What Are The Signs Of Kidney Failure In Old Dogs?

What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs: a question that looms with increasing importance as our canine companions age. In this article, we’ll break down the common indicators, helping you understand and care for your aging dogs.

When the kidneys fail, waste products can build up in the blood, which can be harmful to the body. What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs? Let’s find out.


Senior dogs are at higher risk of kidney failure and disease. This can be a hazardous condition for dogs and needs to be caught early if your dog is going to have the best chance at making a quick and complete recovery.

Thankfully, there are several factors that you can look out for. What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs? Keep reading to learn what these are to keep your dog fighting fit!

What Are The Signs Of Kidney Failure In Old Dogs: Key Points

What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs? Many symptoms in dogs might suggest they suffer from kidney failure, including drinking more water, blindness, vomiting and diarrhea, and lethargy.

These symptoms will get stronger as your dog progresses through the four stages of kidney failure.

Your vet will conduct a series of tests to determine whether your dog has kidney failure.

If they do, don’t panic. You can treat this with changes to diet, medication, and fluid therapy.

Senior dogs are more at risk of kidney failure, so keeping up with your dog’s routine checkups is essential.

These can help diagnose kidney issues as soon as possible, which is important, and stages I and II hardly trigger any symptoms.

What Is Kidney Failure?

Before we delve into the question ‘What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs,’ let’s first discuss what kidney failure is.

Kidney failure, a severe and potentially fatal condition in dogs, occurs when their kidneys cease proper function.

Responsible for various tasks, the kidneys act as the body’s cleansers, removing toxins. When kidneys fail, toxins accumulate, leading to widespread issues, including digestive problems. Renal and kidney failure are closely linked to digestive system complications.

Potential Kidney Failure Symptoms In Dogs

What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs that manifest in the early stages?

Potential Kidney Failure Symptoms In Dogs

Kidney failure in old dogs can present a variety of symptoms. What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs, and how can you distinguish them from other dog health issues?

“How can you tell when my kidneys start failing? They’re inside my body! You can’t see them!”

A few visible symptoms can suggest a problem with a dog’s kidneys.

“What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs that you should watch out for? You’d better take notes and remember them all!”

Kidneys perform a wide range of different functions, and all dogs are different. This means that one dog might exhibit various symptoms to another, so there is a long list of signs you need to look out for.

“Take me to a vet if any of these problems occur!”

These symptoms can appear suddenly and progressively, so this is no sign of whether the problem is kidney-related. What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs? Let’s look at the most common ones:

1. Drinking And Urinating More Frequently

Understanding the signs of kidney failure in old dogs is crucial as the kidneys play a vital role in removing waste and excess fluid from your dog’s body. If your dog’s kidneys aren’t working as they should, it can result in your dog needing to drink more and urinate more.

Renal problems can mean that the kidneys can no longer retain water as they should.

Most adult dogs need to urinate between three and five times a day, so if your dog is going any more than this, there might be cause for concern.

Long-term medications, such as steroids, can negatively affect the kidneys.

Consider whether your dog has been on any medications that could adversely impact kidney function. If you’re unsure, contact your veterinarian for confirmation.

2. Appetite Issues

What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs that can result in issues with your dog’s appetite? They may experience a loss of appetite and stop eating as much as they should, leading to weight loss.

appetite issues in dogs

3. Vomiting And Diarrhea

What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs when manifested through digestive disturbances? Vigilance is key.

If kidneys fail to remove waste from the body, the waste must be removed another way often resulting in your dog vomiting and having diarrhea.

Another reason for kidney failure causing vomiting and diarrhea is that the toxins trapped in the body are making your dog ill.

It’s the body’s natural instinct to remove toxins to prevent this issue, so vomiting is helping your dog remain healthy when their kidneys fail.

4. Pale Gums

Anaemia is a common side effect of renal problems as the kidneys produce red blood cells. Without enough red blood cells, anaemia can occur. In dogs, anaemia is often first spotted by pale gums.

Other causes of anaemia in dogs include severe blood loss due to injury, autoimmune diseases, Hypothyroidism, and tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease.

5. Sudden Blindness

Renal problems can result in your dog suffering from high blood pressure.

There are many reasons for this, including sodium retention, sympathetic nerve stimulation, and the activation of the renin-angiotensin system.

One of the most extreme signs of high blood pressure in dogs is sudden blindness.

If your dog is struggling to see or seems to be bumping into objects, get it checked out immediately.

6. Overall Lethargy

Kidney problems may lead to poor nutrient absorption and improper waste expulsion, causing your dog to feel weak or less lively. While older dogs naturally experience a gradual decline in energy with age, kidney issues can expedite this process.

lethargy in dogs

“That’s a lot of symptoms! Do they all mean my kidneys are failing?”

Not necessarily! Many of these symptoms are shared by other illnesses that are less serious as well.

“That’s why the vet is so important!”

That’s right. If your senior dog exhibits any of these symptoms, take them to the vet, and don’t panic.

They may have a less severe illness, but the earlier kidney failure is diagnosed, the easier it is to deal with.

A good preventative measure is to book your dog in with a veterinarian once or twice a year for a checkup.

Here your dog will have basic tests done, such as a blood test to check kidney function to ensure they’re healthy.

These checkups can diagnose health issues earlier, improving the efficiency of treatment.

How Is Kidney Failure Diagnosed In Dogs?

Exploring the questions “What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs?” and “How is kidney failure diagnosed in dogs?” is crucial for pet owners navigating the challenges of caring for aging canine companions.

When faced with concerns about kidney health, seeking professional guidance is important. What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs that veterinarians consider during diagnosis?

How Is Kidney Failure Diagnosed in Dogs?

“Do you have to take me to the vet?”

Yes, it’s the only way to get kidney failure diagnosed correctly.

“What will the vet do?”

The vet will do a series of tests to see how your kidneys are functioning.

“What kind of tests? Will they hurt?”

There are several tests that a veterinarian can do to check the condition of your dog’s kidneys. The first tests are blood and urine samples.

As the kidney works to remove waste from urine and make sure blood has enough red blood cells, there are signs in these samples that will show problems with the kidneys.

“This all sounds expensive. Will these tests cost you a lot?”

A checkup at the vet can cost around £50, with the blood cells, blood biochemistry, and blood salts tests costing around £65.

This will differ slightly on your location and dog, as all vets set their rates differently. Insuring your dog will also help to keep costs down.

While high blood pressure alone isn’t a direct sign of kidney failure, it can be used as part of other tests to detect potential issues. Your vet may also give your dog an ultrasound or x-ray to examine your dog’s kidneys, looking for changes in size or appearance indicative of kidney failure.

If your dog has been diagnosed with kidney disease, it’s crucial to understand their stage. This guide on “What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs will discuss how veterinarians categorize the stages of kidney disease in dogs.

When kidney failure has been identified, the vet may do more tests to see what stage the disease has reached. There are four stages with Stage I being the earliest stage and Stage IV the latest.

Stages Of Kidney Failure In DogsSymptoms
Stage IClinical symptoms are not often showing up. You might see diluted urine and unusually high amounts of protein in the urine, and examining the kidney might feel abnormal
Stage IIMinimal to a few symptoms present. The most common include lower appetite and weight loss
Stage IIIMany symptoms are noticed, with dogs often presenting as ‘unwell’. Symptoms include a change in coat and skin, weight loss, lethargy, and vomiting
Stage IVMost or all symptoms present with dogs often showing in a crisis state. Your vet will work with you to keep your dog happy and comfortable

What Is The Treatment for Kidney Failure?

In this guide on “What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs,” we’ll explore practical approaches to enhance the quality of life for dogs diagnosed with kidney failure.

What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs that can be managed with dietary changes, medications, and fluid therapy?

treatment for kidney failure in dogs

“Treatment? Does this mean I’ll get some treats?”

It means that the vet will decide how to treat your kidney disease.

“What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs that veterinarians look for? How will the vet treat me?”

The treatment will vary depending on how far the disease and failure have progressed.

Now that you know the answer to the question ‘what are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs,’ let’s explore some treatment options.


This is the most common treatment. Your vet may prescribe a specific diet for your dogs. The contents of the diet will depend on kidney disease.

Still, the food should include fewer filler ingredients to produce less waste. This will give the kidneys less work to do.

You can get this food directly from your veterinarian’s office, at your local pet store, or online.


Many of the symptoms we listed earlier need their own treatments as well. Your dog may need medication to prevent vomiting or to help with eye problems, for example.

Your vet may also suggest vitamin supplements to try and counteract the problems caused by kidney disease.

A good example is vitamin E, which works as an antioxidant in the body to promote overall health.

Senior dogs can benefit from optimal vitamin levels, which is a great way to help your dog naturally. Only take supplements suggested by the vet, however.

Fluid Therapy

Dogs that are suffering from dehydration may be given fluid therapy.

It can be injected under the skin or delivered by an IV and will replace some of the fluids your dog lacks. It will also help the kidneys flush out any toxins.

Depending on the severity of your dog’s kidney failure, your veterinarian might recommend giving them fluid therapy once a day or a few times a week.

The fluid is a simple saline solution to flush out the toxins and replenish your dog’s fluid levels.


This guide delves into the crucial question, “What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs?”, offers insights into recognizing early indicators, understanding kidney failure complexity, and taking proactive measures for your aging canine’s well-being.

Stay vigilant, be attentive, and cherish every moment with your aging canine companions.

What are the signs of kidney failure in old dogs: a question answered, an insight gained, and a commitment made to the enduring health of your cherished pets.

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