Chronic kidney disease in dogs

The kidneys contain millions of microscopic structures which perform a host of complex tasks that keep your dog healthy. Their primary function is to conserve water and filter out metabolic byproducts from the blood. 

They also have a role in controlling blood pressure, maintaining electrolyte balances, supporting red blood cell production, and conserving protein in the body. Kidney function may decline for many reasons, including age, inflammation, infection, or cancer.    

What are common chronic kidney disease signs in dogs?

An early sign includes:

  • Increased thirst and urination

Intermediate to advanced signs include: 

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Loss of vision
  • Bad breath or mouth ulcers

Increased thirst can be an early sign of chronic kidney disease in dogs


How is chronic kidney disease managed in dogs?  

Once any underlying conditions are addressed, a treatment plan is based on your dog’s disease stage. 

The first step is a prescription diet that allows the kidneys to do their job more easily. At more advanced stages, supportive measures may include supplemental hydration with fluids, as well as medications to reduce nausea, stimulate appetite, reduce blood pressure, balance electrolytes, conserve protein, and stimulate red blood cell production. 

Dogs with chronic kidney disease need regular diagnostic testing to monitor their status and prognosis.

What is the prognosis for dogs with chronic kidney disease?

Most chronic kidney disease cases are irreversible and progressive. Prognosis depends on an individual dog’s treatment response and the disease stage at the time of diagnosis. 

If chronic kidney disease is caught early, many dogs can have a good quality of life for several years. However, dogs at later stages require more intensive treatment and have a shorter lifespan.

Management tips for dogs with chronic kidney disease

At-home needs include:

  • A warm, comfortable place to sleep
  • Easy access to food and water
  • A palatable kidney prescription diet
  • Fluids administered under the skin, if directed by your veterinarian
  • Consistency with medications

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately contact your vet if your dog stops eating or urinating, cannot walk, vomits excessively, vocalises in pain, or is having seizures or difficulty breathing.

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your dog‘s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. Our services can even be pre-paid to help ease the financial burden at the time of your pet’s passing. 

To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give us a call on 1800 953 619 or visit our website goodbyegoodboy.com.au.



This article was reproduced with permission from Goodbye Good Boy advisor Dr Dani McVety, of Lap Of Love.