The kidneys are very important organs in the bodies of animals. They play an important role in so many physiologic processes in the body. They are very important in filtering toxins and other substances out of the blood and in producing urine. As cats and dogs age, it is not uncommon for areas of the kidneys to become damaged or diseased over time. Amazingly, the kidneys can still function very efficiently even after they have lost up to two-thirds of their normal tissue. After that point, however, we start to see changes in our pets.

The first sign of kidney disease that owners tend to notice is that their cat or dog will drink and pee a lot more than they used to. Kidney disease is not the only thing that can cause these symptoms though so it is important to have their blood and urine checked should you notice these signs in your pet. Because the kidneys are responsible for filtering toxins (normal byproducts of metabolism) out of the blood and because they are no longer functioning optimally, these animals will sometimes feel sick and they may vomit or lose their appetite as well.

If any of these signs are noted, particularly in older pets, it is very worthwhile to investigate by taking blood and urine samples. Animals can live a long time with chronic kidney disease depending on how severe it is and if it is managed properly. We may put your pet on a special kidney diet, give them medication to help with any nausea they are feeling, or give them fluids to help them feel better. Allowing them to drink as much water as they want and supplementing with IV or subcutaneous fluids are very important aspects of managing kidney disease in animals.

If your cat or dog has begun drinking and urinating more than usual, it is very important to have them checked out. There are many diseases in older animals that can cause these symptoms but chronic kidney disease is one of the most common and it is treatable. While there is no cure, we have successfully managed many of our patients for well over a year (and in many cases, several years) with this condition. Special shouts outs for some of our remarkable kidney disease patients: to Duncan the Scottish Terrier who was diagnosed 2 years ago and is going strong, to Oliver the Himalayan that was diagnosed over a year ago and is doing well, and to Tucker the Bichon who is 1 year post diagnosis and hanging in there just fine.

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