Chronic Kidney Disease: The Importance of Yearly Screening

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

By: Catherine West, MCC Practice Manager

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is common in older cats. Unfortunately, most owners are not aware of the significance of early detection of disease in cats. Felines innately do not display signs of illness until CKD has been silently progressing for years. Once clinical signs are noticeable by an owner, the options for treatment may become fewer and the lifespan of the animal could be shorter than what may have been possible with early detection and treatment.

Chronic Kidney Disease is common and there is a lot we can do with proper diagnosis and management
Chronic Kidney Disease is common and there is a lot we can do with proper diagnosis and management

Dr. Montgomery continually stresses the importance of yearly physical exams.

Many aspects of the physical exam are directly involved in the diagnosis of disease, including CKD. In a yearly exam, our doctors are looking at body score and muscling condition scores. A gradual loss of weight over time is an indicator of CKD. In 2016, a study published in The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found a gradual loss of weight can occur one to three years before CKD is diagnosed.

Also during the physical exam, our doctors palpate the kidneys to establish if they are normal, overly large or overly small and symmetrical. Overly small kidneys can be indicative of CDK. Hypertension is also a common element in diagnosing CKD. Our doctors routinely evaluate the ocular changes in patients in routine visits. Blood pressure is a good indicator of CKD and is a part of yearly exams on cats over 8 years old as an added measure of early detection.

Blood testing and urinalysis are the laboratory tests we routinely perform for early detection of kidney disease. In a blood health screen there are several values which can be measured to indicate how the kidneys are functioning. However, a urinalysis can sometimes illustrate aspects of loss of kidney function before the levels rise enough to be seen in blood testing.

This yearly diagnostic work-up is imperative to early detection of CKD. Cats living with CKD can live a long life with early detection. There are foods that can help with kidney function, medication and the addition of periodic fluid administration.

If your cat is behind on their yearly exam, or if you have concerns and would like to have a CKD screening done, please give us a call to schedule your appointment. 205-985-2023

Work Cited

Freeman LM, Lachaud MP, Mathews S, et al. Evaluation of weight loss overtime in catswith chronic kidney disease. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 2016; 30(5): 1661-1666.

Parker VJ.Chronic kidney disease screening and confirmation testing in cats.Todays Veterinary Practice 2018:8(5): 9-12.

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