How Do You Know If Your Cat Has Kidney Disease?

How Do You Know If Your Cat Has Kidney Disease
The most common changes seen are weight loss, poor hair quality, halitosis (bad breath), variable appetite which may be associated with mouth ulcers, lethargy, and depression. Less common signs include increased drinking or urinating, vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia.


How do you check a cat for kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the persistent loss of kidney function over time. Healthy kidneys perform many important functions, most notably filtering the blood and making urine, so problems with kidney function can result in a variety of health problems for a cat.

Among the many different kidney diseases that may affect cats, CKD is the most common. The kidneys are part of the renal system (Figure 1), the body’s system for filtering impurities out of the blood. Urine produced in the kidneys is carried to the bladder by the ureters and from the urinary bladder to the outside world by the urethra.

Clinical Signs Cats with CKD may experience a buildup of the waste products and other compounds in the bloodstream that are normally removed or regulated by the kidneys. This accumulation may make them feel ill and appear lethargic, unkempt, and lose weight.

They may also lose the ability to concentrate their urine appropriately, and as a result they may urinate greater volumes and drink more water to compensate. The loss of important proteins and vitamins in their urine may contribute to abnormal metabolism and loss of appetite. They may also experience elevated blood pressure (hypertension), which can affect the function of a number of important systems, including the eyes, brain, and heart.

Another cause of lethargy in cats with CKD is the buildup of acids in their blood. The kidneys of cats with CKD may not excrete these compounds appropriately, making affected cats prone to blood acidification, or acidosis, a condition that can significantly affect the function of a variety of organ systems in the body.

CKD may also decrease a cat’s ability to produce red blood cells, which can lead to anemia, a reduced concentration of red blood cells in their blood. This may cause their gums to appear pale pink, or in severe cases, whitish in color, and may make them lethargic. Diagnosis To evaluate kidney function, veterinarians will most often turn to blood tests and urine analysis (urinalysis) to evaluate the concentrations of waste products and other components that healthy kidneys normally filter or regulate.

Blood tests can determine the concentration of two important waste products: blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine, but creatinine is generally recognized as a more specific indicator of kidney function. An increase in the concentration of these compounds in your cat’s blood may suggest that his kidneys are not functioning properly, although these values must be interpreted in light of a number of factors.

Dehydration, for example, can cause BUN and creatinine concentrations to increase in spite of the fact that a cat’s kidneys are functioning normally. Ideally, a veterinarian will base his or her interpretation of kidney function on at least two blood samples, obtained within two weeks of one another, from a normally hydrated cat that has fasted for 12-24 hours.

The concentrations of other blood components, including various electrolytes (like sodium and potassium), phosphorus, red blood cells, and proteins are also important to evaluate in a cat being examined for CKD. *Recently, a new test measuring the concentration of symmetric dimethyl arginine (SDMA), a waste product of protein metabolism, has been used as a way to detect chronic kidney disease earlier than previously available tests.

  • While further studies are required to determine whether early intervention based upon SDMA testing will translate into improved outcomes for cats with chronic kidney disease, there is evidence to suggest that they might, providing hope for longer and higher quality lives for cats with CKD.
  • In a urinalysis, your veterinarian will consider the concentration of the urine, its pH, and the presence of protein, blood cells, bacteria, and other cells that generally should not be found in feline urine, all of which provide important information regarding the health of a cat’s kidneys.

It is also important to culture a urine sample to rule out the possibility of bacterial infection of the urinary tract in suspected cases of CKD. Urine samples may be obtained either by collection from a litter box filled with non-absorbent beads designed for this purpose, by catheterization of the urethra (the opening of the urinary tract to the outside world), or by cystocentesis, a technique that extracts a urine sample by passing a very fine needle through the abdominal wall into the bladder.

Cystocentesis is generally considered a safe procedure and in most cases will provide the most diagnostically useful sample for analysis. Other studies that can be useful in evaluating a cat with suspected CKD include imaging studies such as abdominal ultrasound, radiographs (X-rays), and, in some cases, microscopic evaluation of biopsy samples.

Given the potential for hypertension in cats with CKD, measurement of a cat’s blood pressure is also an important part of the medical evaluation for this disease. Treatment Although there is no definitive cure for CKD, treatment can improve and prolong the lives of cats with this disease.

Therapy is geared toward minimizing the buildup of toxic waste products in the bloodstream, maintaining adequate hydration, addressing disturbances in electrolyte concentration, supporting appropriate nutrition, controlling blood pressure, and slowing the progression of kidney disease. Dietary modification is an important and proven aspect of CKD treatment.

Studies suggest that therapeutic diets that are restricted in protein, phosphorus and sodium content and high in water-soluble vitamins, fiber, and antioxidant concentrations may prolong life and improve quality of life in cats with CKD. However, many cats have difficulty accepting therapeutic diets, so owners must be patient and dedicated to sticking to the plan.

It is important to make a gradual transition to a therapeutic diet and to consider food temperature, texture, and flavor. Cats with CKD that go without food for relatively short periods of time may develop significant health problems, so it is crucial to make sure that your cat is eating during a transition to a therapeutic diet.

Controlling hypertension, decreasing urinary protein loss, and addressing anemia are important therapeutic goals in cats that develop these conditions. Hypertension is usually controlled with oral medication, and urinary protein loss may be treated with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors.

  1. Anemia in a cat with CKD may be treated by replacement therapy with erythropoietin (or with related compounds), which stimulates red blood cell production.
  2. Cats with CKD may produce less erythropoietin, and there is some evidence that replacement therapy can increase red blood cell counts.
  3. In some cases, blood transfusions, which may be used to restore normal red blood cell concentrations using blood obtained from a donor cat, may be necessary.

Although a number of other therapies, including phosphate binders, potassium supplementation, antioxidant supplementation, alkalinization therapy, and administration of fluids either intravenously or subcutaneously, have the potential to help cats with CKD, these approaches have not been fully validated, and controlled studies are needed to determine whether they offer any benefits.

  • The same is true of hemodialysis (the removal of toxic waste products from the bloodstream by specially designed equipment) and kidney transplantation.
  • These controversial, complex, and expensive treatments offer potential benefits to cats with CKD, but they have not been subjected to studies to prove their effectiveness, so they should be explored with the careful guidance of a veterinary specialist.

Prognosis Some cats respond very well to treatment for CKD while others do not, so the prognosis for CKD in affected cats is quite variable. Some studies suggest that cats that lose more protein in their urine have less favorable prognoses. There is evidence suggesting that the earlier CKD is diagnosed and treatment is initiated, the better the outcome with respect to quality of life and survival.

How long does a cat live with kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease in cats Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also called chronic renal failure, is long-standing (greater than 3 months) kidney dysfunction that is manifested by dilute urine (urine that is not as concentrated as it should be) and retention of urea (uremia) and other waste products in the body.

CKD is a common problem in older cats but can also occur in young and middle-aged cats. CausesIn many cases, the underlying cause of CKD is never discovered. Identifiable causes include kidney infections and stones, obstruction of the ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder), incomplete recovery from previous damage to the kidney (such as acute renal failure), polycystic kidney disease (an inherited condition common in long-haired cats), and certain tumors (such as lymphoma).

In young cats, congenital kidney disease (such as kidney dysplasia) may be the cause. Kidney stones are more common in middle-aged cats. Clinical SignsCKD may be detected on routine screening of blood and urine prior to the onset of signs. Diagnosis at this stage allows treatments to be started that may slow the progression of CKD.

  1. Early clinical signs may include increased water intake and urine production, decreased appetite, and nausea.
  2. In later stages, vomiting, lethargy, and dehydration may be apparent.
  3. Physical examination findings may include dehydration, weight loss or muscle loss, poor hair coat, small or irregular kidneys, and a uremic odor to the breath.

Diagnostic TestsInitially, a biochemistry panel, complete blood test, and urinalysis are usually recommended. With CKD, kidney function tests, such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatine, are elevated. Levels of blood electrolytes (potassium) and certain chemicals (phosphorus, calcium) may also be abnormal.

Treatment OptionsCurrently, no treatments are available that will reverse CKD. The goals of treatment are to slow progression of CKD and treat the clinical signs. Feeding a special kidney diet, which contains less protein and phosphorus, is the most effective method of slowing progression of CKD. Cats eating a kidney diet can live twice as long as those eating a regular maintenance diet.

These diets can be started even before signs occur. Control of blood phosphorus levels is also necessary. If dietary changes alone do not accomplish this, drugs to bind the phosphorus in the food can be given with each meal. If chronic dehydration is present, injections of fluid under the skin (subcutaneous fluids) may be helpful.

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The frequency varies from daily to twice weekly, and the injections can be given at home. Potassium supplements may be needed in some cats, as well as drugs to treat excess acid in the blood. Severe, advanced anemia can be treated with hormone injections to stimulate the production of red blood cells, but some cats develop side effects from the hormone the longer it is used.

Antacids, such as famotidine, are frequently prescribed for vomiting, and appetite stimulants may be given. Follow-up CareFollow-up visits often involve examinations, laboratory tests, and blood pressure measurements (when available). Frequency of visits depends on the severity of CKD, with monthly visits recommended in advanced cases.

Cats with early, stable disease may only need to be checked every 3-6 months. PrognosisCKD is a progressive disease that slowly worsens, but the rate of progression is highly variable. Cats diagnosed with early disease have an average survival time of 3 years. Those with moderate disease live an average of 2 years.

Those with advanced disease generally succumb to CKD within months. Despite these general rates, the survival time of any individual cat is impossible to predict. : Chronic kidney disease in cats

How do cats act when their kidneys are failing?

Symptoms of End Stage Kidney Failure in Cats – Symptoms of end stage kidney failure in cats include dull sunken eyes, inability to walk, body odour, incontinence in bladder or bowels, refusal to eat or drink, seizures, confusion, pacing and restlessness, withdrawing, hiding and running away.

How much does it cost to test a cat for kidney disease?

Veterinary Cost – Veterinary cost varies quite a bit depending on acute vs chronic kidney failure, the underlying cause, and how the pet responds. Initial identification tests for diagnosis usually range from $200-750. Long-term management of chronic kidney failure may range from $100-500 a month, depending on what medications are prescribed and how often fluid therapy is needed.

Do cats meow a lot with kidney disease?

Excess vocalizing in cats, especially at odd times, can be associated with certain disease processes. Nathan is not getting enough sleep. Pumpkin, his 13-year-old cat, is keeping him up at night. Pumpkin especially likes howling in Nathan’s bedroom, and Nathan is losing his patience.

  1. Excess vocalizing in cats, especially at odd times such as is being demonstrated by Pumpkin, can be associated with certain disease processes.
  2. This is especially true in older cats.
  3. Two of these conditions can be linked and can occur as a result of the other.
  4. These conditions are hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, and hyperthyroidism.

Elevated blood pressure of a long-standing nature can cause cats to wander through the house vocalizing. We think this is because chronic high blood pressure is uncomfortable. This discomfort leads to difficulty sleeping, and excess vocalization can be the result.

High blood pressure in cats can be a primary disease caused by a heart problem termed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM. With this disease, the heart muscle thickens, effectively decreasing the size of the chambers in the heart and causing the heart to beat more often to provide the same amount of blood output over time.

The heart, like any muscle when worked hard, will increase in size, leading to HCM. This disease is progressive and fatal if untreated. Kidney disease can cause high blood pressure and, conceivably, excess vocalization. However, these cats usually have other symptoms that show up first, including increased water intake, increased urination and decreased appetite.

  • Another possibility is hyperthyroidism.
  • This disease is caused by tumor development in or on — or both — the thyroid glands.
  • These are benign tumors, but they are functional and produce excess thyroid hormone.
  • Over time, this excess production wreaks havoc on the cat by raising the metabolic rate.
  • This causes the body to, in essence, burn up.

These cats are often ravenous and, even though they eat excessively, lose weight. Progression of hyperthyroidism can lead to deterioration of the liver. The heart becomes hypertrophic because the raised metabolic rate causes the heart to overwork, which increases the blood pressure, just as in primary HCM.

  1. Also, as with primary HCM, hyperthyroidism, if left untreated, is fatal.
  2. It is time for Pumpkin’s trip to the veterinarian.
  3. With a thorough examination, blood-pressure measurement, blood analysis and possibly an echocardiogram to assess the heart, all of these possibilities can be ruled in or out.
  4. Hyperthyroidism is curable and something to root for as a result.

Primary hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is treatable but not considered curable. Kidney disease, though, is not likely curable, but is treatable. There are other possibilities including a behavioral problem, but I assure you it is best to find out there is no physical disease before assuming a behavioral cause.

How quickly does kidney disease start?

What are the complications of chronic kidney disease? – If your kidneys aren’t working properly, the rest of your body isn’t either. Some of the complications of chronic kidney disease include:

Low red blood cell count (). Weak and brittle bones., Metabolic acidosis. This is a chemical imbalance (acid-base) in your blood caused by decrease in kidney function. High blood pressure. Heart disease, including increased risk of stroke and heart attack. High potassium (), which affects your heart’s ability to function correctly. High phosphorus (hyperphosphatemia)., leading to swelling in feet, ankles and hands; fluid in your lungs., fertility problems. Decreased immune response, increasing your risk of infection.

First your healthcare provider will take your medical history, conduct a physical exam, ask about any medication you are currently taking, ask about any symptoms you have noticed, and inquire if any of your family members have kidney disease.Your healthcare provider will order blood tests, a urine test and will also check your blood pressure.The blood tests will check:

Your glomerulofiltration rate (GFR). This describes how efficiently your kidneys are filtering blood – how many milliliters per minute your kidneys are filtering. Your GFR is used to determine the stage of your kidney disease. Your serum creatinine level, which tells how well your kidneys are removing this waste product. Creatinine is a waste product from muscle metabolism and is normally excreted in your urine. A high creatinine level in your blood means that your kidneys are not functioning well enough to get rid it in your urine.

A will look for the presence of protein (albumin) and blood in your urine. Well-functioning kidneys should not have blood or proteins in your urine. If you do, this means your kidneys are damaged. Other tests may include imaging tests to look for problems with the size and structure of your kidneys such as, and/or scans.

  • Your healthcare provider may also order a kidney biopsy to check for a specific type of kidney disease or to determine the amount of kidney damage.
  • In this procedure, performed using local anesthesia, a piece of your kidney tissue is removed and examined.
  • There is no cure for chronic kidney disease (CKD), but steps may be taken in early CKD to preserve a higher level of kidney function for a longer period of time.

If you have reduced kidney function:

Make and keep your regular healthcare provider / nephrologist (kidney specialist) visits. Manage your blood sugar if you have diabetes. Avoid taking painkillers and other medications that may make your kidney disease worse. Manage your blood pressure levels. Consult a dietitian regarding useful changes in diet. Dietary changes may include limiting protein, eating foods that reduce blood cholesterol levels, and limiting sodium (salt) and potassium intake. Don’t, Treat anemia (if present). Exercise/be active on most days of the week. Stay at a healthy weight.

Are cats in pain with kidney disease?

What are the signs of kidney disease in cats? – In the early stages of CKD, there may be very few signs. The symptoms progress as kidney function declines and the cat starts to suffer more consequences of this. The commonly seen symptoms are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urine production
  • Reduced appetite
  • Gradual weight loss due to poor appetite and loss of protein in the urine
  • Vomiting due to toxin buildup in the system
  • Lethargy/sleeping more
  • Weakness due to muscle wastage, anaemia and low blood potassium
  • Dehydration due to excess water loss into the urine
  • Bad breath (halitosis) — Due to toxin build-up and oral and gastric ulceration

In the latter stages of kidney disease in cats, the animal will start to feel very unwell, feeling constantly sick, dehydrated and weak. They will also be in significant pain from ulceration of the mouth and stomach lining and toxin build-up leading to headaches, blindness and eventually collapse. In acute kidney failure, the cat will show signs in a matter of hours or days. They can include:

  • Sudden anorexia (not eating)
  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Strange smelling breath
  • Seizures
  • Some cats may urinate more than usual, while others may produce no urine at all.
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Cats with acute renal failure will feel very unwell in a short space of time. They often seem to be in significant pain due to swelling of the kidneys and may collapse or cry constantly.

How common is kidney disease in cats?

Kidney disease in cats is a common diagnosis. We estimate that some form of kidney disease affects 20-25% of our feline companions and an even higher percentage of seniors and geriatric cats. Kidney function is vital in filtering toxins from the body and keeping electrolytes and water in balance.

Can you reverse kidney disease in cats?

What Is Chronic Kidney Disease? – Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is most common among senior cats 10 years and older. It most often develops over time, with cats showing signs of gradual decline. Accidental poisoning can also cause acute kidney failure in cats of all ages, requiring immediate emergency care.

  • The kidneys help maintain fluid balance, produce key hormones, regulate electrolytes and blood pressure.
  • And, of course, they excrete bodily wastes in urine.
  • In CKD, all of these important functions are disrupted, leaving wastes to build up in the body.
  • CKD is not a curable or reversible disease, however, with early detection, support and treatment can improve your cat’s quality and length of life by slowing progression of the disease.

In fact, cats can live for many years with consistent management.

What is the most common cause of kidney failure in cats?

Acute Renal Failure – If your cat is suffering from acute kidney failure, it means that their kidneys are suddenly unable to function properly. This type of kidney failure occurs suddenly, within days or weeks. If diagnosed in time, acute renal failure can often be reversed.

Does dry food cause kidney disease in cats?

The Truth About Kidney Disease in Cats Put Food on a Subscription & SAVE 10% Off Every Order Put Food on a Subscription & SAVE 10% Off Every Order Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is also referred to as chronic renal disease or chronic renal failure. CKD in cats is a heart breaking disease for pet owners. Sadly, it is estimated that over half of the population of cats 10 years of age or older suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease.

While there are many different factors that contribute to your cats renal disease. The most common and most preventable cause is off the shelf commercial dry cat food. The reason is that cats fed exclusively dry food suffer from chronic dehydration, which leads to stress on the kidneys over time. Pet owners may have trouble trying to find a specially formulated cat food to help treat CKD, which your pet will actually eat.

A raw pet food diet with the highest quality protein provides holistic nutrition to help your cats CKD symptoms and greatly improve his or her quality of life. A cat’s natural diet contains high protein and high moisture. Organic raw cat food is protein based and formulated with proper moisture content (75%+) to help your kitty stay hydrated.

  1. Unfortunately, the moisture content in dry kibble is only 7%-10%, and your cat should be getting a considerable amount of water everyday from food for urinary tract health.
  2. The food we eat provides fuel, and the better the food, the better the energy, or fuel.
  3. The same can be said for feeding your cat.

However, cats lack the major pathway containing the enzyme glycosides, used to break down carbs into simple sugars. Cats do have the ability to digest carbohydrates, but they will quickly turn directly into fat instead of fuel. Felines use mostly protein and fat from their diet for fuel.

  1. So when we feed them highly processed ingredients with artificial flavors found in dry cat food, we are essentially giving them junk food.
  2. The equivalent is giving your kids sugar-based processed foods everyday and for every meal, it is unhealthy.
  3. Caused by a dry cat food diet can result from the feeding method called free-feeding (leaving a bowl full of food out all day), and from the low water content.

Because of the low moisture, dry pet foods have more caloric-density than fresh pet foods and even canned pet food. From a life long diet of dry cat food will eventually lead to urinary tract issues and chronic kidney disease, especially for older animals.

Frequent Urination Urinating Outside Litter Box Constipation Drinking Lots of Water Decrease appetite and Weight Loss Ulcers in the Mouth and Bad Breath Unusual Weakness or Indifference Dry Coat

Cats are notoriously finicky and sometimes would rather starve themselves before eating something they don’t like. The best thing to do for your cat with or without CKD, is to stop dry food feeding and begin a grain free meat based raw cat food diet. Nutrition management is of the utmost importance for cats with renal disease or renal failure, and if your cat refuses to eat, the results can turn into something much more devastating. has been providing our holistic raw cat food diet to pet owners across the US since 1998. We are proud to offer an affordable and easy solution with fresh, high-quality ingredients to help reduce inflammation and reduce symptoms of CKD. We do all the hard work so you can provide your kitty with the healthiest and all natural food from honest raw pet food companies who source only the highest quality ingredients.

Try our 100% natural raw cat food today, and have it delivered right to your door automatically each week! Good for pets and the ground they walk on : The Truth About Kidney Disease in Cats

How do vets check for kidney disease?

How is Kidney Disease Typically Diagnosed? – Following a physical examination of your pet, a veterinarian will run blood tests and a urinalysis. If there is kidney disease, a blood chemistry panel will typically show increased levels of substances called blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine.

What can I give my cat to help her kidneys?

My 10-year-old cat was just diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, and I was told she needs to eat special food. What does this mean for her? – Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the most common kidney-based disease in cats. Waste products are normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and excreted in the urine, but cats with CKD will end up with an accumulation of these waste products in the bloodstream as the filtering process breaks down.

Control the clinical signs associated with accumulating waste products in the blood Minimize problems with fluid and mineral balance Sustain adequate nutrition Modify/slow the progression of CKD

Nutrition addresses all of these goals. Commercial diets for cats with CKD are developed to prioritize these key goals. When compared with normal maintenance adult cat food, a kidney support diet contains less protein, sodium, and phosphorus, and increased omega-3 fatty acids.

Do cats with kidney disease smell?

Bad Breath – Kidney disease is one cause of bad breath in the cat. When kidneys start to fail, they become less capable of removing waste from the bloodstream. As this waste builds up, your cat’s breath will smell worse. The bad breath associated with kidney disease may have an ammonia odor.

What can you not feed a cat with kidney disease?

While kidney disease can be a scary diagnosis, many dogs and cats can live comfortably for years with kidney disease if it is caught early enough and treated appropriately. While most drugs used to treat pets with kidney disease are only meant to reduce symptoms, feeding the right diet can have dramatic effects on survival – studies have shown that pets that eat diets designed for kidney disease can live twice as long as those who eat more typical diets.

  • The nutritional changes that need to be made depend on the severity of the kidney disease, but in general, pets with kidney disease should be fed diets reduced in phosphorus, protein, and sodium and supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil.
  • The most important of these nutrients for most dogs and cats is phosphorus.

It is important to feed a low phosphorus diet to keep the pet’s blood phosphorus low, which is thought to slow the progression of kidney disease and improve survival. As the kidneys are responsible for getting rid of the waste products from protein in the diet, diets for pets with kidney disease have lower amounts of protein to minimize the buildup of waste products in the blood as the kidneys fail, which can make your pet feel quite sick.

  • If your dog or cat has protein loss in his or her urine, then a low protein diet is particularly important because lower protein diets reduce the protein loss, which can improve survival time.
  • In addition to feeding a lower protein diet, you also need to avoid giving high protein treats such as meat, jerky treats, cheese, rawhides, pig ears, etc.

High salt (sodium) diets may increase blood pressure and may worsen kidney damage, so diets designed for pets with kidney disease are low in sodium. You should also avoid feeding high salt treats such as cheese, bread, deli meat, and many commercial dog and cat treats.

Eeping to foods and treats that have less than 1 mg sodium per Calorie (kcal) is generally a good start. Low sodium treats include fruits and vegetables (but be sure to avoid grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic!) There is some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may have benefits for cats and dogs with kidney disease, so many diets for pets with kidney disease contain added fish oil, or fish oil is added as a supplement if the diet doesn’t already have it.

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Talk to your veterinarian about whether fish oil is right for your pet and, if so, about optimal dose and a brand that has high quality control. Diets designed for kidney disease are also designed to be non-acidifying whereas many dog foods and most cat foods are designed to be acidifying.

Does cat kidney disease show up in blood tests?

Testing for Kidney Disease in Your Dog or Cat A large number of older dogs and cats develop kidney disease or failure. With correct diagnostic testing, the problem can be caught early enough for more successful treatment. Kidney disease and failure is one of the most common disorders I see in dogs and cats.

It’s extremely prevalent as animals age, especially in those eight years of age and up. While it can be fatal, kidney disease can usually be treated and even cured if caught early. Let’s look at the testing that allows for the early diagnosis of this frequently-seen health problem in dogs and cats. Ways to Test for Kidney Disease Blood tests The BUN (blood urea nitrogen) is one of three blood tests for kidney function.

It is a good screening test but not perfect, as it only elevates significantly if kidney function is destroyed by 60% to 70%. However, it is inexpensive to run and part of most blood panels. BUN is also affected by diet, exercise, and muscle mass, so results can be skewed due to non-kidney factors; increased results must be interpreted in light of these factors.

  • Creatinine refers to an amino acid constituent of muscle protein.
  • Like BUN, this test also doesn’t show significantly-elevated results until kidney function has deteriorated by 60% to 70%.
  • It is also affected by diet, exercise, and muscle mass, though not as much as BUN is.
  • Blood profiles that incorporate only these two tests can accurately diagnose kidney disease once the disease has progressed to a later stage, but are not so good at diagnosing very early disease.

Therefore, a third test called SDMA (symmetric dimethylarginine), which tests for the amino acid arginine, may be incorporated into the blood panel. SDMA levels elevate very early in the course of kidney disease, anywhere from 12 to 36 months before BUN and creatinine elevate (reflecting only 25% kidney damage versus 60% to 70%).

  • Other blood tests that can help diagnose pets with kidney failure include measuring blood levels of phosphorus and calcium.
  • Phosphorus, in particular, tells us about the severity of kidney issues since it elevates when the kidneys are severely damaged.
  • Pets with elevated blood phosphorus levels and elevated levels of the kidney enzymes just mentioned are much harder to treat and have a poorer prognosis.

Infectious disease testing Other than bacterial infections such as E. coli or Proteus, which move from the bladder to the kidneys, the most common bacterial infection of the kidneys in animals (especially dogs) is leptospirosis. It results from contact with infected urine, typically of rodents and other animals.

It is important to consider this as a cause of kidney disease for two reasons. First, early diagnosis and treatment is essential — the longer you wait to diagnose and treat, the greater the chance the animal will die. Secondly, this infection is easily transmitted to other animals and people. Leptospirosis titers, which can take one to two weeks to be reported, are useful but can be skewed by prior leptospirosis vaccination.

Urine testing While a urinalysis is typically done when you visit your own doctor, most veterinarians, unfortunately, do not routinely do this important test. This can occur because it’s harder to collect urine from animals, or because doctors don’t appreciate how much information we glean from urine testing.

  • Regardless, this is an important adjunct to blood testing.
  • The urinalysis can complement results noted in blood tests, as well as give us additional information the blood testing may not provide.
  • For example, urine testing shows if glucose or ketones are present (indicating diabetes mellitus).
  • We can also detect early protein (albumin) loss through the kidneys in a urinalysis.

This isn’t detected in a blood profile; excessive urine protein loss is very common in dogs and requires early treatment to prevent more serious problems. Examining the urine microscopically also tells us about the possible presence of inflammation, infection, bleeding, cancer, and bladder stones.

  1. If you can collect urine from your dog or cat, it should be analyzed at least every six months.
  2. Urine culture A urine culture tells us two important things: if an infection of the kidneys or bladder is present, and which bacterium is causing the infection.
  3. Additionally, if bacteria are seen, the cultured bacteria are examined for susceptibility to antibiotic responsiveness.

I often see animals with “bladder infections/UTIs” diagnosed by other doctors, but who don’t truly have infections. The (mis)diagnosis occurs because it was made based only on seeing white blood cells in a urinalysis (which indicates inflammation but not necessarily infection).

While a urinalysis may indicate possible infection, only culture can determine if the infection is actually present and if antibiotics are needed. In order to reduce the need for antibiotics and prevent further antibiotic resistance (many bladder issues are easily treated without them), a culture should be done before these drugs are used.

Exceptions include animals that are bleeding heavily in their urine or those with urinary blockages where an underlying infection is a likely cause. Note: if a pet is treated for a UTI with antibiotics, based on a culture, a follow-up culture should be done in one to two weeks after finishing the antibiotics to make sure the bacteria are killed and to prevent a worse infection due to incorrect treatment.

Radiography This test involves small amounts of X-ray radiation to allow the doctor to look inside your dog or cat’s body. For animals with kidney issues, radiography may allow the detection of stones or tumors. While radiographs are an important part of testing for possible kidney disease and may allow identification of other problems, ultrasonography typically reveals better information about kidney status in animals.

Ultrasonography Any time I see an unexplained illness that is not diagnosed with the other tests I’ve discussed, or if my screening tests for inflammation and cancer (TK, CRP, CRA) are elevated. I find that ultrasonography is necessary to look for the causes of these abnormal tests.

Ultrasound exams are safe as they use sound waves rather than radiation. They can usually be done on an awake pet without the need for sedation unless he is fractious. Because ultrasounds image tissue in a different way from radiographs, it is typically important to do both (usually starting with radiographs since they are easier and less expensive to do).

As you can see, a variety of tests are important in evaluating your pet’s urinary system. Work with your veterinarian to do whatever testing is needed to maximize the chances of an early and correct diagnosis. Ongoing monitoring via tests is especially important in a holistic treatment approach in order to catch changes early and alter treatment if needed.

How do vets check for kidney disease?

How is Kidney Disease Typically Diagnosed? – Following a physical examination of your pet, a veterinarian will run blood tests and a urinalysis. If there is kidney disease, a blood chemistry panel will typically show increased levels of substances called blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine.

What are the symptoms of stage 1 kidney disease in cats?

Symptoms – As the Pet Health Network reports, 1 in 3 cats suffer from this disease, and unfortunately, it’s not an easy illness to discover. “Most cats show no outward signs of kidney disease until the problem is very advanced. Even when they do, the first signals of kidney disease in cats are easy to miss, including subtle weight loss, urinating/peeing more often and drinking more water.” Lethargy, or lack of energy, a decrease or loss of appetite or vomiting, are often strong indicators that something is amiss; therefore, monitor your pet very closely, and if you notice these changes or others, contact your veterinarian right away for an appointment, as the illness can progress quickly if not treated early.

What can I give my cat to help her kidneys?

My 10-year-old cat was just diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, and I was told she needs to eat special food. What does this mean for her? – Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the most common kidney-based disease in cats. Waste products are normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and excreted in the urine, but cats with CKD will end up with an accumulation of these waste products in the bloodstream as the filtering process breaks down.

Control the clinical signs associated with accumulating waste products in the blood Minimize problems with fluid and mineral balance Sustain adequate nutrition Modify/slow the progression of CKD

Nutrition addresses all of these goals. Commercial diets for cats with CKD are developed to prioritize these key goals. When compared with normal maintenance adult cat food, a kidney support diet contains less protein, sodium, and phosphorus, and increased omega-3 fatty acids.