Diagnosing Kidney Failure in Pets

Written By Dr. Gary Holfinger

When visiting, many clients note that “old age” is starting to show in their pets. They assume it is normal, and that the changes cannot be avoided. Sadly, that assumption keeps them from investigating the reasons for the change.

Body organs do wear out, but often the changes can be minimal provided we find them in time.

Consider the kidneys. We can donate one of our kidneys and live a full life with half the filtering organs that we started with. Both humans and animals have a tremendous reserve capacity. Because of this reserve, both animals and people show clinical signs of kidney failure only when the damage is extensive, and the reserve tissue is used up. As a result, kidney tests only elevate when the damage is done, and it’s often too late to save what organ tissue is left, and the patient dies of acute kidney failure.

Thankfully, our referral lab now has a new test that shows early signs of kidney damage before the pet appears ill. It’s now part of our chemistry profiles, and is a way to catch a problem before it’s too late.

Any pet over seven years old, dog or cat, should have an organ profile performed on their annual visit. Both the length and quality of life can be extended by catching problems early. Pets can’t tell us when they don’t feel normal, and assuming it’s just “old age” leads to major problems.