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Know the Signs of Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Written by CMN News Service

Guelph, ON – Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the most common metabolic disease affecting senior pet cats, especially those over 9 years of age. CKD results from the gradual loss of kidney function and resulting inflammation. Just like humans, cats have two kidneys. They are bean-shaped organs that contain hundreds of microscopic filtering units called nephrons. When the kidneys are working properly, they filter waste from the blood, which is excreted in the cat’s urine. In CKD, the kidneys are not effectively filtering out the blood’s waste products; this results in a build-up in the cat’s body.

What clinical signs do we see in cats with CKD?

Signs of CKD can be vague and can mimic signs of other diseases. Detecting signs early will help your veterinarian to diagnose and start treatment earlier.  Clinical signs of CKD will vary as disease progresses from Stage 1 to 4:

How is CKD diagnosed?

CKD is diagnosed by the presence of clinical signs in addition to laboratory tests including complete blood count, biochemical profile, urinalysis, and Symmetric Dimethylarginine (SDMA), which helps to detect early stages of CKD. Your veterinary team may also recommend abdominal radiographs, ultrasound and blood pressure monitoring of your cat.

Can CKD be treated?

There is no cure for CKD, but treatment can prolong and improve your cat’s quality of life. Your veterinary team will work with you to come up with a management plan that will aim to: reduce the buildup of toxic waste products in the bloodstream; reduce protein loss in urine; maintain adequate hydration; correct electrolyte imbalances; provide optimal nutrition; normalize blood pressure; and slow down the progression of disease.  Your veterinarian will monitor your cat’s response to treatment by performing regular examinations and laboratory tests.

What is the Prognosis?

By working with your veterinary team, you can ensure your cat with CKD has a good quality of life. There is evidence suggesting that the earlier CKD is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome can be with respect to quality of life and survival time.

Source: Canadian Animal Health Institute Colleen McElwain (519) 763-7777

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