Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in Cats and Dogs

Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in Cats and Dogs

While any pet can be at risk for developing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), there are certain attributes that are associated with an increased risk. If your pet falls into one of these categories and is considered “at risk”, it is imperative that their kidney function is assessed regularly through blood work or Kidney-Chek™ testing. Being “at risk” does not mean your pet will develop CKD, but it does mean that you should be aware that your pet is at a higher risk, and that preventative screening is especially important for your pet.




Many studies suggest that certain breeds may be predisposed to developing CKD due to genetic factors.

  1. At-Risk Dog Breeds:
  2. Shar Pei
  3. Bull Terrier
  4. English Cocker Spaniel
  5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  6. West Highland White Terrier
  7. Boxer


    1. At-Risk Cat Breeds:
    2. Persian
    3. Abyssinian
    4. Siamese
    5. Ragdoll
    6. Burmese
    7. Russian Blue
    8. Maine Coon



      The risk of developing CKD increases with age, and pets over the age of 7 should be monitored closely for changes in their kidney function. To ensure your pet is healthy, they should be visiting the vet once a year at the minimum, and should be tested regularly in between visits using Kidney-Chek™.


      There are no general sex-based risks for developing CKD, though male neutered cats may develop signs of CKD at a younger age than spayed females.


      Comorbities are illnesses that co-occur with each other, and are sometimes linked to the same primary condition. Some specific disorders pose a potential risk for the development of CKD, or can often occur at the same time, including the following:

      1. Cardiac (heart) diseases
      2. Periodontal diseases (dental disease)
      3. Urinary tract diseases (including cystitis, urinary crystals, and/or bladder stones)
      4. Hyperthyroidism
      5. Diabetes
      6. Infectious pathogens such as chronic bacterial infections, parvovirus, or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
      7. Inflammatory causes such as pancreatitis or immune mediated diseases
      8. Inappropriate blood pressure (either too high (hypertension) or too low (hypotension))
      9. Certain types of neoplasia (cancer)



        Diets that are low in potassium and high in phosphorus and protein have been associated with the development of CKD in cats, though these diets have not been shown to have the same detrimental effects on dogs.



        The following drugs have been associated with CKD in both cats and dogs. Please talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the medications they have prescribed for your pet.

        1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Carprofen, Meloxicam, Deracoxib, and/or Robenacoxib.
        2. Certain types of antibiotics, such as Aminoglycosides, Sulfonamides, and Polymyxins
        3. Some antifungal medications like Amphetericin
        4. Certain vaccines
        5. Chemotherapeutics for cancer treatment


            Acute Kidney Injury

            Any injury to the kidneys from disease, toxins (such as grapes/raisins, lilies for cats, etc), dehydration, and/or the above risk factors can initiate CKD in your pet.

            While preventative screening for CKD is the best way to ensure that any pet receives a diagnosis early enough that treatment can be effective, it is especially important for pets that fall into any of the high risk categories above.

            While regularly visits to the vet are the best way to screen for kidney concerns, for many people the cost, time investment, and inconvenient locations of vet clinics can dissuade them from attending regular kidney check ups. Thankfully, Kidney-Chek™ can help!

            Kidney-Chek™ is an affordable, easy to use, at home saliva test that allows you to screen for kidney concerns in your pet in between their regular vet appointments. Kidney-Chek™ allows you to have the peace of mind that your pet is healthy if results are normal, and alerts you to potential problems if not.

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