Today I thought I'd talk to you about a medical problem that occurs quite frequently in both cats and dogs. Some pet owners are quite familiar with this disease, but many are surprised by the symptoms. I'm talking about kidney failure (also known as renal failure).
Typically kidney failure is thought of as an “old cat” disease, but it can also occur in younger felines as well. This is a frustrating disease because there is no ideal "cure". The disease can be managed but usually gets worse as time goes on. In humans, a kidney transplant or dialysis are common treatments - and although these treatments can also be done in pets, they are complicated, costly and therefore not usually given.
Symptoms will vary depending on the underlying problem but commonly include:
• Decreased activity
• Lack of appetite/weight loss
• Increased thirst or water consumption
• More frequent/higher volume urinating
• Diluted urine (it often will be lighter in color which may be hard to recognize if pets urinate in the grass or litter box)
For information on kidney failure, please read Kidney Failure in Cats. This is a really important article that can help you recognize the symptoms early so your cat can get the best treatment.
Several tests can be done to help determine the underlying problem. Click on any of the links below to find out more about that test:
• General physical examination with emphasis to feel the size and shape of the kidneys
• Blood work - especially including a BUN and creatinine level, packed cell Volume (PCV) and total protein
• Urinalysis - especially a specific gravity (helps tell you the concentration of the urine)
• Radiograph (to evaluate kidney size and shape)
• Measurement of blood pressure
The first three tests are most commonly used to determine if a pet is in kidney failure. Other tests may also be recommended depending on your pet's specific symptoms.
A common cause of kidney failure is ingestion of Easter Lilies. Please keep them out of the reach of your cat!