Kidney and liver failure occur when the organs become damaged or diseased, resulting in their inability to filter harmful toxins from the dog's body. Early symptoms are vague and mimic other diseases.
Both liver failure and kidney failure can be classified as acute or chronic. Acute failure produces a rapid onset of symptoms; chronic failure produces symptoms slowly over a period of time.
In both kidney and liver failure, the disease is fairly advanced before symptoms begin to appear. Early symptoms include increased thirst and urination, loss of appetite, weight loss, and vomiting.
With the advanced stages of liver failure, you may notice that your dog's skin, gums, and eyes appear yellow (jaundiced). You may also notice dark or bloody urine or bloody stool, as well as an enlarged abdomen, seizures, and other neurological signs.
As kidney failure advances, your dog will have a strange smell to his breath, ulcers in his mouth, and pale gums. He may produce bloody urine or no urine at all, and he may experience confusion and disorientation.
During the final stages of kidney or liver failure, your dog will be extremely weak and unable to eat. He may experience swelling in his limbs and prolonged seizures followed by coma.