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Welcome to Understanding Pet Nutrition, Module 7.
Kidney disease is a common occurrence in aging pets. In this segment we’ll learn about how nutrition can help.
Kidneys are very important because they remove waste substances from the blood, and maintain the normal balance of fluid and minerals within the body. Any condition which damages the kidneys is referred to as kidney disease.
You may also hear this referred to as renal disease. The term renal means of, relating to, or in the region of the kidneys. The terms kidney disease and renal disease can be used interchangeably.
You will learn about the common signs of kidney disease and how it is diagnosed by veterinarians. We will then examine the Prescription Diet™ brand pet foods used to help manage pets with this problem. Lastly, we will learn how the special features of each product translate into health benefits for pets.
Bosun is a ginger and white domestic shorthair cat who is much loved by his pet parents, Paul and Elena. Bosun has always been healthy and active. Lately however, Paul has noticed Bosun seems to be more subdued, and not his usual self. Elena notices that when patting Bosun, his fur seems rough and dull.
Paul knows that older cats can get kidney problems, but is not sure what that actually looks like. And Bosun is not that old … only 11 years.
The signs of kidney disease can be difficult to recognize, because in early stages of kidney disease a pet will show no signs. It is often referred to as “the silent killer.” As signs begin to appear, they may be very subtle at first.
What would Bosun’s owners notice if he had kidney disease? Click on each topic to learn more about the common signs.
An increase in thirst and an increase in urination are common signs of kidney failure. Owners may notice the pet’s water bowl needs refilling frequently. They may need to change the cat’s litter more often than normal. Dogs may urinate more frequently and copiously than usual.
However, it is common that pets who live mostly outdoors can experience these signs without their owner’s noticing.
Dogs and cats with kidney disease tend to lose their appetite. Owners will notice the pet eats less than usual. This creates malnutrition which contributes to the pet’s weight loss.
Often, as the disease progresses, pets lack energy, are less active and will sleep more than normal. Since this is a subtle change over time, it can be easy for owners to dismiss the behavior as simply being old age. However, lethargy and weakness are signs that may be directly related to kidney disease.
Other signs include vomiting and diarrhea. As you think about some of the diseases we have discussed earlier, you can appreciate that symptoms commonly overlap.
Paul and Elena take Bosun to see his veterinarian. They share their concerns. Kidney disease is certainly one possibility, but there are many other possible reasons that Bosun is unwell.
Patient history is helpful. The veterinarian asks Paul and Elena if they have noticed any of the common signs you have just learned about, which could indicate a kidney problem. Elena recognizes that Bosun has not been eating as well as he normally would. Bosun was weighed by the veterinary nurse and the veterinarian notes that he has lost about 500g since his last visit. When the veterinarian asks about urination, Paul realizes that when he has emptied Bosun’s litter tray in the past few days, the litter seemed very wet.
The veterinarian also performs a complete physical exam on Bosun.
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