Kidney Disease in Pets
Veterinarian Reviewed on August 10, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
The kidney is responsible for forming urine. It functions along with the liver and other organs to filter toxins and metabolic waste from our pet’s bodies. Kidneys are a sensitive organ and kidney failure can sometimes be an unfortunate condition in our pets. Failure occurs when the kidney is no longer able to adequately eliminate toxins from the body. Symptoms of kidney disease include excessive drinking and urination. Our pets are often dehydrated and will have a dull dry haircoat. The disease is thought to be a culmination of many events including decreased blood flow to the kidney, toxin accumulation, infection or inflammation. The symptoms of kidney disease often aren’t noticed until over 75% of the kidney is no longer functioning. Kidney failure patients are often anemic due to decreased production of erythropoietin.
Conventional treatments for kidney disease often include a low protein diet, anti-hypertensive agents, vitamin supplementation, fluid therapy, and anti-nausea type drugs. Kidney transplant surgeries are also available at some specialty veterinary hospitals.
Holistic therapy aims to reduce the workload of the kidney by improving the body’s metabolism. Acupuncture can improve blood flow to the kidney. ‘Astragalus’ is an herbal therapy used to assist failing kidneys by lowering protein levels in the urine and reduces hypertension. The herb ‘Atractylodes’ protects the kidneys by preventing degeneration and counteracts anemia by stimulating bone marrow. The herb ‘Codonopsis’ helps with anemia by increasing blood volume and lowering blood pressure, therefore improving tissue blood perfusion.
Prognosis depends on the extent of kidney damage that exists and the pet’s response to therapy. The disease is progressive requiring constant adherence to medical and diet treatment plans. With appropriate therapy pets can continue to have a quality life with kidney dysfunction.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan