23 June 2010

Kidney failure in pets

The recent and ongoing pet food scare has left pet owners shocked, angry and grief-stricken. Here's how to tell if your pet has renal failure and what you can do about it.


The recent pet food scare has left pet owners shocked, angry and grief-stricken.

The leading cause of death in animals that have eaten contaminated food is renal or kidney failure.

Cape Town vet, Dr Len Bracher, says kidney failure is not always very easy to diagnose, but gave Health24 a few pointers.

  •  Renal failure occurs when the kidneys can no longer filter waste in the bloodstream.
  • There are two types of kidney disease, namely acute and chronic. Acute renal failure is a sudden loss of the kidney function, which is sometimes reversible. Chronic renal failure occurs over a period of time. Depending on the cause and treatment, animals might be able to pull through.
  • The causes of renal failure include infections, genetic predisposition, toxic substances and age.
  • The most common signs of acute renal failure are loss of appetite, drinking, smelly breath and vomiting. Progression of the disease will lead to depression, weight loss, poor quality of coat, lethargy and sudden blindness.
  • The best way to keep track of your pet’s health is to do regular pet scans. Have a look at your pet's eyes. Check that they are clear. Examine the coat to see if it's dry or flaky. Check your pet's mood – is it alert and calm? Check your pet's body and limbs for any lumps or sores.
  • Treatment of renal failure differs from animal to animal. Intravenous fluid therapy can be given to help the kidneys flush out waste. Medication can be used to help the kidney filter fluids and to help the bloodflow to the kidneys.
  • Some pets also develop high blood pressure. Medication can be given to control this. Your vet may also prescribe a diet that is low in proteins, salt and other substances that may be difficult for the kidneys to break down.
  • Although the disease is not always preventable, there are things you can do to minimise the risk. Feed your pet the best quality food you can, have clean water available at all times, make your home toxin-free and make regular visits to the vet.
  • Check the news to see if there are any updates on the situation regarding contaminated pet food. Ask your vet which pet food he or she recommends.

 (Leandra Engelbrecht, Health24, April 2007)


Read more:

Answers on pet food shock?
SA faces pet food shock
Hill's pet food safe

- (Last updated: June 2010)


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