Chronic Renal Failure or kidney disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed illnesses of senior pets.  While kidney disease is neither curable nor preventable, it is manageable.  The kidneys are remarkable organs but their ability to function decreases as a pet’s age increases.  In fact, 75% of the kidneys are non functional before symptoms are evident.  Kidney failure affects the pet in 3 ways. 

  1. They can’t concentrate:  The kidneys can no longer concentrate the urine, leading to very dilute urine and a noticeable increase in both thirst and urination. 
  2. They get wasteful: The waste products that the kidneys normally process and eliminate, build up, causing the pet to experience a decreased appetite and activity level, weakness, dehydration and gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting, diarrhea, & constipation. 
  3. They are non-productive: The diseased kidney tissue can no longer produce erythropoeitin and calcitrol, leading to anemia and parathyroid disease. 

Secondary high blood pressure can also occur, causing sudden blindness or seizures.  The first step in managing this common disorder is to have it diagnosed.  Your veterinarian can accomplish this by discussing your pet’s symptoms with you, examination of the pet, and laboratory interpretation of blood and urine samples.  The lab work should evaluate a complete blood count to look for anemia, chemistry values to identify waste buildup, and a urinalysis to determine if the urine is dilute.  With proper therapy and dietary modification, we can slow down the progression of the disease, alleviate many of the clinical signs, and make the most of the remainder of the pet’s life.