Your pup’s kidneys play a vital role in removing toxins from his body and regulating hydration, among other things. When the kidneys fail, they are no longer able to rid the body of these harmful substances. There are two kinds of kidney failure: acute and chronic. The term “acute” means that the kidney (renal) failure occurs rapidly and suddenly, which can result in life-threatening complications.

What causes acute kidney failure in dogs?

There are a number of things that can cause acute kidney failure in dogs, including:

  • Ingesting toxins, such as over-the-counter medications, foods and plants that are poisonous to dogs and cats, insecticides, pesticides, and household cleaning products.
  • Bacterial infections such as leptospirosis.
  • Decreased blood flow and oxygen to the kidneys.
  • Dehydration from other systemic diseases.

What are the symptoms of acute kidney failure?

Acute kidney failure in dogs is an abrupt and severe disease process. However, it can be reversed in some cases if caught early. If you notice your pup showing any of the following clinical signs of renal failure, bring him to see an emergency vet as soon as possible.

  • Increased thirst and urination (in the early stages of the disease)
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Oral ulceration
  • Blood in urine
  • Pale gums
  • Mobility issues (stumbling and struggling to move)

How is acute kidney failure treated in dogs?

If you bring your dog in to see us at East Valley Animal Hospital for suspected kidney failure, we will run routine blood and urine tests to check for a balance of red and white blood cells, elevated kidney values, elevated phosphorus levels, and altered electrolytes.

Hydration via IV fluid therapy is the first step in treating renal failure in dogs. Hydrating the body helps flush out toxins, giving the kidneys time to recover. Other drugs are sometimes given in order to increase the production of urine. If there are clinical signs of bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed. Gastrointestinal protectants, such as Pepcid or Prilosec, are also sometimes prescribed, as GI ulceration is a concern for patients experiencing kidney failure. Some dogs experience high blood pressure with acute kidney failure and may require medication to lower their blood pressure. Dietary changes may also be necessary. Depending on your dog’s symptoms, an individualized treatment plan will be applied. More aggressive treatments, such as dialysis, will be considered if the disease process is advanced.

Contact Us

The sooner acute kidney failure is treated in dogs, the better the prognosis. Speak with our veterinarians at East Valley Animal Hospital right away if you suspect your pup might be suffering from kidney problems. We are here for you and your pet each week from Monday-Saturday for emergencies. If it is outside of our normal hours, be sure to get your pup to your closest local emergency vet immediately.


Photo by Chewy on Unsplash (10/26/2020)