Interstitial Nephritis in Dogs

Interstitial nephritis in dogs is a disorder affecting the kidneys. Nephritis develops when the spaces of the kidney tubules become inflamed, which in turn will eventually cause the kidneys to lose their function. This disorder can cause the kidneys to lose the ability to control waste within the body. It can get worse over time, and can be life threatening if not treated properly. Kidney diseases are also quite common in dogs, especially mature dogs in old age. Interstitial nephritis is the most common type of kidney disorder in elderly dogs.

Causes of Interstitial Nephritis in Dogs

There are several possible causes of interstitial nephritis in canines, including the following:

  • Severe allergic reactions to medications or drugs
  • Certain infections
  • Dietary issues
  • Poisons or toxins
  • Genetic mutations
  • Stress
  • Side effects of certain antibiotics or medications
  • Old age

Kidney diseases are common in dogs in their older years, and the older your pet is, the higher his risk for developing interstitial nephritis. 

Symptoms of Interstitial Nephritis in Dogs

Pet owners should look for the following signs in their pets for the presence of interstitial nephritis:

  • Bloody or foul smelling urine
  • Fever
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Swollen body parts
  • Weight gain

If you notice any of these signs or you suspect your dog has the disorder, contact a veterinarian promptly to get a diagnosis and proper treatment. 

Interstitial Nephritis Diagnosis

A veterinarian will examine your pet for the presence of fluid in the skin or lungs, and high blood pressure. Other tests performed may include blood chemistry, arterial blood gases, blood count, kidney biopsy and urine analysis. The earlier it has been caught and treated, the better the chances are for a full recovery. 

Treating Interstitial Nephritis in Dogs

Treatment of interstitial nephritis will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. If it is a certain medication or antibiotic that is causing side effects or an allergic reaction, avoidance of this medication should diminish the conditions promptly. If the condition is caused by dietary factors, the meal plans and diet will need to be modified. Sometimes, this means limiting the amount of protein or salt in the diet. Anti-inflammatory medications or corticosteroids may also be used to relieve symptoms of interstitial nephritis in dogs. Surgery may also be required in certain cases.


Interstitial nephritis is usually not a chronic disorder, and can be kept under control with the proper treatment. In some rare occurrences, it can become a chronic condition that will eventually cause the kidneys to fail. It is important to follow up with your veterinarian and follow all instructions provided to you in detail. 

Why the Kidneys Are So Important

The kidneys are extremely important in your pet's overall health. Every day, the kidneys sift through the blood and eliminate toxins and wastes from the body through the urine. The urine then is stored in the bladder and released later. If your pet does not have properly functioning kidneys, he could die very quickly. This is why it is essential to take proper care of the kidneys and to catch kidney diseases and conditions early on.