Renal Failure in Cats and Dogs

Kidney disease, which veterinary professionals also call renal disease, can be quite common in companion animals and pets, especially as they get into their senior years.

Kidney disease can appear suddenly and is often accompanied by very severe symptoms, or it can be chronic and slow to show its effects in cats and dogs. The severity of the onset of kidney disease is usually directly related to the underlying cause of the kidney disease.

Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats

The kidneys of dogs and cats are similar to all mammal kidneys, including human ones. Their primary job is to filter the blood and to remove toxins that are then disposed of through urination.

In rapid onset, or acute renal failure or disease, the build-up of toxins in the blood can cause all manner of problems and discomforts for pets, up to and including death. In chronic kidney disease, symptoms are more mild, and can come on so gradually that they might not even be noticed.

The Causes of Kidney Disease in Pets

There are several causes of kidney disease in both cats and dogs. These causes include the natural aging process, parasites, cancer, abnormal deposits of protein in the kidneys, certain autoimmune diseases such as FIV, inflammation, congenital disorders, infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms, physical trauma, toxic reactions to medications, toxic reaction to poisons, inherited disorders, and others.

The Signs of Kidney Disease in Cats and Dogs

If your cat or dog has kidney disease, they can exhibit a wide variety of physical symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms also present themselves when pets are having issues with their pancreas or liver, but in any case, all of these instances, for the most part, call for a trip to the vet.

Symptoms of kidney disease can include increased or decreased thirst, increased or decreased urination, trouble controlling urination while sleeping, blood in the urine, weight loss or lack of appetite, vomiting, lack of energy, reluctance to move, problems with the coat, diarrhea, bad breath from toxins in the body, mouth ulcers, swelling of the limbs or abdomen, and others.

Diagnosis of Kidney Disease

When you bring your pet in for treatment, the veterinarian will likely use a battery of tests to diagnose kidney disease, including a complete physical examination, a complete blood panel, and urinalysis. These are all done to help the veterinarian identify the presence, severity, and underlying cause of kidney disease.

The blood test and urinalysis are conducted to look for specific toxins in the blood, and to test the concentration of your pet’s urine. Your vet may also order X-rays or an ultrasound of the kidneys to check for tumors.

Treatment of Acute and Chronic Kidney Disease and Prognosis

Depending on the underlying cause of your pet’s kidney disease, the dog or cat may have a very good chance of recovery. Dogs and cats can respond very well to a variety of medications and other treatments such as fluid therapy and improved nutrition.

Author: Giano Panzarella