Chronic kidney disease is common in older pets and affects approximately 3 in 10 geriatric cats, along with approximately 1 in 10 senior dogs.
Normally, healthy and happy kidneys do a miraculous job of:
Kidney disease occurs when your pet’s kidneys are unable to filter waste from the blood.
The earliest signs of kidney disease often include increased thirst and urination, but this may be overlooked in cats that drink secretly or share a water dish. Larger clumps of litter, when clumping litter is used (flooding the litter box), is an important sign of illness, and warrants an exam.
Additional symptoms include; fatigue/weakness, change in appetite, increased frequency of urination, diarrhea or constipation, weight loss, and vomiting. It’s important to note, that if any of these symptoms are present, then the disease has been in progress for some time and 75% of the kidneys are already irreversibly damaged.
The first step in diagnosis is physically examining the kidneys through touch to detect an irregular size and shape of the kidneys, evidence of pain, and possible firm stones in the urinary pathway. A urinalysis and/or a complete blood count can confirm any suspicions; bloodwork can also indicate if other organs are functioning at normal capacity, as it is important to note that hyperthyroid can mimic or mask signs of kidney disease. The key to treatment is timing and knowing exactly where the root of the problem lies.
Treatment is based on the severity of the disease, therefore, once testing and diagnosis are complete our doctors will customize a treatment plan based on how your pet feels, the severity, and the possibility of other medical conditions that may be a factor. If caught early enough, most cats will not require hospitalization or administration of external fluids.
The best prevention is ensuring an adequate supply of clean water, maintaining a balanced diet (no snacks from the table). Knowing that a pet can have kidney disease long before symptoms begin to present themselves; wellness visits and bloodwork are the best ways to catch kidney disease before any damage occurs. It should also be noted that dental health is also key to preventing kidney disease.
To reiterate, kidney disease can be present long before symptoms begin to present themselves; by the time symptoms begin to show, 75% of the kidneys are already irreversibly damaged. The “take home” here…annual visits, adequate clean water, good dental health, and a balanced diet (no snacks from the table) are your best steps to prevent kidney disease in your pet.