With the recently announced recall on many different pet foods, there is information about kidney failure circulating in the media. It is important to understand kidney function and health because kidney disease is quite common in aging pets. Acute kidney failure (or sudden kidney failure) in a previously healthy animal can be caused by many things and this is the disease that is being associated with the recall. Some causes include: antifreeze, cholecalciferol (vitamin D), solvents and cleaning supplies, common pesticides, plants such as lilies (particularly cats), and grapes or raisins (dogs only). Some pets that are young, under 5 years old, could have a form of kidney disease that is associated with their breed or something that they inherited. The most common is polycystic kidney disease in Persian cats.
Chronic kidney failure is more common in older pets. Changes in the levels of enzymes associated with the kidneys do not occur until more than 2/3 of the kidney function is lost. When the kidneys begin to fail, pets will drink more water. This is the body’s attempt to dilute the toxins that are normally filtered out by the kidneys. At a certain point, your pet is unable to drink enough water to dilute out the toxins and will begin to act sick. Most commonly, pets with chronic kidney failure will be lethargic, may vomit, and will not be interested in eating.
If your pet is drinking more water than normal, it may or may not be a kidney problem, but certainly warrants a trip to your veterinarian. Be proactive and take good care of your pet’s health.
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Veterinary Technical Services Department