Kidney failure, also known as renal failure, is a severe condition for many dogs at different life stages. It can come on slowly due to age or other chronic conditions or affect your dog quite suddenly. The good news is that if it is sudden and you catch it quickly, vets can usually treat kidney failure under your pet insurance for dogs.

Here are some of the most common signs of kidney failure in dogs and what you can do to help keep your pet healthy.

What Is Kidney Failure in Dogs?

Kidneys are responsible for many essential functions in a dog’s body. They filter harmful bacteria and waste, regulate hydration, and release hormones that create new red blood cells. They remove the extra fluid that your dog’s body doesn’t need and help balance out minerals like calcium and potassium, and salts in the blood.

When kidneys fail, it means these critical jobs aren’t happening, and it can lead to a build-up of toxins in the blood and unregulated mineral and fluid levels. If your dog has kidney issues, you need to see your vet through your Wagmo dog insurance plan right away.

There are two types of kidney failure: acute and chronic.

  • Acute kidney failure means a problem has developed suddenly - over several hours or days. It may be caused by poisoning or an infection.
  • Chronic kidney failure means that the issue has developed over a more extended period of time, such as months or years, and may be due to age or other chronic conditions.

How to Recognize Renal Failure in Dogs

There are many common signs of kidney disease to look for. Some you may notice progress over some time. Others may come on quite suddenly. As part of your pet wellness plan, you can have your dog’s urine, and blood analyzed. These tests can help in diagnosing kidney disease early on.

Some signs include:

  • Drinking a lot of water and having to pee a lot
  • Overall depression and weakness because of toxins in the blood
  • More urine in the bladder
  • Low potassium levels in the blood

If your dog has renal failure or kidney failure, it means the disease has worsened. A urinalysis performed as part of your pet wellness plan to detect blood products and protein in the urine can indicate your dog’s kidney disease stage.

There are generally four stages of kidney disease, with 4 being the most serious. The higher the stage, the more symptoms you are likely to see in your dog. These symptoms are:

  • Pale gums
  • Blood in their urine
  • Significant weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Breath that smells like chemicals
  • Vomiting
  • Stumbling or staggering movement

Causes of Kidney Failure in Dogs

Anything that prohibits blood from circulating or affects the kidneys can cause kidney failure. Often kidney disease is linked to other chronic conditions or age.

Geriatric Degradation

The most common cause of kidney failure in dogs is Geriatric Degradation, which is when the kidney cells start to die due to old age. Other causes include:

Congenital Disease

If your dog has abnormally developed kidneys or cysts, these can lead to problems in kidney function.

Bacterial Infections

If your dog has been drinking or swimming in contaminated water, it could get an infection that can cause kidney damage. This is often a cause of acute kidney failure.


If your dog ate poison or poisonous foods to dogs such as chocolate, grapes, or onions, or if they came in contact with medication, they may have toxicosis or kidney poisoning.

How To Treat Kidney Failure in Dogs

Pet insurance for dogs is essential for pet emergencies like kidney failure. Suppose your veterinarian has diagnosed your dog with acute kidney failure. In that case, the good news is there are many treatment options, and if you catch it early, in many cases, your dog will make a full recovery.

There is no cure for chronic kidney failure, but your vet may run tests to look for other causes of renal failure or determine what stage your dog is in. Once they have this information, they can help you manage the disease.

Treatments for kidney failure include an IV to help your dog stay hydrated with the minerals they need. They may also have dialysis to help filter the blood if their kidneys have stopped working altogether. Antibiotics can also help get rid of infections in the blood so the kidneys can recover.

Wellness For Good Health

Preventing kidney damage is essential for a pet owner. Make sure you aren’t storing poisons or medications where your dog can get to them. Keep chocolate and other poisonous items out of reach. Always monitor your dog for signs of infection if they’ve been swimming in any dirty water.

Regular wellness checks through a pet wellness plan can also help monitor for any signs or symptoms of kidney disease so you can treat it early. In some cases, it is just old age that causes kidney failure. Wagmo dog insurance helps cover pet owners in case of emergencies like renal failure, so you don’t have to make a choice between treating your dog or paying the bills.

If you have questions about pet insurance for dogs or how Wagmo dog insurance can help you keep your dog healthy, contact us today. We’ve got options for every budget that covers unexpected illness and injury. You can even save when you get coverage for multiple pets. Contact us today to get started.