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When To Put Down A Dog With Kidney Failure?

Just like people, your pet can experience kidney failure.

Often, the disease has progressed to an advanced stage before the symptoms become noticeable.

Fortunately, there are many treatments available to help your pet feel better before they decline, and euthanasia becomes the best option.

Deciding to euthanize your dog due to kidney failure can cause a lot of anxiety and second-guessing.

You love your pet and don’t want to lose them, but don’t want them to suffer either.

Whatever decision you make, your vet can help you understand any medical options available to you and may even be able to help you decide when to humanely bid farewell to your faithful companion.

Canine kidney disease may leave you with many unanswered questions.

When you receive the diagnosis, you may not understand the full scope of what it means.

There’s a huge difference between beginning-stage kidney disease and kidney failure.

Getting to the root of your dog’s state of health can take some time.

Hopefully, you have plenty of time to say goodbye and give your dog much love and happiness in his final days.

This article discusses what to expect from kidney disease and tips on prolonging your dog’s life comfortably.

We also provide some signs that it may be time to consider euthanasia to prevent pain and suffering.

What Your Dog’s Kidneys Do

Before discussing what can go wrong, it’s important to understand how healthy canine kidneys work.

Just as in humans, dog kidneys help regulate their health and well-being.

So, when there is a problem with this organ, it impacts many other parts of the dog’s body.

Kidneys remove waste from the bloodstream, produce urine and conserve water.

When these organs decline, your puppy can quickly lose energy and not seem like themselves.

Still, you may have a glimmer of hope, depending on what your vet tells you about your dog’s disease.

Some dogs live for years after receiving a diagnosis of kidney problems.

However, some dogs aren’t so lucky and may pass away within a few months or sooner.

Kidney Failure Is a Terminal Disease

If you have a dog with kidney failure, it’s important to understand that this is a terminal diagnosis.

So, it’s time to prepare yourself to say goodbye and make your dog as comfortable as possible.

Sometimes, euthanizing is referred to as putting your dog to sleep.

Any way you think about it, it’s not an easy decision.

Therefore, it’s important to trust your vet’s expert guidance when it comes to taking the course of action that has your animal’s best interest at heart.

Many dog owners believe that kidney disease is the same thing as kidney failure.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Kidney disease refers to the deterioration of the kidneys which can cause issues for your dog’s health.

However, a dog with kidney disease can still produce urine but waste products may still build up in the bloodstream, causing your dog to get sick over time.

One of the main problems with treating kidney disease is that pets often don’t display symptoms until the disease has progressed to the advanced stages.

So, your dog can have kidney disease for years prior to receiving a diagnosis.

To avoid missing possible kidney disease, keep up with your pet’s blood work and annual visits.

This can give you a chance to receive treatment and help your dog heal at the first sign of trouble.

What Symptoms Indicate Canine Kidney Disease?

The symptoms of kidney disease vary from dog to dog.

However, you can look for the following common symptoms if you suspect your dog has kidney disease:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Increase of accidents (urinating and defecating)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Bad breath
  • Increased urination

If your dog has these symptoms, your vet will probably want to run a few tests to find out if there’s a problem with the kidneys.

Common tests include a urinalysis and blood work which gives your vet a good idea of what’s going on with your dog’s health.

What Treatments Are Available for Dog Kidney Disease?

Speaking with your vet can help you understand the treatment available for dogs with kidney disease.

Currently, there is no cure for canine kidney disease.

If your dog’s kidneys aren’t working due to an injury, they may heal and regain function.

However, kidney disease describes an irreversible deterioration of the kidneys.

Many pet owners do what they can to slow down the course of the disease, giving their pets a little longer to remain with the people they love.

The treatment suggested for your dog may vary depending on your vet’s experience and the stage of kidney disease your dog has.

Here are a few recommendations that you may hear from your vet following a kidney disease diagnosis:

  • Begin a kidney-friendly diet
  • Administer fluids at home
  • Prescribe medications

All of these options can prolong your dog’s life.

However, many dogs require a stay in an animal hospital to stabilize their condition.

Treatment in the hospital may include administering IV fluids to flush out your dog’s kidneys.

Once your dog’s condition improves, those treating them can begin long-term treatment and discuss your options for continuing the care at home.

Reducing Stress

You can reduce stress to improve your dog’s quality of life.

Acupuncture and aromatherapy as well as other holistic treatments can help your dog remain calm and relaxed throughout their treatment.

Remember that your dog won’t understand what’s happening to them.

Therefore, anything you can do to make them comfortable will improve their quality of life.

Sometimes, that just means spending more time at their side.

Remember to practice self-care while caring for your dog.

Get enough sleep, exercise and engage in relaxing activities so that your own quality of life does not suffer.

When Is It Time to Say Goodbye?

How do you know when your dog has reached the advanced stages of kidney disease?

Here are some signs that your dog has become too ill to improve:

  • No longer eating
  • Severe weakness
  • Pale gums and mouth ulcers
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Extreme weight loss

If your dog has one or more of the symptoms above, they may also have pain and discomfort associated with kidney disease.

At this point, your vet might recommend aggressive care, but the success of treatments at this late stage varies greatly.

You may not be ready to say goodbye, but it could be time to think about letting go of your pet, so they don’t suffer in their final days.

Should You Keep Trying?

At the end of the day, this is a deeply personal decision.

Not everyone is ready to help end their dog’s life.

That doesn’t mean you don’t care about your pet or want them to suffer.

Your thoughts and emotions on this topic should supersede any advice an outside party can provide.

Receiving a diagnosis of kidney disease or kidney failure can terrify any pet owner who deeply loves their dog.

Although many dogs manage the disease for years, others decline more quickly.

Work with your veterinarian and talk to your family members to decide whether you want to continue managing your dog’s disease or whether it’s time to say goodbye on your own terms.


If your dog no longer improves with treatment and their health is getting worse, it may be time to consider euthanasia.

At some point, your dog may stop eating, and this could indicate that they no longer have the will to live.

If your dog has constant pain, they may not want you to touch them.

Additionally, many dogs in late-stage kidney disease suffer from incontinence, which can place a strain on the entire family, including your dog.

You can provide a happy life for your dog in their final days, weeks or months after receiving a diagnosis.

However, if you do decide it’s time to euthanize your dog, you shouldn’t feel guilty for it.

Many pet owners make this decision after much deliberation and considering what is best for their pet.

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National Canine Research Association of America