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5 Things to Know about Pet Kidney Failure

How to Care for Cats and Dogs with Kidney Failure

By Maureen Ryan. June 20, 2012 | See Comments

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5 Things to Know about Pet Kidney Failure

Kidney disease can be a scary thing to deal with as a pet parent. Here are a few things you should know, in order to better take care of your pet.

Kidney disease is usually fatal for dogs and cats. As a pet owner, that might make you feel anxious and upset, especially if you’ve noticed changes in your pet’s fluid intake or urine output. To help you better care for pets that have renal problems and improve their quality of life, keep in mind these five facts about kidney disease.

All dogs and cats have some risk of kidney failure.

Older pets are more susceptible to kidney failure since nephrons that work as filters in the kidneys can deteriorate with advanced age. However, dogs and cats of any age can be victims of kidney failure. Acute kidney failure especially might occur in younger or otherwise healthy pets since this condition can result from unexpected events. Seemingly healthy pets may also suffer from chronic kidney failure for a variety of reasons. That’s why it is important to have your pet examined if you notice changes in urination or drinking habits.

An early diagnosis can improve your pet’s quality of life.

Talk with your veterinarian as soon as you see signs of kidney failure. Using urinalysis and blood tests, the veterinarian can determine how well your pet’s kidneys are functioning. You cannot reverse kidney damage or cure your pet, but starting treatments such as a low-protein diet or supplements as soon as possible may help slow the progression of kidney damage so that your pet can have a fuller and longer life.

You may never know why your pet has kidney failure.

It’s natural to want to understand what went wrong (and, specifically, how you could have prevented your pet’s kidney failure). However, it’s often impossible for veterinarians to know what exactly caused kidney failure in dogs and cats, especially if the kidney failure is chronic. The most important thing, therefore, is to focus on supporting your pet through this difficult disease and not worrying about what might have been.

Treatments can make a difference.

Even in cases of kidney failure, when the prognosis is fatal, there are things you can do that will help make pets more comfortable and able to enjoy their remaining months or years. A low-protein diet, for instance will reduce the amount of work the kidneys need to do, supplements can ensure that electrolytes and vitamins are in balance which will help maintain strength and reduce pain, and some prescription medications can help you avoid complications that could cause your cat or dog further discomfort.

Be aware of changes in blood pressure.

Hypertension is common in pets with chronic kidney failure. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to more rapid deterioration of the kidneys and complications such as blindness. These will affect your pet’s quality of life and how long your cat or dog will survive. Be sure your veterinarian gets an accurate blood pressure reading at each visit. If he confirms hypertension, you might be able to manage the condition with proper medication.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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