Signs & Symptoms of End Stage Kidney Failure in Dogs

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Signs & Symptoms of End Stage Kidney Failure in Dogs
Lethargy is a symptom of kidney failure. (Image by, courtesy of Jose Roberto V. Moraes)

End stage kidney failure is common in older dogs and is often untreatable or leaves making the dog comfortable in his last days the only option. Caused by damage over time or a naturally occurring genetic flaw, it is considered a fatal condition.

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Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is a chronic inflammation of tissue in the kidneys of dogs. Inflammation permanently damages the kidneys and compromises the normal regulation of metabolism and waste.

Normal Function

Kidneys in dogs regulate cell fluid, solids in the blood, and the pH balance of body fluids. They also remove metabolic waste and help promote production of red blood cells.

Signs & Symptoms

Obvious signs of kidney failure are sudden and defined weight loss and drop in appetite, increased thirst and dehydration, and higher frequency of urination. The dog may also become more lethargic and deny usual activities.


Veterinarians suspecting kidney failure in dogs perform a thorough physical examination and evaluate the dog's medical history. They also order a urinalysis and blood chemistry analysis.


Damaged kidneys in dogs progress quickly and painfully worsen. Low-protein, high-quality food and antibiotics can delay complete failure, but treatment is time-consuming and expensive. Successful kidney transplants are rare, and euthanasia is considered the more humane treatment.

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