Why Do Dogs Kidneys Fail

The disease known as renal failure, sometimes known as kidney failure, can be brought on by a variety of illnesses that affect the kidneys and other organs. The kidneys of a healthy dog function to get rid of pollutants, control hydration, keep an appropriate electrolyte balance, and release hormones to make red blood cells. The kidneys are no longer functioning as effectively as they should in dogs that have renal failure.

Types of Kidney Failure in Dogs

Acute and chronic renal failure are the two main types encountered in canines.

  • Chronic Renal Failure: The progressive loss of kidney function over weeks, months, or years is the hallmark of chronic kidney failure. Degeneration of the kidneys brought on by aging is often the cause of chronic renal failure in dogs. Although most dogs with chronic renal failure are unable to fully recover, this condition is frequently successfully treated, allowing them to live happily for several months or years.
  • Acute Renal Failure – Over a period of hours or days, kidney function abruptly declines, indicating acute kidney failure. The most common causes of this kind of renal failure are infections or toxin exposure. Acute renal failure is frequently curable if detected and treated in a timely manner.

Causes of Kidney Failure in Dogs

Renal failure may result from any disorder that affects the kidneys, including:

  • Congenital diseases include underlying illnesses, inherited problems, and birth defects such cysts and kidney absence in one or both kidneys.
  • Bacterial illnesses – Leptospirosis is one bacterial infection that can affect your dog’s body, inflaming the kidneys and killing off the renal cells.
  • Toxicosis: When toxins or poisons are accidentally consumed by your dog, it might result in kidney damage.
  • Dental disease – If bacteria accumulates on your dog’s teeth and gums, it may result in an advanced form of the condition. The kidneys, heart, and liver of your dog could suffer damage if that bacteria were to enter its bloodstream and internal organs.
  • Cells degrade and die as your dog ages, a condition known as geriatric degeneration. This occurs throughout the body, especially in the kidneys where it may cause renal failure and illness.

Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Dogs

You may observe one or more of the following symptoms if your dog has kidney failure:

  • Loss of weight
  • nausea and diarrhoea
  • White gums
  • instability or stumbling
  • chemical odor in the air
  • significant appetite loss
  • Significant changes in water use
  • Urine volume changes, either rising or falling
  • oral sores
  • urethral blood
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

Get your dog to the vet as soon as possible if he is exhibiting symptoms of kidney failure. It is crucial to receive an accurate diagnosis and start therapy as soon as feasible in order to produce positive treatment outcomes.

Treatment for Kidney Failure in Dogs

Treatment will depend on your dog’s overall health and the underlying cause of their kidney issues, as it does with many other disorders.

If your pet has severe renal failure, immediate and intensive care will be needed, frequently in the intensive care unit at your veterinary clinic. However, if detected early, milder forms of acute renal failure may be treated at home with fluids, antibiotics, and medicines. In some circumstances, treating canine acute renal failure with dialysis may be advised.

The main goals of chronic renal failure treatment will be to delay the disease’s progression and enhance your dog’s quality of life. Treatment options for chronic kidney disease symptoms include nausea, fluid imbalances, and changes in blood pressure may include drugs as well as dietary adjustments for your dog.

Many dogs who receive treatment for chronic renal failure go on to live long, happy lives. Specific nutrients, nutritional supplements, or a therapeutic diet may be advised to assist manage your dog’s illness and enhance your dog’s quality of life.

Preventing Kidney Failure in Dogs

When dogs eat chemicals, tainted foods, or stuff they shouldn’t eat, like grapes or chocolate, they frequently develop acute renal failure. Pay close attention to the items in your home that could poison your dog to help prevent the development of acute renal failure in dogs. Keep poisonous items like antifreeze, prescription drugs for humans, and potentially hazardous foods well away from your dog.

Chronic kidney failure typically develops with age and is genetically predisposed, making prevention much more challenging. To counter this, routine wellness examinations twice a year at your primary care veterinarian’s clinic will assist to improve the likelihood of identifying symptoms quickly so that treatment may start before the issue gets worse.

Please take note that the information in this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice for animals. Please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a precise diagnosis of your pet’s illness.

Happy Tails from Clients

The staff has been wonderful since we brought my mom’s dog in for congestive heart failure approximately a month ago! Before we could make a decision based on our medical and financial circumstances, they went over all of the medical charges. I’m here for a second visit today, and before any procedures were done, all fees were once again thoroughly discussed. I wouldn’t trust my baby with any other staff since they are the best here! Staff at Rossmoyne, thank you for looking after our family so well!

Diane S.

What may result in canine renal failure?

The elimination of numerous poisons from the body is one of the many crucial tasks carried out by the kidneys. These poisons are byproducts of typical cell processes.

Kidney disease impairs their ability to filter out harmful poisons.

Acute renal (kidney) failure denotes a relatively recent onset of the issue.


The causes of acute renal failure are numerous. The tendency of several toxins to harm the kidney is widely established. These toxins consist of:

  • Antifreeze (radiator fluid, ethylene glycol)
  • Lily flowers (cats only)
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Several medications, including pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin)

Sudden kidney failure may result from severe bacterial infections in the kidney. Although spontaneous kidney infections are possible, most often there is a preexisting condition—such as kidney stones, partial urine obstruction, or chronic renal disease—that makes it more difficult for an animal to easily fight infection.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection (Leptospira spp.) that very infrequently affects cats but frequently causes acute renal failure in dogs. Leptospirosis in dogs is caused by water or urine contaminated by sick animals (deer, cattle, rats, raccoons, mice or other dogs).

Kidney failure can result from anything that reduces blood flow through the kidney. This covers any form of dehydration (such as severe vomiting and diarrhea). Kidney failure can also result from conditions that severely harm body tissues, such as heatstroke or injuries from snakebites or bee stings.


Kidney failure signs include:

  • extreme thirst
  • urine output
  • Having little or no appetite
  • Vomiting
  • When a pet has severe kidney disease, the amount of pee may even drop, or the animal may completely stop producing urine. A black or tarry stool or the vomiting of blood-digested may be symptoms of stomach or intestinal ulcers (which looks like coffee grounds).


The diagnosis of acute renal failure and the severity of the illness are determined by blood and urine testing. In most cases, additional procedures like radiographs (X-rays), ultrasounds, and specialized blood tests are required to assist identify the possible causes of renal failure. A kidney biopsy may occasionally be advised.

The reason of renal failure, however, is not always quickly identified and might never be.


  • Intravenous (IV) fluids are the first line of treatment for acute renal failure. These liquids are used to flush out the toxins that the kidneys ought to be eliminating from the bloodstream and to rehydrate the body properly. A decrease in urine production may point to the need for additional therapies, thus it is kept track of throughout the IV fluid therapy.
  • Medications: Other drugs are frequently used in addition to fluid therapy. If infection is known to be the cause of the kidney failure or is thought to be the reason, antibiotics are given. Depending on the patient’s clinical condition, additional drugs can be needed.
  • A temporary feeding tube may be advised because kidney failure depletes the body’s resources and pets with kidney failure frequently refuse to eat.
  • Careful Monitoring: In dogs and cats with acute renal failure, the clinical state can alter quickly. Monitoring needs to be done carefully. This can entail performing repeated blood tests, electrocardiograms, blood pressure checks, and body weight checks. To quantify urine volume, it might also be necessary to insert a urinary catheter.

An electrolyte called potassium is often present in the blood in small amounts. In contrast to chronic kidney failure, where levels tend to decline, acute renal failure can result in dangerously high potassium levels. The heart rate slows and may even halt due to the elevated potassium levels. Alternately, kidney failure itself may induce very high blood pressure, necessitating regular blood pressure medication. Blood arteries in the brain or eye may burst as a result of high blood pressure.

If urine production is less than IV fluid infusion, fluid retention may result. If fluid accumulates in the lungs, this may show up as shortness of breath, an increase in body weight, bloating in the stomach, swollen legs, or all of the above.

Advanced Therapies

Animals with acute renal failure do not always respond to intravenous fluids. Advanced treatments like hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis may be required. Indications that these therapies should be taken into consideration include:

  • too high potassium level
  • The lungs’ fluid
  • lab tests that show no improvement while a patient is receiving IV fluids

In peritoneal dialysis, a tube is inserted directly into the abdominal cavity, and fluid is pushed into the cavity before being drained out.

This removes many of the poisons that the kidneys are unable to get rid of. Initially, a doctor or nurse must be on call around-the-clock to maintain flushing the fluid in and out during this treatment. Even under ideal conditions, problems including infection surrounding the tube and tube blockage are unfortunately common after just a few days.

During hemodialysis, a big IV catheter is inserted into a vein to extract a significant amount of blood. This blood is then transported through a machine to clean it. Although hemodialysis is efficient, only a few veterinary facilities are set up to perform it. Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are both very pricey medical procedures.


Acute renal failure is still a dangerous and frequently fatal condition despite all medical advancements in its care. As a result of their inability to respond to supportive care, over 60% of canines and felines with this condition either pass away or are mercifully put to sleep.

Dialysis is often only used for patients who have had failure of medical therapy, and the likelihood of death without dialysis is almost 100%. Depending on the underlying cause of renal failure in those patients, 50% may recover with dialysis.

Even in patients who recover from acute renal failure, the recovery may not be complete, leaving the patient with chronic kidney disease, which will necessitate lifelong follow-up care.

Does a dog with kidney failure ever recover?

Unfortunately, many dogs with acute renal failure won’t make it past a few days. But some dogs can make a full recovery if the condition is identified quickly and vigorously treated. Intravenous fluid therapy and supportive medicines are frequently used in treatment. In order to treat renal failure effectively, veterinarians will also attempt to identify the underlying cause of the condition.

Despite greatest efforts, keep in mind that acute renal failure cannot always be reversed. Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of various therapies with your pet’s veterinarian. So that you can be as prepared as possible, ask about anticipated results. Although your veterinarian will make every effort to preserve your dog, treatment may not be effective.

Canine chronic renal disease is incurable. However, there are treatments that can control the condition, enhancing the dog’s quality of life and lengthening their time on earth. With proper care, some dogs with chronic renal illness can live for years, while others only have a few months to live (even with the best treatment available). Keep in touch with your vet regarding your dog’s symptoms at home.

Attend every suggested checkup without fail. Be adaptable, upbeat, and practical at the same time. The majority of dogs eventually stop responding to medication and are very ill. Many owners now opt for humane euthanasia to put an end to misery.

Can dogs get acute kidney failure?

When the kidneys are no longer functioning properly, renal failure ensues. Kidney failure comes in two flavors: acute and chronic. Acute kidney failure develops unexpectedly, however it is reversible if detected and treated immediately. While there is no known treatment for chronic renal failure, diet modifications and hydration therapy can help to lessen symptoms.

How long will a dog with kidney failure survive?

Dogs’ renal failure (kidney failure) can have a variety of causes. Our Flat Rock veterinarians provide some information regarding the causes, signs, and treatments of canine renal failure in this article.

What is renal failure in dogs?

Numerous illnesses and disorders that have a detrimental impact on the health and functionality of the kidneys and its connected organs can result in renal failure, also known as kidney failure.

The kidneys of a healthy dog function to control fluid balance, release hormones necessary for the production of red blood cells, eliminate toxins, and preserve a normal electrolyte balance. When a dog has kidney failure, the kidneys can no longer carry out these tasks effectively.

Don’t give up hope if your dog has a kidney condition that could result in kidney failure, even though kidney problems can be worrying for any pet owner. There might be steps you and your veterinarian can take to extend your pet’s life, depending on the situation. What you need to know is as follows.

In dogs, there are two forms of renal failure:

Chronic Renal Failure

The decrease of kidney function in this type of renal failure occurs more gradually (over weeks, months or years). The primary culprit is frequently geriatric degeneration. Although every kidney has a natural lifespan, some dogs’ kidneys will regrettably age more rapidly than others.

Congenital Disease

There are many hereditary diseases that can result in poor kidney function, ranging from improper development and cysts to agenesis (being born without one or both kidneys).

Bacterial Infections

These can be spread by ingesting polluted water or swimming in contaminated water. The kidneys may become inflamed and lose their renal cells as a result of this sort of illness.


When your dog consumes poisons or medications, such as chocolate or antifreeze, toxicosis, also known as kidney poisoning, can harm the kidneys’ cells (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen). These are just a few of the numerous everyday objects that should be out of your dog’s reach because of his curious nature.

Kidney or renal disease in dogs refers to any ailment that impairs the function of the kidneys and can range greatly in severity. Although there is still functional tissue intact, there is ongoing deterioration. Renal failure is much more serious because the kidneys have completely stopped functioning.

Stages of Renal Failure in Dogs

The degree of chronic kidney disease can be determined by the rise of blood waste products and anomalies in urine, including the presence of protein.

The International Renal Interest Society (IRIS) assigns a number from 1 to 4 to each stage of chronic renal illness (with four being the most severe). You’ll frequently notice additional symptoms in your pet as the stage number rises. When the pet is in a certain stage of chronic renal illness, it is essential to begin some treatments.

Dogs in Stage 1 have a median survival time of more than 400 days, compared to 110 to 200 days in Stage 3, 200 to 400 days in Stage 2, and 200 to 400 days in Stage 3.

End-Stage Renal Disease in Dogs

There is no cure for the increasing chronic renal disease. When an animal exhibits disease symptoms, extensive damage has already occurred. The remaining nephrons, which are tiny units in the kidneys, are working extremely hard to replace the nephrons that have been lost due to disease or aging. These surviving nephrons will eventually stop functioning.

With each stage of the disease, the prognosis gets worse and the survival period is shorter. According to IRIS, the median survival period for stage 4 renal illness ranges from 14 to 80 days.

Symptoms of Renal Disease & Renal Failure in Dogs

As previously stated, kidney disease that has persisted for months or years is referred to as chronic kidney disease. Canine chronic disease symptoms might range from mild and gradually progressing to severe. They frequently consist of, and occasionally manifest quickly as:

  • excessive hydration results in significant amounts of urine production
  • general despondency accompanied by an increase in blood waste products
  • general weakness brought on by low blood potassium levels
  • more pee in the bladder, in general

The illness has advanced by the time a dog encounters renal failure, and you may see symptoms like:

  • Infections in the mouth
  • seizures in the abdomen
  • significant decrease of weight
  • drunken conduct or clumsy motions like tripping
  • severe loss of appetite
  • breath that has a chemical odor

When a dog develops renal failure, the illness has already progressed, and you might observe Your dog can be examined by your veterinarian to ascertain whether renal issues or other concerns like diabetes mellitus are the source of the symptoms. The sort of renal failure your dog may be suffering, the extent of kidney function loss, the development of the ailment, and its underlying causes are all things to keep in mind.

Treatment & Prognosis for Renal Failure in Dogs

To check for any anomalies, your veterinarian will do diagnostic urine and blood tests. While, in addition to the blood and urine tests, a diagnosis of renal illness or failure can typically be obtained based on physical examination. In order to rule out underlying causes of renal illness and/or to determine the stage of renal disease your dog is suffering, additional tests may also be carried out.

However, if the disease is exceedingly severe, your dog may not respond to therapy. Appropriate treatments, which may include IV fluids, are determined by the severity of symptoms. A kidney transplant, dialysis, or hospitalization for fluid therapy are examples of aggressive treatments.

Remember that there is no treatment for chronic renal illness. The severity of the condition is correlated with the prognosis. The amount of time your dog will likely survive is likely to decrease as the severity of their renal condition increases.

The treatments are meant to lessen the amount of work the kidneys need to do, to replace things like potassium, and to lessen waste that builds up. Your dog may first respond to conservative therapy slowly; it could take weeks or months to observe improvement. In order to enhance your pet’s quality of life and maybe slow the progression of disease and lengthen their longevity, your veterinarian may also recommend dietary adjustments.

Can a dog recover from renal failure?

The two types of renal failure—acute and chronic—have some key distinctions. While many cases of acute renal failure can be restored with prompt and intensive veterinary care, chronic kidney failure can only be controlled in this way.

Please take note that the information in this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice for animals. Please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a precise diagnosis of your pet’s illness.