Renal (kidney) disease, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a result of poor kidney function. The kidneys are responsible for many important body functions, such as water conservation, removal of waste products, electrolyte balancing, blood pressure regulation, pH balancing, red blood cell production, and more.
Typically, kidney disease hits pets later in life, or those who are over seven years of age, although some genetic and environmental factors may lead to CKD presenting earlier in the pet’s life. When determining a course of treatment for the disease, it is important to rule out any treatable conditions that could cause CKD, such as kidney infection or kidney stones.
Some symptoms of kidney disease in pets include:
• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Muscle loss
• Weight loss
• Uremic breath (a type of halitosis)
In addition to the above signs, elevations in blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine (CREA) and/or symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) likewise indicate that there may be a kidney problem. The clinical exam findings, lab results, and patient history are used together to make a diagnosis.
Diet is one of the main foundations of managing CKD. Early in CKD, a more moderate protein level helps sustain muscle mass. As the disease progresses, protein in the diet must be restricted. Feeding a mix of wet and dry food also helps to maintain hydration status.
Pets with CKD often have a decreased appetite. Renal diets are therefore specially formulated to help increase the pet’s appetite. If you would like to learn more about renal diets, check out this helpful article.
In addition to a well-balanced diet, hydration plays a key role in the management of kidney disease in pets. Your pet should always have access to freshwater. Placing extra water bowls and fountains around your home can encourage the pet to drink. Adding ice to the bowl is also a plus. Purina makes a supplement for cats called Hydra Care that motives cats to drink more water. Initially, pets may benefit from hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy. Fluids may also be administered under the skin to help maintain proper hydration.
Medication is the third and final piece of the treatment puzzle. If your pet is on any drug(s) that compromise his or her kidney function, such meds will either have to be discontinued or evaluated by your veterinarian, who might recommend a reduced dose. Your vet might recommend benazepril, a common blood pressure medication used to help decrease the number of proteins being lost through the urine. Your pet might also be phosphate binders to address systemic hypertension. Sometimes additional phosphate binders can be given, as well as potassium supplements.
If your pet has been diagnosed with kidney disease, it’s important to know that he or she can still live a long and healthy life—with the proper care and treatment. Give us a call at (318) 686-5945 if you suspect your best friend might have a kidney condition or if you need advice on how to treat one.