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  • Kidney Disease

  • Kidney disease (also referred to in medical terminology as renal disease) is a common finding in cats and dogs, especially those who are reaching their senior years. In acute disease, such as a toxicity, the signs occur suddenly and can be very severe. In chronic kidney disease, the onset may be very slow and the signs fairly nonspecific, i.e., the animal is "just not doing well." Whether the disease is acute or chronic is typically related to the cause.

    What are the causes of kidney disease?

    There are many causes of renal disease, and they may include:

    • Age
    • Viral, fungal, or bacterial infections
    • Parasites
    • Cancer
    • Amyloidosis (caused by abnormal deposits of a certain type of protein in the kidney)
    • Inflammation
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Trauma
    • Toxic reaction to poisons or medications
    • Congenital and inherited disorders

    This is not a complete list but demonstrates what the veterinarian is trying to rule in or out as cause of the signs.

    What are the signs of kidney disease?

    Pets with kidney disease can show a variety of physical signs. Some of the signs are nonspecific and may be seen in other disorders such as liver or pancreatic diseases, or urinary tract disorders not involving the kidneys. Signs may include:

    • Increased water consumption (polydipsia)
    • Increased urination volume (polyuria)
    • Decreased urination (oliguria)
    • Lack of urination (anuria)
    • Voiding urine during the night (nocturia)
    • Blood in urine (hematuria)
    • Decreased appetite (anorexia)
    • Vomiting
    • Weight loss
    • Lethargy
    • Diarrhea
    • Hunched over posture or reluctance to move
    • Poor or unkempt hair coat

    Various blood tests can be performed to determine if kidney disease is present, how severe it may be, and what may be causing it. In addition, a urinalysis and imaging techniques may also help to determine the cause and severity.