Caring for a pet with chronic kidney disease can be like a balancing act on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour. Although I know now how to manage my cat’s symptoms, I have to keep an eye on several things at once, every day. Neglecting one factor or another might put her at risk of having her whole system come crashing down.
Chronic renal disease is not often noticeable until a major change has taken place. This is why it’s very important to have an annual checkup for your pet at the vet’s. I know that it can be costly to pay for a pet’s all-important shots in addition to having blood drawn and lab tests performed. But as a pet grows, it becomes prone to age-related diseases and getting your pet’s vital statistics charted is essential. Once a baseline is established, any changes will help determine if added tests need to be done at that once-a-year visit to the vet.
Overt symptoms of kidney failure may include weight loss, fatigue, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, increased thirst and frequent urination. Blood tests may be necessary to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms. A first-time blood test is a good investment, to determine whether there is an imbalance of electrolytes or an increase in toxins in the bloodstream caused by inadequate kidney filtration. Anemia may also be present if kidney function has deteriorated, because the kidneys stimulate production of red blood cells. Another hidden factor in chronic kidney disease is maintenance of proper blood pressure, which can be metered by the vet at that important annual visit.
When it was learned that my cat had lost three whole pounds over the course of the previous year, I was astonished. She has always seemed slender but she didn’t seem to be ill. I thought she was just a finicky eater, and that her vomiting was related to hairballs, since she is a fastidious self-groomer. Plus she always seemed to be searching for a place to drink water, whether in the bathroom sink or her water bowl. Last, but not least, her slumber time had increased, but I attributed that to her getting older and being less ambitious.
Next week: How these issues can be addressed to aid kidney function.