Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure Average Cost

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What is Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure ?

Acute renal failure, also called acute kidney injury (AKI), will often cause vague symptoms of illness in your dog, due to his kidneys being unable to meet his body’s excretory and metabolizing needs. For many, this leads to a trip to the veterinarian for an exam. A sudden increase in creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) to above normal levels point to acute renal failure.

Acute renal failure occurs when your dog’s kidneys are unable to meet his body’s needs, typically occurring due to toxic chemicals ingested or built up in your dog’s system as a result of an underlying condition.

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Symptoms of Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

When your dog is suffering from acute renal failure, you may notice a variety of symptoms to include: 

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • A decrease in appetite
  • Depression
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Large amounts of urination followed by less urination than usual


Your veterinarian will want to confirm whether the kidney disease experienced by your dog is acute or chronic in order to decide how to proceed in regards to treatment.

In chronic kidney disease, typically much of the regenerative process of the kidneys has taken place prior to the initial diagnosis and kidneys often appear small. With acute kidney disease, at the time of diagnosis there is usually quite a bit of improvement in kidney function that can be made (assuming the dog can get through the acute episode) and the kidneys will appear normal to enlarged.

Causes of Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

The cause of acute renal failure is sudden, major damage to your dog’s kidneys. Typically, the damage is due to toxic chemicals (consumed by your dog or through build up as a result of something in your dog’s body not functioning correctly). Toxins that your dog can ingest that can cause acute renal failure include:

  • Poisonous plants
  • Antifreeze (Ethylene glycol)
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics
  • Grapes or raisins
  • NSAIDs

A build-up of calcium or other substances in your dog’s body can occur due to disease elsewhere in your dog, leading to acute renal failure. When kidneys don’t receive enough oxygen (like in the case of a blood clot blocking blood flow to the kidneys) kidney function can be impacted; this is called ischemia. Possible reasons for renal ischemia include:

  • Dehydration
  • Trauma
  • Anesthesia
  • Sepsis
  • Shock
  • Hypothermia
  • Burns
  • Surgery

Infections such as leptospirosis and borreliosis can also lead to acute renal failure.

Diagnosis of Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

Diagnosing acute renal failure will require that the veterinarian conduct a physical exam and obtain your dog’s history, including what your dog has recently eaten, medications he has taken and how he has been acting over the last few weeks and months. He will likely request blood work, urine testing, and an abdominal ultrasound.

Your veterinarian will seek to determine if your dog has acute renal failure or a chronic renal condition (or a combination of both). In cases of acute renal failure or acute kidney injury, your dog will typically show the following:

  • Symptoms come on suddenly
  • No history of major weight loss (exception would be if there is an underlying condition in your dog)
  • Pain in the area of the kidneys when examined.
  • Blood work will show blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine values to be elevated; rapid increases of BUN, creatinine and phosphorus may be noted when your dog is experiencing acute renal failure.

Should acute renal failure be diagnosed or seem likely, further testing may be requested by your veterinarian. This could include blood pressure measurement as well as testing for inflammatory and infectious diseases. Your veterinarian may choose to conduct a renal biopsy to determine the severity and extent of the disease as well as the potential for reversing it. Your veterinarian will want to determine if the acute renal failure is due to an underlying disease or poison in order to come up with the best course of treatment.

Treatment of Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

The veterinarian will try to understand what caused the kidney injury in order to provide appropriate treatment.  For example:

  • For ethylene glycol toxicity: 4-methylpyrazole or ethanol
  • If your veterinarian suspects leptospirosis, antibiotics should be started even before the infection is confirmed; recommendations include doxycycline or for those dogs who cannot tolerate doxycycline, penicillin

If your dog is dehydrated or not eating, your veterinarian may order intravenous fluids or a feeding tube. Should your dog not be urinating enough (or at all) treatment may include intravenous fluids, a catheter in your dog’s bladder and in some cases, medication. It is important that your veterinarian monitor the hydration of your dog to avoid over hydration. Your veterinarian will consider daily fluid administration based on the needs of your dog until his renal function and condition show improvement. Should the creatinine level of your dog be greater than 10mg/dL once he is rehydrated, a feeding tube will likely be recommended.

Should these treatments not work, and your dog is not producing urine, your veterinarian will consider kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.  It is important to remember that the maintenance phase of renal failure can last for weeks in some dogs; it is only after this phase that the kidney can begin to repair itself and begin to function.

Recovery of Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

Your dog’s recovery will depend on the cause of his renal failure. Once the cause of the renal failure has been identified, your veterinarian will explain the treatment regimen for the underlying issue and will let you know what follow-up is necessary. If the cause is identified and treated early, and renal damage is not too extensive, it is possible for the kidney failure to be reversed, as kidneys have a significant potential to regenerate.

Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

2 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

no appetite and lethargic

My two year old Pomeranian wouldn't eat and then started throwing up. I took her to the vet and he gave her a shot and meds for her to stop throwing up. She did stop but still wouldn't eat. I took her to the emergency clinic yesterday and she was diagnosed with Kidney failure due to poisoning of something (not antifreeze). They started her on IV fluids and feeding her with a syringe since she had lost so much weight.This morning her numbers had improved some after the fluids all night. She is still in the hospital on IV drip and being monitored closely. My heart is breaking and I don't know what to expect. Ive prayed and begged God to save her life. She is my therapy dog and I don't know what I would do without her. What are the chances of recovery if her numbers are improving?

I had that happen to my gsd,he was not eating and acting up lethargic,he throwed up once or twice ,bloof test showed failing kidneys and liver ,it turned out to be babesia infection induced kidney failure.Liver is not in bad shape but kidneu is.Currently under treatment for 3 days .Fingers crossed

What ended up happening? I am going through the same thing with my dog right now.

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Labrador Retriever
5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


My 5 year old labrador had occasional diarrhoea followed by anal gland swelling with discharge. Shown to Vet on 3 Feb and he gave a shot of some injection and started Tab Augmentin 1 BD. Since she was having difficulting in walking from the next day started on Tab Caprofen 100mg BD suspecting knee injury. But from Tuesday she got seizures and on wednesday checked her blood test showing 13.6 creatinine and 130 BUN. Suspecting Acute Renal Failure. Although is on fluid therapy since thursday,
2 litres of ringer lactate giving slowly through IV and
1 litre NS subcutaneously in a day.
Inj Pantaprasole 40mg BD IV
Inj Ranitidine 1 ml BD S/C
Inj Ondansetrone 3ml OD

She is passing urine thrice daily, but still getting seizures and passing dark loose stools which comes out in patches. Vet said that he will review the blood test after 5 days.
Kindly advise the chances of survival and prognosis as she is having strong ammonia smells as well and dont want to see her suffer like this.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Kidney failure typically requires intensive fluid therapy for 2-3 days to rid the body of builtup toxins and to hydrate the kidneys. If she isn't still on IV fluids, her prognosis is worse than if she is kept on IV fluids continuously. If your veterinarian is able to hospitalize her and treat her continuously, she may be okay if this kidney problem was a reaction to one of the drugs - without seeing the rest of her lab work, I can't comment on what the cause might have been. It would be best to talk with your veterinarian to get an idea of her chance of recovery, and possibly recheck her lab work sooner if you don't feel that she is improving. I wish Sophy well.

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Yorkshire Terrier
14 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Loss of Appetite

Medication Used

Lactated ringers

My dog is 14.8 year old yorkie male. He is going through acute kidney failure. His symptoms started a week ago where he had diarrhea and vomiting yellow bile. He started losing his appetite about 2-3 days ago. I just came back from the vet and BUN, creatinine and phosphorus were extremely elevated. Pancreatitis test positive. The vet is saying there is only 10% chance for him to get over this acute phase if we got him hospitilized with high running fluids (due to his old age) and that we could consider palliative care methods (subq fluids, antinausea meds) for his quality of life. We came home with subq fluids.

It wasnt listed above, but can acute kidney failure be precipitated by food poisoning (not with the above foods like grapes or raisins?) also do you think we should be trying anything else (treatment or diagnostic methods)?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for contacting us about Cookie, I am sorry that this is happening to him. As far as treatment goes, aggressive fluid therapy and antibiotics are typically the treatment for ARF, as well as anti-nausea medications to make him feel better. The only other diagnostic test that might give more information would be an abdominal ultrasound if your veterinarian has access to that equipment. The most common things that cause acute kidney failure in dogs are NSAID's, Grapes/raisins/antifreeze, cardiac medications, and Vitamin D. If he accidentally did get into any of these things, it might explain what is happening. I hope that that helped answer your questions, and I do hope that he recovers.

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