shih tzu kidney failure

Shih Tzu Kidney Failure: Managing & Preventing Disease in 2023

Shih tzu kidney failure can be concerning. Learn about signs and what you can do to support your furry friend.

The Importance of Understanding and Managing Kidney Disease in Shih Tzus

Kidney disease is a common condition that can affect dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes. However, Shih Tzus are particularly susceptible to developing kidney disease. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 50% of all Shih Tzus will develop some form of kidney disease at some point in their lives.

This makes it critical for Shih Tzu owners to understand the signs of kidney disease and take steps to manage the condition effectively. Kidneys play a vital role in filtering waste products from the blood, regulating electrolytes (such as potassium, sodium, calcium), maintaining fluid balance within the body, producing hormones involved in red blood cell production etc. The kidneys also play an essential role in urine production which removes toxins from our dog’s bodies; thus maintaining good urinary health is also vital for healthy kidneys.

When a dog’s kidneys become damaged or stop functioning correctly – due to old age or other causes such as infections or poisoning – toxins start building up leading to chronic renal failure which leads to life-threatening conditions if left untreated. This condition progresses slowly; hence early detection and management is crucially important.

Purpose of the Article

The purpose of this article is to provide pet owners with a detailed understanding of kidney disease in Shih Tzus. We will explore the anatomy and function of the kidneys in dogs, including specific causes and risk factors for kidney disease in Shih Tzus. We’ll also discuss the symptoms and diagnosis of kidney disease in Shih Tzus.

In addition, we will provide tips and best practices for managing kidney disease in Shih Tzus, including treatment options such as medication, diet changes, lifestyle modifications etc., as well as ways to prevent kidney disease from developing or progressing further. We’ll touch on some lesser-known details about this condition that pet owners should be aware of.

Anatomy and Function of the Kidneys in Dogs

The kidneys are two small bean-shaped organs located near the spine, just behind the ribcage. They play a vital role in maintaining a dog’s health by filtering waste products from the blood and excreting them as urine.

The kidneys also regulate fluid and electrolyte balance, produce hormones that stimulate red blood cell production, and help control blood pressure. Each kidney contains tiny structures called nephrons that filter the blood.

As blood passes through these nephrons, waste products are removed and filtered into urine. This urine then flows through tubes called ureters into the bladder where it can be stored until it is eliminated from the body.

Causes and Risk Factors for Kidney Disease in Shih Tzus

Kidney disease can be caused by a variety of factors including genetics, infections, toxins, or other underlying health conditions. In Shih Tzus specifically, there are certain risk factors that make them more susceptible to developing kidney disease. One common risk factor is age; older dogs are more likely to develop kidney disease than younger dogs.

Shih Tzus may also have an increased risk due to genetics since some lines of Shih Tzus seem more predisposed to developing renal problems than others. Other potential risks include underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or heart disease.

These conditions can cause damage to the kidneys over time leading to chronic renal failure (CRF). Additionally, exposure to toxins such as antifreeze or heavy metals can also contribute to kidney damage in dogs.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Shih Tzus

Symptoms of kidney disease can vary depending on how advanced the condition is when it’s diagnosed. Early stages may show few symptoms but as the condition worsens symptoms become more noticeable.

Some common symptoms include increased urination or thirst, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or weakness. In severe cases, dogs may develop seizures or become comatose.

Diagnosis of Kidney Disease in Shih Tzus

If you suspect your Shih Tzu is experiencing kidney problems it’s important to have them evaluated by a veterinarian. Several tests will likely be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Blood work can identify elevated creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels which are indicators of kidney damage. A urinalysis can also detect abnormalities such as proteinuria (protein in the urine), which can be an indication that the kidneys are not functioning properly.

In some cases an ultrasound or X-ray may be performed to evaluate the size and shape of the kidneys and look for signs of abnormalities such as tumors or cysts. A biopsy may also be recommended if there is a suspicion of more advanced disease.

Understanding Kidney Disease in Shih Tzus: Conclusion

Understanding kidney disease in Shih Tzus requires knowledge about their anatomy and function of kidneys in dogs. Age, genetics, underlying medical conditions, and exposure to toxins are some risk factors that make them more susceptible to developing kidney disease.

Symptoms include increased thirst/urination, loss of appetite/weight loss/vomiting/diarrhea/lethargy/weakness/seizures/coma while a veterinarian perform blood work test/BUN level test/urinalysis/X-ray/biopsy for diagnosis. Early identification is crucial and regular checkups with veterinary professionals can help manage symptoms effectively.

Treatment Options for Kidney Disease in Shih Tzus

When it comes to treating kidney disease in Shih Tzus, a combination approach is usually recommended. This may include medication, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications.

One of the primary goals of treatment is to manage the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Medications such as ACE inhibitors can be used to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the kidneys.

Phosphate binders may be prescribed to help reduce the amount of phosphorous in the blood, which can build up in dogs with kidney disease. In addition, vitamin D supplements may be given since dogs with kidney disease often have low levels of this nutrient.

Dietary changes are also an important aspect of managing kidney disease in Shih Tzus. A diet low in protein and phosphorous is typically recommended as it can help reduce waste buildup and alleviate strain on the kidneys.

It’s important to note that not all low-protein diets are created equal – some can be too restrictive, which can lead to malnutrition or weight loss. Consultation with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist is crucial for developing an effective dietary plan for your dog’s specific needs.

The Importance of Regular Veterinary Check-Ups and Monitoring

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for monitoring your Shih Tzu’s kidney health and managing any existing conditions effectively. This includes routine blood work and urinalysis tests that can detect early signs of kidney disease before clinical symptoms appear.

During check-ups veterinarians will assess your dog’s overall health, including their weight, hydration status, appetite, behavior changes or any other signs that may point towards worsening renal function. Monitoring their urine output at home using pee pads or litter boxes will help you keep track better as well.

Lifestyle Changes Can Make a Big Difference

Lifestyle changes can also play a significant role in managing kidney disease in Shih Tzus. One key element is hydration – making sure your dog drinks enough water is crucial for maintaining proper kidney function.

If your Shih Tzu needs encouragement, try feeding him wet food or try adding low-sodium chicken broth to his drinking water. Other lifestyle changes include avoiding exposure to toxins, such as pesticides or household cleaners, as well as ensuring that your dog gets regular exercise and maintains a healthy weight.

Tips for Managing Symptoms at Home

There are several things you can do at home to help manage the symptoms of kidney disease in your Shih Tzu. One way is by providing plenty of comfortable bedding to help alleviate joint pain and pressure on the kidneys. Another tip is to keep tabs on how often they urinate and whether they are dribbling urine or having accidents throughout the day.

If you notice any changes, it’s recommended that you seek veterinary care immediately. You can make them feel better by giving them some extra attention – spending time with them and keeping them relaxed can go a long way in improving their overall quality of life.


Managing kidney disease in Shih Tzus requires a multi-faceted approach that involves medication, dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, regular veterinary check-ups and monitoring as well as tips for managing symptoms at home. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian and follow their advice on how best to manage this chronic condition effectively so that your furry friend can continue living their best life possible despite facing this challenge.

Preventing Kidney Disease in Shih Tzus

Steps to Take to Prevent Kidney Disease from Developing

Prevention is always better than cure. To prevent kidney disease in Shih Tzus, there are several steps that owners can take.

First, it is important to ensure that the dog receives routine veterinary care, including regular health check-ups and vaccinations. This can help catch any potential kidney problems early and prevent them from progressing into a more serious condition.

Secondly, owners should ensure their Shih Tzu maintains a healthy weight and includes regular exercise in their daily routine. Obesity and lack of exercise can increase the risk of developing kidney disease.

Thirdly, it is important to provide clean drinking water at all times. Dehydration can lead to kidney damage and even failure.

Water quality should also be monitored as hard water or unfiltered tap water may contain elements that are harmful to the kidneys. Pet owners should avoid exposing their dogs to toxins such as pesticides or chemicals in household cleaning products as these substances may cause harm to the kidneys.

Early Detection through Routine Blood Work and Urinalysis

Early detection of kidney disease is crucial for successful treatment outcomes. Routine blood work and urinalysis are essential diagnostic tools for detecting early signs of kidney damage.

Blood tests can detect an increase in creatinine levels which indicate impaired kidney function. Elevated BUN (blood urea nitrogen) levels can also suggest poor renal function.

Urinalysis checks for proteinuria which indicates possible damage or inflammation of the kidneys’ filtering system. Additionally, urinalysis assesses urine concentration which helps evaluate hydration status, urine pH which evaluates acid-base balance, urine sediment analysis which detects potential infections or crystals formation in the urinary tract.

It is recommended that Shih Tzus undergo routine blood work and urinalysis once a year starting at the age of 7-8 years old. For those who have a history of chronic kidney disease, these tests should be done twice a year or as recommended by their veterinarian.

Importance of Proper Nutrition, Hydration, and Exercise

Proper nutrition plays a critical role in maintaining healthy kidneys. A well-balanced diet with appropriate amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates is essential for optimal kidney function. Excessive protein intake can put an extra burden on the kidneys while low protein diets may lead to malnourishment and inadequate muscle mass.

Owners should look for high-quality dog food that contains antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids which help protect against kidney damage. Avoiding high-sodium foods will also reduce the risk of hypertension, which can contribute to kidney disease.

Maintaining proper hydration is also important for preventing kidney disease or delaying its progression. Shih Tzus should have access to clean water at all times and encouraged to drink regularly.

Exercise is essential for overall health including renal health. It helps regulate blood pressure levels thereby reducing stress on the kidneys which may improve their function.


Prevention is key when it comes to Shih Tzu Kidney Failure: Understanding and Managing Kidney Disease in Shih Tzus. Owners should take an active role in ensuring their pets receive routine veterinary care with regular check-ups and testing as needed. Maintaining proper nutrition, hydration levels, exercise regimen while avoiding toxins are important steps towards preventing or delaying the onset of chronic renal failure in Shih Tzus.

Niche Subtopics: Rarely Known Small Details on Kidney Failure in Shih Tzus

A) Genetics: Understanding how genetics play a role on a dog’s predisposition to developing chronic renal failure.

One of the lesser-known factors that can contribute to the development of kidney disease in Shih Tzus is genetics. Some dogs may be genetically predisposed to developing kidney problems, and certain breeds, including Shih Tzus, are more prone to kidney issues than others.

For example, a study conducted by the University of California, Davis found that approximately 18% of Shih Tzus over 10 years old had some degree of renal dysfunction. While it is not entirely clear which genes are responsible for this predisposition, researchers believe that multiple genes may be involved.

This means that it may be difficult to predict which dogs will develop kidney disease based solely on their genetics. However, if you know that your dog has a family history of renal problems or if they come from a line with a high incidence of renal disease, it is important to be extra vigilant in monitoring their kidney function.

In addition to genetics, other risk factors for developing kidney disease include age, underlying health conditions (such as diabetes or high blood pressure), and exposure to toxins or certain medications. By understanding these risk factors and taking steps to manage them appropriately (such as regular check-ups with your veterinarian), you can help reduce your dog’s chances of developing chronic kidney disease.

B) Medications: Discussing specific

While there is no cure for chronic kidney disease in dogs (including Shih Tzus), there are several medications that can help manage the condition and slow its progression. These medications work by helping the kidneys function more efficiently or by reducing secondary complications caused by decreased renal function.

One such medication commonly used in the management of kidney disease is angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These drugs work by dilating blood vessels and reducing blood pressure, which can help improve blood flow to the kidneys and reduce stress on the renal system.

ACE inhibitors have been shown to be particularly effective in dogs with proteinuria (excessive protein in the urine), a common complication of chronic kidney disease. Another medication that may be used in the management of kidney disease is phosphate binders.

These drugs work by binding to excess phosphorus in the bloodstream and preventing it from being absorbed by the body. High levels of phosphorus can exacerbate kidney disease by causing mineral imbalances and contributing to the formation of mineral deposits within the kidneys.

It is worth noting that not all dogs with kidney disease will require medication, and treatment plans should be tailored to each individual case based on factors such as age, overall health, and severity of renal dysfunction. Additionally, it is important to work closely with your veterinarian when administering medications to ensure proper dosages and minimize potential side effects.


While chronic kidney disease can be a serious concern for Shih Tzu owners, there are steps that can be taken to manage the condition and improve outcomes for affected dogs. By understanding risk factors such as genetics, monitoring symptoms closely, working closely with your veterinarian on treatment plans, and making appropriate lifestyle changes (such as feeding a low-protein diet), you can help keep your furry friend healthy for years to come. With proper care and attention, many Shih Tzus with kidney disease are able to live happy lives alongside their loving owners.

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