Signs of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

The purpose of the kidneys is to clear waste products from the blood. Animal kidneys are made up of hundreds of thousands of nephrons, which are comprised of a small filter and long tubule. The filter (called the glomerulus) filters the blood, and allows water, waste products, and other select molecules through to the tubules.


As this fluid moves through the tubules, the kidneys reclaim water and substances that the body needs, and allow the waste products and excess water to go out into the collecting ducts. The collecting ducts bring waste products, in the form of urine, to the bladder. Through this process, the kidneys regulate the volume and composition of the body’s internal fluids.


Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the persistent loss of kidney function over time due to damage of the nephrons. This loss of function results in a buildup of waste products in the bloodstream that would otherwise be filtered out by healthy kidneys. Kidney tissue has limited regeneration capabilities and damage is often permanent. In addition, the clinical signs of CKD that are more easy to recognize do not typically appear until the disease is fairly advanced. Because the loss of kidney function can not be reversed, early detection of CKD is vital to creating an effective treatment plan and extending your pets life.


While a preventative approach is the most effective way to catch CKD early, it is still important to be aware of the clinical signs associated with CKD as well.


Early Clinical Signs of CKD


Common clinical signs of CKD present differently between cats and dogs, and while the end result of the disease is the same, its progression does vary. The following two signs are important to be aware of, especially if preventative screening is not a part of your pets regular routine:


  1. Drinking more water and producing a larger volume of urine

  • As nephrons are damaged, the remaining functional nephrons must handle an increased volume of water, which leads to a larger volume of dilute urine

  • To compensate for this, pets drink more water

  • This symptom can be easier to detect in dogs rather than cats, as dogs typically drink more water and need to go outside to urinate, allowing the owner to more quickly detect a change in the amount that they are drinking and urinating

  1. Increased BUN and/or Creatinine levels

  • This sign is often detected by a vet during routine blood work

  • As CKD progresses, the filtration rate continues to decline significantly, and waste products begin building up in the blood

  • Unfortunately, by the time these levels increase, the kidneys will have already lost 60-70% of their function

  • Through regular testing of the blood or by using Kidney-Chek, a baseline of your pet's kidney function can be established, and allow you to catch changes more quickly by comparing their results.


Cat drinking water

Late-Stage Clinical Signs of CKD


Once CKD has advanced enough that waste products increase in the blood, more clinical signs appear, including the following:

  1. Loss of Appetite

  2. Lethargy

  3. Halitosis (Bad Breath)

  4. Weight Loss

  5. Poor Coat Condition

  6. Nausea and/or Vomiting

  7. Dehydration (Caused by pet not eating or drinking)

  8. Hypertension


Screening for CKD


It can not be emphasized enough how crucial it is to implement preventative screening in your pets health care routine; Sadly, waiting for the clinical signs to appear will mean your pets CKD has progressed to a point where treatment may not be effective.


Kidney-Chek is an easy, affordable, and reliable way to screen your pets for CKD right at home. Screening your pet for kidney concerns with Kidney-Chek allows you to take an active role in keeping your pet healthy and ensuring that they live a long, comfortable life.


We recommend a regular kidney check up using Kidney-Chek every 4 months, especially if your pet is over the age of 7. For a limited time, receive a full 1 year supply of Kidney-Chek with our buy 2, get 1 free promotion!


Kidney-Chek for Cats

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