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Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs

Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs

Chronic renal disease (kidney disease) in dogs is a genetic condition that affects the function of the renal system. Here, our Nashua vets talk about the symptoms and causes of chronic kidney failure in dogs, what happens at each stage and the prognosis for your pup.

Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs

Chronic kidney failure is characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over a period of weeks, months or years. Chronic kidney failure in dogs is typically caused by degeneration of the kidneys associated with aging. Although most dogs are unable to fully recover from chronic kidney failure, this condition can often be successfully managed, allowing pets to enjoy a good quality of life for a number of months or years. 

Causes of Kidney Failure in Dogs

Any condition that affects the kidneys can lead to renal failure including:

  • Congenital disease - Underlying illnesses and hereditary conditions such as being born without one or both kidneys and cysts.
  • Bacterial infections - Bacterial infections such as leptospirosis can attack your dog's system, causing the kidneys to become inflamed and renal cells to die off.
  • Toxicosis - Damage to your dog's kidneys can be caused by the accidental ingestion of poisons or toxins.
  • Dental disease - If bacteria build up on your dog's teeth and gums it could lead to advanced dental disease. That bacteria could then make its way into your pet's bloodstream and organs, potentially causing damage to your dog's kidneys, heart and liver.
  • Geriatric degeneration - As your dog ages, cells break down and die. This happens all over the body, including the kidneys where it can lead to kidney disease and renal failure.

Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Dogs

If your dog is suffering from kidney failure you may notice one or more of the following signs:

  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Loss of balance, or stumbling
  • Chemical smell to breath
  • Significant loss of appetite
  • Notable increase or decrease in water consumption
  • Increase or decrease in volume of urine
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Blood in urine
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

If your dog is showing signs of kidney failure it's time to get your pet to a vet right away. In order to achieve good treatment outcomes it is essential to get an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible.

The Stages of Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs

When a dog is experiencing chronic kidney disease, the vet will stage their condition. The four stages of chronic kidney disease are as follows:

  • Stage I: There are little to no clinical signs of disease
  • Stage II: Your dog may display minimal signs of kidney failure
  • Stage III: Many signs were noted and your dog is noticeably ill
  • Stage IV: Nearly all signs are present and there is urgency in the treatment

Treatment for Kidney Failure in Dogs

The treatment of chronic kidney disease, like many other conditions, will depend on the condition and health of your pet along with other factors.

The main focus of the treatment of chronic kidney disease will be to slow the disease and improve your dog's overall quality of life. Symptoms of chronic kidney disease such as nausea, fluid imbalances, and blood pressure fluctuations may be treated with medications and/or changes to your dog's regular diet.

You may be wondering what the life expectancy is for dogs experiencing chronic kidney failure. Luckily, with ongoing treatment, many dogs are able to live comfortably for a number of years. In order to help manage your dog's condition, and improve your dog's quality of life, specific nutrients, nutritional supplements or a therapeutic diet may be recommended.

Preventing Kidney Failure in Dogs

When it comes to chronic kidney disease, the cause is usually hereditary and brought on with age, which can make the prevention of this condition difficult. That said, regular wellness exams twice yearly at your primary care veterinarian's office will help to increase the chances of detecting symptoms early so that treatment can begin before the condition becomes more severe.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of kidney disease you should contact your vet right away. If your vet is unavailable or unable to perform the necessary diagnostics or treatment, please contact Animal Medical Center of New England.

Welcoming Referrals and Emergency Walk-Ins

Animal Medical Center of New England welcomes emergency walk-ins and appointments when your pet needs us most. Our team of specialists is also accepting referrals from primary care veterinarians - fill out a referral form to get started.


Contact (603) 821-7222