What is kidney failure in dogs?


Your dog’s kidneys are important because they remove waste substances from the bloodstream and maintain the normal balance of fluid and minerals within the body. But if the kidneys are not able to do their job, the result could be life threatening for your dog.

Kidney failure is a condition that damages your dog’s kidneys, leading to kidney or renal disease.  The most common and widespread form of kidney failure in dogs is called Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

Early detection of kidney failure in your dog


In some cases, dogs may show early warning signs of kidney disease. However, signs of serious illness only appear after 75% of kidney function has already been lost. This is the reason why early detection of renal failure in your dog is so important.


The sooner kidney disease is diagnosed, the more time there is to address the underlying cause or slow the disease’s progression. On diagnosis, the condition has already been present for some time, but this lifelong disease can be managed very well with the right nutrition.


IMPORTANT: An increase in thirst may be the first sign of kidney failure. If you notice this, or any of the signs below, consult your veterinarian immediately.

What causes kidney disease in dogs?


The chance of developing kidney problems in dogs doubles between the ages of 10 and 15.


Some dog foods high in phosphorus, sodium and protein can accelerate the progression of CKD.


Some breeds are more likely to develop certain kidney conditions.


What are the signs of kidney disease in dogs?



The signs of kidney disease can be difficult to recognize, but if you notice any of the following, it could mean your dog has a kidney problem. Talk to your veterinarian if you are seeing any of these signs.

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bad breath and a sore mouth
  • Weight loss and weakness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

If your dog is diagnosed with kidney disease, your veterinary may describe it as either acute or chronic.

Acute Kidney Disease: Acute, or sudden, kidney disorders in your dog can be caused by:

  • Blood loss
  • Shock
  • Surgical stress
  • Trauma
  • Severe dehydration
  • Poisons
  • Drugs
  • Obstructed urine flow
  • Infection

Chronic Kidney Disease: Chronic, or long-term, dog kidney disease can result from the above factors plus breed and hereditary tendencies, in coordination with nutritional factors and immune system defects. Chronic kidney disease is progressive and irreversible.

How nutrition can help in treatment

The food your dog eats plays an important role in his overall health and well-being. If your dog is diagnosed with kidney or renal disease, modifying his food can help manage the disease by reducing the amounts of protein, phosphorus and salt in this food. Phosphorus restriction seems especially important in lessening the severity of the clinical signs and progression of kidney damage. Reducing protein levels may also help restore normal acid-base levels.

If your dog has kidney problems, the right nutrition can positively impact your dog’s quality of life. Consult with your veterinarian to find out if Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ k/d™ can help with your dog’s kidney health.