The Happy Puppers

Dog kidney problems: recognize the signs

Dog kidney problems

It is our responsibility as dog guardians to guarantee the health and happiness of our four-legged friends. They bring incalculable joy and unending love into our lives and we should do the same for them. Among the many important organs that contribute to a dog’s well-being, the kidneys serve as watchdogs, carrying out important but frequently overlooked tasks. Because of their subtlety, dog kidney problems can sneak up on even the most vigilant guardians. 

To help you spot and treat renal problems in dogs early, this article will focus on the more subtle symptoms that go unnoticed. If you want to ensure a happy and healthy life for your pup, you need to know what signs to look out for. To keep our dogs healthy, happy, and thriving, let’s understand dog kidney problems, the signs, and treatment options.

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Topics covered in this blog post

Dog kidney problems: the function of the kidneys

Along with many other vital roles, the kidneys play an essential filtration and regulatory role in a dog’s general health. The following vital functions are performed by these bean-shaped organs located close to the spinal column:

Function of the kidneys
Function of the kidneys

Removing excess fluid from the body

The kidneys remove excess fluid, waste products, and toxins from the bloodstream through a process called filtration. This keeps the body from accumulating hazardous substances. When the blood passes through the kidney, the kidneys filter out the water and allow for it to be removed.

Hydration and Electrolyte Control:

The kidneys keep everything in check by controlling electrolyte levels, which include water, salt, potassium, and more. This allows the body to stay properly hydrated and keeps cells working properly.

Balancing the acid and bases in the blood

The kidneys’ ability to excrete hydrogen ions and reabsorb bicarbonate is critical for keeping the body’s pH balanced and warding off acidosis and alkalosis.

Regulation of erythropoiesis

The kidneys regulate erythropoiesis (generation of red blood cells), by secreting erythropoietin, which instructs the bone marrow to produce RBCs. To maintain a dog’s general health and vitality, it is important to understand the varied functions of the kidneys.

Most Frequent Reasons for Dog Kidney Problems

Although the kidneys are strong organs, many things might weaken them and cause renal disease in dogs. Proactive dog care requires knowledge of these prevalent causes:

Frequent reasons for kidney problems

The first step in protecting your dog’s kidney health is to understand these common causes. If you want your dog to live long and healthy, learn the symptoms of dog kidney problems and preventative actions.

Early signs of dog kidney problems

Alterations to the Way Your Dog Urinates

Changes in the way a dog urinates are a sign of potential renal problems. This is because kidneys are responsible for controlling the dog’s urine system. Dog guardians can quickly act when they are aware of these changes. Pay close attention to these three crucial points:

Urination Increase:

Reduction in urination:

Early signs

Alterations in Shade and Smell of urine:

If you keep an eye on your dog’s urinary patterns and notice any changes, you can catch kidney problems early. To ensure a rapid diagnosis and intervention, you must seek veterinarian counsel promptly when noticing any of these indicators.

Dog kidney problems sign: Changes in Water Consumption Patterns

Changes in a dog’s drinking habits are noticeable signs of possible kidney disease. This is because of the close relationship between the kidneys and water consumption. To catch it early, you must monitor your dog’s water intake. Two essential factors must be taken into account:

High Thirst

An increase in water consumption is called polydipsia. As the body tries to make up for fluid loss, you may find that your dog’s thirst levels rise as the kidneys work harder to eliminate waste. This results in your dog consuming higher levels of water.

If you see that your dog is going to the water bowl more often than usual, you should take note. A warning sign that needs more research is if your dog seems to be water-obsessed.

Reduced thirst levels

Conversely, a decrease in water consumption, whether it’s sudden or ongoing, may be an indication of kidney disease. Kidney function, including waste filtering and urine concentration, can be compromised by dehydration.

A renal condition could be at the root of your dog’s lack of interest in drinking water. It can also be the cause that they routinely leave a large amount of water in their bowl unattended.

You may get a full picture of your dog’s kidney health by tracking his drinking habits in addition to any changes in his urinating patterns. Consistent changes that cannot be accounted for by outside forces should be sought after since variations in water usage might be affected by environmental factors as well. If you observe any worrying changes in your dog’s drinking habits, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian for a comprehensive evaluation and to determine the best course of action.

Changes in Appetite 

A dog’s eating habits can be an indicator of underlying renal disorders. There is a complex link between kidney function and hunger. Important signs of possible kidney disease might be revealed by keeping an eye on changes in appetite. Pay close attention to these two crucial points:

Reduced Hunger Levels:

If you notice a rapid loss of appetite in your dog, it is a serious health risk. Nausea and other gastrointestinal issues can cause a loss of appetite in dogs suffering from renal disease. The reduced appetite can also be due to discomfort that the dog is experiencing due to kidney issues. 

Reduced hunger

If you notice that your dog is showing unwillingness to eat throughout multiple meals, it warrants your attention. Seek immediate veterinarian care if your dog experiences unexplained weight loss and appetite loss.

Nausea and Throwing Up

When waste materials that should be eliminated start building up in the bloodstream due to kidney difficulties, it can cause nausea and even vomiting. Your dog may vomit, particularly after eating, if they have kidney problems.

Watch out for changes in behavior before or after eating, excessive drooling, or lip-smacking, as these could be symptoms of nausea. Consult a veterinarian immediately if your dog experiences frequent vomiting or other signs that are not normal for his behavior.

Apdogite changes, especially in conjunction with other symptoms, may indicate renal problems in their early stages. A comprehensive veterinary evaluation is required to identify the underlying reason and begin therapy for an altered appetite because it can be associated with several other health issues. When dogs with kidney problems receive treatment early on, their prognosis improves dramatically.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Several factors, such as a lack of hunger, impaired nutrient absorption, and elevated metabolic demands, can lead to unexplained weight loss in dogs suffering from kidney disease.

A sudden and unexplained loss of weight could mean that he or she is experiencing kidney problems. If you want to find out what’s wrong, it’s best to see a vet.

Muscle Atrophy or Wasting:

Kidney issues can cause muscles to atrophy or waste. You might notice a decline in muscle mass if your kidneys are having trouble flushing out waste, which could lead to your body utilizing muscle tissue for energy.

You should monitor your dog’s general health, paying special attention to any changes in his muscular mass or tone. Immediate action is required to resolve the root cause if muscle wasting is detected.

Weakness and Lethargy

Lethargy and weakness

You may learn a lot about your dog’s general health, including their kidney function, by keeping an eye out for symptoms of weakness, lethargy, weight loss, and muscle wasting. Because of the interrelated nature of these symptoms, a thorough veterinarian evaluation may be necessary to identify the underlying cause and administer the necessary treatments. To improve results for dogs with renal issues, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial.

Diagnosis of dog kidney problems

Consult a Veterinarian for diagnosis of dog kidney problems

Consulting a vet should be your first and main concern when dealing with any dog kidney problems. It is essential to discuss your dog’s medical history and do a thorough physical examination at the initial evaluation.

Share details about any changes you’ve noticed in your dog’s behavior, appetite, urination, and general attitude during the session. This data will be utilized by the vet to direct subsequent diagnostic processes.

Blood work to diagnose dog kidney problems

Urine test:


Imaging methods for dog kidney problems


X-rays are useful for detecting renal and urinary system problems in their structural forms. For instance, they help find malignancies, kidney stones, or other abnormalities in kidney size and form.


More precise and up-to-the-minute imaging of the kidneys is possible using ultrasound. Kidney cysts, tumors, and other abnormalities can be detected, and changes in kidney size, shape, and texture can also be detected. The use of ultrasound, a non-invasive diagnostic technology, can help determine the kidneys’ overall health and direct subsequent therapy and diagnostic choices.

When used together, these diagnostic tools reveal a lot about your dog’s kidney condition. Imaging procedures, blood and urine testing, and veterinarian advice all come together to provide a complete picture of the kidneys’ health and function. The first step in treating your dog for kidney problems is getting a proper diagnosis. Your doctor can then create a personalized treatment plan based on your dog’s unique needs. To keep your dog’s kidneys healthy over the long haul, it’s important to check in with them often and schedule follow-up appointments.

Common dog kidney problems

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD):

Deterioration of kidney function over time characterizes chronic kidney disease, a condition that cannot be reversed. Although it mostly affects older dogs, it can sometimes strike younger dogs as a result of inherited disorders or other health problems.

Root reasons:

Conditions including hypertension or immune-mediated disorders, as well as age-related deterioration, hereditary susceptibility, and chronic toxic exposure, are some of the many potential causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Noticeable signs:

Subtle symptoms that may manifest in the early stages are: 

Lethargy, anemia, and vomiting are some of the symptoms that may develop as chronic kidney disease (CKD) advances.

Common dog kidney problems

Treatment options:

To alleviate the strain on the kidneys, dietary changes, like a prescription renal diet, are part of the management. Additionally, you may be given medication to regulate your blood pressure and phosphorus levels.

Acute kidney injury (AKI)

Acute kidney injury is mostly caused by toxins, infections, dehydration, trauma, and other similar events. In this condition, there is a dramatic decrease in kidney function which can become fatal very quickly unless medical intervention is brought in on time.

Root reasons:

Ingesting harmful substances (such as antifreeze or some drugs), serious infections, blockages in the urinary tract, or abrupt decreases in blood supply to the kidneys are all potential causes of acute kidney injury (AKI).

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of acute kidney injury (AKI) include decreased urine production, tiredness, vomiting, and loss of appetite, and they can appear quickly. For a good result, it is essential to recognize the situation quickly and act accordingly.


To treat hyponatremia, patients often get supportive treatment, which includes hydration and electrolyte balance monitoring, and, in some cases, medication to alleviate symptoms.

Stones and Infections:

Dogs also suffer from kidney stones and urinary tract infections just like us, humans. Infections of the kidneys or the development of calculi, or stones, in the urinary tract can have serious consequences for kidney health and function. If you notice any signs do not delay in taking your dog to the vet.

Root reason

The kidneys can be affected by infections that start in the lower urinary tract. An imbalance of minerals in the urine or circumstances that encourage crystal formation might lead to the production of stones.

Signs and symptoms

Pain while urinating, blood in the pee, abdominal pain, and urinary tract infections are some of the possible symptoms of dog kidney problems. Recurrent UTIs and straining to urinate are additional symptoms that may be associated with stones.

Stones and infections


Antibiotics are the first line of defense against infections, but dietary modifications, medication, or even surgical removal may be necessary to treat kidney stones.

By being familiar with these prevalent kidney diseases in dogs, guardians can spot problems early, which in turn allows for quicker veterinary intervention and better management. As dog guardians, we can do our part to keep our canine friends’ kidneys healthy by taking preventative steps like taking them in for regular vet checkups and feeding them a well-rounded diet and plenty of water.

Treatment options for dog kidney problems


Medication is an essential part of kidney disease management in dogs, helping with both the symptoms and the underlying causes of dog kidney problems. 

Common mediation options:

Please do not self-medicate your dog. In many cases, the signs and symptoms may seem like those of a kidney disease but their causative disease may be something different. Thus, always consult your veterinarian first and only give your dog the medication that your vet prescribes.

Treatment options

Monitoring and Prescription:

Veterinarians usually give medication to dogs depending on their individual needs. It is essential to have the dog in for checkups at regular intervals so the vet can track how the medicine is working and make any required adjustments.

Modifications to the Diet:

To manage kidney diseases, reduce stress on the kidneys, and keep your dog healthy in general, dietary changes are crucial.

Renal diet for dogs showing signs of dog kidney problems

Fluid Management

Fluid management

To effectively manage renal diseases in dogs, it is necessary to understand and implement these treatment options in cooperation with a veterinarian. To improve the canine’s general health, reduce the severity of symptoms, and delay the course of renal disease, a mix of medicine, food modifications, and fluid therapy is used. Ensuring the treatment plan is effective and providing the best care for dogs with renal disorders requires regular follow-ups and open communication with the veterinarian team.

Preventive measures for dog kidney problems

Standard Medical Evaluations

Staying Hydrated

Diet for dog kidney problems

Preventive measures

Dog guardians should take preventative steps to ensure their canine’s kidney health by making frequent vet visits a priority, encouraging their dogs to drink enough water, and feeding them a healthy, well-balanced diet. Our cherished canine companions’ overall well-being and lifespan are enhanced by these proactive efforts, in addition to attentive care and early intervention.

Customized Meals for pups showing signs of dog kidney problems 

Canine renal diets are designed to promote kidney health by easing the strain on the kidneys and alleviating signs of kidney disease. Because every dog has unique dietary requirements depending on their current health condition, the severity of their renal disease, and other considerations, you and your veterinarian must work together to establish the best diet for your dog. Some renal diet choices that are often suggested are:

Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Canine

A therapeutic diet that is commonly used for dogs with kidney difficulties is Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d. For optimal kidney health, it contains carefully measured amounts of phosphorus and premium proteins.

Royal Canin Renal Support:

One option for dogs with renal illness is the Royal Canin Renal Support food. To promote general well-being and lessen oxidative stress, it contains a combination of fatty acids and antioxidants.

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Canine Formula:

For canines suffering from renal dysfunction, Purina Pro Plan offers the NF Kidney Function food. It has low concentrations of phosphorus and high-quality protein.

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet KS Kidney Support:

Protein, phosphorus, and salt levels are carefully managed in Blue Buffalo’s KS Kidney Support diet to promote healthy kidney function. Extra health benefits are provided by the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids.

Iams Veterinary Formulas Renal Plus:

For dogs suffering from renal disease, Iams has developed a special formula called Renal Plus. To reduce the strain on the kidneys, it supplies phosphorus and protein in controlled quantities.

Homemade Renal Diets:

Based on unique nutritional requirements, some veterinarians may suggest homemade meals. Lean proteins, minimal phosphorus, and carefully chosen foods are common components of such diets. Be sure the diet covers all of your dog’s nutritional needs by consulting with your vet.

Homemade renal diets

Understand your dog’s specific health requirements and use them to guide your decision with your vet when selecting a renal diet. To give your dog’s digestive system time to adapt, it’s best to introduce new foods slowly. The only way to know if the diet is working and to make adjustments is to have regular checkups with the vet.


In conclusion, dog guardians who want the best care possible must know the signs of dog kidney problems. Though they are rarely in the spotlight, a dog’s kidneys are an important part of their general health. Being aware of the signs early on can change their prognosis for the better.

The key to early detection lies in knowing the subtle language of symptoms such as changes in urine patterns, drinking habits, appetite, weight loss, and signs of tiredness. Uncovering any renal disorders requires regular veterinarian check-ups and careful observation of behavioral changes.

Preventative care pillars include proactive measures including adequate hydration, appropriate feeding, and following prescription renal diets. And finally, to improve the quality of life for dogs with kidney illness, veterinarians and guardians must ensure quick diagnosis and begin treatment accordingly.

Along the path of dog guardianship, knowledge and understanding become potent instruments, enabling individuals to discern the symptoms, consult with experts, and actively engage in their canine’s path to wellness. We can do our best to guarantee that our canine friends enjoy long, healthy lives by encouraging a comprehensive strategy for renal health.

See you in my next blog post

Dr. Shruti

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common signs of kidney problems in dogs?

Dogs who have renal difficulties may display symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, and changes in the look of their urine. The symptoms may also include changes in the appearance of their urine. Should you observe any of these symptoms, you must seek the advice of a veterinarian.

What are the potential causes of kidney problems in dogs?

Problems with the kidneys in dogs can be caused by several different things, such as age-related degeneration, infections, genetic susceptibility, exposure to toxins, certain drugs, and underlying health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure. For treatment to be successful, it is essential to discover the underlying problem.

How are kidney problems in dogs diagnosed?

Blood tests, urinalysis, and imaging techniques like as ultrasound are frequently used in conjunction with one another in the process of diagnosing kidney issues in veterinary medicine. The ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine can be evaluated through urinalysis, while blood tests can determine the levels of kidney function indicators. A better understanding of the kidneys’ size and shape can be gained through imaging.

Can dog kidney problems be prevented or managed through diet?

Adjustments to a dog’s food may, in certain circumstances, be able to assist in the management or prevention of renal disorders in canines. It may be recommended to follow a kidney diet that is specifically designed to contain regulated amounts of protein, phosphorus, and other nutrients. Nevertheless, it is of the utmost importance to adhere to the guidance provided by the veterinarian, as each case is unique.

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