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What is Dog Kidney Failure?

What is dog kidney failure

What is dog kidney failure

As a dog owner, you may well have asked yourself, “what is dog kidney failure,” as it’s a common condition. This condition, also known as canine renal failure, can result from several diseases. Therefore, it is something you should be aware of if your dog becomes ill.

Healthy, functioning kidneys carry out several bodily functions, including the following:

  • Eliminate toxins.
  • Regulate hydration levels.
  • Maintain electrolyte balance.
  • Release hormones required for red blood cell production. 

When your dog’s kidneys can no longer perform these functions, failure will have taken place. The answer to what is dog kidney failure can fall into two broad categories:

  • Acute Kidney Failure. 
  • Chronic Kidney Failure. 

Acute Kidney Failure

What is acute dog kidney failure? This type occurs when your dog’s kidney function suffers a sudden decrease. Acute failure can come on within days or even hours, depending on severity. It is generally related to high toxin levels or an infection. If you can identify acute failure early enough, you can have it treated. 

Chronic Kidney Failure

With chronic dog kidney failure, the loss of function generally occurs more slowly. For instance, it could take weeks, months, or even years for the symptoms to present. This type of failure is usually associated with your dog’s ageing. Generally, you cannot treat chronic failure, only manage it. The reason is that all kidneys have a natural lifespan, and they will fail at the end of that time. 

Causes of Dog Kidney Failure

Kidney failure can occur as a result of several diseases, including the following:

  • Bacterial infections.
  • Congenital disease.
  • Dental disease.
  • Geriatric degeneration.
  • Toxicosis.


There are several symptoms associated with dog kidney failure, some of which are more noticeable than others. Symptoms include the following:

  • Blood in urine.
  • Chemical-smelling breath.
  • Fluctuating water consumption. 
  • Fluctuating urination.
  • Lethargy.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mouth ulcers.
  • Pale gums.
  • Stumbling gait.
  • Vomiting.
  • Weight loss.


Your vet can treat cases of acute failure. However, treatment can involve your dog going to a hospital and receiving intensive care. If your dog has a milder case of acute kidney failure, your vet might prescribe a schedule of medications, fluids, and antibiotics. In this case, they can treat your dog as an outpatient. Your vet might also recommend kidney dialysis, but this can be costly. 

If your dog is suffering chronic kidney failure, it means the organ has reached the end of its natural life. In these cases, all you can do is manage the condition. Your dog may still be able to enjoy a good quality of life. 

You can help with this by keeping your pet on diets with specific nutrients and supplements. Consult your vet for advice on maintaining a decent quality of life for your dog


Unfortunately, chronic kidney failure is unpreventable, as it is associated with your dog’s ageing process. However, there are specific steps you can take to minimize the risk.

As acute failure is generally linked to toxins, you can limit the amount your pet consumes. For instance, certain foods such as grapes are high in toxins for dogs. Therefore, keep your dog to their dog-food diet, and restrict the amount of ‘human’ food they consume.  


“What is dog kidney failure” is a common question, especially for new owners. Hopefully, this brief article will have helped you get an answer to some of your queries.