Kidney Chek
Kidney Chek

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is caused when nephrons, tiny structures in the kidney responsible for filtering waste products out of the blood, are damaged. This damage can be irreversible and progressively gets worse over time. Diagnosing CKD in the later stages of the disease means that there may be too much damage to the nephrons. At that stage, treatment options are based on helping the pet feel better and trying to prevent more damage to the remaining nephrons.

The early signs of CKD can be subtle, and many pets are not diagnosed until they are clearly very ill, at which point up to 75% of their kidney function could be permanently lost. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination (amount and/or frequency)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight/muscle loss
  • Increased vomiting or nausea
  • Bad breath
  • Poor/dull hair coat

For optimal health screening and to ensure a long, healthy life for your pet, we recommend administering a Kidney-Chek test every four months for both cats and dogs.

Gently rub the Kidney-Chek test pad along your pet's gums or inside their lips in a circular motion. Periodically check for complete wetness, indicated by a colour change from bright to dark yellow. Dogs require 5-10 seconds of exposure, while cats need 10-15 seconds. Try to avoid allowing your pet to lick or bite the test, and dab excess saliva to prevent oversaturation.

Sometimes, your pet may have a dry mouth. You can tell by looking or touching a finger to their gums to feel if there is saliva or not. If your pet’s mouth looks or feels dry, try giving them water and wait 5-10 minutes before testing.

Do use treats or food to get your pet to salivate! A stimulated salivary response can adjust the chemistry of the mouth and lead to incorrect test results. If treats or food have been given to your pet, wait 10 minutes prior to using the test.

There is no toxicity from the test if swallowed, but the test should not be left unattended in your pet’s mouth in order to reduce the chance of an accidental swallow.

Sometimes, the edges of the test pad may be a different colour from the majority of the pad. Read the colour from the center of the pad, ignoring the edges.

Take a picture of the test strip 2 minutes after wetting the pad and email the picture to We can help you score the test pad, or we may recommend retesting if the colour is indeterminable.

You can tell them that you performed an at-home test that detected urea in the saliva of your pet and you are concerned about their kidney health. You can request an appointment for your pet to receive a physical exam with blood work and urinalysis. It is also important to tell your vet if you notice any changes to your pet’s health (increased thirst or urination, decreased appetite, vomiting, etc), so it may be helpful to write down your concerns before going to your pet’s appointment.

Kidney-Chek detects urea (measured in millimolars, or mM), a waste product in the body that the kidneys normally filter out. If the kidneys are not working well, urea can build up in the blood and can be detected in saliva. Elevated Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) is common in patients with chronic kidney disease, and when used in combination with other blood and urine tests, veterinarians can diagnose and stage the severity of the disease. Learn more from the International Renal Interest Society.

Kidney-Chek is not a replacement for blood work and urine analysis. Regular wellness exams and lab work are the gold standard of care for our pets. If Kidney-Chek shows high results, we recommend a consultation with a veterinarian to discuss further diagnostic testing. High blood urea can also occur with other conditions such as dehydration, gastrointestinal bleeding, or kidney stones. Elevated results on the Kidney-Chek test do not diagnose chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is the phrase used to describe a variety of conditions that affect the feline bladder and urinary system. This can include stones/crystals, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and idiopathic cystitis. These conditions are not directly related to CKD, although there may be some overlap. Dogs can also suffer from urinary tract issues like bladder stones and UTIs, so it’s important to keep them in mind, too. Kidney-Chek will not detect crystals or UTIs, but you can still use it for pets who experience these issues to ensure their kidneys are functioning well.