Kidney Disease in Dogs

Kidney Disease in Dogs

Kidneys are extremely important, but more often than not they are overlooked. The kidneys help to remove the waste from our bloodstream and also help to regulate fluids within the body. The same goes for dogs. If they can’t function properly, then it can be detrimental to your dog’s health. Kidney disease in dogs is one of the most common ailments that affect dogs, especially seniors.

Kidney disease is essentially any sort of condition that affects the kidneys in a negative way and prevents them from being able to properly perform. A lot of dogs will start to show warning signs when their kidneys begin to fail. These signs don’t appear until it has progressed too far, with too much kidney function being lost. This is why it is important to have your dog seen regularly by a veterinarian.

Causes and Risk Factors


There are a variety of different things that can cause damage to the kidneys. More often than not, however, it is related to some sort of infection, toxins, injury or cancer. If it is diagnosed relatively early, there is no reason why your dog cannot be treated and make a recovery, as long as there are no underlying conditions. While they may not get total function back with their kidneys, they may have inhibited progression of the disease, allowing them to have a good prognosis.

Here are a few of the factors that can cause a dog to be more likely to develop kidney disease:

  • Age – As dogs get older, especially after the age of 7, they are at an increased chance of developing kidney disease.
  • Diet – Some types of dog foods are higher in phosphorus than others, and also have an increased amount of protein, and these foods can speed up the progression of kidney disease.
  • Environment – Some environmental factors can lead to kidney disease, such as chemicals, antifreeze, disinfectants, lead paint and human medications.
  • Breed – There are some dog breeds that are more likely to develop kidney disease. These include German shepherds, Cocker spaniels and Bull terriers.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Dogs

If you are concerned that your dog may have kidney disease, it is worth talking to your veterinarian about it. Here are a few of the warning signs that you will want to keep an eye out for:

  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
  • decrease in appetite
  • bad breath
  • weight loss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • weakness
  • soreness
  • lethargy
  • lackluster coat
  • depression and anxiety

If you notice any of these signs, get in to see your veterinarian right away. If kidney disease is the culprit, there are two different types and they will be able to determine which one is affecting your dog- acute or chronic.

Acute Kidney Disease

Acute kidney disease comes on all of a sudden, and it can be caused by a variety of different medical concerns, including shock, loss of blood, trauma, stress, dehydration, poisons or toxins, obstructions or infection. If acute kidney disease is determined to be the diagnosis, the prognosis is much better than chronic kidney disease. Fixing the underlying issue will also reverse the kidney function loss. That is, if it hasn’t progressed too far by the time that it is diagnosed.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is a more long term condition. This can be a result of either of the factors that also results in acute kidney disease, or it can be an indicator of age, breed or hereditary disposition. Typically, this type of kidney disease cannot be reversed, and it will progress over time and get worse.

Since most dogs are not diagnosed with kidney disease early enough, most of the time over half of their kidney function has already been lost. Since it is not reversible, you have to consider treatment options to slow progression and help your dog to stay comfortable.

Treatment Options for Dogs with Kidney Disease

When your vet diagnoses your dog with kidney disease, they will likely recommend a course of treatment for you to follow. Typically, they will require you to switch your dog’s diet and give them a food that has a reduced amount of phosphorus, salt and protein. This can help to slow the progression of the disease. If the condition has gotten to a point where dialysis is necessary, the veterinarian will be able to point you in the right direction for more extensive treatment options.

As you can see, kidney disease in dogs can be very serious. It is really important for you to talk to your vet early and often to make sure that you catch it early on. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your dog has a good prognosis, although there are no guarantees. You can never really tell just how quickly the condition is going to progress. It really has a lot to do with your dog’s overall level of health and any other underlying conditions that may be causing the kidney failure.



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I've been a dog lover since the day I was born but it's the current four legged love of my life, Phoebe who inspired me to create the Munch.Zone.

We moved together from Israel to New York in 2013, love hiking together, and never pass up a trip to the dog park. Watching her over the years sparked so many questions about dog behavior and health needs, and it wasn't always easy to find answers. Thus, the Munch.Zone was born.

On any given day you'll find me watching Netflix originals, eating popcorn, and thinking about how to get into house flipping.

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