March is National Kidney Health Month.
We know kidneys are very important organs for us humans, but they're equally as important for our pets. The kidneys are responsible for a lot of important body functions some of which include filtering out waste, maintaining electrolyte balance, gastrointestinal health, and promoting red blood cell (RBC) production.
Sometimes kidney failure can be obvious, and your pet will show signs of illness. Your furry family member may be lethargic, start vomiting, or not want to eat, drink more water, or have ammonia smelling breath. If your pet is experiencing any or a combination of these symptoms, you want to take him/her to your veterinarian right away. Your vet will run bloodwork to see if there are elevated levels of Bun, Creatine, and sometimes phosphorus along with anemia.
BUN and creatine are natural "wastes" that need the kidneys to be working properly in order to get them filtered through the body.
Bloodwork Is Key!
Your vet will work with you to implement an appropriate treatment plan for your pet. Although kidney disease primarily occurs in older animals, pets as young as 2 years old could also develop it. If the bloodwork comes back indicating there are issues, certain precautions can be taken to prolong the onset of kidney failure.
Things such as a change in diet, intravenous fluids, prescribed medication could all help treat your pet. Just remember that sometimes the symptoms are not so obvious, so getting your pet's bloodwork at his/her annual exam is key!
Speaking From Personal Experience
I once had a client who brought in a very sweet stray cat to be spayed. The cat already had 2 kittens, Sonny & Cher, and the client wanted to spay her and release her back onto the street (the client adopted Sonny & Cher). At that time, we did a basic hematocrit (blood test) before surgery to check for anemia and a clotting time. Well…her test showed she pretty anemic, so we ran complete bloodwork, and unfortunately, the little mom ended up being in kidney failure. Needless to say, I did not spay her. But! I ended up adopting her and sweet Coco lived the rest of her life with my family. She lived 2 happy years with us on kidney diet food and subcutaneous fluids.
So, if your veterinarian recommends bloodwork what are you going to do? Say YES! And make sure your fur baby is just as healthy on the inside as (s)he is on the outside.