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Chronic Kidney Disease And Uremia In Dogs And Cats

Ron Hines DVM PhD

I wrote this article a number of years ago. Explore the links below instead of this webpage to read more current information on kidney disease in your dog or in your cat

For A 2018 Update On Kidney Disease & Its Treatment Go here
The SDMA Test What The Results Mean – What The Results Don’t Mean
My Vet Says My Dog Needs A Special Kidney Diet
Newer Treatment Options here
Another general article on Chronic Kidney Disease / CKD here

Every group of animals has its weakest link. For humans, it might be our heart. But for dogs and cats, it is often their kidneys that wear out first. Veterinarians can not tell you why that is. Although our pets suffer from specific diseases that weaken their kidneys, most often it appear that kidneys fail just due to the passage of time. Year by year, a number of the small filtering units (glomeruli), that form your pet’s kidneys turn off. With each loss of a glomerulus, your pet’s kidneys loose just a little bit of their ability to cleanse blood of the toxic waste products of metabolism. In addition to their blood-cleansing action, these filters regulate the amount of water and mineral salts (electrolytes) present in your pet’s body fluids.

Many tissues and organs in your pet’s body can regenerate. The skin can, the liver can, blood can, bone can. Kidney glomeruli cannot. As a precaution against this natural loss, Nature gave all animals and humans much more kidney filtering capacity at birth than their daily needs require. It’s not until approximately eighty percent of the tiny filters have been damaged that the level of waste products in your pet’s bloodstream begins to increase. The abnormally high level of these waste compounds are what constitutes uremia (~aka azotemia).

When your veterinarians sees signs in your pet that suggest kidney problems, your vet will test the levels of two of those byproduct compounds in your pet’s blood – urea and creatinine . (you can see what those values ought to behere.) Many now test for SDMA blood levels as well. But that test adds little information or anything to the treatment options your veterinarian has. Read more about the SDMA test if you wish to here.

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