Kidney Disease in Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

Even though dogs are a distinct species, their bodies are pretty similar to humans. Dogs have kidneys to filter waste and balance nutrients in their bodies. Kidneys also aid in regulating blood pressure, the formation of red blood cells, and the metabolism of calcium. If your pet's kidney function is disrupted, it can lead to a cascade of health issues. Let's delve deeper to understand what kidney diseases in dogs are all about and what you can do to prevent them.

senior lab dog

Kidney Diseases in Dogs

The kidneys serve a variety of purposes in the body of a dog. Primarily, they eliminate waste items from the bloodstream, regulate potassium and salt levels, preserve water, and create urine. Many people believe that chronic kidney failure or chronic renal failure indicates that the kidneys have stopped functioning and are no longer producing urine. But this isn't the case at all.

Chronic renal failure (CRF) or chronic kidney disease (CKD) is defined as the kidneys' inability to filter waste materials from the blood efficiently rather than the inability to make urine.

Surprisingly, most dogs with renal failure make a lot of pee, but their harmful wastes aren't eliminated efficiently. Chronic kidney disease in dogs is linked to aging and can be described as the 'wearing out' of the kidney tissues in basic terms.

The age of onset is frequently linked to the dog's size. The early signs of renal illness appear in most little dogs between the ages of 10 and 14. On the other hand, large dogs have a shorter lifespan and can develop kidney failure as young as seven years old.

What Causes Kidney Disease in Dogs?

It turns out that dogs can develop renal problems in a variety of ways. The first is acute or sudden and occurs when a pet consumes toxins such as antifreeze or some prescription drugs. A brief explanation of prevalent causes of renal disease is provided below.

Damage to the Kidney Filters (Glomerular Disease)

In canine kidney disease, the glomerulus (kidney filtration mechanism) is frequently involved. Infections such as Lyme disease and cancer can induce glomerular disease, and time can exacerbate the problem. Inflammation in the glomerulus of the kidney affects the surrounding kidney tissues over time, resulting in chronic kidney disease in your dog.

Kidney Tissue Infection (Pyelonephritis)

One of the kidney disorders with a better prognosis is an infection of renal tissues with bacteria or fungal species. When it comes to pyelonephritis, the goal is to eliminate the germs that can cause harmful inflammation. This will help in recovering from acute kidney damage or slow down the advancement of any chronic kidney disease.

Kidney Stones (Nephrolithiasis)

Chronic bacterial infection, genetics, or disorders that alter blood or urine properties can all cause kidney stones. Although kidney stones do not appear to cause pain in dogs, this can change if they clog the kidney or its collecting ducts. Some canine breeds are more at risk of kidney stones than others. For example, kidney stones combining calcium and oxalic acid are more common in Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Lhasa Apsos. On the other hand, kidney stones with uric acid are more prevalent among the Yorkshire Terriers, the English Bulldogs, and Dalmatians breeds.

Infection with Bacteria (Leptospirosis)

Leptospira infection causes kidney damage and other organ problems in dogs and humans all over the world. Leptospirosis usually has a rapid onset of symptoms and results in acute kidney damage. In some cases, the infection might lead to chronic kidney disease.


Antifreeze isn't the only household ingredient that might harm the kidneys. Kidney illness can be caused by typical table foods like grapes and raisins, commercial jerky treat products, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or prescribed medications. Toxins such as venoms, insecticides, and heavy metals are less common.


For many purebred dogs, there are genetic linkages to many types of renal illness. Some puppies do not grow normal kidneys or have enlarged, grape-like kidneys loaded with fluid-filled cysts. As puppies, these dogs show indicators of kidney dysfunction. Other dogs with glomerular abnormalities or susceptibility to amyloidosis may not develop signs or symptoms of renal illness until adulthood.

dog with kidney disease

How to Detect Kidney Disease in Dogs

Blood and urine tests are primarily used in the diagnosis of acute renal failure. Other procedures, such as radiography (X-rays), ultrasounds, and special blood tests, are frequently required to diagnose the reason for kidney failure. A kidney biopsy is sometimes recommended. The symptoms of kidney illness may be difficult to detect, but if you observe any of the following, your dog may have a kidney issue:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor coat appearance
  • Sore mouth
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

How to Prevent Kidney Disease in Dogs?

Here is a list of rules you can follow to prevent kidney disease in dogs.

Follow a Proper Diet

A low-protein, low-phosphorus, and non-acidified diet is excellent. This type of food allows your dog's blood tests to stay as close to normal as possible, enhancing better health.

Consider Potassium Supplements

When urine output is high, potassium is lost. Low levels of potassium have been attributed to a reduction in renal function. A potassium supplement will help preserve kidney function by replacing the nutrients lost.

Consistently Hydrate Your Dog

Fluids can be delivered beneath the skin once your dog has been stabilized (subcutaneously). As the kidneys' function begins to decrease again, this serves to "restart" them. This is done once a day to once a week, depending on how busy you are.

Observe Good Dental Hygiene

By the time dogs reach their third birthday, one out of every three will develop periodontal disease. This inflammatory illness can be avoided through regular dental brushing and thorough cleanings with our veterinarian. What is the significance of this? Periodontal disease has been associated with an increased incidence of renal failure in dogs.

Be Aware of Poisons

A common cause of acute renal failure in dogs is poisoning. The problem is that many pet owners do not recognize something is harmful until it is too late. You can protect your canine companion from poisoning and reduce the risk of kidney disease by studying what substances and foods are detrimental to them.

Provide your Dog with a Complete and Nutritious Diet

Proper nutrition can address kidney diseases to a greater extent. These essential goals are prioritized in commercial diets for dogs with CKD. A renal support diet provides less protein, salt, and phosphorus and more omega-3 fatty acids when compared to regular adult dog chow.

Cornucopia Pet Foods provides healthy organic diets designed to support dogs with kidney diseases as they are low in salts and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Starting your young dog with Cornucopia Pet Food products can help prevent the occurrence of kidney disease in the future while giving you value for your money.

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test Comments (1)

Brigitte - Jun 28, 2021

My beautiful Sugar, a 15 year old Yorkie was minutes away from being euthanized, when Doc said bring her home, love her and feed her Cornucopia and SFN. Try it before you put her down he said. She couldn’t stand or walk anymore and had lost four pounds. I picked her up from the vet and gave her water, she was dehydrated, gave her Cornucopia Super Bowl one of her favorite flavors. It took about a week for her to gain weight and walk without falling. She is recovering and my baby is still with us, that all happened in May. I really think that Cornucopia dog food and the supplement SFN saved my dog. If it hadn’t been for Doc she would not be with us. Thank you so much.

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  • "Many pet foods contain corn as the main ingredient. Dogs and cats are not “cornivores’….they are carnivores!"
  • "If I can’t eat the food, I won’t give it to my pets either."
  • "Our pets are the only ones in our family who give us unconditional love."
  • "The animals are our children. They deserve the same quality food as our two-legged children."
  • "Your pets are members of the family so treat them like members of the family."
  • "I can help your pets live longer, healthier lives."
  • "Feed your pets what your grandfather fed his pets."
  • "Would you eat what you are feeding your pet? No? Then don’t feed it."
  • "Cats are obligate carnivores, not herbivores."
  • "Animals are my children."
  • "You have never in your life been to a doctor or veterinarian who taught you how to prevent disease (or who taught you about nutrition.)"
  • "Developed with Passion by a practicing veterinarian."
  • "If your human children died at 25 instead of 75 that would get your attention as to what is going on with pets."
  • "I am abolishing disease in my practice."
  • "1 out of 5 children in the average American family walks on all fours."
  • "Tell your pet every day that you love them."
  • "You can communicate with your pet, just listen."
  • "Would you feed your other children pet food?"
  • "Think about which members of your family give you unconditional love. Then treat them the same."
  • "We don’t make pet food, we make food for pets"
  • "Give them a “mouse-full”"
  • "Read the ingredients, would you eat that?"
  • "Does your pet deserve any less?"
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  • "Who is always happy to see you?"
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  • "Give back to your pets the unconditional love that they give you."
  • "I put unconditional love into my food, my products, my patients, my practice."
  • "These blessed creatures are giving you unconditional love. Feeding them healthy, pure organic food is not much to ask in return."
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  • "Unconditional love is when you love with all that you have."
  • "Unconditional love is giving without taking."
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  • "Unconditional love is the deepest essence of life."
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  • "Pursue your passion. I did."
  • "I make pet food the way Mother Nature intended."
  • "You were told your whole life not to feed your pet off the table. That turned out to be a lie to help sell pet food."

- Doc -