What is Kidney Disease and what can be done to help?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the most common kidney condition in cats. Importantly some kidney function has usually been lost by the time there are symptoms visible for owners to notice. Therefore, we routinely check all our health plan members every year with a simple blood test which picks up disease early and is proving excellent at prolonging life and most importantly the quality of life. Only a few weeks ago a beautiful six-year-old cat was diagnosed early with CKD thanks to being on the plan.

This is one of the reasons why pets on the Churchcroft health plan live longer, healthier lives than those not on the plan. Few vet health plans in the UK include a blood test and you now understand why it is part of the high-quality care that we provide.

Although CKD cannot be cured, it can be managed

Why do Churchcroft vets strongly promote oral and dental health and what other factors influence CKD:

  • Age- The chances of developing kidney problems increase with age, and double when a cat is between 10 and 15 years old.
  • Health issues- high blood pressure, cancer and yes you guessed it- dental disease
  • Food- Foods that are high in phosphorus, protein, and sodium can accelerate the progression of CKD. Ingestion of toxic substances like cleaning chemicals, antifreeze, certain medications, and pesticides can also lead to kidney failure

Signs that your Cat may have a Kidney Condition

  • Decreased appetite
  • Drinking more water
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of energy
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bad breath
  • Sore mouth
  • Decreased grooming
  • An unkempt coat

Stages of Kidney Disease

Stage 1: Normal appearance and no symptoms that can be noticed. Kidney disease can be detected by a blood test, which is offered annually to all pets in our Health Plan

Stage 2: Slight weight loss, a noticeable increase in water consumption and urination

Stage 3: Further weight loss, frequent drinking and urination, decreased appetite, dehydration, weakness

Stage 4: Severe weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, lethargy, mouth ulcers, dehydration, refusal to eat, possible blindness

Diagnosis of Kidney Disease

If your cat displays any of the signs above, please book an appointment with a vet as soon as possible. Here at Churchcroft Vets we recommend an annual blood or urine test to catch this diseased as early as possible, preferably during Stage 1. This is one of the reasons why we have incorporated an annual blood test or urine test into our health plan. If CKD is suspected, your vet will carry out treatment and further blood and urine tests. It may also be necessary to take an ultrasound, X-rays, or a biopsy to make a diagnosis.

Treatment for Kidney Disease

Once CKD is diagnosed, your vet will suggest the next course of action. In order to treat kidney disease, careful monitoring of hydration is extremely important and feeding a diet which is low in both phosphorus and protein (high quality, low quantity) is also extremely beneficial.

Restricting phosphorous can alleviate the severity of the symptoms of kidney damage and slow the progression.

Depending on the severity of the kidney disease, we may suggest medication and fluid therapy. Fluid therapy is often given under the skin (subcutaneous fluid therapy) which is absorbed by the blood over the course of a few hours, this method of hydration is well tolerated and highly successful. Subcutaneous fluid therapy can be administered by us here at the surgery or we can teach owners how to provide this at home.

CKD is a nasty debilitating disease, but treatment does improve quality of life and life expectancy. Catching CKD early is ideal but tricky without an annual blood test. I know I have talked about our health plan quite a bit through this blog, and I make no apology! The Churchcroft Vets Health Plan is making a big difference to the quality of life of so many of the pets in our care. We are here to make pets better and what better way than to catch disease early and have a significant effect on the health of our patients.