There are numerous signs of kidney disease in dogs and they can range very subtle and fairly non-specific, to the complete opposite where they are severe.
If it is a chronic form of kidney disease, the signs your dog shows may be very slow in developing.
In this case, it may just appear that your dog is simply not feeling well, unless you know and understand the different signs to watch for.
However, if it is an acute form caused by something like a toxic reaction, the signs will be both very rapid as well as quite severe.
There are several potential causes of kidney disease, but in the vast majority of cases it is the result of your dog aging and their kidneys slowing starting to fail.
However, there are other causes including congenital and inherited disorders, viral, fungal, or bacterial infections, as well as cancer.
Kidney disease can also be the result of Amyloidosis, which is caused by abnormal deposits of certain types of protein in their kidney, inflammation, or an autoimmune disease.
It can also be the result of some type of trauma or a toxic reaction to a poison or medication.
Signs of kidney disease in dogs come in several variations and can mimic the same signs seen in liver or pancreatic diseases, as well as urinary tract disorders.
However, perhaps the most important thing an owner can do when watching for these signs, is to closely monitor your dog’s weight.
The weight loss will be gradual, but in the end, it will be very apparent and very alarming.
Polydipsia and Polyuria
The first signs of kidney disease in dogs are known as polydipsia and polyuria.
The term polydipsia refers to an extreme as well as excessive amount of water intake by your dog.
This in turn leads to polyuria, which is a formation and then the natural excretion of very large amounts of urine as the result of the excessive drinking.
This condition can also be the signs of diabetes mellitus, liver disease, or high blood calcium, but in the majority of cases, it is the result of kidney failure.
This is very easy for an owner to spot, as a normal dog will intake about 40 to 80 milliliters per pound of body weight each day.
This equals about 6 to 8 cups of water daily for a 40 pound dog.
As such, it is half that amount for a 20 pound dog and double for an 80 pound dog.
Anything that exceeds this level is considered to be polydipsia and should be taken very seriously.
As it increases in severity, your dog may begin to drink from a faucet or from the toilet as their need increases.
If you do suspect this is occurring, completing shut off all other water sources so you can measure the exact amount that your dog is drinking.
If they exceed the normal levels, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Oliguria and Anuria
The next set signs of kidney disease in dogs are referred to as oliguria and anuria, which are the complete opposite of the first set of signs.
Oliguria is a slow decrease in your dog’s urination even though they may be drinking larger amounts of water.
This is a condition that at best is very hard to actually spot in your dog, but anuria is not. Anuria is the lack or urination by your dog, and is almost always the result of acute kidney failure.
It is technically defined as the complete suppression or urine production by your dog’s kidneys.
In a normal and healthy dog, their kidneys produce one to two ml of urine per kilogram of body weight every hour of the day.
If they produce less than 1 ml/kg per hour, it is considered to be oliguria where very little urine is being produced.
If no urine is produced, it is anuria and is now a very serious situation.
There is one thing very important to note about this condition, as it can often be confused with kidney stones.
Kidney stones obstruct urine from passing properly, but they do not result in the lack of urine production, and must be treated in entirely different ways.
The next set of signs of kidney disease in dogs is referred to as nocturia.
If you see this sign in conjunction with either of the first set of signs, there is usually very little doubt about what your dog has.
This is a situation where your dog will start to basically wet their bed at night.
It will usually start as very small amounts but as the kidney disease increases, so does the voiding of urine during your pets sleep.
Hematuria is the presence of red blood cells in your dog’s urine, and it usually is very difficult to spot at first.
However, as it increases, it is much easier to spot.
This condition has several potential causes, but when it is combined with other symptoms; it is yet another set of signs of kidney disease in dogs.
Weight loss is perhaps the most chilling and confusing set of signs simply because in most cases it will make absolutely no sense.
In isolated cases, dogs with kidney disease will become anorexic and stop eating.
However in the majority of cases, especially involving the final stages of the aging process, your dog has a very healthy appetite.
However, it will seem that the more that they eat and drink, the thinner they become.
This is not an illusion; your dog’s body can no longer hold and absorb nutrients and as a result, weight loss occurs.
Signs of kidney disease in dogs will almost always include halitosis, which is bad breath in dogs.
But this is much different than what is referred to as dogs breath, as it will be almost nauseating to owners.
It is the result of a toxic build up in your dog’s blood stream and the result, is a very extreme and foul odor.
Other signs of kidney disease in dogs will include vomiting as well as diarrhea.
Neither one may be severe, but you will begin to notice both occurring much more as your dog’s kidneys begin to fail.
Your dog may also start to develop a hunched position or a reluctance to move at times, because of the pain of this disease.
More signs may include pale mucous membranes from a decrease in red blood cells, as well as ulcers that may form in your dog’s mouth, most commonly on their tongue, gums, or inside or their cheeks.
These signs of kidney disease in dogs are certainly not all conclusive, but represent the major signs that your dog will show with this eventually life taking condition.
In some cases young and middle aged dogs can be treated successfully, but with an older dog, there is very little than can be done other than comforting them in their final days.
In most cases, having them put down is the only viable option as they are basically wasting away right before your eyes.