Roblin Animal Hospital/ Red River Spay and Neuter Clinic:
Definition: Is damage to the kidneys eventually leading to kidney failure. Kidney failure can be divided into two categories: acute and chronic. Acute kidney failure develops quickly, usually as a result of an identifiable problem, such as getting into antifreeze, a kidney infection, low blood pressure during anesthesia, etc. Chronic kidney failure develops more slowly, usually inolder cats, and is the result of the gradual loss of nephrons, the functional unit of the kidney.
Clinical Signs: Pets with kidney diseases do not begin to show signs until about 70 percent of their nephrons are destroyed. Clinical signs include increase drinking, increased urination, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, back pain, high blood pressure, decreased energy and dry hair coat. In extreme cases they may have decrease urination or no urination at all as the kidneys can no longer produce it.
Diagnosis: Blood work- pet begins to retain ammonia, nitrogen, acids, and other waste products in the bloodstream and tissues (uremic poisoning), Urinalysis- damaged kidneys can't effectively concentrate urine so looking at urine concentration is important, Kidney Palpation/ X-rays- visualize size of kidneys.
Treatment: Acute kidney failure can be reversed if the underlying cause can be corrected before it permanently damages the nephrons. Most cases of chronic kidney failure occur in cats who have sustained irreversible damage to the kidneys. Therefore these animals are managed with special kidney diets to help slow down damage to the kidneys. It is also important for these pets to get lots of water. Canned diets are often chosen to help increase water intake, especially in cats. We also treat symptomatically if needed. If the pet is vomiting or dehydrated we give fluids and meds to help settle the stomach. If the pet has high blood pressure we give blood pressure medication. The diagnosis of kidney failure in the early stages is crucial to ensuring many more years of life for your pet. A pet that is diagnosed early can often live many happy healthy years with kidney disease.