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What You Need to Know About Kidney Disease in Dogs


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Kidney disease in dogs, also known as renal disease, is a topic that warrants thoughtful discussion and understanding. Why? It’s a potentially life-threatening condition that can affect our canine friends at various stages of their lives, often creeping up silently and unnoticed until it’s quite advanced.

This article aims to shed light on this significant health issue, exploring its causes, symptoms, and the available treatments. Kidney disease is pretty common in dogs, especially as they get older. Catching it early can make a big difference in managing it and keeping your furry friend happy and comfortable.

A brown and white cocker spaniel is sitting peacefully in the grass.

What is kidney disease in dogs?

Kidney disease in dogs is a serious health condition where their kidneys struggle to function properly. It often develops slowly, damaging these organs over time. This illness affects their ability to filter waste from the blood, regulate water and essential minerals, and produce urine effectively.

Symptoms may include increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and lethargy. Early detection through regular veterinary check-ups can manage the disease, helping to maintain a dog’s quality of life.

What causes it?

Dog renal disease can be caused by a bunch of different things. As dogs get older, their kidneys can just start to wear out. It’s like how parts of an old car might stop working.

Sometimes it’s due to infections or blockages in the kidneys. Things like kidney stones or toxins can also cause trouble. Certain medications and diseases, like Lyme disease, can harm the kidneys too.

In some cases, dogs are born with genetic kidney problems.

So, it’s a mix of age, health, history, and sometimes just bad luck.

A white and black dog affected by kidney disease sleeping under a wooden chair.

Can kidney disease in dogs be cured?

Kidney disease in dogs can’t really be cured, unfortunately. It’s more about managing the condition and keeping the dog as healthy and comfortable as possible. The focus is on slowing down the disease’s progression and dealing with the symptoms.

Regular vet visits, a special diet, and sometimes medication are all part of the management plan. It’s about making the best of the situation and helping your pup have a good quality of life for as long as possible.

The lifespan of a dog with kidney disease varies greatly. It really depends on how early the disease is caught and how it’s managed. If it’s spotted early and treated properly, a dog can live for years with the condition.

What are the symptoms of kidney disease in dogs?

Dog renal disease symptoms can be quite varied. You might notice your dog drinking more water than usual and peeing more frequently. They could lose their appetite, leading to weight loss. Some dogs might vomit or have diarrhoea. Their breath might smell bad too, a bit like ammonia.

You may also see them acting tired or less playful. Their coat might lose its shine and look dull. In advanced cases, they can have mouth ulcers or even seizures. It’s important to watch for these signs and get to a vet if you notice them.

Pups with kidney disease may also be more prone to UTIs in dogs, as the disease can reduce their ability to filter and eliminate bacteria effectively.

A dalmatian dog resting on a white background.

What’s the treatment?

As mentioned earlier, treating renal disease in dogs is all about managing any signs that affect your dog and slowing the disease’s progression. Here’s how it’s usually done:

Diet change

Vets often recommend a special diet low in protein, phosphorus, and sodium. This helps lessen the kidneys’ workload. We expand more on this below.

Fluid therapy

If your dog is experiencing dehydration or has trouble keeping fluids down, they might need fluids given under the skin or intravenously.


Depending on the symptoms, your vet might prescribe medications to control blood pressure, reduce protein in urine, or manage anaemia.

Regular check-ups

Frequent vet visits are crucial to monitor your dog’s kidney function and adjust treatment as needed.

Home care

You’ll need to ensure your dog has constant access to fresh water and encourage them to drink to stay hydrated.

Remember, each dog is unique. So, the treatment plan might vary based on how severe their renal disease is and how they respond to initial treatments.

A german shepherd dog sitting in the grass with no signs of dog kidney disease or renal disease.

What can a dog with kidney disease eat?

A dog with kidney disease should eat a special diet. As mentioned, this diet is usually low in protein, phosphorus, and sodium, but high in omega-3 fatty acids. It helps ease the workload on their kidneys.

Commercial kidney-friendly dog foods are a good option as they’re formulated to support kidney health. Homemade diets can work too, but they should be designed by a vet or a pet nutritionist.

Safe treats include things like carrots, green beans, and apple slices. Always avoid foods high in phosphorus, like dairy and certain meats. Plenty of fresh water is essential also, as it helps flush out toxins and keeps their kidneys working well.

It’s best to consult with a vet for a tailored diet plan. Each dog’s needs can vary, especially with kidney disease.

A bull terrier peacefully resting on top of a gray couch.

How to put weight on a dog with kidney disease

To help a dog with renal disease gain weight, you’ll need a special approach. First, make sure you’ve put them on the diet discussed above to help reduce strain on the kidneys.

Next, go for small, frequent meals. It’s easier on their system and can encourage them to eat more. Adding tasty, kidney-friendly toppings can help make the food more appealing.

You may also be able to find special nutritional supplements and shakes designed for dogs with kidney disease that can help them put on weight. These products are usually formulated to be low in phosphorus and protein while still providing enough calories and nutrients to help the dog gain weight.

They’re a good option for dogs who might not be eating enough of their regular food due to a decreased appetite, which is a common issue in dogs with kidney disease.

Are certain dogs more prone to renal disease?

Yes, certain breeds are indeed more likely to get kidney disease. This includes the Cocker Spaniel, Bull Terrier, and German Shepherd. The Dalmatian dog breed is also on the list, mainly due to its unique urinary system.

Some smaller breeds, like the Shih Tzu and Poodle, can be prone to it as well, often due to their genetics. But remember, any dog can develop kidney disease, especially as they get older.

A small brown dog standing on a wooden floor, possibly affected by renal disease.

Insurance for the unexpected

Just like humans can get ill or injured, so can pets. And like doctors, vets are highly skilled practitioners that need to be well equipped with costly technology and machinery.

Costs aside, when your dog (or cat) needs medical help then that’s what they deserve. And there’s no need to put yourself in a pickle by worrying about the costs of vet treatment. Having a pet insurance plan in place means unexpected vet treatments, prescription medication, x-rays and more can be covered. Cushion your finances and your pet can have the soft landing they deserve.

So, click below to get a quote and one or more months of FREE pet insurance.

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