The kidneys perform functions vital to the process of living. They filter out waste and potential toxins through the production of urine, help regulate the volume of fluids in the body, and maintain balance in levels of sodium, and chemistries in the bloodstream. In short, healthy kidneys are integral to a healthy life. Here is some information about kidney disease in dogs and cats.
Kidney Disease is classified in two forms. It can be “acute”… referring to a rapid onset disruption of kidney function resulting from an assault to the kidneys by a variety of possible factors, including…ingesting a toxic substance like antifreeze, rat poison, medications that attack the kidneys, certain plants, bacteria contaminated foods, etc.
Kidney disease identified as “chronic” manifests as a gradual decline, often in older dogs and cats, and is not easily linked to a specific event. However, it is significant to note that a major contributor to chronic kidney disease in dogs is bacteria buildup from advanced dental disease…preventable by a sound regimen of oral hygiene to include periodic professional cleaning. Cats often develop chronic kidney disease from the formation of stones. Cancer, genetics, and infections are a few of the additional contributing factors.
The symptoms of Acute Kidney Disease are dramatic…
– Severe listlessness
– Imbalance, stumbling, disorientation
– Refusal to eat
Animals with acute kidney disease present as critically ill, and require immediate, life-saving emergency vet care.
The symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease can be subtle, with a gradual onset, and may not be readily identifiable.
Symptoms in Cats…
– Weight Loss
– Increased urine output with increased drinking
– Unkempt appearance
– Loss of appetite
– Urinating outside the litter box
Symptoms in Dogs…
– More frequent urination…often during the night, or accidents in a dog who has not been known to have them in the past
– Little or no urine output
– Loss of appetite
– Excessive thirst
– Bad breath
– Diarrhea or constipation
As with any disease, early detection goes a long way towards increasing the odds of successful treatment. Often, veterinarians are alerted to the earliest stages of chronic kidney disease, by fluctuations in kidney function markers, reported on routine, screening blood work. Early diagnosis, especially when it takes place prior to the onset of symptoms, is a best case scenario. It allows for intervention before catastrophic damage occurs. Both cats and dogs, can benefit from being switched to a therapeutic, prescription diet, formulated specifically for chronic kidney disease. This simple change is often associated with both a prolonged life, and a better quality of life.
Since hypertension often accompanies kidney impairment, medications may be needed to control blood pressure and minimize potential long-term complications including damage to the cardio-vascular system.
There are treatment options and lifestyle changes that help stabilize the patient, control the symptoms, and help prevent irreversible consequences.
Talk to your veterinarian about establishing a “baseline” for your pet that will help identify changing trends in their kidney functions. Also work together to formulate a plan of preventive care specific to your pet’s needs. Call us at (732) 671-3110.