Though World Kidney Day on 9 March is a human initiative to drive awareness of kidney health, it is important for us to be thinking about our pets too. Kidney disease is known as a silent killer because often when signs of kidney disease become apparent, the disease is already well advanced.
If you are a parent of a pet 7 years or older, we urge you to ask your family veterinarian about early screening tests that help to identify kidney issues up to four years earlier in cats and two years earlier in dogs. Earlier detection means earlier treatment and a longer, healthier life. So be proactive; don’t wait for bad news.
Kidney disease is not only a problem for people. Kidney disease is a serious health problem for dogs and the second leading cause of non-accidental death in cats (after cancer).
Kidney damage is irreversible and can be caused by infections, toxins, trauma, food and age (wear and tear); the incidence increases significantly in pets aged seven years and older. Symptoms, which unfortunately are usually only evident to the owner once significant kidney damage has occurred, include increased thirst and urination, reduced appetite, weight loss, bad breath, vomiting, diarrhoea, a sore mouth, weakness and sleeping more than usual.
“Kidney disease is a slow and silent killer, wearing down the kidneys just like the tread on car tyres, reducing their ability to do their job properly,” explains Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor for Hill’s Pet Nutrition South Africa. “A yearly senior screening for pets older than seven is probably the single most important thing owners can do to keep their pet well for longer.”
“The kidneys can’t be repaired,” says Dr Fyvie. “However, with earlier detection, pets can be better managed so that they enjoy longer and better quality lives.”
The most effective management for kidney disease, indeed the only management clinically proven to extend life and improve wellbeing, is a special kidney food – Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d. This therapeutic food has carefully controlled levels of protein, phosphorus and salt, ingredients found in high levels in many pet foods, and associated with accelerating kidney damage.
“If your pet is showing any symptoms, or just getting a little grey around the whiskers, it is worth having their kidneys checked – even if just for peace of mind,” says Dr Fyvie.
About the author
About the author
Vet Hospital Port Shepstone is a private, small animal hospital with extensive surgery, diagnostic & consulting facilities. We also have an animal pharmacy for dispensing medication and an on-site vet shop.