reduce the signs and symptoms of acute kidney failure.

#2 Changes in Eating Habits

A diet less of calcium and phosphorus is suggested by doctors to prevent any further risks that may lead to chronic disorders in kidney failure dogs.

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#3 Fluid Therapy to Tackle the Loss of Fluids

This therapy allows your pet to maintain a constant balance of fluids in the body. Since your pet might get dehydrated from time to time, fluid therapy for dogs with kidney failure would serve beneficial. 

All these therapies may be combined or given alternatively depending on the severity of the disorder in your pet. 

Tips for Preventing Kidney Failure in Dogs

After knowing what causes kidney failure in dogs, understand the treatment for this sickness. No one wants their pet to go through the hell of treatment and pain associated with kidney disorders. Here are some tips to keep in mind while looking after your puppy to prevent future risks of developing a kidney disorder. 

  • Keep an eye on the amount of water by ensuring a pet water bowl fountain so dog drinks enough water. Ensure you keep your pet well hydrated, so toxins in their body get flushed away. 
  • Try to provide a diet low on sodium content so that the fluid retention capacity of kidneys remains unaltered. Avoid foods that cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Get them a doctor’s appointment now and then to keep track of their health. 
  • Try to be a strict parent to your pet. Don’t let them lick tires or other harmful substances containing chemical intoxicants. 
  • As your pet ages, give him more attention and don’t let them feel lethargic. 
  • Always check the dog’s family history before adopting him or before taking him to breed with another dog. 


Now that you know the preventive measures for renal failure, it would be great if you followed them strictly. Or else, you know what may happen to your fluff ball. At the same time, don’t be overwhelmed by these signs and symptoms. Sometimes, it may appear due to certain other factors and eventually disappear. What would be best to do for your pet? It would be best to care for them throughout their lives and make them stronger and healthier. If your dog is suffering from acute or renal failure, you shouldn’t start to panic and worsen the situation. Instead, try to remain calm and take the best care of your pet for dog kidney failure treatment.