Kidney disease is one of the most common medical problems of older dogs and cats. Almost all elderly pets have some degree of kidney damage. Kidney disease can also be caused by infections, toxins, or inherited defects.
The signs of kidney disease include decreased appetite, increased thirst, increased amount or frequency of urination, depression or vomiting.
The kidney's main function is to filter the blood and remove waste products. The kidneys are also responsible for the production of red blood cells. The kidneys are able to withstand some damage and still provide adequate function. But once damaged, kidney tissue can't be repaired.
The kidneys are evaluated by means of blood tests, urinalysis, and sometimes X-rays, ultrasound or biopsy. The blood tests that are used to evaluate kidney function measure the buildup of waste products that should be removed by the kidneys. If elevations occur in these tests, treatment is usually recommended.
Treatment for kidney disease might involve fluid therapy in the hospital or at home. It usually also involves a change to a diet lower in protein, phosphorus, and sodium. This helps to prevent ongoing buildup of waste products in the blood stream. Hill's k/d diets for dogs and cats fulfill these needs.
High blood pressure is a possible complication of kidney disease. Monitoring blood pressure should be part of follow-up evaluations of pets with kidney disease. The lower sodium diet helps to control this complication but medication might also be required.
Anemia is another possible complication of kidney disease. By periodically monitoring your pet's blood, anemia can be detected and hopefully treated.
The goal of treatment for kidney disease is to preserve and protect a state of well being for as long as possible.