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Treating Chronic Canine and Feline Renal Failure

Options for the Treatment of Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs and Cats

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Treating Chronic Canine or Feline Renal Failure

Chronic canine or feline renal failure requires ongoing treatment, often with numerous medications and treatment methods.

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More: Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats > Treating Chronic Kidney Failure

Kidney failure in dogs and cats may be acute or chronic. While acute kidney failure may be reversible, chronic kidney failure will likely need to be monitored and treated accordingly over the long term.

Treat the Underlying Cause of Renal Failure in the Dog and Cat

Where possible, the underlying cause of your pet's kidney disease should be treated and eliminated. This may involve antibiotics if the cause of kidney failure is bacterial infection. Immune-mediated disease may require administration of immuno-suppressive medications, such as corticosteroids or cyclosporine. In many cases, the underlying cause may be unknown or may be not directly treatable.

Preventing and Treating Dehydration in Canine and Feline Renal Failure

Fluid therapy is used to treat dehydration. Fluids may be given intravenously (into a vein) or subcutaneously (under the skin). If your pet has chronic kidney failure, subcutaneous fluids may need to be given every few days to keep your pet from becoming dehydrated.

Nutritional Support for Dogs and Cats in Kidney Failure

A good diet for a dog or cat with kidney failure will have a low sodium and low phosphorus level. Some veterinarians believe that a low protein level may help also. Even if the protein content of your dog or cat's food is lowered, make certain that your pet can easily digest the protein in his food.

Make sure that your pet is eating voluntarily and not losing weight also. If weight loss occurs or your pet is not eating, he may need medications to increase his appetite. If those medications do not work, a feeding tube may be necessary. A feeding tube is placed directly into your pet's stomach or intestines. Food is given through the tube so that your pet does not have to eat to get nourishment.

Medications Used to Treat Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs and Cats

Phosphate binders, such as aluminum hydroxide, are needed if feeding a diet low in phosphorus is not effective in keeping blood phosphorus levels in the normal range.

If levels of blood potassium are high, potassium restriction in the diet is recommended. If low, potassium supplementation will be necessary.

Angiotensive-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors), such as benazepril and enalapril, are used to control protein loss through the kidneys as well as an aid in controlling blood pressure. If ACE inhibitors alone are not effective in controlling elevated blood pressure, other medications such as amlodipine may need to be added.

Nausea and vomiting can be controlled with anti-emetic medications that help control vomiting, medications that reduce gastric acidity and gastroprotective medications that help to protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Anti-emetic medications that help control vomiting include maropitant, metoclopramide and chlorpromazine.
  • Medications that reduce gastric acidity include cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine or omeprazole.
  • Sucralfate may be used to protect the lining of the stomach and intestinal tract.

Erythropoietin can be used to treat anemia, if present.

Calcitriol is used to decrease the level of serum parathyroid hormone, a naturally occurring hormone that can reach toxic levels in the blood of a dog or cat suffering from kidney failure. However, calcitriol cannot be used if there are elevated blood calcium or blood phosphorus levels.

Azodyl is a form of enteric dialysis, helping to slow the toxin buildup in the bloodstream.

Other Methods to Treat Kidney Failure in the Dog and Cat

In severe cases of kidney failure, a kidney transplant may be discussed but may not prove to be a practical option.

More: Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats - Signs, Treatment, Diagnosis

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