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.
Why Renal Amyloidosis In Dogs And Cats Can Cause Kidney Failure
Amyloidosis is a condition wherein a waxy protein substance
called amyloid is deposited in a pet’s organs or tissues. In
the case of renal amyloidosis, the protein substance is
deposited in the kidney and interrupts normal functioning,
often leading to kidney
failure. Read on to learn what you need to know about renal
amyloidosis in dogs and cats.
Causes of Renal Amyloidosis
In many pets, renal amyloidosis is idiopathic, meaning that the
cause is not known. However, familial (or hereditary)
amyloidosis seems to occur in certain dog and cat breeds,
including the Shar-Pei, Beagle, English
Foxhound, Abyssinian cat,
and Siamese cat.
The condition can also be a reaction to chronic inflammation, a
chronic infection (including a parasitic infection),
immune-mediated diseases (those caused by an abnormal immune
system response), cancer,
and other health conditions.
Regardless of the cause, renal amyloidosis can wreak havoc on
the kidney (or kidneys). The amyloid deposits surround and
slowly destroy kidney cells, and because the kidney is an organ
that cannot replace or regenerate cells, the damage is often
failure is likely to occur once a certain number of
cells, and the structures they make up (filtering units called
nephrons), have been destroyed.
Symptoms of Renal Amyloidosis
Symptoms that may be seen in dogs and cats include:
- Increased thirst and urination (due to protein loss in the
Loss of appetite
- Ascites (fluid in the abdomen)
- Difficulty breathing
- Edema (swelling, often in limbs, joints, and face)
Treatment for Renal Amyloidosis
Your veterinarian will diagnose renal amyloidosis through a
discussion of symptoms, a physical examination, and a series of
tests including complete blood count and chemistry, urinalysis,
x-ray, and/or ultrasound to evaluate the structure of the
kidney, and a kidney biopsy. The biopsy is typically the final
word in diagnosing renal amyloidosis.
Treatment will depend on the cause and severity of the
condition. Common options include:
- Treating any underlying condition -- such as chronic
infection -- that may have caused renal amyloidosis.
- Pets suffering from kidney failure as a result of renal
amyloidosis may require hospitalization to reverse dehydration
with fluid therapy. Following stabilization, treatment for kidney failure may
include medications, supplements, and a special diet.
While certain medications may be prescribed to treat kidney
failure or the complications
of renal amyloidosis, never give your pet any medication
without first consulting your veterinarian. Medications that
require normal kidney function to work may be harmful to a pet
suffering from a kidney condition.
Because renal amyloidosis is sometimes inherited, do not breed
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.