The chances of kidney disease developing doubles between the age 10-15 years in dogs and cats.

The kidneys are extremely important for detoxification of the blood, removal of waste products, and maintaining normal fluid and mineral balance of the body. Failure of the kidneys to carry out this function is referred to as kidney or renal disease.

Most pets will show warning signs of kidney failure, but these signs may only appear when three quarters of the kidney function has been lost.

Has my pet got kidney problems?

Key indicators that owners may recognise, can be difficult, but if you notice any of the following it could mean that your pet has kidney problems:

  • Lethargy, weakness, or increased sleeping
  • Oral discomfort
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Excessive thirst and increased frequency of urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Halitosis or bad breath

Generally kidney disease is irreversible, and can be caused by infections, injury, poisons, urinary stones and rarely cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment can limit progression and help reduce the kidneys work and allow many pets to maintain quality of life for years.

Diagnosis of kidney disease is usually by a combination of a simple urine test and quick blood sample, and generally most veterinary clinics will be able to provide a diagnosis in less than an hour. Urine becomes more dilute than normal, and blood tests reveal high levels of the toxins that the kidneys should have been removing.

Treatment for kidney disease involves several approaches:

  • Low protein/phosphorus diet, readily available as dry/sachet/tinned prescription diets
  • Phosphorus binders; added to the diet to restrict phosphorus uptake
  • Anabolic steroids/ erythropoietin injections to counteract anaemia and stimulate bone marrow
  • Ace inhibitors- new drugs that can assist especially cats with renal failure

With good medical management, kidney failure can be treated, and animals can maintain quality of life and live for years.