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Kidney Disease in Pets


A prerequisite for understanding kidney disease is becoming familiar with normal kidney function. The main purpose of the kidneys is to rid the pet's body of waste products of metabolism. This is accomplished through many tiny structures called nephrons that contain filters, knows as glomeruli. In addition to filtering wastes, the kidneys also regulate acidity and blood levels of certain minerals, as well as influence blood pressure. When a pet develops chronic kidney disease, these glomeruli are either lost or plugged, preventing normal functioning. The first signs of excess thirst and frequent urination are symptoms that many pet owners may overlook. As the disease progresses, the pets may eat less, lose weight and become less active. In advanced stages, pets will dramatically reduce their drinking and will no longer eat. They will become dehydrated and manifest digestive problems such as nausea
and diarrhea.

A special diet is often recommended for management of pet kidney disease. Veterinarians may advise food low in sodium and phosphorus. A low phosphorus diet may delay 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.
Certain vitamin supplements are used to address some of the detrimental effects of this ailment in pets. In kidney disease, the body loses the ability to retain healthful levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin B-complex, so some experts recommend supplementation with these vitamins to replenish those that are lost. B-complex vitamins have the added benefit of stimulating the pet's appetite. Additionally, a clinical trial has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful, so your veterinarian may prescribe this supplement together with vitamin E, which works synergistically with this
nutrient.
Other measures for kidney disease treatment will vary, depending on whether your practitioner prefers traditional or alternative medicine options. Traditional choices include various medications, forced fluid administration and even kidney transplants. Alternative medicine or holistic approaches can compliment traditional methods and may involve acupuncture and herbs.

Seek your pet practitioner's advice for a treatment plan individually tailored to your animal's needs. Such a plan can make your pet more comfortable and extend their life.

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