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Kidney and Renal Health Center

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Just like in people, the kidneys play an important role in your pet's health by filtering out wastes in the blood through urine. They help clear toxic waste products of protein metabolism from the body, keep electrolytes at normal levels, and control fluid balance to prevent dehydration. They also produce a hormone necessary for the production of red blood cells and are involved in the regulation of calcium and vitamin D. As kidneys fail, they can't adequately clear the blood of toxins which build up, slowly poisoning your pet's body.

A special diet is often recommended for management of pet kidney disease, with food low in sodium and phosphorus. This helps prevent the buildup of waste materials in the blood and reduces the work load on the kidney and helps with high blood pressure. A low phosphorus diet delays the progression of the disease by lowering mineral deposits in the kidneys. The issue of protein is controversial, with some experts recommending a low protein diet. However, since inadequate protein can lead to malnutrition, others contend that a high quality protein diet is better. Dry pet food is not a good choice, as it will contribute to dehydration.

Vitamin supplements are used to address the detrimental effects of this ailment. In kidney disease, the body loses the ability to retain healthy levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin B-complex, which supplementation can help replenish. B-complex vitamins have the added benefit of stimulating the pet's appetite. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E may be synergistically helpful as well.

Your vet may recommend intravenous or subcutaneous fluids to rehydrate and stabilize your pet. Other medications for various symptoms, including high blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea and anemia may be prescribed.

In early stages of renal failure the body is able to compensate and symptoms may not be evident. As the disease progresses and imbalances become more severe, symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, dehydration, loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, bad breath, weight loss, exercise intolerance, and vomiting may occur. Most signs of kidney disease do not occur until 75% of kidney function is lost. Your veterinarian will be able to assess the state of your dog or cat's kidney function through blood and urinalysis. In some cases veterinarians may also use x-rays, ultrasound and even kidney biopsies to gain more information about kidney function.

There are many potential causes for kidney disease in dogs and cats. Pets can be born with kidney disorders or the kidneys can become damaged due to trauma, infections, kidney stones, tumors and toxins (such as antifreeze). Heart failure may result in reduced blood flow to the kidneys. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs can sometimes be poisonous to the kidneys. Lyme disease may also cause severe damage to the organ. Most elderly cats and dogs, if they live long enough, will have some degree of kidney insufficiency.

Kidney disease affects nearly 11% of cats and over 5% of dogs and is a leading cause of death. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is usually the result of aging; the kidneys simply "wear out". This process can go on for years before the effects are noticed by the owner. Signs of the disease typically occur between 7 and 10 years of age. Early detection affords the best prognosis and early treatment will increase longevity.

Although kidney disease can occur in a pet at any age, it is most often manifested in their older years and is one of the main causes of death for dogs and cats in this age group. Once the damage has occurred, it is permanent, as kidney tissue does not regenerate. Therefore, any methods that can prevent, delay the onset or slow the progression of kidney disease will be of value in prolonging the life of your pet.

Article By: James Wickboldt. Follow me on Google+

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