kidney health for dogs

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What is kidney failure in dogs?

Kidney failure is a condition that damages your dog’s kidneys, leading to kidney or renal disease. The most common form is known as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), which affects about 1 in every 10 dogs.1

Your dog’s kidneys are vital to removing waste substances from the bloodstream and maintaining the balance of fluid and minerals within the body. But if the kidneys can’t do their job, the result could be life-threatening for your dog.

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What causes kidney disease in dogs?

There are two main categories of kidney failure in dogs: acute and chronic. Signs of acute renal failure usually manifest over a week or month’s time, while chronic renal failure is present for a longer period. Common causes of kidney failure include:

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The chance of developing kidney disease greatly increases as dogs get older (over 10-15 years of age)


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Some dog foods high in phosphorus, sodium, and protein can accelerate the progression of CKD.


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Some breeds are more likely to develop certain kidney conditions.

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Other illnesses and health issues can contribute to the worsening of CKD in dogs.


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Any conditions that lead to dehydration (eg, vomiting, diarrhoea, shock) can worsen kidney function and contribute to CKD progression


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Early detection of kidney failure in your dog

Signs of serious illness only appear after 75% of kidney function is already lost, so the sooner kidney disease is diagnosed, the more time there is to address the underlying cause or slow the disease’s progression. CKD is progressive and irreversible, but your veterinarian can help provide long-term care and show you how to track signs in older dogs.


What are the signs of kidney disease in dogs?

The signs of early-stage kidney disease are not visible. On diagnosis, CKD has already been present for some time but may be managed with the help of vet-approved dog food for kidney disease. Signs of late-stage kidney disease tend to be similar but are far more noticeable to pet parents.


  • Increased thirst 
  • Frequent or no urination
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat appearance
  • Bad breath or a sore mouth
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Constipation
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Nutrition for dogs with kidney disease

If your dog has kidney problems, the right nutrition may be able to make a positive impact on their lives and potentially even lengthen their lifespan. Specially formulated nutrition for dogs with kidney disease can be beneficial by having less protein and phosphorous than other pet foods. Phosphorus restriction can lessen the severity of the symptoms and progression of kidney damage, while controlled, high-quality proteins can help restore normal acid-base levels.

What about nutritional yeast for dogs with kidney disease?

While it has gained some popularity online, yeast is relatively high in phosphorus, which could be a concern for dogs with CKD. Similarly, many websites now propose creating a raw diet for dogs with kidney disease but fail to mention the range of factors to consider, such as contamination risks, providing the right balance of nutrients, and the overall cost. When looking into nutritional options for dogs with kidney disease, it’s always best to get a specific recommendation from your veterinarian.

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1Lulich JP, Osborne CA, O’Brien TD, Polzin DJ. Feline renal failure: questions, answers, questions. Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet. 1992;14(2):127–153.