Kidney failure in dogs | Daily News

Kidney failure in dogs

Just like human kidneys, your dog’s kidneys balance certain substances in the blood and filter out the body’s wastes as urine. They maintain normal concentrations of salt and water in the body. Kidneys also help control blood pressure, blood sugar, blood volume, water composition in the blood, pH levels and the production of certain important hormones, aid in calcium and phosphorous levels. Additionally, they manufacture a hormone that encourages red-blood cell production. When kidneys don’t function properly, toxins build up in the blood and a dog will become ill.


The kidneys may lose functionality within 1-2 days or over the course of months, or even years.

Dogs can develop kidney problems as a result of ingesting toxins, certain medications, decreased blood flow or oxygen delivery to the kidneys, infections and urinary obstruction.

While some kidney problems have an immediate cause that can be treated, chronic kidney disease is a condition develops slowly and affects mostly older dogs. It is often caused by underlying illness.


There are several signs that dogs may show. They are change in water consumption, change in volume of urine produced, listlessness, loss or decreased appetite, odor of breath, vomiting, weight loss, blood in urine, mouth ulcers, pale gums, stumbling, acting drunk, diarrhea/constipation, acute blindness etc. If your dog shows any of the above symptoms, please take her to see your veterinarian immediately.


Your dog will undergo a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count and a urinalysis, along with blood pressure testing. Dogs with chronic renal failure may have anemia, abnormal electrolyte levels and elevated blood pressure. X-ray or ultrasound imaging may also be used to observe the size and shape of the dog’s kidney(s) to see if there are any visibly noticeable abnormalities. Often, chronic renal failure causes kidneys to become abnormally small.


It is important to identify kidney failure and begin treatment in its earliest stage. Treatment may include the following: drugs that encourage urine production, fluid therapy, management of blood electrolyte abnormalities, monitoring of urinary output, control of vomiting, medication for gastrointestinal problems, dialysis, correction of anemia, management of high blood pressure etc.

How to prevent

To prevent kidney problems make sure your dog does not have access to potentially dangerous substances and is supervised at all times when outside. Do not give your dog any over-the-counter medications without instruction by your veterinarian, and make sure that your dog has access to fresh water at all times. Proper oral hygiene helps to maintain good overall health

If Untreated

Kidney problems often lead to life-threatening conditions that require immediate hospitalization and treatment. If left untreated, it leads to death of your dog.

Living and Management

Dogs experiencing kidney failure should be monitored on an ongoing basis, with frequent checkups by your veterinarian to ensure that the medications and diet are optimal for your pet’s disease stage. Your dog’s prognosis will depend on the severity of the disease and its stages of progression, but a few months, or a few years of stability may be expected, with the proper treatment. Pet owners are advised not to breed dogs that have developed chronic kidney disease. Dietary protein is sometimes restricted, since it can further compound the problem. Have your dog vaccinated against leptospirosis, bacteria that may cause kidney damage even without noticeable symptoms.

(The writer is a Veterinary Surgeon and holds B.V.Sc; M.Sc Poultry Science; Master of Public Administration and Management)


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