Pets are just as likely to get chronic kidney disease as they age as humans are, and in cats especially, this likelihood is dramatically high. Unfortunately, many health issues are not as easy to detect in our pets and cats, especially, can be very stoic and mask many of their symptoms until it is far too late. This is why getting regular checkups that include blood panels at your veterinarian is so important.
Symptoms of kidney disease in cats and dogs
The early signs of kidney disease are increased water consumption and increased urine production.
Other clinical signs of kidney failure include the following.
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
- Bad breath
- Ulcers in mouth
Frequent urinating is a sign that your cat or dog is not able to hold water. Urinating outside the litter box is another signal in cats.
Ancillary symptoms also include brownish-colored tongue, constipation, fatigue and indifference (moreso than usual). There are several types of kidney conditions pets may be susceptible to, including: Polyelonephritis or infection of the kidney tissues caused by bacteria or fungus. This causes inflammation and a bacterial urine culture will be able to verify the infection.
Nephrolithiasis, also known as kidney stones, is caused by bacteria altering the characteristics of blood or urine. Kidney stones block the kidney’s ducts and escalate the ailment. Kidney stones also damage the ureter, the long narrow tube connecting kidneys to the urinary bladder. When stones are stuck in the ureter, the cat or dog will experience intense pain. When the path of urine is blocked, the kidney swells leading to hydronephrosis and the damage gets compounded.
When Kidney tubules are affected the condition is called Tubulointerstitial disease, while Glomerular disease refers to damage of kidney filters from infections such as FIP, FeLV, cancer, and other problems. When pets get into household items they ought not to and harmful outside substances like anti-freeze, petals of certain flowers, the leaves of certain plants and pollen or vase water there can be a problem of toxic intake. Pets also have a tendency to consume pills from the counter or floor. Even a single ibuprofen can badly damage the kidneys forever.
What Do Kidneys Do?
Healthy kidneys perform many important functions, most notably filtering the blood, making urine, and removing waste from the blood so problems with kidney function in a cat may lead to a variety of health problems.
What is CKD?
Chronic Kidney Disease is a progressive loss of kidney function over a period of time. Kidney failure is the inability of the kidneys to remove waste products from the blood. Chronic kidney disease has 5 stages with stage 5 being kidney failure. Kidney failure does not indicate the inability to make urine. Ironically, most cats in kidney failure are actually producing large quantities of urine, but the body’s wastes are not being effectively eliminated.
Among the many different kidney diseases that may affect your cat or dog, CKD is the most common. Our pets have kidneys that are not too different from ours. And there is a possibility that they fail to work with age. When it’s chronic, it may be a little harder on your pet but with early diagnosis and good care, you can help boost both the quality and the length of their lives.
Chronic Kidney Disease can be seen in pets of any age, but is most commonly seen in middle to old-aged cats (those over 7 years), and it becomes increasingly common with age. Around 20-50% of pets over 15 years of age will have some degree of CKD present.
The Best Kidney Pet Supplements
Probiotics are available over the counter and they are actually “live organisms” (or bacteria) that include a dense variety of friendly bacteria that can be beneficial for the digestive tract, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and other Lactobacillus species and more. These organisms help to control and erase the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. Intestinal bacteria are also known to help prevent diseases like peptic ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, and colorectal cancer. Probiotics can benefit pets in many ways and, in fact, recent studies have shown that kidney blood value (BUN & creatinine) decreased significantly when pets were given probiotics in their food. Certain probiotics use toxins to multiply, so these organisms can then help carry a load of toxic waste in the kidney across the intestinal wall into the bowel, where they can be excreted. In other words, the colon steps in and helps reduce circulating toxins. You can find probiotic powder or capsules in health stores or from your vet. Choose a supplement that contains at least Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria such as our very own Kidney Restore for Cats & Dogs to help support normal kidney function and to regain kidney health.
- Fish Oil
A very rich fish oil packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids and packed with the strongest EPA/DHA like our very own Kidney Shield for Cats & Dogs. Omega-3s do a great job of supporting a healthy inflammatory response throughout the body, the heart and especially support normal kidney function. They help to soothe many of the more troubling symptoms of CKD. Beta Carotene and Vitamin E add potent antioxidant power to support cell membranes, heart health, cholesterol and skin. It can help them remain well-hydrated and urinate more regularly as well.
Chitosan, is a natural polysaccharide which comes from shrimp and crab shells. Chitosan naturally binds phosphorus, which limits the absorption of phosphorus from the intestines. This limitation helps pets with chronic kidney (renal) disease by slowing down damage caused by the disease.
Rehmannia has been proven to be a beneficial kidney and liver cleanser. It’s also particularly beneficial in cases of renal disease-induced anemia. It’s a popular supplement in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is often included as an ingredient in many supplement combinations designed to treat kidney health in cats and dogs.
A recent human study indicates that CoQ10 may be helpful for renal disease. It is an antioxidant that also has benefits for cardiovascular health The ubiquinol form appears to be absorbed better than ubiquinone, so look for that in any product you’re purchasing. It also tends to be better absorbed when administered alongside food containing fats.
- Vitamin B
Although Vitamin B does not help the kidneys specifically, it is important for brain health, regulating the nervous system and more. Also, in cases of CKD, it is flushed from the body more quickly due to the tendency of pets with CKD to urinate more frequently. Therefore, it should be supplemented.
- Vitamin C
Again, a very useful vitamin for anti-oxidant properties and keeping immune system functioning well. It is water-soluble, meaning it might be a good idea to supplement levels of vitamin C that may be depleted from excess urination.
- Taurine (and/or Iron)
These may be especially helpful if your pet has renal disease-induced anemia or is struggling with cardiovascular complications as a result of their kidney issues. Taurine is a very potent heart-strengthening supplement which has also been shown to aid areas of kidney disease in several studies.
- Nettle Seed Tincture
This supplement may help with chronic kidney disease and glomerulonephritis. It is used as an ingredient in many of the most popular renal support supplements for pets.
These are the star performers in the supplement arena for your pet, there are numerous popular brands that offer comprehensive renal support and combine several of the ingredients mentioned above. Ask your veterinarian is they would fit in well with your pet’s kidney care regimen.
Additionally, never underestimate the power of prescription diets and, in some cases, home cooked meals and what they may be able to do for benefiting your pet’s kidney function. Several herbal formulas are another option, including: carrot, dandelion, sesame seeds. Antioxidants like blueberries and lactoferrin; anti-inflammatories like rosemary and sage extracts, wheat grass, and barley grass; anti-microbials like garlic and uva ursi can help prevent issues with bacteria. Other options include desiccated sea plankton and chlorella which may actually speed the healing of damaged kidney tissue.
Remember when purchasing supplements, talk to your veterinarian, research the company which produced them and educate yourself on the benefits. Your pet’s life depends on it. For more information on all things pet kidney related be sure to check out our YouTube, updated daily as well as our varied collection of articles.