Chronic Renal Diseases in Dogs and Cats 

Chronic renal disease (CRD) is a common condition that can affect all breeds of dogs and cats. It could be a cause of sudden blindness if the blood pressure is elevated. The mean age at diagnosis is about 7 years in dogs and 9 years in cats. However, animals of any age can be affected.

How do I know my pet has renal diseases?

Common clinical signs seen with CRD

  • An increase in thirst 
  • Very frequent urination 
  • Decreased to no appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Drooling with a bad breath 
  • Oral ulceration. 
  • Listlessness 
  • Vomiting 
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Sudden onset of blindness is seen in some cases due to the high blood pressure developed
  • Seizures or coma can be seen in late stage

If your pet has some of these signs, it will be a good idea to take it to your local veterinarian for a thorough check up.

What causes chronic renal diseases?

Chronic renal failure is a gradual deterioration of kidney function and it happens in all age and breeds. Healthy kidneys are designed to filter and remove waste products from the circulation. When the kidney function is diminished, waste products in the body system start to accumulate, causing the animal to become sick. The exact cause of most cases is often unknown. In young pups and kittens, it may be a familial or congenital problem. Sometimes, viruses, bacteria, or toxins may be the cause.

Geriatric animals, those with high blood calcium and/or potassium levels, high blood pressure, urinary tract infection and diabetes mellitus are more likely to have this disease. 

Geriatric animals, those with high blood calcium and/or potassium levels, high blood pressure, urinary tract infection and diabetes mellitus are more likely to have this disease.

 

How can I prevent it?

There are several ways to prevent renal failure. The first one is to make sure that you provide your dog or cat with free access to fresh water at all times. Allow your animal frequent opportunities to urinate. Watch ageing animals for the signs outlined above, and if you see any of these, contact your veterinarian. If the disease is diagnosed early, your animal has a better chance of responding to treatment.

What treatments are available?

Animals with mild renal failure can usually be treated at home with medications and dietary changes. A prescription food with low levels of protein, phosphorous, and sodium should be used, as this reduces the workload on the kidneys. Make sure they have fresh water available to them at all times, and monitor their urine output carefully. Medications can be used to control nausea, a lack of appetite, mineral and electrolyte imbalances, hormonal deficiencies, and high blood pressure. This form of treatment is generally effective in mild cases, under supervision of a veterinarian. More severe cases will require treatment and stabilization in a veterinary hospital with fluids, nutritional support, and medications. These animals can be treated at home when their condition improves. Another option is to perform a renal transplant. This can be done if your animal does not respond to medical treatment. A renal transplant is expensive and has a risk of rejection of the organ or other complications, however it is a very effective treatment if successful.