This handout is designed to help you understand the nature of kidney failure and the steps our veterinarians must take to help treat your pet successfully. The kidneys are very active organs with a large number of responsibilities. The table below lists some of the major roles the kidney plays in the body and what happens when the kidney goes into a state of failure (meaning it can no longer do its job properly):

Normal Kidney Function Effect on Body During Kidney Failure
Removal of waste products that contain nitrogen Build up of nitrogenous waste that causes lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, malaise, and lethargy
Regulation of the fluid balance in the body, Chronic dehydration: Heavy thirst and urination even though the pet is dehydrated
Produce hormones that control the production of red blood cells Lack of production of red blood cells leads to anemia which makes pet weak, listless, and depressed.
Regulation of the concentration of the various minerals in the blood (sodium, potassium, phosphorous, and chloride, and calcium) Build up of minerals beyond their normal levels which can affect the muscles, heart and nervous system
Regulation of blood pressure Development of high blood pressure which can lead to strokes and heart failure
Activation of Vitamin D3 to aid in absorption of calcium and phosphorous Calcium drawn from the bones, leads to weakening bones. High phosphorous levels in the blood affect muscles and nervous system.

There are many things that can lead to kidney failure ranging from infections to cancer. The best way to find out what is wrong with the kidneys through the use of ultrasound and ultrasound guided biopsies. A biopsy is the only way of telling exactly what is wrong with the kidneys. This helps our veterinary team develop a treatment plan and allows us to give you a realistic prognosis regarding your pet’s future.

Regardless of the source of injury, the kidneys are not very forgiving organs. Once they are damaged, they have very limited ability to repair themselves. As a result, our treatment plan is designed to minimize the effects that the failing kidneys have on the body and to provide your pet with a good quality of life.

Kidney failure is a difficult disease to treat, however, our veterinarians have helped many pets enjoy a good quality of life with the therapies outlined above. Hopefully, pets of Alta Loma, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Ontario, Claremont, Fontana and the Inland Empire will respond well to this treatment as well. If you have any questions about any aspect of this handout, please do not hesitate to call us at (909) 980-3575.