The kidneys perform a number of functions vital to your pet's health, most notably they filter waste products from the bloodstream and help to maintain the correct fluid and electrolyte balance to keep the body functioning properly. When enough of the kidney is damaged it is no longer able to perform these functions, and if both kidneys are affected, this results in kidney (renal) failure.
What Causes Kidney Failure?
Kidney failure may be classified by your cat's veterinarian as either acute or chronic. Acute kidney failure occurs suddenly, often in response to toxins, drugs, shock, infection, severe dehydration or urinary tract blockage. Once the cause is removed and proper treatment is provided, many cats with acute kidney failure can make a complete recovery. Chronic, or long term kidney failure may also result from the same causes of acute kidney failure. It can also be caused by breed and hereditary factors as well as potential immune system problems.
What are the Signs of Kidney Failure?
Signs of kidney failure can include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, check with your veterinarian. They can do blood and urine tests to check your pet's kidney function.
How is Kidney Failure Treated?
Unfortunately chronic kidney failure is a permanent and progressive condition that cannot be cured. Treatment of chronic kidney failure is aimed at slowing the progression of the disease, and reducing symptoms to improve your pet's quality of life. The most critical part of treatment is the use of a prescription diet formulated specifically for pets with kidney failure. Prescription diets contain lower levels of protein to reduce the levels of toxic waste products circulating in the blood stream. They also have reduced levels of phosphate which can protect the kidneys from further damage and can increase life expectancy, particularly in cats.
Your veterinarian may also prescribe medication to manage other complications of chronic kidney failure like high blood pressure and anaemia. Pets with kidney failure are prone to dehydration, increasing their water intake is important to counteract this and it may also help to slow the progression of the disease.
When Teagan's not busy sharing her knowledge of all things pets as Pet Circle's resident vet, she is the human companion of two intense English staffies and a three-legged cat named Steve.
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