Chronic Renal Failure

kitten in dogs ear

Welcome to the MarVistaVet
Chronic Renal Failure
Center


    Kidney Failure: Where to Begin

    Fluid Therapy – the Heart of Treatment

    Dietary Therapy

    Appetite Management
    (this page is part of The Pet Web Library, so there are no links on it to the other pages in the Chronic Renal Failure Center. To return here, use your browser’s “Back” button, or click the Chronic Renal Failure (alphabetized under Kidney) button in the left side margin buttons)

    Renal Anemia/Red Blood Cell Loss

    High Blood Pressure
    (this page is part of The Pet Web Library, so there are no links on it to the other pages in the Chronic Renal Failure Center. To return here, use your browser’s “Back” button, or click the Chronic Renal Failure (alphabetized under Kidney) button in the left side margin buttons)

    Calcium/Phosphorus Balance

    Glomerular Disease: Urinary Protein Loss
    (this page is part of The Pet Web Library, so there are no links on it to the other pages in the Chronic Renal Failure Center. To return here, use your browser’s “Back” button, or click the Chronic Renal Failure (alphabetized under Kidney) button in the left side margin buttons)

    Dialysis

    Kidney Transplants
    (this page is in The Surgery Suite, so there are no links on it to the other pages in the Chronic Renal Failure Center. To return here, use your browser’s “Back” button, or go back to The Pet Web Library and click on the Chronic Renal Failure link)

    Links
     

The kidneys are made of thousands of tiny filtration units called “nephrons.” Once a nephron is destroyed by a disease, it cannot regenerate; this means that we all have a finite number of nephrons to last us our whole lives. Fortunately, we have many extra nephrons, so many extra that overall kidney function does not fall behind until we are down to about 1/6 of our original number of nephrons.

renal canal

Nephrons can be destroyed quickly or slowly. Usually, by the time less than 1/6 of our original nephrons are left, whatever the inciting disease process was is long gone and there is no way to tell what happened. All we can do is make the kidney workload easier by make up for the kidney’s inadequate performance with medication or supplements. Hopefully, we can also slow the progression of the failure. Therapy is highly individual depending on which jobs the kidneys are having trouble doing.

IF THE PET IS STILL MAKING PLENTY OF URINE,
HOW CAN THERE BE KIDNEY FAILURE?

In chronic kidney failure, urine is usually produced in excessive quantities. What the kidneys are failing to do is conserve water (they are failing to make concentrated urine). The body produces numerous toxins on a moment by moment basis. These toxins circulate to the kidneys where, dissolved in water, they are filtered out and urinated away. An efficient kidney can make a highly concentrated urine so that a large amount of toxin can be excreted in a relatively small amount of water.

When the kidneys fail over a long time period, they lose their ability to concentrate urine and more water is required to excrete the same amount of toxin. The animal will begin to drink more and more to provide the failing kidneys with enough water. Ultimately, the animal cannot drink enough and toxin levels begin to rise. Weight loss, listlessness, nausea, constipation, and poor appetite become noticeable. It is common for animals, especially cats, to have a long history of excessive water consumption when they finally come to the vet's office with one of the latter complaints.

Last updated: 7/25/07
Last reviewed: 3/24/2011