Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is common in both cats and dogs and can develop as a result of previous kidney injury or disease (e.g., infections or exposure to toxins), developmental abnormalities, or the wear and tear on the kidneys that accumulates over the years. Initially, pets appear to be perfectly healthy because the kidneys have far more functional capacity than is required to function adequately. Over time, however, the kidneys’ reserves are exhausted and the pet is left with less kidney function than is needed to support normal bodily processes.
The first observable symptoms of chronic kidney disease in dogs and cats are increased thirst and urination. Unfortunately, by the time these clinical signs are evident and routine blood work and urinalysis are capable of picking up on the disease, pets have already lost at least two-thirds to three-quarters of their kidney function.
Chronic kidney disease causes byproducts of metabolism, such as blood urea nitrogen and creatinine, to build up in the bloodstream. Uremia, as the condition is called, makes pets feel terrible. There are new treatment options for dogs and cats, like veterinary hemodialysis, kidney transplant surgery, and stem cell therapy, but these exciting developments are not realistic for most pet owners.
Traditional treatment for CKD centers on fluid therapy to maintain hydration and promote kidney function, the use of special diets, and addressing complications, such as low blood potassium and high blood phosphorous levels or anemia, as they arise. Owners now also have access to a method of “enteric dialysis” called Azodyl that can help improve their pet’s uremia and quality of life.
Azodyl is an over-the-counter nutritional supplement that contains three probiotics (beneficial microorganisms that live in the digestive tract) and psyllium (a prebiotic that supports the growth of these organisms). The probiotics in Azodyl break down the nitrogen that diffuses into a pet’s intestinal tract from its bloodstream. By increasing the numbers of beneficial microorganisms in the bowel, Azodyl helps to slow down the buildup of toxins in the blood and support kidney function in pets with CKD.
Most patients diagnosed with chronic kidney disease respond best to a multifaceted approach to treatment. An appropriate combination of fluid therapy, dietary support, symptomatic treatment, and Azodyl will most likely be more effective than any one type of treatment alone.