Types of Kidney Diseases in Dogs

There are a number of kidney diseases found in dogs. Some of those diseases are common to specific breeds, while others are simply a problem that appears in old age.

Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs

Chronic renal failure tops the list most of common kidney diseases found in dogs. It's most common in dogs over the age of seven. Certain breeds, including cocker spaniels, golden retrievers and German shepherds, are more likely to develop this form of kidney failure.

With chronic renal failure, the dog's kidneys fail to filter blood effectively, leading to a buildup of toxins. Other problems that occur when the kidneys fail include electrolyte imbalances and hormonal imbalances that can slow or stop the production of red blood cells.

Symptoms of Chronic Renal Failure include:

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urine output
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Immediate veterinary care is required to save a pet in chronic renal failure. IV fluids, restored electrolyte levels and a low-protein, low-phosphorus diet are necessary.

Juvenile Renal Disease

Juvenile renal disease typically affects puppies. Puppies often develop normally but begin showing symptoms months later. The symptoms are not alarming, so many pet owners miss them until the disease progresses.

The earliest signs of juvenile renal disease are excessive thirst and frequent urination. Puppies often take longer to housebreak and their urine is usually clear and lacks any urine odor. As the disease progresses, symptoms change. You'll now see lethargy, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting and weight loss.

Specific breeds are susceptible to juvenile kidney diseases. The breeds include:

  • Doberman pincers
  • Golden retrievers
  • Malamutes
  • Norwegian elkhounds
  • Samoyeds
  • Poodles

Other breeds can develop juvenile renal disease. It's important to have dogs tested before breeding. If a breeder is not willing to test the parents, you're best off finding a different breeder.

Puppies with juvenile renal disease can survive. Your veterinarian will recommend a low-protein, low-phosphorus diet.

Nephrolithiasis in Dogs

Nephrolithiasis, commonly called kidney stones, are most common in female dogs and one of the most common kidney diseases in dogs. Kidney stones can be a genetic problem, especially in the following breeds:

  • Bichon frise
  • Cocker spaniel
  • Poodle
  • Schnauzer
  • Shih tzu
  • Yorkshire terrier

There are other reasons a dog develops kidney stones. Dogs that are not given frequent opportunities to relieve their bladder are more likely to build up the minerals that cause kidney stones. Diet, prescription medications and an underlying illness or infection may also cause them.

Symptoms of kidney stones vary depending on the size and location of the stone. You may see:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Disinterest in food and water
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • UTIs

A dietary change may be enough to break up smaller kidney stones. In severe cases, surgical removal of the kidney stones may be necessary.

Pyelonephritis Kidney Disease

Pyelonephritis kidney disease occurs when the dog's kidneys become infected. The condition frequently occurs from an untreated UTI.

Symptoms of pyelonephritis include back pain, excessive thirst, pain while urinating, blood-tinged urine, lethargy and straining while urinating. Antibiotics will treat the infection, but it's important to seek care as quickly as possible.

Prevent recurrent UTIs by switching your dog to a high quality dog food that contains cranberries. Cranberries contain antibacterial properties that cling to the walls of the urinary tract.