Ask a Vet

When is the Right Time to Euthanize a Dog with Kidney Failure/Disease?

By Kerry
Updated on

Deciding when it is time to say goodbye to your dog is never going to be easy, but the best thing that you can do is to learn as much as possible about kidney disease, how it is going to affect your dog, and when it might be time to have them put down. This is a really difficult decision for you to have to make, but it might be the thing that is best for your dog.

Nobody wants to have to even think about this, let alone go through with it, but if your dog has been diagnosed with kidney failure, then this could become your reality. A dog with kidney failure is going to go through different stages as their condition progresses, but there may come a time when their bad days are more frequent than their good days.

To help you to understand when the right time is to have your dog put to sleep, we are going to tell you everything that you might need to know about kidney failure and the effect that it will have on your dog. We will present you with the options that you have available and give you information about what you can do to make the process more comfortable for your dog.

When is the right time to euthanize a dog with kidney failuredisease. Gi1f

What is the Purpose of Kidneys?

Kidneys have an important purpose, and it is important to understand this before we get into kidney failure and what happens throughout the process. The kidneys are really important for regulating your dog’s overall health, and this is why it is so serious if they start to fail.

The kidneys will work to remove any waste products that are present in the bloodstream, conserve water, produce urine, and even regulate the levels of minerals that are in the blood. When the kidneys stop working as they should, serious issues can arise, which can lead to major health risks and complications. 

What is Kidney Failure in Dogs?

Chronic renal failure is when the kidneys are no longer able to efficiently filter the blood and get rid of unwanted waste products. The majority of dogs that are diagnosed with kidney failure will produce large quantities of urine, but the toxic wastes are not being eliminated. Kidney disease will progress slowly, and sometimes stems from being poisoned or ingesting something that is toxic to your dog, like antifreeze.

Kidney problems can go on to decrease the flood flow or oxygen delivery to the kidneys and cause infections and other things, like urinary obstruction. Long-term kidney disease can also cause kidney damage that cannot be reversed. Medications like antibiotics or chemotherapy drugs can also be a factor, as well as cysts in the kidney and birth defects.

What is the Life Expectancy for a Dog With Kidney Disease?

A dog that has been diagnosed with kidney disease can live for anywhere between months and years, depending on how progressed the disease is when they are diagnosed. It is really important to be aware of the fact that even though the prognosis can vary depending on the circumstances present, canine kidney disease is still a terminal illness as it will lead to kidney failure as time goes on. This means that at some point, the kind thing to do would be to euthanize your dog. 

You will not have to go through this experience on your own or without the necessary information or support, as your vet will be able to give you the advice, information, and guidance that you need. This will help you to decide on the best course of action for your dog as the disease progresses. More often than not, your vet will recommend euthanizing once they feel that it is the only option that is left. 

Some of the signs that could indicate that you should put your dog to sleep are:

  • Your dog is only getting worse instead of getting better or staying the same
  • Your dog is not eating or drinking enough or at all
  • Your dog is unable to go to the toilet by themselves
  • Your touch does not soothe your dog anymore, or it causes them pain
  • Your dog spends most of their time asleep

These are not the only signs that it is time to put your dog down, but they can give you a good indication of when your dog has had enough. If this is something that you are considering, your vet will be able to tell you if this is the best thing for your dog. Most of the time, euthanasia will be carried out at a vet surgery, but it might be possible to have the procedure done at home. 

Something that you might not have known is that there are some dogs that will be able to live with kidney disease for up to 4 years. It will all depend on the condition itself, and how progressed it is upon diagnosis. So, this might not even be something that you have to think about right now or very soon, it could be an issue that comes up in a few years. There is no way of knowing exactly how long your dog will survive with kidney disease, but in some cases, it could be longer than you think.

There are four different stages of canine kidney disease, and there are also lots of factors that can influence the stage that your dog is diagnosed with. Some of these factors will include things like your dog’s systolic blood pressure, urine to protein ratio, and creatinine. This will all be assessed when your vet is diagnosing your dog.

How Long Will My Dog Live With Stage 4 Kidney Disease?

If the worst has happened and your dog has been diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease, they will likely only have between a few weeks and a few months to live. However, if they are diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 kidney disease, their life expectancy will be a few years.

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?

There are many different symptoms of kidney disease that you can look out for, and we are going to talk about them below. Knowing about the symptoms can help you to catch this condition early on, allowing you to provide the best possible care and treatment for your dog. 

Some of the most common symptoms of advanced kidney failure in dogs are:

  • Depression – When your dog is no longer excited by things they used to enjoy
  • Anemia – An iron deficiency
  • Having difficulty breathing
  • A loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Increased levels of urination
  • Increased thirst and dehydration
  • Emancipated appearance due to a loss of fat and muscle mass
  • Vomiting and nausea

If you have noticed that your dog is showing any of the above symptoms, you should take them to see a vet as soon as possible. It might be the case that your dog does not have kidney failure, but these are some of the symptoms that you should be aware of. However, these symptoms highlight advanced kidney disease, so there might not be a lot that your vet is able to do for your dog.

They might suggest that it is time to have your dog put to sleep to end their pain and suffering, but there may still be time to try other things first. Your vet will be able to guide you in the right direction.

Is There Any Treatment for a Dog With Kidney Failure?

There are a few different treatment options that you can try out, but you should know that there is no cure for kidney disease. A vet will most likely recommend that you change up your dog’s diet to something that is low in sodium and phosphorus, as this can help to slow down the progression of kidney failure. 

You can also give your dog natural supplements, like omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, which can provide anti-inflammatory values that will reduce kidney failure, and vitamin B and C, which can help to replenish lost vitamins and increase their appetite. 

Signs That it is Time to Say Goodbye

Unfortunately, if your dog has been diagnosed with kidney disease, then the time will eventually come for you to say goodbye. However, knowing when this time will be is difficult to estimate as every dog is different. Your dog cannot tell you how they are feeling, but you can monitor their behavior and find out if there are any negative changes that might suggest that it is time to let them go. Some of these signs can include:

  • A lack of interest in food
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe lethargy or weakness
  • Disinterest in things they once enjoyed
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Pale gums
  • Weight loss

If your dog has started to show any of these signs, then it is likely that they are starting to suffer due to the disease. Your vet may be able to provide additional care in some circumstances, but this will depend on your dog and their condition. It is a difficult decision to have to make, but if your dog’s quality of life is deteriorating, then this is a sign that you should talk to your vet about having them put down.

When is the Right Time to Euthanize a Dog With Kidney Failure/Disease?

When is the right time to euthanize a dog with kidney failuredisease

There are two types of kidney disease that can occur in your dog, which are acute kidney disease and chronic kidney disease. Acute kidney failure is likely to come on much more suddenly, but chronic kidney failure is something that happens much more gradually. It is difficult to even think about having your dog put to sleep, but kidney disease is known for causing harm and pain for your dog. So, you will need to consider if the best course of action is to let them go painlessly. 

The most important thing for you to consider, as we have previously mentioned, is your dog’s quality of life, and how kidney failure is impacting this. Every dog’s experience with kidney disease is going to be different, but if they are not responding to treatment and are continuing to deteriorate, then you might want to consider euthanasia. This is really important to think about, especially if they are in a lot of pain, as it is often the best way to end their suffering. 

What Can I Do to Help My Dog With Kidney Failure?

Your vet will be able to tell you more about what you can do to help keep your dog comfortable after they have been diagnosed with kidney failure, but we will leave some ideas below for you. One of the things that you can do is to keep your dog’s bed warm and cozy with things like blankets and their favorite toys. 

You should try to spend as much time with your dog as possible as your company is likely to make them feel more calm and comfortable. You should also keep your dog clean and dry by washing them and gently brushing them, and be sure to supervise any interactions with others to ensure that people are being gentle with your dog. 

Trying to keep your dog calm and comfortable should be one of your biggest priorities, as this will help them to feel content. The last thing that you want is for them to be afraid or anxious amidst this awful condition, as this can make things even more unpleasant for them.

Photo of author
About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.