Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs: What Are Their Symptoms and Treatment?

Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs: What Are Their Symptoms and Treatment?

August 5, 2011 | Dog Diseases | Leave a Comment |

Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs

Chronic kidney disease or chronic renal failure (CRF) is a disease that involves the prolonged loss of functional renal tissue. It can affect all dog breeds and is most common with older animals, usually 7 years old and up. Some breeds are thought to be more susceptible to the diseases than others.

Breeds thought most susceptible to CRF include:

  • Bull Terrier
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Lasa Apso
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Samoyed
  • Shih Tzu

CRF can be life threatening because the kidney filters out toxins from the blood, excreting it as urine.

A problem with the kidneys can lead to problems with the rest of the body. There are a number of possible causes of CRF, they the following:

  • Ischemia, or the lack of or slowed amount of blood and oxygen flow into the renal cells.
  • Infections
  • Toxins
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Inflammatory disease processes

Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs Symptom

The symptoms of chronic renal failure in dogs may not be noticeable till the later stages of the diseases. Detecting and treating the problem early on can help to improve prognosis. Some of the symptoms owners should be looking out for include:

  • Increased thirst, increased drinking
  • Increased frequency of urination, in later stages the kidneys may produce only small amounts of urine.
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia, lack of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Depression
  • Bad breath can be described as breath that smells like urine. It is caused by the increased amount of urea in the blood stream.
  • Scratching, this may be observed towards the later stages of the diseases when the urea in the blood irritates the skin.
  • Lack of coordination when walking


Identifying CRF is important in treating it. Some of the diagnostic tests that owners can expect include:

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood studies
  • Imaging studies (e.g. UTZ)
  • Arterial blood  gas analysis

Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs Treatment

Unlike Acute Renal Failure, CRF is irreversible. There is no cure for the disease and the goal of treatment would be to delay the progress of the disease process and to improve the dog’s quality of life. Early detection is crucial. Owners can work with their vets to determine the appropriate treatment plan for their dogs.

Expected treatment procedures include:

  • Fluid therapy and fluid and electrolyte replacement therapy
  • Dietary changes, limiting protein and phosphorus intake
  • Frequent blood level monitoring and management of imbalances
  • Supportive care with urine output monitoring
  • Rest
  • Control of symptoms like nausea and vomiting

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