Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when the kidneys are unable to efficiently filter the blood of waste products. CKD is different from acute kidney damage and has a sudden onset that can be caused by similar injuries or illnesses like: urinary tract blockage, shock, congestive heart failure, bacterial infection, poisoning, Lyme disease, and leptospirosis. However, acute kidney injury may lead to chronic kidney disease.
What Animals Are Most Likely To Get CKD?
CKD may develop in animals of a wide range of ages. Hereditary defects are recognized in some breeds of cats and dogs where clinical signs are evident in individuals less than three years of age. However, it is more prevalent in older animals (5 to 6 years of age and older). CKD affects up to 10 percent in older dogs and 35 percent in older cats, but some figures shows about 1 percent of older dogs and around 2 percent of older cats are diagnosed with CKD.
What Causes Chronic Kidney Disease?
In most cases the exact cause of CKD is unknown but samples (biopsies) from damaged kidneys often show a mixture of fibrosis and inflammation called ‘chronic interstitial nephritis’ causes CKD. However, these are non-specific ‘end point’ improvements and don’t tell us much about the underlying cause. Although most cases of CKD have an unknown underlying cause but some causes are well recognized. These include:
- Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
- Kidney tumor
- Toxins and drugs
Other conditions such as trauma, low blood potassium and high blood calcium may also cause CKD, but the underlying cause(s) of this disease are still to be discovered.
How Long is my Pet Expected to Live?
The prognosis depends on the pet’s reaction to the initial stage of treatment and its ability to receive follow-up care. Veterinarians encourage treatment in most situations, as many animals will respond well and maintain a good quality of life.
What are the Signs of Chronic Kidney Disease in Animals?
One of the early symptoms of kidney failure in pets is urinating and drinking more water. Pets often need to urinate at night (nocturia) or they may not be able to control it. There are many other causes of PU/PD, but kidney failure is one of the most severe concerns. Giving them less or no water can make chronic kidney disease worse, so please don’t try to do this without your veterinarian’s guidance. Getting your pet tested quickly if you detect a difference in the intake of water and the output of urine is important! Pets appear to be very prone to changes in their blood levels of waste, and even mild to moderate changes can cause signs of illness. Other signs of CKD include:
- Urinary incontinence (urine leakage)
- Weight loss
- Bad breath with a chemical odor
- Oral ulcers
- Pale appearance
- Reduced appetite
Can CKD be treated?
Pets with serious symptoms can be treated by fluid and intravenous drug treatment to minimize the amount of waste products in their body. Pets should feel better in response to treatment with IV fluids, but if kidney failure is extremely serious, the pet may not respond to treatment.