Could your pet have kidney disease?

Chronic kidney (renal) failure is common in older dogs and cats.    

Unfortunately, symptoms are often overlooked and put down to normal ageing. However, if kidney disease is diagnosed early, it can be treated, and its progression managed. 

The kidneys filter waste products from the blood and remove them from your pet’s body in urine. Their other functions include conserving water, releasing various hormones, controlling blood pressure, and regulating mineral levels, such as sodium and potassium. 

Some symptoms of kidney disease are very subtle, while others are more obvious.   

A pet with kidney disease may show one or more of these signs:   

  • Increased thirst and/or urination   

  • Nausea and vomiting    

  • Weight loss    

  • Decreased appetite    

  • Tiredness and lethargy    

  • Blood in urine   

  • Overall weakness  

  • Pale gums  

  • Signs of dental disease, such as smelly breath, pale gums, and mouth ulcers   

  • Untidy fur and/or itchy skin   

If your pet shows any of these symptoms, a visit to the vet is the best plan, so that diagnosis and appropriate treatment can be started.  

Treatment options 

The early stages of kidney disease are often managed with just a dietary change to help slow down its progression. This simple measure can provide years without the need for further intervention. As the disease progresses, further treatments become necessary. These can include medications, fluid therapy and, in severe cases, hospitalisation.   

Early detection is the best way to manage the disease, but, as the symptoms tend to only become obvious when around 70% of the kidney function is impaired, this can be difficult. We recommend an annual blood and urine test for all pets over 10 years of age to help identify renal problems as soon as possible.   

If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms at any age, it is recommended that you check with your vet to identify the cause. If kidney disease is diagnosed, you can work with your vet to develop a suitable treatment plan to provide a comfortable life for your pet. 


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