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What to Know if Your Dog or Cat has Chronic Kidney Disease

dog and cat with kidney disease

What is Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats and Dogs (CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease or chronic renal failure is kidney dysfunction lasting longer than 3 months. If your dog or cat has chronic kidney disease you may see urine that is not as concentrated as it should be, along with retention of urea and other waste products in your pet’s body.

What Causes CKD?

CKD is more common in older cats and dogs but it can occur in pets of any age. The causes can be unknown. Some causes include kidney infections, kidney stones, obstruction of the ureter, incomplete recovery from previous damage to the kidney, polycystic kidney disease, and even certain tumors. In young cats and dogs, congenital kidney disease may be the cause. The aging process may leave some older dogs with chronic kidney disease.

structure of the kidneys

Which are the Clinical Signs of CKD?

Common symptoms that may show your dog has chronic kidney disease include increased water intake, increased urine production, decreased appetite, and nausea. In later stages, vomiting, lethargy, and dehydration may appear. Physical examination may detect dehydration, weight loss, muscle loss, small or irregular kidneys, and uremic odor on your pet’s breath.

What are the Diagnostic Tests?

Some of the diagnostic tests performed to see if your dog has kidney disease are a biochemistry panel, complete blood test, urinalysis, blood pressure measurement, complete blood count to check for anemia, abdominal x-rays, and an ultrasound.

Which are the Treatment Options for CKD?

Unfortunately, no treatments are available that will reverse CKD. The goals of treatment are to slow the progression of the condition and to treat the symptoms.

How Can I Take Care of a Pet with CKD?

One of the most effective means of slowing the progression of CKD is through diet changes. If your dog has kidney disease it’s suggested to decrease the amount of protein and phosphate in your pet’s diet. Adding omega-3 fatty acids and potassium may also have a beneficial effect. There are many commercial diets available that are specific for pets with CKD. It’s even possible to create a home-made diet, this can actually be best. If you’d like professional assistance, the veterinarians at NHV Natural Pet Products can create a custom diet for your pet.

When your dog has kidney disease you can expect them to have a decreased appetite. That’s why it’s not normally advised to rapidly change their diet. One tip is offering the new food in your pet’s usual bowl and putting their normal food in a different bowl. If your pet does not eat their new food within 1 hour, pick it up and put it away until the next feeding time. Once the pet has been exposed to their new food for a day or two, offer the new food first when your pet is the hungriest. Once your pet has eaten some of their new food or refused it, you can offer their old food. Repeat this process until your pet accepts their new diet. Sometimes an appetite stimulant may be helpful for cats during this process. If your pet with CKD does not eat at all, a feeding tube may be used so the adequate amount of food can be given easily.

Diet changes for a dog that has kidney disease