Kidney Disease in Pets

The kidneys act as a filter, removing toxic substances from your animal’s body. If the kidneys are not working correctly these toxic substances build up, making your pet sick.

What causes kidney disease?

Kidney disease in pets can be either acute (occurring quickly) or chronic (occurring slowly over time).

Acute kidney disease: Causes include toxins such as antifreeze or some heavy metals, infections or urinary tract obstruction.

Chronic kidney disease can be inherited, the end result of acute kidney disease or there could be no recognised cause.

Signs of kidney disease:

As kidney function is lost, your pet loses the ability to concentrate urine. This results in the animal urinating a lot more than usual, meaning they can become very dehydrated. Most signs of kidney disease in pets are associated with this increased urination and therefore increased thirst, plus the build-up of toxic substances in the blood.

Common clinical signs of kidney disease include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Anorexia and weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Mouth ulceration

Diagnosis

If your pet is showing signs of kidney disease a definitive diagnosis can simply be made based on a combination of blood and urine tests.

Management

Kidney damage is irreversible so unfortunately there is no cure for animals in kidney failure. We can however manage the symptoms and complications of the disease to improve your animal’s quality of life.

Rehydrate: Maintaining hydration can help flush toxins from the body and generally improve well-being. The severity of your pets disease will dictate if it will need hospitalisation and intravenous fluids (put on a drip) or if subcutaneous fluids (fluids placed under the skin) will be sufficient. Providing a wet food diet and unlimited access to water can help maintain hydration.

Special “kidney diets”: Diets such as Hills k/d, or Royal Canin Renal Diet are designed to improve quality of life of an animal with kidney disease. These diets have reduced levels of protein and phosphorus which results in slower build-up of toxins in the blood.

Medications: There are some medications available that may help improve your pets quality of life and reduce complications associated with kidney disease. Talk to your vet for more information about these.

Regular monitoring is important as it helps your vet know when a new treatment should be instigated or if current therapy is effective. Your vet will discuss with you how often your pet should have check-ups and repeated blood tests to best monitor the disease.

These tests are usually repeated every 3-6 months.