Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats
Do you know what symptoms can be signs of kidney disease in dogs and cats? Find out the symptoms, what tests to have performed, when to have them performed, and different things that can help your dog or cat feel better if they have any degree of kidney disease.
- Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats
- Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats
- Tests to Check Kidney Function
- Understanding the Urine Test, Urinalysis, or UA
- Understanding Kidney Blood Work and Urine Specific Gravity or Concentration of Urine
- Blood Pressure
- Kidney Disease Diets
- Nausea Associated with Kidney Disease
- Other Things to Help a Pet with Kidney Disease
- Cats and Dogs with Kidney Disease
Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats
As our pets age their organs start to not work as well. The kidneys are one of the organs that tend to stop working as well and are very common to create toxin buildup in the body. The toxins the kidneys are designed to get rid of include BUN, creatine, and protein. The kidneys help to flush the blood of unwanted products made from metabolism processes and hormone metabolism processes. The unwanted metabolism products are supposed to get flushed into the bladder and come out in the urine. When the body does not have enough water in the system it makes it even harder to flush out toxins which then begin to build up in the body, and the dog or cat becomes sick.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats
Symptoms of kidney disease include lethargy or excessive sleeping, a hard time getting up, weight loss, muscle loss, dehydration, not wanting to eat, vomiting, excessive drooling, drinking a lot of water and urinating a lot (PUPD or polyuria, polydipsia), bad breath, and/or change in the smell of the mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms, especially multiple symptoms, and your pet is over ten years old make sure to have blood work done and their urine tested. After about eight years old for dogs and ten years old for cats, they should get blood work and urine tested at least once a year to make sure everything is working properly and if there are changes found there are things that can help prevent further damage or disease progression of the organs including the kidneys.
Tests to Check Kidney Function
A full blood test and urinalysis (urine test) should be done to make sure everything is working the way it should. Most outside laboratories and clinics for in-house blood and urine tests have senior panels that test the kidneys, liver, thyroid, blood counts including white blood cells (WBC), red blood cells (RBC), platelets, and a urinalysis. The symptoms of kidney disease are the same as other diseases including in cat’s hyperthyroidism, and diabetes in both dogs and cats. To learn more about diabetes read my article on Diabetes in Dogs and Cats to find out about diabetes symptoms, treatments, and how to prevent it.
Understanding the Urine Test, Urinalysis, or UA
Getting the urine tested can tell a lot about how well the kidneys are functioning or not. The concentration of the urine lets us know how well the kidneys are filtering out byproducts the body makes. The higher the number is the more concentrated the urine is, and therefore the kidneys are getting rid of the toxins from the bloodstream, and the cat or dog may be dehydrated if the concentration is too high. Normally, a concentration under 1.020 (read as ten twenty) is concerning, but under 1.010 (read as ten ten) can mean the kidneys are not filtering out the toxins from the bloodstream, and the pet will benefit from supplemental fluids, a kidney-friendly diet, supplements, and medications. Check out my article How to Give Fluids Under the Skin at Home for Pets to learn how to give fluids yourself. Another thing the urine can tell us is if there is protein in the urine. If there is protein present and the kidney blood values are high, then we know something is not functioning correctly with the kidneys.
Understanding Kidney Blood Work and Urine Specific Gravity or Concentration of Urine
If the BUN, creatine, and SDMA are high on blood work, the USG (urine specific gravity or urine concentration) is 1.020 or less, and there is protein in the urine, giving fluids under the skin at home or at the clinic regularly may be needed. There are supplements and medications that can be given to help the kidneys work better if the cat or dog is nauseous, not eating, and can help if the cat or dog has high blood pressure (hypertension). Measuring the blood pressure of a newly diagnosed renal (kidney) disease pet is important.
Pets with kidney disease should get their blood pressure checked regularly since high blood pressure can cause the kidneys to have to work even harder and less efficiently than normal. If the kidneys are already not working well and the pet has high blood pressure it can make it harder to get the toxins out of the blood and make the pet feel sick.
Kidney Disease Diets
There are kidney diet foods that you can feed to help the kidneys not have to work as hard to get rid of the body’s waste. If you can give your cat or dog something besides kibble that would be best for your pet, so they do not have to rehydrate the food and then break it down. Breaking down the kibble is a lot of work for a cat or dog’s body that has kidneys that are not working to their full potential. If you do continue to feed kibble you should soak the kibble before feeding so the dog or cat’s body doesn’t have to use up its own fluid to rehydrate the food. Soaking the kibble in water or low-sodium broth for at least ten minutes before feeding can help a pet with kidney disease. Check out my articles on Healthy Cat Food and Healthy Dog Food to see what kind of food would be a better choice to feed your pet. Pets with kidney disease should have a diet low in sodium, the less processed the food the better, lower in potassium, and high in veggies, including blueberries, chicken, cranberries, bell peppers, cauliflower, apples, salmon, and arugula.
Nausea Associated with Kidney Disease
Dogs and cats with kidney disease can also get nauseous, and then they do not want to eat. Cats and dogs with kidney disease start to lose weight rapidly as they start losing muscle, become weak, and then do not move much which makes their muscles even weaker which makes it harder and harder for the pet to get up and down. The buildup of urea in the GI tract can cause nausea which then makes the dog or cat not want to eat and make them lose even more weight and muscle. If your cat or dog is not eating and has some kidney disease make sure to let your veterinarian know so they can get your pet on some anti-nausea medication to help the pet feel better.
Other Things to Help a Pet with Kidney Disease
Supplements and medications can be given to help with kidney function. Talk to your vet about different treatments that can help your pet.
An ultrasound and/or radiograph of the kidneys may be performed to make sure there are no obstructions, masses, or something else that may affect the function of the kidneys.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) may help the kidneys work better. Ask your veterinarian about this treatment to see if it will be helpful for your dog or cat or not.
Check out these supplements from Pet Wellbeing, Inc. where you can find Kidney Support Gold for either dogs or cats and a chewable supplement for dogs.
Cats and Dogs with Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is common, but it does not mean that your dog or cat cannot live a long happy life. With the help of your veterinarian’s recommendations, your pet can still be comfortable with the progression of kidney disease over time even if the blood work numbers are getting higher. If you can keep the symptoms of kidney disease under control, then your dog or cat will feel a lot better.