Canine and Feline Kidney Failure Symptoms - What You Need To Know Helping You Detect Kidney Disease Symptoms in Cats and Dogs

Canine and Feline Kidney Failure Symptoms - What You Need To Know
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The symptoms of kidney disease can include inability to control urine and excessive thirst. Learn more at PetCareRx.

The symptoms of kidney disease can vary depending on the type of disorder affecting your cat or dog. Pain in the kidney area and blood or pus in the urine point to a bacterial infection of the kidneys. This condition is usually successfully cured with antibiotics, but if not treated in time, a bacterial infection can lead to kidney failure.

Kidney Failure

There are many other causes of kidney failure in dogs and cats including viruses, cysts, trauma, poisoning, and, the most common, advanced age. Depending on the origin of the disease, kidney failure may be acute or chronic.

Pets that suffer acute kidney failure may suddenly be unable to control urination, have excessive thirst, and quickly display more serious symptoms. Those with chronic renal failure may be asymptomatic for a long time before you begin to notice problem such as needing to drink or urinate more frequently; these symptoms slowly lead to other problems associated with kidney failure

In the majority of cases, kidney failure in dogs and cats results from long-standing problems that slowly destroy the organs. There is likely to be no sign of a problem as long as 25 percent of the kidney’s nephrons, tubes that serve as filters, are working. As nephrons continue to die, you will see those first noticeable signs of a problem (increased thirst and frequent urination). At that point, you cannot stop the progression of the kidney damage, but appropriate treatments may relieve some of your pet’s symptoms and discomfort.

Signs of Uremic Poisoning

As your pet’s kidneys continue to fail, you will see more serious symptoms develop.  Dogs and cats with late stage renal failure will retain ammonia, nitrogen, acids, and other body wastes. This is known as uremic poisoning. Symptoms of uremic poisoning include:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Refusal to eat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry coat
  • Discoloration on the tongue


Pets with chronic kidney failure often have high blood pressure, which can contribute to further loss of kidney function. It may also cause blindness. If a veterinarian confirms hypertension, you may be able to manage your pet’s high blood pressure with medications such as Benazepril.

Cats and dogs with chronic kidney failure may also have hyperparathyroidism in which the body secretes too much of the parathyroid hormone (PTH). Pets with hyperparathyroidism lack a certain type of vitamin D and can develop several problems including tooth loss and softening of the lower jaw, which creates a condition known as “rubber jaw.”

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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