In the May-June issue of Osceola Woman we wrote about the science and art of diagnosing health disorders. This issue we would like to focus on kidney health and what can go wrong. Healthy young animals are blessed with five times the capacity needed to maintain health. The functions of the kidneys are filtration, reabsorption of water and electrolytes and active secretion of the undesirable waste products of daily metabolism. The kidneys make the necessary adjustments in reabsorption and secretion through very complicated and wonderful processes. These normal kidney functions can be greatly diminished and compromised due to infections, toxins, trauma, and cancer. As animals age, the kidneys gradually lose their ability to rid the body of undesirable waste products and eventually just “wear out”. So if the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract and other major body systems remain healthy, it is usually failing kidneys which eventually end life.
When pet owners tell veterinarians about a gradual or sudden increase of water consumption and/or urine production frequency and quantity, we will need to evaluate the health status through lab testing including a CBC, blood chemistry profile and urinalysis. These tests will reveal the presence of kidney disease or failure, only after the kidneys have lost at least 75% of their original healthy status.
The management and treatment of renal disease can involve antibiotics for urinary tract infections, intravenous fluids, vitamins and supplements, and dietary adjustment. Antibiotic treatment of acute infections in younger animals can be lifesaving with minimal permanent damage or life impairment. Unfortunately the treatment and prognosis for advanced kidney failure is less favorable but we can often extend the quality of life and extend the length of life for months or years, depending upon the circumstances and response to therapy
There are many contributing factors to kidney diseases. Untreated periodontal disease can not only cause kidney disease but also can affect the heart and liver. This is one of the reasons we emphasize preventive dental care. Leptospirosis infection of dogs can seriously affect the kidneys. This is a bacterial disease which is usually from infected water in ditches, ponds and lakes. Wildlife urine is the most common source of Leptospirosis infection to dogs. Leptospirosis vaccination is available for dogs. Ingestion of antifreeze solution is deadly to man and animals because the chemical is so toxic to the kidneys. Grapes and raisins can be highly toxic to the kidneys of dogs. In recent years there have been many cases of kidney disease of dogs due to contaminated dog food and treats, especially from ingredients originating from foreign countries.
The veterinarians and staff of Kissimmee Animal Hospital (Tel 407-846-3912) and Poinciana Pet Clinic (Tel 407-518-0880) are available to answer any questions you may have about dog and cat kidney issues or any other pet health issues. We are here to help and to serve.