Signs of Kidney Failure in Dogs

Symptoms of kidney disease can be subtle, often starting with your dog drinking lots more water.


Signs of kidney disease in dogs may be subtle and easy to miss. They also are not  specific for renal (kidney) problems and can indicate other health issues, like diabetes, heatstroke, and liver disease.

The first symptoms of kidney disease in dogs are often only noted by an astute owner. You might notice that your chowhound is not cleaning up all his meals or even skipping a meal now and then. He may walk over to his bowl, drool a bit, and then walk away, which suggests nausea.

A solid symptom of kidney problems in a dog is having to fill the water bowl an extra time during the day because your dog is so thirsty. Of course, your dog is asking to go out every couple of hours instead of his normal four times a day or he is having accidents in the house. The urine may have a strong odor and a very dark color. You might even notice some blood. On top of all that, your dog may have lost his interest in playing and has dropped a few pounds.

Signs of Kidney Failure in Dog’s Mouth

When you brush your dog’s teeth, you may think his breath seems worse than usual. His gums are likely pale instead of their normal shade of pink. You might notice sores on his gums.

Some dogs will vomit occasionally and, although rarely, a dog may have diarrhea. Weakness in the rear, mimicking fatigue, may be noted.

As you may suspect, none of these signs are specific for kidney disease, but if more than one symptom is present, you should see your veterinarian. If possible, bring a fresh, clean urine sample and expect to have some bloodwork to be ordered.

Acute Kidney Failure in Dogs

The signs noted above are for chronic kidney disease that takes a while to become evident. If your dog has acute kidney failure, such as from a toxin exposure, he will be very sick, with vomiting, drinking large amount or almost no water, no appetite at all. Head right out to your veterinary clinic.

There is no cure for kidney disease, and it is a progressive disease. At the end stages, your dog drastically worsens with lethargy, weakness (possibly including the hind end), vomiting, and a lack of thirst and urination. As the kidneys fail, they no longer produce urine.


  1. Based on my 16 year old cocker spaniel’s blood work the vet said he is starting to have kidney issues. I believe some of this is based on his very senior age. He’s always been fed a raw diet which I will need to eliminate. I’ve been a subscriber for over 25 years can u point me in the direction of home made diets for dogs with kidney issues.
    Thank u,