By Monica Samson,
One of the questions we ask our new clients is how they hear about us. Many of them find us by doing research – mostly online – for natural and effective ways to help improve their pet’s current health problems.
Allergies, digestion, arthritis and cancer – these are all pethealth problems that pet owners are faced with on a regular basis (and it’s interesting to note that humans also suffer from these same maladies). One health problem that comes up quite often is canine kidney disease.
What Do the Kidneys Do?
The kidneys play a large role in the body’s filtration system. The major function they provide is in removing toxins in the bloodstream and disposing of them through the urine. The kidneys control the water, salt, and mineral levels in the body and help with calcium absorption. They also produce a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) that helps with red blood cell production.
What are the signs of Kidney Problems?
There are certain signs to look for if you suspect your pet may have kidney problems. These include:
- Anemia (pale gums and weakness)
- Dehydration (causing sudden and increased thirst)
- Increase in urination and/or trouble urinating
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
When the kidneys begin to fail, your pet will feel the need to drink more water in order to flush out the excess toxins in the body that the kidneys are not able to filter out. Over time, even excessive intake of water will not help remove those toxins and more serious issues may arise.
Because the symptoms listed above can also be the result of many other possible health issues, a blood or urine test may be necessary in order to ascertain if indeed the problem is kidney disease.
Types of Kidney Problems
There are two types of kidney failure in dogs and cats: acute and chronic.
Acute kidney failure happens suddenly and aggressively. Bacterial infections, poisoning, and even kidney stones or other urinary blockages can cause acute kidney failure. When acute kidney failure is suspected, immediate veterinary care is necessary. This is a life-threatening situation. Luckily the majority of instances of acute kidney failure can be treated – if caught in time.
Chronic kidney failure takes a longer time to progress and is most common in older animals. Unfortunately, by the time your pet starts to show signs of chronic kidney failure, the damage has already been done and there is currently no cure. Your dog should also be under veterinary care.
Besides kidney failure, kidney stones (or nephrolithiasis) are another pet health problem we come across quite often. Nephroliths are clusters of stones or crystals that form either in the kidneys or in the urinary tract. These clusters create blockages in the urinary tract, which are very painful and life threatening if not treated right away.
What Causes Kidney Disease?
There are various causes of kidney disease, such as:
- Abdominal injury
- Bacterial infection
- Blockage to the urinary tract (kidney stones)
- Heart failure
- Shock caused by rapid dehydration or blood loss
- Renal artery obstruction (blood clots)
- Long-term use of NSAIDs or antibiotics
Monica Samson is a Raw Pet Food Specialist. She is a student and working mom with two kids, a terrier mix Mookie and a Tabby cat named Phil.