Has your pet been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD)? This condition may also be called chronic kidney or renal failure, but no matter what its name, CKD is an all-too-common disease for both dogs and cats.
In most cases, the cause of CKD is never identified because the disease develops over the course of many months or years. Healthy kidneys have an abundant supply of nephrons, the functional unit of the kidney. Each nephron is essentially a microscopic filter that removes toxins and metabolic byproducts from the bloodstream while conserving water, protein, and other essential blood components. Acute events like infections or poisonings can disable a large number of nephrons at one time, but every day wear and tear also results in their more gradual loss.
Whatever the cause, once a pet is down to one-third the normal number of nephrons, its ability to concentrate urine is compromised, which leads to the common symptoms of increased urination and thirst. When only one-quarter of the nephrons remain, the kidneys can no longer excrete metabolic waste products like blood urea nitrogen and creatinine into the urine, effectively leading to a condition known as uremia. Typical signs of uremia include:
- increased thirst and urination
- loss of appetite
- weight loss and muscle wasting
- lethargy and depression
- behavioral changes
- poor coat quality
- unusually bad breath
- ulcers in the mouth or elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract
- diarrhea or constipation
- unsteadiness when walking
Treating chronic kidney disease is not easy. Short of such extraordinary interventions such as a kidney transplant or stem cell therapy, nothing can be done to restore the nephrons that have been lost. The goal of traditional treatment is to keep the patient well-hydrated, maximize the function of the nephrons that remain, and deal with complications, like low blood potassium levels, as they arise. These goals can be accomplished, at least in part, with fluid therapy, prescription diets, and medications.
Fortunately, another treatment option is available. Azodyl is an over-the-counter nutritional supplement that helps the body get rid of nitrogen-containing waste products, thereby reducing the effects of uremia. The probiotic microorganisms contained in Azodyl break down nitrogen within the gastrointestinal tract, causing more to diffuse from the bloodstream into the gut and subsequently be broken down as well.
When pets suffer from chronic kidney disease, adding Azodyl to their current treatment regimen can reduce the kidneys’ workload, and even more importantly, make patients feel more like their normal selves.