Cats (and dogs) of all ages can be at risk for chronic kidney disease. Essential organs, an animal’s kidneys help manage blood pressure, remove waste from their blood and make red blood cells and hormones. Kidneys can begin to fail as your pet ages. Left untreated, kidney disease can lead to a number of health issues. If the disease is determined to be chronic, there is no cure. But with early diagnosis, the condition can be effectively managed.
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Chronic kidney disease is very common in cats, especially those that are older than age 5. Renal (kidney) insufficiency or renal failure occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to do their job--to remove waste products from the blood. Renal failure is not the same as not being able to produce urine; in fact cats with renal failure make more urine than normal in an attempt to remove waste products. When the kidneys are failing, they lose their ability to maintain their normal hydration levels. Because of this increase in the amount of urine being excreted, cats become dehydrated very quickly and in turn, start to drink more water. This leads to a continuous cycle of increased urinations and increased drinking – two of the key signs of kidney disease.
Chronic Renal Failure in Cats
Failure of the kidneys, can take place so slowly, that by the time the symptoms have become obvious, it may be more difficult to treat the condition. While chronic renal failure cannot be reversed or cured, treatment and management aimed at reducing the contributing factors and symptoms can slow its progression.
Symptoms and Types
Symptoms often occur gradually over an extended period. Symptoms vary and may include some or all of those listed below:
- Weight loss
- Increased thirst
- Acute blindness
- Seizures and comas
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- An increase in frequency and amount of urination
Causes of kidney failure can include kidney disease, urinary blockage (obstruction of the urinary tract or of the ureters), ingestion of certain human prescription medications (such as NSAIDS, for example, Advil and Aleve), infection, lymphoma, diabetes mellitus, and genetic (hereditary) factors.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Pet parents need to watch for subtle signs; early diagnosis is the key. Cats tend to hide their symptoms for as long as possible, until their bodies can no longer compensate. Veterinary science has worked to find solutions for spotting and managing chronic kidney disease earlier and with more efficiency. With early diagnosis and thorough, ongoing care, veterinarians can create quality of life and add to the pet’s lifespan.
The answer is in what is called “SDMA Testing” and is a real breakthrough in veterinary medicine. Research shows that with SDMA testing, chronic kidney disease can be found an average of 9 months earlier in dogs and 17 months earlier in cats creating the maximum opportunity for early treatment and management.
Until now, chronic kidney disease has routinely been diagnosed by measuring blood creatinine. However, creatinine does not detect a problem until a cat or dog has lost up to 75% of their kidney function, which can be too late to manage the disease simply. Pets experiencing chronic kidney disease may require lifelong management, including regular veterinary visits, special diets, medications administered daily and even, potentially, subcutaneous injections. For these reasons and, probably most importantly, the overall health and well-being of your beloved pal, spotting kidney disease in its earliest stages can save you money, time and effort while ensuring your pet a better, longer life.
There’s much more to learn about chronic kidney disease if you want to protect your cat, and having this knowledge is the first step in the fight against a disease that claims too many lives. Ask your veterinarian what you can be doing to keep your cat healthier, happier and in your life for longer.
This blog is brought to you by Diagnostic Imaging Systems. Diagnostic Imaging Systems, Inc. (DIS) has been providing Quality Imaging products since 1983. The company combines industry knowledge with an understanding of the veterinary practice. For more information, go to Diagnostic Imaging Systems, Inc. website at: www.vetxray.com
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