Kidney disease is any destructive process within the kidney. It is not limited to any particular age or breed, but it is one of the most common medical problems of older dogs and cats and is a leading cause of death. Kidneys filter and remove “waste materials” from the blood stream. The kidneys also regulate the volume and composition of body fluids. Signs of decreased kidney function are not evident until more than two thirds of the total kidney function is lost. Signs include increased thirst and drinking, frequent urination, depression and finally vomiting. The majority of adult dogs and cats have some kidney damage present.

Kidney disease can be caused by bacterial infection, old age, genetic defects, and toxic substances. Blood testing allows diagnosis and prognosis. Clinical evaluation includes blood tests and urinalysis to determine how well the kidney is filtering the toxic substances from the blood. Other diagnostic evaluations can include abdominal radiographs and kidney biopsies.

Fluid administration is often prescribed to provide diuresis for pets. Home administration 2 or 3 X weekly can prolong a pet’s life for years. Special diets are recommended such as Science Diet K/D.

Normal kidneys filter the blood, removing wastes and excreting them in the urine. Kidneys damaged by infection or inflammation lose some of this filtering ability, and waste products accumulate in the bloodstream. Continued re-circulation of this material results in illness. About three-fourths of kidney tissue must be damaged before signs of illness appear. For this reason, kidney disease is often considered chronic (present a long time) even though the affected pet may not have signs of disease for very long.

Signs of chronic kidney disease include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination, decreased appetite, and depression and bad breath. Continued illness results in collapse, seizures, coma and death.

Though chronic kidney disease is not curable, it is often controllable. Many pets can live reasonably normal lives managed in a cooperative effort between owner and veterinarian