While there is no way to reverse kidney damage that has already occurred in pets with CKD, important steps must be taken to mitigate further damage and ensure your pet stays as healthy and comfortable. The earlier CKD is detected, the more effective treatment will be in extending your pets life and improving their quality of life.
First and foremost, it is imperative that fresh water be available to pets with CKD at all times. With the loss of kidney function, pets will lose excessive amounts of water in the form of urine. Because of this, drinking more water is vital to maintaining their hydration. Pets with CKD will often not be able to drink enough water to make up for what they are losing through their urine, so in order to further help prevent dehydration, your vet may also prescribe subcutaneous fluids (fluids given under the skin).
One of the most effective treatments for CKD is to modify your pets diet under veterinary supervision.
During the later stages of CKD, the kidneys can experience a damaging buildup of phosphorus. There are medications that can be given to bind phosphorus, but they usually have an unappetizing taste to pets and have to be given at every meal. Due to this, it is recommended to try to restrict phosphorus levels with a good quality renal diet instead, and to use binders only when necessary.
Protein is a major contributor of phosphorus in the diet, so many commercial renal diets have reduced amounts of protein. A balance must also be found with protein intake to ensure your pet consumes enough protein to maintain a healthy body weight and healthy coat condition, but not to consume an excessive enough amount that could result in further kidney damage.
A major cause of weight and muscle loss in pets with CKD is the fact that they are often nauseated and have a decreased appetite, which results in them eating less and receive fewer nutrients and calories. Medications that stimulate the pets appetite and prevent nausea are often used to keep them healthy.
Minerals and Vitamins
In most renal diets, sodium is often restricted as well in order to reduce the risk of increased blood pressure that occurs with CKD. Many renal diets also include additional B vitamins, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants. Another important dietary consideration is to supplement potassium, as this electrolyte is often lost through excessive urination and when depleted, can cause muscle weakness.
Maintaining hydration and making changes to your pets diet are most effective in treating CKD during the early stages of the disease, for two reasons:
It will be easier for your pet to adjust to dietary changes when their appetite is still good, and
The earlier these interventions are put into place, the more kidney damage can be prevented
Early detection of CKD can help extend your pets remaining years, and will also keep them far more comfortable and at ease. Preventative screening is the best way to detect changes in your pets kidney function, and while regular blood and urine work from your vet is recommended, certain factors such as cost and inconvenience may prevent owners from getting their pet to the vet as often as they should.
Thankfully, Kidney-Chek™ can help! Kidney-Chek™ is an affordable, easy to use, 2 minute salivary urea test that allows your to monitor and screen your pet for kidney concerns, right from home.
Curious to know if your pet is in need of a kidney check up? Try our short risk assessment survey to see if it's necessary to begin early screening for your pet.