A common question we get asked here at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital when it comes to an ageing pet is: When do we need to be concerned about kidney disease? The early stages of kidney disease can be difficult to detect and the age in which this can occur varies pet to pet, breed to breed and species to species.
Typically, by the time symptoms are noted, the disease has often progressed beyond the early stages. Other than watching for signs and symptoms, one of the best ways to monitor kidney function is through a blood screen. As your pet enters the senior years, your veterinarian will usually recommend a senior blood panel for this very reason. Here are some symptoms you should be aware of and can watch for at home.
- Increased drinking and more frequent urination (PU/PD)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Lethargy (sluggish)
- Reoccurrence of urinary tract infection
Things you can do…
It is critical that your senior pet drinks well and has access to fresh water. This may require adding canned food to your pet’s diet rather than the only kibble to increase their water intake. It’s important to note that loss of smell can play a significant role in your older pet’s appetite. This is especially true in cats. If they cannot smell their food, they will not eat it. To encourage your senior pet’s appetite, try warming their canned food to release more flavor. You may also need to switch diets (flavors) more often to keep your pet interested in their food.
If you notice any change in your pet’s drinking and urinating patterns, talk to your veterinarian. This is when your veterinarian may recommend checking your pet’s blood and urine for kidney disease or diabetes. If your pet bed wets, this could also be caused by a decrease in hormones or due to an infection. There are medications that will help with these conditions. Another recommendation from your veterinarian may be to switch your pet over to a special, veterinary diet as nutrition plays a large role in your senior pet’s kidney health. Switching your pet to a proper, senior diet can be beneficial during the early stages of renal disease, before they start showing any signs or symptoms.
Regular annual exams are also recommended to monitor and assess your pet during those golden years. If you’ve noted any behavior changes, make a list of those changes and bring them to your pet’s annual exam. A thorough history and picking up on changes in your pet’s behavior is key to early detection of kidney disease as well as other senior related illnesses.
Submitted by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital