Waste, urinate, stool, toxin, kidney, infections, poisons, age, increased water, BUN, blood, urea, nitrogen, senior, exam, diet, fluids, dialysis, transplant
The body's elimination of waste, whether via defacation or urination is something we take for granted-it is also a physiologic necessity! Have you ever stopped to think about why this physiologic act is so necessary? Is there more to urination than to just maintain our hydration and fluid balance?
Urine is one of the ways that the body rids itself of toxins. The kidneys filter the blood, not only to conserve water, but also to remove potentially harmful toxins. Kidneys can become damaged for a myriad of reasons such as infections, environmental poisons and advancing age. In fact, the number one killer of older cats is cancer, with kidney failure coming in a close second.
The onset of kidney failure is typically insidious. Some of the first signs that a pet owner may notice are increased water intake and a pet that urinates more frequently. The excessive water intake is in an attempt to cleanse the body of the toxins that are allowed to build up in the blood stream by the diseased kidneys. In due course, the body can't take in enough water to meet its needs and the toxins start to rise. The toxin most commonly assayed is b-u-n, blood urea nitrogen.
A person or pet is normally born with two kidneys, and one would need to lose over 75% of total kidney function before this value starts to rise. This is one of the critical reasons why a general blood panel should be performed yearly on all pets over 7 years of age. Why 7? Most veterinarians will consider pets over 7 to be entering their senior years.
By having yearly blood work performed, your veterinarian can keep an eye on subtle changes in the b-u-n. Sadly, it is not possible to stop kidney failure that results from advancing age but it is possible to slow down the progression, especially if the disease is discovered early. There are specially designed prescription diets made for weakening kidneys. Diet change alone may be all that is needed at the onset of kidney disease. As the condition worsens, your veterinarian may recommend that you administer fluids to your pet, under the skin, at home. I know this sounds a bit scary, but it really is quite easy to do and pets don't seem to mind. There are also medications that can be used as supportive measures. Dialysis and kidney transplants are also options for appropriate patients.
If you are noticing your pet hanging out by the water bowl more often, flooding out the cat box or asking to go outside more frequently to relieve itself, he or she may have kidney disease. Want to learn more about kidney disease? Just ask your veterinarian.
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