Did you know that kidney disease is very common in dogs, especially in senior dogs? Early detection and quick intervention are key in helping your dogs with kidney disease live long, happy lives. March 10th is World Kidney Day, so here’s everything you need to know about canine kidney disease and how to protect your pup. 

Kidney Disease in Dogs

Healthy kidneys filter the blood, removing waste and excess fluid to produce urine. They also regulate hydration and help the body maintain a healthy balance of minerals and electrolytes.

Kidney disease happens when a dog’s kidneys are damaged and fail to perform their normal functions. Because it is a progressive disease, kidney disease gets worse over time and can lead to kidney failure in dogs.

A sudden and rapid decline in kidney function is known as acute kidney disease, while a gradual loss of function is known as chronic kidney disease. Both types of kidney disease lead to waste buildup in the blood, which causes a variety of health issues.

What Causes Kidney Disease in Dogs?


Kidney disease in dogs is commonly associated with aging, because the kidney cells naturally degenerate as dogs get older. While dogs can develop kidney disease at any age, senior dogs over the age of seven have the highest risk.


When dogs consume toxic foods, plants, household items, or drugs, it can lead to a condition called toxicosis. This condition is also called kidney poisoning, because it damages kidney cells and can cause kidney failure. 

Poisonous substances for dogs include:

  • Hazardous foods like chocolate, alcohol, nuts, and coffee
  • Xylitol (an ingredient typically found in toothpaste and sugar-free gum)
  • Toxic household items such as cleaners, antifreeze, rodent poison, insecticides, and medications
  • Certain plants such as azaleas, daffodils, lilies, and poinsettias


Some bacterial infections can cause kidney inflammation and damage, leading to kidney disease. Dogs usually develop bacterial infections by drinking or swimming in contaminated water. Don’t let your dog drink out of puddles or swim in ponds or creeks.

Eleven Signs of Kidney Failure in Dogs 

By the time a dog starts showing signs of kidney disease, there has probably already been some severe damage. But the earlier you spot the signs, the better your dog’s chance of managing the disease and living a happy life. 

Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of the following signs of kidney failure:

  1. Blood in the urine
  2. Increase in thirst
  3. Decrease in appetite
  4. More frequent urination
  5. Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  6. Significant weight loss
  7. Mouth ulcers
  8. Depression
  9. Weakness
  10. Pale gums
  11. Lethargy

Kidney Disease Treatments for Dogs

Diagnosing kidney disease typically involves a physical examination, blood tests, and urine tests. Unfortunately, there is no cure for kidney disease in dogs. However, when it’s diagnosed and treated early, dogs can often still live comfortably for several years with consistent care. 

Kidney disease treatment depends on the severity of a dog’s symptoms, and may include IV fluids or subcutaneous fluids. Your vet might also recommend feeding your dog a special diet, which can help minimize the progression of the disease. 

Emergency Veterinarian in Gilbert, Arizona

If your dog starts showing signs of kidney disease, they’ll need immediate treatment. Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert can provide emergency treatment and help you manage your dog’s disease. Call us at 480-497-0505 to inform us about your emergency before you arrive. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/1/2023). Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash