How you treat kidney disease in dogs and cats varies depending on the cause and severity of the problem. If your pet is diagnosed with a bacterial kidney infection, for instance, an antibiotic such as Cephalexin should cure the problem.
However, if your pet is suffering from kidney failure you will probably need to adopt several different methods to manage symptoms.
Unfortunately, none of these options will cure the disorder, but they can help improve your pet’s quality of life. Depending on whether your dog or cat has acute or chronic kidney failure, treatments may also extend your pet’s life by several weeks or even several years.
The goal of treatments for kidney failure is to reduce the amount of work your pet’s damaged kidneys need to do. You may also need to replace lost nutrients and minerals and reduce waste buildup in your pet’s body. The most common way to manage kidney failure is through a combination of nutritional therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.
Studies have shown that specialized diets can alleviate symptoms and may slow the progression of kidney failure in dogs and cats.
Specific recommendations vary from pet to pet depending on nutritional needs, energy expenditures, and symptoms. In most cases, your veterinarian will prescribe a high-quality low-protein diet, which lowers the amount of nitrogenous waste in the kidneys and, thus, lessens the burden placed on your pet’s organs. Consuming less protein may also lower the risk of anemia (which often occurs with kidney failure). On this diet, you may also find that your pet doesn’t need to drink or urinate as often as before.
Other dietary recommendations might include:
- Eating more foods containing vitamins B and C or other water soluble vitamins, which are lost in greater amounts when a pet urinates frequently.
- Taking a daily potassium supplement since it’s common for pets (especially cats) with kidney failure to have low potassium levels, which can cause muscle pain and weakness.
Your veterinarian may also recommend that your pet take one of these medications.
- Sodium chloride tablets: Excessive urination can lead to sodium deficiency, which can be managed with these tablets. You need to be cautious, however, when changing your pet’s sodium intake since too much or too little can be dangerous.
- Low doses of vitamin D (calcitrol): This is used to lower parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels in the body to avoid complications associated with elevated PTH including “rubber jaw.”
- Bladder stones medication: If bladder stones are blocking your pet’s urinary tract, your veterinarian may recommend a medication such as Allopurin.
Some basic actions that you need to perform to help your pet deal with the symptoms of kidney failure include:
- Ensuring water is available to your pet at all times
- Providing easy access to litter boxes, taking your pet on more frequent walks, or finding other ways to accommodate a pet that needs to urinate often.
- Allowing opportunities for moderate exercise while helping your pet avoid stressful or excessive activity.
In some situations, a kidney transplant or kidney dialysis may be available to dogs and cats with kidney failure. These options can be extremely expensive, though, and both come with their own risks.
More on Kidney Disease
4 Principles of Nutrition for Treating Kidney Disease
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.