What is Renal Disease?

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Albany Veterinary Hospital
312 Albany Highway
WA 6331

08 9841 1788
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In this blog we're going to focus on the kidneys. Kidney disease, also call Renal disease, affects both cats and dogs (and exotic pets). This term is actually an umbrella term that can include a lot of different conditions such as Chronic Kidney Disease, Polycystic Kidney Disease or glomerulonephropathies to name a few. The most common form of the disease is Chronic Kidney Disease. Often considered an “old cat” disease. Don't be fooled though, there are many forms of disease that can occur at any time, in any species.


The kidney's main purpose is filtration. It filters the blood to remove excessive salts or components (such as medications). It is also responsible for managing hydration. If you're dehydrated then the kidneys will retain more fluid by making the urine very concentrated. If you well hydrated then the kidneys will get rid of excess fluid by diluting the urine. 

The Problem:

The kidneys are actually very robust! The most obvious symptoms are only really seen once 70% or more of the cells in the kidney have been lost. Unfortunately the kidney's don't regenerate or heal like other organs. Once the cells are damaged, they are lost.

This is why we want to be vigilant and find kidney diseases early.

Clinical Signs:

Kidney diseases can be difficult to diagnose. The signs are often vague and subtle. Here is a list of the most common symptoms to look out for:

  • Excessive drinking (often the first thing that clients see).
  • Excessive urination.
  • Dehydration.
  • Weight loss.
  • Loss of appetite .
  • Sore mouth.
  • Bad breath.
  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
  • Pale gums.

It is worth noting that the symptoms described are very vague. They can be seen with a variety of different conditions. A blood test and urinalysis is usually required to differentiate between them.  Early detection is key! Most diseases affecting the kidneys are progressive so starting management early is vital. It is always a good idea to get a blood test done if your pet is over 7 years of age.


Kidney disease can be managed but specific treatments will depend on the specific problem. As a general guideline, we try and manage the following:

  • Appetite (keep them eating)
  • Nutrition
  • Fluid intake
  • Blood pressure

One of the most important ways that we manage kidney disease is through diet. We want a diet that will provide adequate calories without “over-working” the kidneys. The diet also needs to limit or manage elements like phosphates, salts and calcium which can affect blood pressure and hydration. Your veterinarian will usually prescribe a formulated diet for these reasons.

If you are concerned about your pet or have noticed any of the previously discussed symptoms then please contact your veterinarian.

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