Chronic Kidney Disease in Senior German Shepherds

Updated: Apr 10

Chronic kidney disease, which is a kidney disease that occurs over time, is a common health issue in senior German Shepherds. As our furry friends age, their organs don't function as well as they used to. This can lead to a build-up of toxins in their system and eventually kidney failure. While it's not always possible to prevent kidney disease, there are things we can do to help our German Shepherds live longer, healthier lives.


In this #LifeWithOldDogs® post, we'll cover what you should know about chronic kidney disease in senior German Shepherds.



Our beautiful boy, Champ, had chronic kidney disease, and eventually, we had to say goodbye.



What Chronic Causes Kidney Disease in Senior German Shepherds?

The kidneys are a crucial part of the body's filtration system. They remove toxins and waste products from the body, making them essential for maintaining good health.


There are many possible causes for chronic kidney disease in senior German Shepherds. Some of the most common include genetic factors, chronic inflammation, cancer, issues with protein, dental disease, and simply put, the kidneys wear out due to age.


There are several stages to chronic kidney disease, which are illustrated below.



Credit: International Renal Interest Society



What Are The Signs Of Chronic Kidney Disease in Senior German Shepherds?

  • Drinking excessively or not enough

  • Weight loss

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea/vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Urinating in the house

  • Excessive urinating (or not urinating enough)

  • Bad breath (chemical smell)

  • Excessive sleeping (Lethargy)

  • Depression

  • Mouth sores

  • Pale gums

  • Poor coat appearance

  • Abnormal swelling

  • Visible pain and discomfort

  • Inability to walk properly

  • Seizures



Champ slept quite a bit toward the end of his batter with kidney disease.



How Is Chronic Kidney Disease Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of chronic kidney disease is done by lab work which evaluates your senior German Shepherd's blood and urine. The urine test is called a "urine analysis," which can help determine whether the kidneys are functioning correctly and provide evidence of other problems such as infections or excessive protein loss through our pets' urethra (urethrae).



Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease:

Treatment depends on your senior German Shepherd's overall health, but the primary focus of treatment is to slow down the progression of the disease.


Some methods used to slow progression are:


  • Incorporate a therapeutic diet specific for Chronic Kidney disease (reduced amounts of sodium, protein & phosphorus, and more Omega 3 fatty acid)

  • Medication to treat symptoms

  • Nutritional supplements

  • Fluid therapy via an IV

  • Maintain appropriate electrolyte levels

  • Dialysis


Prevention of Chronic Kidney Disease in Senior German Shepherds

While it is difficult to prevent, regular wellness exams with your trusted veterinarian will help increase the chances of detecting chronic kidney disease symptoms early so that treatment can begin quickly and prolong your senior German Shepherd's life.