4 min read


Can Dogs Live With One Kidney?



4 min read


Can Dogs Live With One Kidney?


Most vets diagnose a kidney condition and have the ability to treat it by removal or medication and once a dog is treated for any kidney trouble, they are able to live a normal life after treatment. 

Dogs, like humans, have the ability to live with one kidney relatively easily and it’s not uncommon for dogs to need to have one kidney removed due to infection or disease. Advancements in medicine have improved the treatments that are available and are far more common than they ever used to be and this has also helped with a dog’s recovery time.

Let’s take a look at how dogs cope with kidney troubles and how they live with just one kidney.


Signs that Dogs Show When They Have Kidney Issues

When a dog has an issue with their kidneys, they may show certain signs that indicate they have some form of ailment. As with humans, we show signs of illness, the same can be said for dogs. If your dog starts to show any of the following signs, these indicate that there could be some sort of issue:

- increased body temperature

- extreme thirst

- bad breath

- vomiting

- weakness

- appetite loss

- convulsions

- dark urine

- a weak or a rapid pulse

- whining

- sitting

- Not wagging tail

That said, it does not necessarily mean that if your dog experiences any of the above, your dog has kidney issues. Many illnesses that a dog could have could also mimic these symptoms, so it's important to contact your vet immediately if they exhibit any of these signs. 

Body Language

Signs to watch for if your dog is having kidney trouble include:

  • Whining
  • Weakness
  • Low Tail Carriage
  • Sweaty Paws

History Behind Dogs Living with One Kidney


Medicine in dogs is similar to that of humans. As medical advances have improved, the care and longevity of life for dogs have also improved. In the past, a dog living with one kidney may have been seen as something quite serious and probably would have been life-threatening. 

It is down to medical advances why we now can have dogs that can live with one kidney, and these dogs just need to have regular checks to ensure that their overall health is well and not being affected. Vets are now more aware of a dog’s anatomy and the signs that they need to look for when a dog is ill. These days, dogs have a better chance of survival when they have kidney-related issues, and they are also more likely to have a speedy recovery.

Historically, dogs didn't undergo surgery and if we look way back, veterinary practices weren't really a profession, but as we have domesticated dogs, so has our need to look after our furry friends. 

Science Behind Dogs and Living with One Kidney


An increasing amount of people are showing more and more care for their pets, and as such, dogs are now a part of a family and therefore receive the same level of care as any family member would. Dogs are normally born with two fully functioning kidneys. 

If, however, there is an issue or a problem with one of the kidneys, this should not hinder a dog, as the other kidney is usually able to take over and cater for the dog’s needs. As with humans living with one kidney, it is something that needs to be taken seriously, but as long as you have the correct treatment plan, we know that it is not as serious an issue as it once was.

When a dog has to have a nephrectomy, they are placed under a general anaesthetic, as it is an invasive operation and the first incision is made in the abdomen to the pubic bone. The kidneys soon become exposed and the removal of the kidney takes place. The vein in the renal artery is tied off and the urethra associated with that particular kidney is cut. Once a kidney has been removed, surgeons will check for any signs of bleeding before the operation finishes.

The recovery process for any medical procedure can take time. In the case of a nephrectomy, medication for pain relief should be given a few days after surgery has taken place. The skin should heal within 14 days. There is no reason why a dog cannot return home to recuperate after surgery has been performed. 

Although the removal of a kidney is available in order to extend the life of a dog, there are risks associated with this operation, as bleeding and leakage of urine into the abdomen can occur. It is therefore very important that the healthy kidney is looked after for as long as possible.

Training a Dog to Cope with One Kidney


Training a dog to do anything is often done through rewards. Dogs are very clever and respond well to praise and rewards, such as food or play, if they manage to complete a task that they have been taught to do.

However, when a dog has a medical issue, it can seem a little strange to try and teach it or train it on how to live with its medical issue. Teaching your dog how to live with one kidney will help them to cope with his condition. Like with humans, learning how to cope with an ailment will often help in the recovery and prevent a recurrence of an injury or illness.

Certain lifestyle or diet differences will have to be adhered to without a second kidney and this could include reducing the type or amount of activity your dog does. With this in mind, you may have to adapt your training to reduce the level of excitement by finding new ways to train and exercise your dog. 

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Written by Charlotte Ratcliffe

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 05/11/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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