Kidney disease in pets

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Updated: 4/17/2007 1:07 pm
Kidney disease can be divided into two broad categories: acute and chronic. Acute kidney disease strikes suddenly and may be the result of poisoning, trauma, cysts, or other factors. Chronic kidney disease tends to develop gradually and is common in older pets, especially cats. A great many diseases and conditions can cause kidney trouble. Some breeds are susceptible to inherited problems. Typical signs of kidney disease are excess thirst and urination, bad breath, weight loss, weakness, vomiting, and seizures. Many times, symptoms don't arise until the kidneys are 75 percent damaged. For this reason, aging pets should have annual exams with blood and urine tests to spot potential problems early. Treatment depends on the stage of disease at the time of discovery. In severe cases, the animal is hospitalized and given IV (I-V) fluids until stable. It's important to correct the underlying cause of the disease whenever possible. To ease strain on the kidneys, pets are typically put on a low-protein, low-phosphorous diet. They may also benefit from certain supplements and medications that protect the gastrointestinal tract. A few veterinary university hospitals offer dialysis for pets, though this procedure is expensive. While kidney disease can't be cured, many cases can be controlled, allowing pets to live a fairly normal life.
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