Chronic Kidney Disease And Uremia In Dogs And Cats
Ron Hines DVM PhD
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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 symptoms in your pet that suggest that they might be due to kidney problems, he/she will test the level of two metabolic byproduct compounds in your pet’s blood – blood urea nitrogen and blood creatinine . You can see what normal values should be here. Many veterinarians have added a test that checks your dog or cat’s SDMA blood levels as well.