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Is Kidney Disease Curable in Dogs?

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Kidney disease is a serious condition, but it can be managed if it’s caught early and treated appropriately.

What Do Kidneys Do?

Kidneys do essential work. Some of their main functions include filtering the waste out of your dog’s bloodstream, balancing fluids and nutrients, and helping to maintain blood pressure. When the kidneys are diseased or damaged, it can have a big impact on your dog’s overall health.

Types of Kidney Conditions

There are two types of kidney conditions that can affect your dog.

  • With acute kidney failure, the kidneys lose function rapidly. This type of kidney disease is most often caused by toxic ingestion or infection.
  • Chronic kidney disease happens gradually over time. It can occur in senior dogs as part of the aging process.

Is Kidney Disease Curable in Dogs?

Acute kidney failure is reversible if it’s detected quickly and the dog receives proper treatment. It’s critical to seek medical attention for your dog immediately if you notice symptoms of this condition.

Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease is not curable. However, you may be able to help slow the progress of this illness and manage it with proper treatment.

Signs of Kidney Disease in Dogs

One of the most common early symptoms of kidney disease in dogs is increased thirst. You may need to refill your dog’s water bowl more often than usual. Your pup may also request lots of trips outside to pee because of that extra water intake. Other signs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Black or bloody stool
  • Bad breath

Some of the early symptoms of kidney disease can indicate other health conditions, such as diabetes. It’s important to take your dog to the veterinarian so they can get an accurate diagnosis.

If you suspect your dog is having acute kidney failure, don’t wait to seek medical care. Seizures, coma, and even death can occur without proper treatment.

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What Causes Kidney Disease in Dogs

Kidney ailments can have a number of causes ranging from bacterial infections to dental disease.

Bacterial Infection

A common cause of kidney damage is Leptospirosis, which is a bacterial infection caused by Leptospira. It’s most often contracted by dogs when they drink from contaminated outdoor water. It can also be transmitted through the bite of an infected animal or if tainted soil, water, or food gets into an open wound.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis include fever, muscle tenderness, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, and blood in the urine or stool. It’s a dangerous disorder, but it can be treated with fluid therapy, antibiotics, and other supportive care.

Keep your dog away from stagnant water sources and bring plenty of fresh H2O for them to drink when you hike in the woods. Get more outdoor safety tips.

Toxic Exposure or Ingestion

Various foods and toxins can cause kidney failure, including:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin® and Advil®), aspirin, and naproxen (e.g., Aleve®)
  • Human prescription medications, such as ace inhibitors
  • Antifreeze
  • Rodenticides

Store these foods and substances safely out of paw’s reach and use them carefully. If your dog ingests something harmful, contact your veterinarian immediately.

You can also call The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) Animal Poison Control Center. Their experts are available at 888-426-4435 any time, day or night. A consultation fee may apply, but a portion of this charge is covered if you have a plan from the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance program.

Grapes and raisins are just two foods that can harm your dog. Check out this list of 16 things you should never feed your dog.

Dental Disease

Chronic kidney disease can be related to poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from dental disease can enter your dog’s bloodstream and impact the kidneys as well as other organs, including the heart and liver. Be sure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly at home and schedule annual dental cleanings at your veterinary clinic.

Hereditary Conditions

Kidney disease can be a hereditary condition that your dog has at birth. For instance, your dog might have kidneys that are too large or small, malformed, or have fluid-like cysts. Dogs with hereditary kidney disease will show signs of the disorder when they’re young.

Deterioration Due to Age

Kidneys work hard over the years, and they can lose the ability to function properly as your pup ages. Your veterinarian can help your dog live a long and healthy life by detecting potential issues like kidney disease in their early stages.

You may need to make changes to your dog’s diet and routines as they age. Find out how to care for a senior dog.


To diagnoses kidney disease, your veterinarian will ask about your dog’s health history and symptoms. They’ll conduct a full exam and order diagnostic tests, including bloodwork and a urinalysis.

In some cases, they may recommend imaging, such as a sonogram. This can help them confirm the diagnosis of kidney disease and assess the progression of the illness.


Treatment will depend on the cause of the issue. For instance, if your dog is suffering from acute kidney failure because they ate something harmful, your veterinarian may induce vomiting to remove the toxin from their body.

If your dog has a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will recommend antibiotics to clear it out. Your pooch may also benefit from supportive treatments, such as intravenous fluid therapy for dehydration.

For cases of chronic kidney disease, your veterinarian will focus on slowing the progression of the disease and improving your dog’s quality of life. This can include administering medications, monitoring kidney function, and making dietary changes.

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What to Feed a Dog with Kidney Disease

Your veterinarian can give you advice on what to feed a dog with kidney disease. They may recommend a prescription dog food along with omega-3 fatty acid supplements to support kidney function.

Generally, dogs with kidney disease need to eat a low protein, low sodium diet. Eating less protein helps reduce the amount of waste in the bloodstream for the kidneys to filter. Too much sodium can raise your dog’s blood pressure and further damage the kidneys.

Dogs with kidney disease should not eat treats high in protein, such as jerky, cheese, rawhide, and pig ears. They should also avoid goodies that have lots of salt, like deli meat, cheese, and some commercial dog treats.

Give your dog cut-up bits of safe fruits and vegetables, like apples, carrots, or green beans, as a healthy, homemade treat.

How Long Can a Dog Live with Kidney Disease

Dogs with chronic kidney disease can live a long and happy life if it’s caught early and managed appropriately. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations on diet, exercise, medication, and check-ups to monitor the progress of the disease.

How to Prevent Kidney Disease in Dogs

There are things you can do to help prevent kidney disease in your dog. For instance:

  • Store medications safely – Avoid leaving them on low nightstands, counters, or coffee tables where your dog could knock them over and ingest them.
  • Choose a safer antifreeze – Purchase propylene glycol-based antifreeze, which is less toxic to dogs than ethylene glycol antifreeze. Also, be sure to clean up any spills thoroughly.
  • Take precautions with pesticides and rodenticides – If you use these products, follow the directions carefully. For example, you might need to keep your dog away from treated areas for a certain amount of time.
  • Schedule your dog’s annual exams – Regular check-ups help your veterinarian detect ailments like kidney disease early and improve the prognosis of your pup.
  • Maintain your dog’s weight – Obesity can affect the kidneys as well as your dog’s heart, joints, and other organs.

If your dog suffers from kidney disease or failure, pet insurance can help you manage the costs of care. Find out if pet insurance is worth it for you and your dog.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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