Vet Blog

Symptoms of Dog Kidney Failure

May 16, 2022

It can be terrifying to watch your pet go through dog kidney failure.

Thankfully though, many signs can help us find out the exact cause and the condition that is occurring. When the kidneys fail and shut down, this triggers the rest of the body to do the same out of stress. Kidneys are really important!

What is Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure is a serious and fatal condition where a dog's kidneys begin to shut down. This is not good, considering the kidneys are responsible for many different tasks. The kidneys are the cleaners of the body, and this means they clean the toxin out of your system and send it down as waste. It is the same for both humans and dogs.

When this stops working though and begins to fail, then the same toxins are released throughout the body and don't leave. This can cause a lot of problems, including digestive system issues! Renal and kidney failure connect directly with the digestive system.

The Causes of Kidney Failure

There are a few common causes of kidney failure that we can discuss. Most of these are preventable. However, underlying diseases with a hereditary component are up to luck and genetics. There is no way to prevent this cause. However, you can watch your dog's symptoms to see if it is starting. Just because there is a genetic link, though, does not mean that all dogs with a parent with kidney failure will also have kidney failure.

Dental Diseases are the number one cause of kidney failure in dogs. It is not easy to clean a dog's mouth and teeth, especially if pet owners did not raise them with this action. This is not good, though, since the bacteria in your dog's mouth can infect the gums and the tooth. When this infection starts, it continues to develop in the bloodstream. This can be fatal and very painful!

Other than the bacteria in a dog's mouth, Bacterial infections can also cause kidney failure. Any harmful bacteria targeting the veins and bloodstream can cause severe problems, like total kidney failure.

5 Common Symptoms of Kidney Failure

Now that we understand this condition better, we can dive into the common symptoms and signs to watch out for in dogs. The faster you catch it, the better your pup's chance of survival and recovery!

Weight Loss

Has your dog recently lost a lot of weight and does not seem excited about food? This is a common symptom and sign of kidney failure. It is hard to detect, though, as many other conditions also cause rapid weight loss and loss of appetite.


Lethargy is another common sign of kidney failure. As the body's organs begin to slow down and shut down, this causes a decrease in energy levels and an increase in exhaustion. If your once energetic dog is now sleeping and limping, it can be the start or development of kidney failure.

Bleeding or Pale Gums

The tell-tale sign, though, that your dog is undergoing kidney failure is when there are bleeding and pale gums. The gums of your dog are usually bubble gum pink. However, the less color they have, the more worries there are. This indicates a problem with blood circulation and hydration.

If the gums are bleeding, this is severe, and you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible!


The toxins released from the damaged and failing kidney sometimes causes ulcers inside and outside of your dog's body. They are common in the stomach as well as a dog's mouth. Ulcers burn and cause discomfort and pain. If the ulcer continues to get irritated, it can develop into an infection or tear.

Blood in Waste (Solid and Urine)

Once you spot blood in your dog's waste, this is very severe and needs to be treated by a professional! Since the kidney cleans out the toxins, when it is not working properly, this causes digestive issue problems. It can be hard to push stool for your dog, causing bleeding. The same goes for your dog's urine. If the kidneys are not working as they should, they can release blood or a 'cloudiness' into your dog's urine.

What to Do if You Notice These Signs

As soon as you notice a mixture of these signs and symptoms, take your dog to the emergency vet! If you can, call them while you are on your way to explain the situation. Whatever you do, though, try and seek medical attention for your dog! Kidney failure leads to death and other damaged organs if not taken care of immediately.


All in all, there is not a lot you can do to prevent kidney failure, however, you can watch out for the common signs and symptoms so you are on top of the treatment, care, and vet visits. This is serious and can cause alarming issues like the development of painfully large ulcers as well as blood in the stool and urine.

Always take your dog to the vet if you assume or think that something is wrong! There are tests, like scans, that can show the vet what is going on inside of your dog's body. Call us today at (480) 339-0406 or Request an Appointment.