Your pet’s kidneys: How they work, what goes wrong and how to keep them healthy

September 21, 2010

Kidney disease in pets can be serious and even deadly. In this week’s Pet Connection newspaper feature, Dr. Marty Becker tells pet owners how to prevent it, how to catch it early, why they need to get immediate care for a dog or cat with kidney disease, and how to give their pets the best chance at beating it:

The more you know about how the kidneys work, the better you’ll be able to care for a pet with kidney disease.

The kidneys act like a water filtration system in reverse, trapping and recycling substances the body needs, such as proteins, and letting waste materials pass through. If any part of this complex filtration process breaks down, toxins in the bloodstream can rise to life-threatening levels.

Treatment — often giving massive amounts of fluids — is aimed at restoring the kidneys to normal function, so they can resume doing their job of filtration. If that’s not possible, the toxins in the blood must be reduced to safe levels some other way. Dietary changes, drug therapy, agents that bind toxins and eliminate them, and even dialysis, can be used.

Chronic kidney failure is usually found in aging pets and can be detected with a simple blood test. Acute kidney failure is typically marked by vomiting, increased thirst, increased or lack of urination, lethargy, bad breath, diarrhea and lack of appetite. These symptoms signal a health crisis, with time being the difference between whether an animal lives or dies.

The critical issue of response is why veterinarians don’t recommend that pet lovers wait a day or more after the onset of symptoms in the hope that a problem will go away on its own. When sick pets finally arrive at the veterinary hospital, 75 percent of kidney function can already be gone for good. Wait much longer, and the chances of survival are not good. (Read more…)

The key to safe driving is securing your pets, caution Dr. Becker and Mikkel Becker:

rating or harnessing your pet in the car is an important safety measure for you, your dog and everyone else on the road. In a survey by AAA, nearly 60 percent of those polled admitted to having driven while distracted when their dog was in the car. Only 17 percent of respondents said they restrained their pet in a crate or with a seat-belt harness. An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph delivers 500 pounds of force on whatever the animal strikes; an 80-pound dog in a 30 mph crash delivers 2,400 pounds of force.

Read this week’s entire Pet Connection here!

Filed under: pets, connected,veterinary medicine — Pet Connection Staff @ 5:03 am

3 Comments »

  1. The opening for this post left me shaking in anticipation:

    “In this week’s Pet Connection newspaper feature, Dr. Marty Becker tells pet owners how to prevent it, how to catch it early, why they need to get immediate care for a dog or cat with kidney disease, and how to give their pets the best chance at beating it:”

    What left me so worked up? This part in particular:

    “Dr. Marty Becker tells pet owners how to prevent it”

    Really? Didn’t catch that part. In fact, pretty sure no one knows exactly why the kidneys are so often afflicted (although we each have our own theory, don’t we?).

    My second comment is no where in this piece does it mention the STILL perpetuated lie by the veterinary profession that protein ingestion causes kidney dysfunction.

    Comment by Kim — September 21, 2010 @ 10:46 am

  2. Kim, there is indeed information on preventing some forms of kidney disease in the article, such as avoiding foods that can harm the kidneys, like raisins and grapes for dogs.

    This article is about ACUTE as well as CHRONIC renal failure, and it does distinguish between them.

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 21, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  3. Also … 600 words. That’s what we have for our newspaper feature. Period. :)

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 21, 2010 @ 11:01 am

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