Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Kidney Disease

How Kidney Disease Affects Dogs

Kidney disease is fairly common in domestic dogs, particularly as they advance in age. While a number of things can contribute to kidney disease, the symptoms tend to be nonspecific. Early diagnosis and intervention may help curb progressive kidney damage in acute cases. However, especially in chronic cases, one or both kidneys usually are severely and irreparably damaged by the time observable signs appear.

Symptoms of Canine Kidney Disease

The symptoms of kidney disease result from the body’s attempt to compensate for the kidneys’ diminishing ability to flush toxins out of circulation. Ultimately, with chronic disease, those attempts are unsuccessful. The symptoms of kidney disease include:

  • Increased thirst and water consumption (polydipsia; often dramatic)
  • Increased urine output (polyuria; often dramatic)
  • Inappropriate urination (in the house, car, elsewhere; “housetraining accidents”)
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia; inappetence)
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Disinterest in normal activities (apathy)
  • Weakness
  • Bad breath (halitosis; ammonia-like smell)
  • Oral ulceration
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Brownish discoloration of the tongue
  • Loose teeth (“rubber jaw”)
  • Abdominal discomfort and pain
  • Swollen extremities (edema; ascites; fluid build-up)
  • Pot-bellied appearance of the abdomen (edema; ascites; fluid build-up)
  • Seizures
  • Bleeding disorders (gastrointestinal hemorrhage; poor blood coagulation/clotting)
  • Poor hair coat and skin condition (dry; flaky)
  • Depression
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Pale gums (mucous membrane pallor; usually mild)
  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Muscle wasting (atrophy)
  • Altered states of consciousness (disorientation; confusion)
  • Collapse
  • Coma
  • Death

As the kidneys deteriorate, the urine becomes less concentrated and lighter in color. Dogs with end-stage kidney failure develop high blood pressure, stop eating, make few if any attempts to urinate and produce little or no urine. They ultimately collapse, go into a coma and die. Unfortunately, owners usually cannot detect chronic kidney disease until the damage has become irreversible.

Dogs at Increased Risk

Kidney disease becomes more common with advancing age. Dogs that have suffered previous episodes of acute renal disease have an increased chance of developing chronic kidney disorders. Certain breeds are reported to have a hereditary or familial predisposition to developing kidney disease, including the Alaskan Malamute, Basenji, Beagle, Bedlington Terrier, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Chow Chow, Cocker Spaniel, Doberman Pinscher, Golden Retriever, Keeshond, Labrador Retriever, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzer, Newfoundland, Norwegian Elkhound, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Rottweiler, Samoyed, Shar-Pei, Shih Tzu, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and Standard Poodle.

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