What is Kidney Disease?
Most of our pets thankfully take normal kidney function for granted, but for some pets, kidney disease can be a problem- particularly as they grow older. Dogs and cats have two kidneys. Each kidney has three distinct areas: cortex, medulla, and pelvis. The cortex and medulla contain millions of tiny units called nephrons. Blood, carried to each kidney by the renal artery, is then filtered by millions of tiny nephrons, removing protein breakdown products, excess salts and water. These are then concentrated to form urine which collects in the pelvis, before passing via the ureters into the bladder.
Over time a proportion of the nephrons will disappear with age and not be replaced. Other factors such as toxins, infections, or cancer may also destroy nephrons. However, the kidneys have excess filtering capacity, resulting in the delay of visible symptoms of kidney disease until two thirds of the nephron’s functional capacity are lost. If this stage is reached, the kidneys start to lose their capacity to concentrate the urine, resulting in large amounts of dilute urine and increased thirst. As the filtering capacity declines, toxic waste product accumulate in the blood, resulting in loss of appetite, weight loss, poor coat condition, apathy, and weakness.
What you Can Do
Regular examinations allow us to detect kidney disease before the outward signs (as described above) are visible. However, the good news is that- whilst kidney disease cannot be cured- new forms of medication and specially formulated diets can be of great help in managing the disease. If you are concerned that your pet is showing any of the symptoms descried above, please contact us for an appointment!