All of the 32.4% of homeowners who own cats and the 37.2% of homeowners who own dogs can tell you that having a pet requires attentive veterinary care — from pet dental surgery to visits to a pet wellness center.
As people and animals age, their bodies begin to wear out. Humans see this in the form of heart failure, as hearts are often a human’s weakest organ. For dogs and cats, however, kidneys tend to wear out first. In fact, next to arthritis, chronic renal failure is the leading cause of illness in most older dogs and cats.
It is important to know the mechanics of how this happens in your cats and dogs. Kidneys help bodies to be free of wastes that accumulate during metabolism, essentially scrubbing the blood system free of excess salts, water, and metabolites.
Nephrons, the tiny structures within kidneys, perform the actual waste removal. During chronic kidney disease, important enzymes and hormones that are normally produced by nephrons are blocked up. Consequently, healthy kidney functioning ceases.
Your pet’s body is doing everything it can to fight renal deterioration in animal kidney disease — their kidneys go into overtime to make up for their lost waste disposal capacity. This might manifest in excessive thirst and urination. Symptoms of more progressed animal kidney disease include weight loss, anemia, and abnormal blood work results.
Dogs, in particular, are prone to chronic interstitial nephritis, a form of kidney damage. It is basically a chronic inflammation of the matrix that suspends the nephrons, which can block important nephron filters.
Remember, it is important that your pet visits the vet at least every six months after they turn 10. You veterinarian will be able to look for tell-tale signs of kidney deterioration — in some leaner pets, scarred kidneys have a characteristic feel through the abdominal wall. In cases where diagnoses are unclear, tests can be run.
Treatment options for animal kidneys are limited to measure to slow the rate at which your pet’s tissue is lost. Special diets, designed to contain less protein and sodium, can be effective. Vitamin supplements can also help pets with poor appetites from kidney failure.