In both human and veterinary medicine, diagnosing and staging renal disease can be difficult. Measurement of glomerular filtration rate is considered the gold standard for assessing renal function but methods for its assessment can be technically challenging and impractical. The main parameters used to diagnose acute and chronic kidney disease include circulating creatinine and urea concentrations, and urine-specific gravity. However, these parameters can be insensitive. Therefore, there is a need for better methods to diagnose and monitor patients with renal disease. The use of renal biomarkers is increasing in human and veterinary medicine for the diagnosis and monitoring of acute and chronic kidney diseases. An ideal biomarker would identify site and severity of injury, and correlate with renal function, among other qualities. This article will review the advantages and limitations of renal biomarkers that have been used in dogs and cats, as well as some markers used in humans that may be adapted for veterinary use. In the future, measuring a combination of biomarkers will likely be a useful approach in the diagnosis of kidney disorders.