【Video】Acute and chronic kidney diseases in dogs and cats

Content approved by vet
  • Sharing is caring

Do you know at least 75% of the kidneys to be dysfunctional before clinical signs are seen (in other words, before you notice the symptoms)? Chronic kidney disease is associated with aging as kidney tissues wear out. The age of onset is often related to the size of the pet. For most small dogs, the signs occur at about 10-14 years of age, while large dogs can show signs as early as 7 years old.

We’ve talked to Dr Tim Ngor, currently stationed at East Island Animal Hospital after his practice in Melbourne, regarding to possible causes of this increasingly common illness, diagnostic methods and more.

(H = Hellodog, Dr = Dr Tim)

H: What are the functions of a dog’s kidneys?

Dr: The kidneys are one of the vital organs, their functions are essentially the same between those of a dog and of a human.

· Kidneys help conserve water, regulate blood pH and electrolyte levels,
· act as a filter to remove waste by producing urine, and conserve essential substances such as albumin,
· produce hormones such as erythropoietin (EPO) stimulating red blood cell production in the bone marrow.

H:【True or false】Kidney problems are most diagnosed in annual health check?

Dr: It’s diagnosed most when pet owners notice symptoms, get worried and bring their pets to a clinic. Through examination and blood test, kidney problems can be confirmed. The most common symptoms are loss of appetite, weight loss, increased water intake and increased volume of urine, as well as gastrointestinal problems causing diarrhea and vomiting.

H:【True or false】One main cause of kidney failure is related to tooth problems?

Dr: Kidney disease is not caused by dental disease or periodontal disease. However, pets with kidney failure may have dental problems, mouth ulcers and inflammation. The main causes are congenital diseases such as polycystic kidney disease, infectious conditions such as leptospirosis, renal calculi, ureteral stones leading to occlusion, immune system disorders, or degeneration. Among all, degeneration due to ageing is the most common.

H: What is the difference between acute and chronic kidney diseases?

Dr: As the name acute suggests, the symptoms of acute kidney disease is more serious and sudden. While morality rate is relatively higher in general, the condition can be reversed – it means the pet can regain its renal functions. On the contrary, signs of chronic renal failure are relatively more mild but usually already present for a longer period of time. The health problem might exist for quite some time, and cannot be reversed back to normal.

H: To what extent is considered serious?

Dr: When we are able to diagnose a pet with kidney disease, the condition is often very serious. We carry out health check on the pet and blood test to confirm it usually when the pet owner noticed symptoms. Kidney disease is classified into four stages. When blood test shows that the kidney index is abnormal, the pet is already in Stage 2, meaning it has lost 75% of kidney function which is quite serious.

As your pet gets older, you should consider annual health check, which includes a basic blood test to detect Stage 2 kidney disease. Actually, a new test, called SDMA (Symmetric dimethylarginine), is available to help pick up Stage 1 kidney disease. It means the test can identify pets suffering from 25-50% loss of kidney functions.

In addition, you are recommended to consider including urinalysis in addition to the basic blood test because in a suspected of kidney disease, the pet may have a low urine specific gravity.

Related reading: Understanding what blood tests mean
Related reading: The invisible killer: pancreatitis

Hellodog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See more details here.

  • Sharing is caring
Be the first to comment

Log in
Don't have an account? Sign up now — it's fast and free.

You may also like

Sign up for Subscription

Special offers and free parenting tips delivered to your inbox, a few times a month.