14 comments Jan 22, 2020by Denise Lessard


Did you just learn that your dog is suffering from kidney failure, or do you want to learn more about this disease? Knowing that kidney failure can affect one in ten dogs during their life, you would do well to educate yourself on how to detect and treat it, or better yet, prevent it.


If, like me, your dog is more advanced in age, you will be aware that despite all of your best endeavors to offer him the best living conditions, he is safe from nothing. Therefore, I thought I would share with you as much practical information as possible about kidney disease in dogs; the causes and symptoms of kidney failure or renal failure and especially the treatments and habits that can improve or moderate the condition.



What purpose do kidneys serve for dogs?


In fact, a dog's kidneys have essentially the same function as ours: detoxify the blood by filtering the waste (toxins) produced by the body, maintain the balance of water and electrolytes, produce hormones, regulate blood pressure and vitamin D, and help create red blood cells.


The kidneys are therefore extremely important organs and a dog suffering from kidney failure would be faced with many health problems: its entire body would be affected.





Kidney disease in dogs can occur in two forms: chronic kidney failure and acute kidney failure.



What is chronic kidney failure in dogs?

    Chronic kidney failure in dogs is the result of a slow and insidious process that occurs over the course of months or even years. The symptoms do not necessarily arouse suspicion at the beginning, so that when the disease is diagnosed, the animal’s kidneys are already largely no longer doing their job. Chronic kidney disease in dogs is unfortunately irreversible for this reason.


    However, if your dog has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease recently, do not panic and read the rest of this article! Many solutions are available to you to extend your pet’s life expectancy and quality of life.



    What is acute kidney failure in dogs?


      Acute kidney failure in dogs is different from chronic failure in that it occurs suddenly. This also includes acute kidney damage.


      Acute kidney failure may be related, for example, to severe dehydration, urinary obstruction, ingestion of a toxic substance or bacterial infection. The symptoms are therefore circumstantial and sudden.


      Most acute kidney damage in dogs can be treated if you act quickly, but they must be considered emergencies. The symptoms are so blatant most of the time that you cannot miss them.


      It is possible that acute kidney diseases will damage the kidneys in the longer term if they are not treated quickly enough or if the kidney damage is unfortunately too significant. However, since you are reading this article, you will know how to recognize the symptoms and this may enable you to prevent the consequences of acute kidney disease as much as possible.






      How to know if my dog is suffering from chronic kidney disease?


      Chronic kidney disease in dogs arrives slowly and the symptoms described below therefore do not appear all at the same time, but are progressive.


      The first symptoms of chronic kidney disease are usually thirst, the need to urinate more frequently, or bad breath. This then progresses to more obvious symptoms such as fatigue and weakness. In any case, chronic kidney disease can be better treated if it is captured at early stages.


      Here are the most often observed symptoms of chronic kidney failure in dogs. Note that these signs may also be related to other conditions. Consult an animal health professional who will be best placed to advise you.


       1. Observable signs of chronic kidney disease in dogs:


      •         blood in the urine;

      •         vomiting;

      •         general weakness;

      •         increase in urination (even at night);

      •         excessive thirst;

      •         bad breath;

      •         ulcers in the mouth;

      •         low mobility;

      •         hunched posture;

      •         muscular weakness;

      •         loss of balance;

      •         convulsions;

      •         paws or other body parts swollen due to water retention;

      •         blood in the eyes;

      •         retinal detachments.


      2. Symptoms of chronic kidney disease that can be identified by a health professional:


      •         hypertension;

      •         anemia (a decrease in the production of red blood cells);

      •         dehydration;

      •         change in the size of the kidneys;

      •         endocrine disorders.


      How to know if my dog is suffering from acute kidney damage?


      Symptoms of acute kidney failure in dogs appear suddenly and need to put you on alert.


      •         diarrhea;

      •         total loss of appetite;

      •         extreme lethargy;

      •         disorientation;

      •         significant physical weakness;

      •         difficulty urinating;

      •         loss of coordination;

      •         vomiting.


      If these symptoms occur alone or together, severely and quickly, they can put your dog's life in danger. They require emergency intervention.


      So why do some dogs develop these symptoms? Knowing the causes of kidney disease can help you prevent it or change some of your pet’s lifestyle habits.





      Know that one of the first causes of kidney disease in dogs is age. The older our dog gets, the greater the risk that its kidneys will malfunction.



      What are the causes of chronic kidney failure?


      This list is not exhaustive, but it presents the main causes of the disease:


      •         degeneration of kidney tissue due to age;

      •         heredity;

      •         congenital malformation (younger dogs);

      •         consequence of untreated or poorly treated kidney infection;

      •         kidney damage;

      •         repetitive urinary tract infections;

      •         kidney malformation;

      •         diabetes;

      •         lymphoma;

      •         cancer.



      What are the causes of acute kidney failure?

      •         poor blood circulation to the kidneys due to severe bleeding;

      •         trauma;

      •         inflammation;

      •         parasites;

      •         severe dehydration;

      •         heart failure;

      •         major damage to the kidney;

      •         fungal, viral or bacterial infections;

      •         poisoning by certain toxic substances (anti-freeze, drugs, repellents, poisonous plants, etc.);

      •         urinary blockage (stones in the bladder or urethra);

      •         consequences of surgery or existing disease (due to decreased blood flow in the kidneys).





      We cannot fight against hereditary or congenital malformations, but we do have power over some things.


      Here are 7 essential tips to display on your fridge!


      1. Have regular routine check-ups at the vet for prevention rather than a cure.

      2. Help your pet maintain a healthy weight.

      3. Keep your dog well-hydrated. It should always have a bowl of clean water at its disposal, even during travels (bring a bottle).

      4. Give it a healthy diet following the advice of a health professional and allow it to consume fresh foods. Consider the advice of a natural medicine veterinarian for dietary supplements that improve quality of life.

      5. Make sure you do not leave anything dangerous within your dog's reach: drugs, garlic, onion, plants, rat poison, pesticides, antifreeze, heavy metals, etc.

      6. Give it vaccinations, medication or surgical procedures only if necessary.

      7. Give some natural products.



      Will these measures assure that your dog will never suffer from kidney disease?


      I will not lie to you: no. But they will give the maximum chance to your dog and will ensure a healthy lifestyle and a better overall health. The healthier and stronger our dogs are, the less likely they are to develop diseases.


      However, genetics and circumstances in life mean that it could still happen. So, how do you properly diagnose the disease? What are the examinations that your dog will have to undergo? Personally, it worried me a little when I had to take my dog for some of these examinations, but remind yourself that it's always better to do it than to miss something.





      The veterinarian will firstly do an external and internal physical examination with your dog. This could therefore identify pains, abnormal posture, limbs that are swollen with water retention, swollen or sore kidneys, and back or flank pain. A rectal examination could also detect urethral, bladder or prostate disease related to kidney disease.


      Here are the most common exams that your health professional may also advise you to undergo based on the health status and symptoms of your pet:


      •         measurement of blood pressure;

      •         complete blood profile;

      •         complete blood count;

      •         urine analysis;

      •         test for the detection of infectious diseases that may affect the kidneys (e.g. Lyme disease);

      •         X-ray or ultrasound imaging;

      •         ultrasound;

      •         chemistry profile with electrolytes;

      •         urine protein to creatinine ratio.



      What do blood tests reveal?


      The blood test will enable a measure of certain toxins produced by the body and normally eliminated by the kidneys such as urea or creatinine. If the kidneys do not work, the urea and creatinine levels will be high, which will be a sign of kidney disease in your dog.



      What do X-ray examinations reveal?


      When the kidneys do not work or perform poorly, their size often changes. Often, they atrophy. These examinations can also reveal changes in size of the prostate and bladder; two organs closely related to the proper functioning of the kidneys.


      Whether your dog suffers from chronic or acute kidney failure, it will undoubtedly undergo numerous examinations to establish a reliable diagnosis. You should know that most of these examinations do not cause pain and are very effective. If you are close to your dog, everything will be fine because they will feel confident.





      Now that you know how to identify kidney disease in dogs, these are the solutions that you want!


      The treatment depends of course on the stage your animal is at. Also, we do not treat chronic kidney failure and acute kidney failure in exactly in the same way. In any case, turn to an animal health professional for advice.


      In cases of chronic kidney failure, the destruction of the kidneys is progressive, so often the disease is unfortunately diagnosed when the organs are already in a bad state.


      However, a dog that receives this diagnosis may still hope to have some good years ahead of him with proper treatment. Unfortunately, unlike humans, dialysis or kidney transplantation is not possible in dogs, but other care is possible and will help reduce the symptoms of the disease or slow down its progression.



      A suitable diet


        Ask your veterinarian for advice on what diet is suitable for YOUR dog's condition.


        Some professionals agree that a diet low in protein is important both clinically and biochemically. Proteins are high in phosphorus, which would create a high nitrogen load and could put pressure on the liver and kidneys.


        This theory, however, is not supported by all nutritionists and veterinarians. Any changes to your pet's diet should therefore be supported by advice from a health professional. In fact, a low protein diet could create a deficiency in amino acids.


        Here are some basic tips that you could put into practice:


        •         use balanced raw food;

        •         offer calcium-rich foods and add dark green leafy vegetables to the diet to keep phosphorus levels low;

        •         give probiotics and prebiotics to eliminate toxic waste;

        •         avoid dry food that promotes dehydration;

        •         avoid dry and canned dog food that increases the toxin load.



        Good hydration


          It is essential that your pet always has fresh water nearby in order to be well-hydrated.


          When a dog is really dehydrated as a result of kidney disease, your veterinarian may suggest intravenous or subcutaneous hydration. This is sometimes called liquid therapy.



          Other possible treatments


            Your veterinarian may also suggest:


            •         infusions to support the body and eliminate toxins accumulated in the blood;

            •         diuretics to increase urinary secretions;

            •         medicines to fight against vomiting and diarrhea;

            •         antibiotics in case of infection;

            •         a specific treatment to mitigate the consequences of the disease (e.g. for blood pressure).





            Of the treatments we have mentioned so far, some are more invasive than others, but remain essential. However, it is still possible to alleviate many symptoms of kidney disease with natural care that will have fewer side effects.



            Phytotherapy or Herbal Medicine


              Some plants can have really beneficial effects on the kidneys, liver, blood circulation or bladder, including: orthosiphon, desmodium, ginkgo, dandelion or milk thistle. The piloselle has diuretic and antiseptic properties which are very effective in cases of urinary tract infection.


              Ask a specialist for advice before administering a natural remedy to your pet. Even though they are natural, some products can have damaging health effects if taken with other foods and / or medicines.



              Chinese Medicine


                Some Chinese herbs can stimulate increased blood flow to the kidneys, thus resulting in more elimination of toxins from the bloodstream.


                If you are using a Chinese medicine professional, be sure to tell them all of the medicines and natural products that your dog is taking.





                  The benefits of homeopathy on animals no longer need to be proven. Some available products may help to reduce the symptoms of kidney disease.


                  Specific products such as the KIDNEY FAILURE can act on failure and functional impairment of the kidneys and on renal edema.

                  The main point of interest for the homeopathic approach is its holistic approach. The therapist takes into account the animal as a whole and not just its symptoms. Each individual is different and there are many types of kidney disorders that cannot all be addressed in the same way. If your dog suffers from kidney failure, a good homeopath will take into account its experiences and background and will put together a personalized product.


                  We invite you to read the comments on the KIDNEY FAILURE product you will be impressed.


                  Homeopathy will allow you to help your pet as naturally as possible with a personalized approach. You can also use it in conjunction with more traditional treatments.





                  •         A dog with chronic kidney failure cannot be cured. However, like any disease, the sooner it is diagnosed, the longer the dog's life expectancy is. Treatments for chronic kidney disease in dogs therefore aim to reduce the symptoms of the disease, slow down the effects and allow the animal to live better with its disease.


                  •         If a dog is suffering from another disease that has the effect of reducing blood flow to the kidneys or causes an obstruction to the urinary tract, the resulting kidney failure can be treated. Hence the importance to not delay before consulting.


                  •         In cases of acute kidney disease, if after treatment (antibiotics, liquid therapy, medications or other), urea and creatinine return to normal, it will be considered that the dog is out of danger. If otherwise, the dog must be monitored because its kidneys have been weakened.




                  You will probably agree with me that the key to fighting kidney disease in our dogs is to have regular medical follow-ups, especially as they get older. Measurements of urea and creatinine to check for regular kidney function will help to avoid unpleasant surprises.


                  If kidney failure is detected, it is essential to rely on a special diet under the guidance of a professional in order to increase the life expectancy of the dog.


                  Finally, I personally recommend natural products such as homeopathy that, in the case of my dog, have been useful in many situations. Additionally, at Zumalka, you can benefit from the personalized advice of an experienced team that takes into account the overall health of our dogs and not just their symptoms. It's very reassuring. Do not hesitate to contact us to ask questions!


                  In terms of kidney failure, the key word to remember is: vigilance. Being alert to any changes in the behavior or habits of your dog will help you to intervene quickly. This is also valuable advice for any state of health.


                  Keep this little guide close to you and do not hesitate to share it, especially with people whose dog is starting to age.


                  Join us on Facebook, where we frequently post pet owners tips like how to save on vet bills and how to keep your dog or cat as healthy as can be (you’ll find more animal-related stories, tips, and guides too!). Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to be updated on future blogs and features -- no junk, we promise!






                  About the author

                  Denise Lessard
                  Denise Lessard


                  Denyse Lessard is deemed as the “mother” of Zumalka, which was established more than ten years ago to provide easily accessible natural products for pet wellness worldwide.

                  Besides being a trained alternative medicine therapist, Denyse also has expertise in homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology, reflexology, as well as Chinese medicine. She is a long-standing member of the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec, as well as the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec.

                  Denyse’s philosophy as regards pet wellness is not just about only dealing with disease and illness when they get in the picture, but keeping animals in ideal health each and every day.

                  Find out more about Denyse when you click HERE.


                  • Zumalka September 20, 2023 at 3:04 pm

                    Hi Carmin, I’m sorry to hear about Haszell’s situation. I have sent you an email to help guide you. Waiting to hear back from you !

                  • Carmin September 20, 2023 at 3:03 pm

                    So I have taken my 3 year old dog Haszell to the vet so so so many times for the issues that I have noticed starting pretty early in her life(she is only 3) but every time we go and believe me we have went to many vets and they just will not listen to me. Now Haszell is very sick and I believe she had cronic kidney failure and have for sometime, but as I said before they will not listen to me and I now am to the point where I am going in debt because they charge so much and I yet to get any help or satisfaction. Now I feel it my already be to late. What would you do or is there any help that you could suggest for my baby to give her a little comfort or something? Anything? I am so very scared. Respectfully yours,


                  • ZUMALKA October 10, 2022 at 10:06 am

                    HI Bob,
                    Thank you so much for sharing Briar’s situation with us. I can understand how stressful this is on all of you. Rest assured we are here to help in any way we can. We have sent you a private email with our Homeopath’s help and guidance for your beloved dog. We hope he feels much better soon!

                  • Bobi Furlow October 10, 2022 at 10:06 am

                    Our Boykin Spaniel, Briar, started acting like he wasn’t feeling well and I took him to the vet. They sent him home stating he was dehydrated, due to a kidney infection and gave him and said to make sure he had plenty of fluids. The next morning he seemed to be doing a little better but when I got home he seemed to be feeling bad again. All of the sudden he went into a seizure, I grab him up and quickly took him back to the vet and they got him stable and ran test and found that he was in kidney failure due to some kind of toxin. The only thing he could have gotten into was crab apples but he has never touched them before so I just can’t be sure. He has been at the vet for a week now on IV and other medications trying to get his kidneys back functioning. The vet called me and gave me an update again last night at 9 pm and said he had a good morning but wasn’t having a good night and I know he wanted to tell me something but couldn’t bring himself to because I could not stop crying. He just said that we needed to pray his kidneys start functioning again and that he would do everything he could to help him. We have always taken such good care of him. He is only 6 years old and I just don’t see how this could happen. .

                  • HOMEOANIMAL February 22, 2022 at 3:40 pm

                    Dear Leilani,
                    We are so very sorry to hear about your poor dog’s diagnosis! Joey sure is fortunate to have such a loving and attentive pet parent like you taking care of him.
                    We have sent you a private email so that we can help target Joey’s more specific needs.
                    We look forward to working together to help improve his health.

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