Kidney disease, also referred to as renal disease or failure occurs in both cats and dogs.
What is kidney disease?
In a healthy pet, the kidneys filter waste products that are produced by the body. The kidneys are responsible for cleansing the blood of the waste products and maintaining levels of water and salt within the body.
Inside each kidney, the renal arteries branch into smaller and smaller parts until they reach the functional units of the kidney, the nephrons.
The nephrons include tiny coiled tubes of capillaries and regulate waste, water, and other materials in the blood and urine to adjust to the body’s changing needs, leaving the remaining fluid (urine) to pass from the kidneys to the bladder via the ureters.
Over time a proportion of the nephrons will disappear with age and are not replaced. Other factors such as toxins or infection can also destroy nephrons.
However, symptoms of kidney disease are not usually seen until two thirds of the nephrons have been lost. When this stage is reached, the kidneys start to lose their ability to concentrate the urine, resulting in an increased amount of dilute urine and increased thirst. Toxic waste products also accumulate in the blood causing a loss of appetite, weight loss and poor coat condition.
- Increased drinking (polydipsia)
- Increased urination (polyuria)
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Hunched posture or reluctant to move
- Poor or unkempt coat
By regularly examining your pet we can help detect kidney disease before outward signs are visible. Although kidney disease cannot be cured, medication and specially formulated diets can improve quality of life and increase their life span.
At Cinque Ports Vets we run free senior clubs to offer advice on age related problems. Here you can chat to a veterinary nurse about how best to care for your pet during their golden years. There is also the opportunity to have a free urine test to routinely check your older pet’s urine. Early stages of kidney failure produce changes in the composition of the urine. Blood tests may also be recommended depending on the individual case but the earlier the signs are detected the better the chance of your pet having a longer, healthier life.
Remember kidney failure occurs three times more frequently in cats than in dogs and increased drinking and urination with a poor unkempt coat are not the normal signs of ageing.
Please contact your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets if you have any concerns about your pet’s health or would like to find out more about our Senior Clubs. Why not try our Feline Renal Function Questionnaire available on our website.
If your cat has recently been diagnosed with renal failure you may be interested to read ‘Caring For A Cat With Kidney Failure’ by Dr Sarah Caney. It has been designed to be a complete guide to kidney failure in cats – from receiving the bad news and dealing with emotional issues, through to diagnosis, treatment and monitoring, to euthanasia and bereavement advice.