Kidney Disease in Cats and
Age seems to have the same effect on our pets as it does on us.
As we get older, we seem to have more heart related problems, our pets on the other hand, lean more toward kidney problems and this is our point of discussion for today.
Chronic renal (kidney) failure (CRF) is the leading cause of death in cats and dogs.
The kidneys are organs that maintain the balance of certain chemicals in our cats and dogs blood, while filtering out waste in the form of urine.
Within the kidney’s filtering system are tens of thousands of microscopic funnel shapes things called nephrons. These nephrons are responsible for filtering water and soluble waste that becomes urine and they also reabsorb the fluids that help balance the body.
Chronic renal failure affects 3 times more older cats than it does dogs and is the main cause of death in older cats.
It was once thought that a diet of very high protein and low potassium food was the cause of early kidney failure, but time has proven that the true cause, other than old age, is really unknown.
Of course, there are other things that can cause kidney failure in both species and they are: antifreeze, that sweet tasting stuff that our cats and dogs seem to love for some reason, rat poison, cancer, trauma, genetics and auto-immune diseases.
When it comes to the antifreeze I cannot stress the importance of cleaning up any spilled antifreeze, it takes so very little of it to be fatal to either your cat or dog.
Interestingly, the nephrons if the damage to the kidneys is a slow process, have the ability to rebuild themselves in such a way that the remaining “good ones” will grow larger and the kidneys will still function.
What signs, should we as pet parents, be aware of?
If your pet suddenly starts drinking a lot of water and going to the bathroom more than usual that is a warning sign.
I realize that can also be a warning sign of diabetes, too.
Anything that seems abnormal in your pet’s behavior is a warning sign something is wrong somewhere in your pet’s body. Be alert!
Other signs to take under consideration are: poor appetite, vomiting, loss of weight; should your pet show any of these signs call your vet at once.
There are two types of kidney failure.
Acute kidney failure, which is the sudden loss of kidney function that might possibly be helped.
Chronic kidney failure, which is an irreversible loss of kidney function that comes on gradually
Acute kidney failure can be caused by ingesting antifreeze, rat poison, an infection, certain medications and bacteria.
Some of these things can be treated if caught early enough.
Chronic Kidney Failure (CRF) is the most common form of kidney disease found in cats and dogs.
The unfortunate thing here is that this condition may have been progressing over the years and we never noticed.
Our feral cat Mr. Whiskers, had chronic kidney failure when we found him and he survived for almost 8 years after we discovered it.
It is important that you are alert to the signs.
Most vets agree that once your cat or dog reaches the age of 8 years it is a good idea to have a senior profile run. A senior profile consists of some blood work and a urine sample. I haven’t quite figured out how you get a urine sample from your pet.
If your cat or dog is diagnosed with CRF your vet can prescribe a proper diet, medication, possible fluid shots to make its life more comfortable.
If your pet is a cat, eating is the most important thing to consider. A cat with CRF should be allowed to eat what it likes, when it wants.
Dogs for the most part can be easily tempted.
Research is going on continually in an effort to find new drugs and ways to help our pets. Kidney transplants have been successful on cats and not so successful on dogs.
If your cat or dog has CRF the most important thing is to make your pet comfortable and for you to enjoy the time you have left.
I have just touched the tip of the iceberg in discussing chronic kidney failure, it is up to you to talk to your vet and do your own research on the Internet, but most of all enjoy your pet.