Keeping Kidneys Safe: Kidney Disease In Dogs and Cats

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One of the questions we ask of our new clients is how they hear about us.
Many of them found us by doing research - mostly online - for natural and effective ways to help improve their pet's current health problems.
Allergies, digestion, arthritis, cancer - these are all pet health problems that we come across on a regular basis (and it's interesting to note that these are common diseases in humans too!).
One health problem that comes up quite often is canine kidney disease.
What Do Kidneys Do? A main player in the body's filtration system, your pet's kidneys provide a major function in removing toxins in the bloodstream and eliminating them through the urine.
The kidneys control the water, salt, and mineral levels in the body and help with calcium absorption.
They also produce a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) that helps with red blood cell production.
So you can see why the health of your pet's kidneys is so important.
Signs of Kidney Problems There are certain signs to look for when suspecting kidney problems in your pet.
These include: • Anemia (pale gums and weakness) • Dehydration (causing sudden and increased thirst) • Lethargy • Depression • Increase in urination and/or trouble urinating • Loss of appetite and weight loss • Vomiting and/or diarrhea When the kidneys start to fail, your pet will feel the need to drink more water in order to flush out those excess toxins in the body that the kidneys are not filtering out.
Over time, even excessive intake of water won't help remove those toxins thus, much more serious issues will arise.
Because the symptoms listed above can be the result of many other possible health issues, a blood or urine test may be necessary in order to diagnosed kidney disease.
Types of Kidney Problems There are two types of kidney failure in dogs and cats: acute and chronic.
Acute kidney failure happens suddenly and aggressively.
Bacterial infections, poisoning, and even kidney stones or other urinary blockages can cause acute kidney failure.
When acute kidney failure is suspected, immediate veterinary care is necessary because this is a life-threatening situation.
Luckily the majority of instances of acute kidney failure can be treated - if caught in time.
Chronic kidney failure is much slower in progression and most common in older animals.
Unfortunately, by the time your pet starts to show signs of chronic kidney failure, the damage has already been done and there is currently no cure.
Besides kidney failure, kidney stones (or Nephrolithiasis) are another pet health problem we come across quite often.
Nephroliths are clusters of stones or crystals that form either in the kidneys or in the urinary tract.
These clusters create blockages in the urinary tract, which are very painful and life threatening if not treated right away.
Cause of Kidney Disease There are various causes of kidney disease, such as: • Abdominal injury • Bacterial infection • Blockage to the urinary tract (kidney stones) • Heart failure • Shock caused by rapid dehydration or blood loss • Renal artery obstruction (blood clots) • Long-term use of NSAIDs or antibiotics Prevention There are many steps that responsible pet parents can take in order to help decrease the chances that their pets develop kidney disease.
Diet As always, diet plays a major part in disease prevention.
Eliminating all heat-processed diets (dry, canned and semi-moist pet foods) and treats as well as foods containing artificial flavors, dyes, and preservatives will help to reduce the amount of toxins the body is exposed to, thus reducing stress on the kidneys.
Instead, feed a complete and balanced, species-appropriate raw food diet that contains raw whole foods, no artificial ingredients, and no grains.
A raw food diet contains a high level of easily absorbed water content with minimal toxins, which is perfect for good kidney health.
Some veterinarians will prescribe a low-protein diet for pets suffering from kidney disease.
The reasoning behind this is that the body produces urea (waste) when it digests protein so in order to alleviate stress on the kidneys, they will often recommend a low-protein diet.
A raw protein-based diet is much easier for your pet to digest and contains a much higher level of essential nutrients which allows the body to heal itself better, naturally.
Water Speaking of water, make sure to provide your pet with a clean source of filtered or distilled water.
Tap water contains chorine, lead, bacteria and nitrates that your pets - and your family - should not be consuming.
That's why health experts recommend that pregnant women, children - and yes our pets - should instead opt for filtered water to minimize toxins and eliminate harmful contaminants from being introduced into the body.
Final Thoughts For those of you who read our informative pet health articles, you'll notice this common theme regarding the health of our pets: the foundation to a healthy, happy pet is a natural raw food diet, clean filtered water, wholesome pet supplements and as little exposure to harsh chemicals, toxins, and medications as possible.
So steer clear of over-vaccinating your pet, using harsh flea and tick treatments, and avoiding foods and treats containing ingredients that are hard for our pets to digest (such as grains, artificial flavors, artificial colors, and preservatives).
These are the best practices to follow to help your pet stay healthy, active, and vibrant for as long as possible!
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