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Kidney Disease in Dogs & Cats

The kidneys are a bean shaped organ in the lower back that filters the body’s waste and turns it into urine. They help regulate the balance of certain chemicals, blood pressure, metabolism and produce a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production, called erytropoiten.

In the kidneys there are thousands of little tubes call nephrons, these structures filter and reabsorb the fluids that keep the body in balance. They are susceptible to damage from many causes, including poison, aging, infection, trauma, cancer, autoimmune diseases and genetics. If the kidneys are severely damaged, they can function with as little as 25 percent of its original nephrons.

When damage is greater than 25 percent, the remaining nephrons are unable to compensate, causing kidney failure. Kidneys that are failing are unable to clear the blood of toxins, such as urea and creatinine. This can cause the kidneys to produce extremely dilute urine or urine that is high in proteins.

The first signs of kidney disease in dogs and cats is often in increased thirst. Increased toxins and waste in the body signals the brain that it is dehydrated and the dog or cat will drink more water to compensate. This also causes increased urine flow, making your dog or cat have to urinate more often.

This increased intake of water and increased urination causes the urine to become more and more dilute, but the urine is not eliminating toxins from the body because the kidneys are not functioning properly. This can lead to weight loss, inability to perform normal metabolic processes, tissue repair and energy metabolism. Also, because water-soluble vitamins, such as B-Vitamins are washed out with the urine, your dog or cat can also experience hypovitaminosis (or vitamin deficiency).

If your veterinarian suspects your dog or cat might have kidney problems, he will perform a variety of blood and urine tests. Depending on if your pet has acute or chronic kidney failure, your veterinarian will prescribe a course of treatment that usually contains medication and changes in diet. Prescription food for kidney failure is available from Hill’s Prescription Diet and is specially designed to assist the kidneys in processing waste. Dietary changes primarily consist of restricting the amount of protein, phosphorus and sodium in the diet.

Feline Rhinotracheitis

Feline Rhinotracheities (FVR) is one of the most common upper respiratory infections that afflicts cats, the other is the Calici Virus. FVR affects the upper respiratory tract, including the eyes, nose, throat and sinuses. FVR is a member of the Feline Herpes Virus family and is specific only to cats.

FVR is a very fast progression disease. One to three days after infection, it will show signs of the infection, including sneezing, depression, loss of appetite and discharge from the eyes and nose. In severe cases, the cat may also develop ulcers in the mouth and pneumonia.

Cats exposed for the first time will have the most severe symptoms. Kittens who contract the disease will be the worse affected, and up to 70% of infected kittens often die from FVR. A severe infection in a kitten can cause loss of balance and seizures.

FVR is spread through contact with the discharge from the eyes and nose of an infected cat. It can also be spread through contact with an infected surface for 24 hours. The most common surfaces are food and water bowls, beds, litter pans, and clothing. The virus can also be transmitted through the air. After a sneeze the virus can travel up to 4 feet.

Common symptoms include:
•    Coughing
•    Fever (up to 106 F)
•    Anorexia (loss of appetite)
•    Runny Nose
•    Sneezing
•    Watery Eyes
•    Discharge from the eyes and nose

One of major concerns with FVR is the risk of a secondary bacterial infection. Your veterinarian will most likely prescribe an antibiotic or an antibiotic eye ointment to control the possibility of a secondary bacterial infection.

Because FVR is a viral infection, treatment is in most cases supportive and includes antibiotics, decongestants, fluids, and using a humidifier to help break up mucus in the airway. Most cats recover in 7-10 days without medical intervention. In severe cases, some cats develop chronic symptoms such as sneezing and nasal discharge.

FVR is prevented by yearly vaccinations for FHV-1 (Feline Herpes Virus). Kittens should be vaccinated at 8-10 weeks, then at 12-14 weeks and then annually. If your cat has been infected, it is important to isolate the cat from any non-vaccinated cats or kittens in the household.

FVR is susceptible to disinfectants and the area where an infected cat has been should be cleaned thoroughly to prevent the spread of the disease.