Kidney Problems in Dogs

Claire Dunling

Kidneys are proactive and multifunctional organs. Not only do they regulate urine production and eliminate toxins from the body but they also help to control blood pressure, maintain equal amounts of minerals in the body and assist red blood cell production. Depending on external or hereditary factors, dogs can be affected by acute or chronic kidney disease. Read on to find out how to spot the telltale signs and how you can prevent kidney problems in dogs.

Causes of dog kidney problems

While kidney problems in dogs cannot be prevented, there are some factors which could mean your dog is more susceptible to kidney disease than others:

Any internal or environmental factor which stops the kidneys functioning is considered as renal or kidney disease. However, each condition can vary in severity depending on whether the condition is considered acute or chronic.

When a kidney issue is described as acute, this means it has happened suddenly and is usually a cause of another condition like kidney stones, infections or if they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have like grapes, raisins or antifreeze.

In most cases, chronic renal problems are incurable and means that the condition has probably developed unnoticed for years. It is usually a result of a hereditary condition or, surprisingly, a result of untreated dental disease. If the condition is detected early on, managed by a specific medical plan and diet dogs can make a full recovery from chronic kidney issues in exceptional circumstances.

Sadly, some dog breeds are predisposed to renal failure, including Bull Terriers, German Shepherds and English Cocker Spaniels. The likelihood of being affected by kidney disease is increased over the age of 7 so it is important to keep a closer eye on them as they get older. While kidney problems cannot always be avoided, some preventative measures can be taken:

Symptoms of dog kidney problems

Diagnosing kidney problems

As soon as you notice any of the above symptoms, a visit to the vets is essential. Your vet will take a urine sample to help assess if the kidneys are working as they ought to be. Blood tests will also be undertaken to check on your dog’s overall health and to see if a build-up of toxins has affected any other organs.

How to treat dog kidney problems


A course of medication will undoubtedly be a part of your dog’s recovery from kidney disease. The type of medication and duration of use will depend on the severity of their condition. Your vet may suggest providing a supplement alongside their prescription medication.  For instance, the Pronefra Food Supplement is a good option because it contains ingredients that help to bind vital minerals like phosphorus and helps to extract uremic toxins found in the kidneys.


A fundamental part of managing your dog’s renal condition is by providing a specially formulated diet that is low in phosphorus, sodium and calcium.  The Royal Canin renal range is an ideal option as it contains nutritional ingredients like beet pulp, psyllium seeds and fish oil. All of these ingredients are jam-packed with EPA/DHA’s, or otherwise known as omega-3 and omega-6’s. As you may know, dogs are creatures of habit so going from their beloved old favourite food to something new and probably less tasty will take some getting used to. It’s good advice to gradually introduce their new diet in stages. Think 20:80 ratio for the first week and gradually up their new prescription diet over the coming weeks.

Keeping your dog hydrated is also a top priority if they’re suffering from renal issues. So, always make sure fresh drinking water is available. Remember to always notify your vet of any changes to your dog’s diet – they will be the best source of information on how to help your dog adjust to their new diet.

This article is for guidance only and if you have any concerns about your pet you should always seek the advice of a qualified vet.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!