Pet Doc: Kidney Disease
Question: we take our pets health for granted until there comes a time that something happens to its health, of all the organs in our pet’s body is there one that has more than its fair share of problems?
Answer: there are a multitude of different organ systems in the body, all working together in perfect harmony and when one is not functioning normally it becomes a domino effect for other organs to lose some or all of their functions. I would say veterinarians see more problems with the urinary tract, which includes the kidney.
Question: are there different types of kidney disease?
Answer: the kidney can go into failure either due to disease in the kidney or be caused to go into failure from issues that occur outside the kidney. To make it easier to understand let’s think of the kidney as a filter that has pipes going into it and also out of it. When problems occur before the kidney that is called prerenal, if the problems that lead to kidney failure occurred in the kidney, it is called intrinsic renal meaning in the kidney and if there are problems that happen after the kidney they are called post renal. All three can lead to kidney failure.
Question: what kind of problems can lead to prerenal kidney failure?
Answer: prerenal kidney failure (called acute renal failure) has a rapid onset and occurs when there is a sudden reduction of blood flow to the kidney, called hypoperfusion. In prerenal kidney failure there is nothing wrong with the kidney itself. It can be a complication of almost any disease which causes decreased blood flow to the kidney.
Question: let’s talk about kidney disease that caused by direct damage to the kidney.
Answer: that kind of kidney damage occurs in the kidney which is called intrinsic renal disease or intrarenal renal disease both mean in the kidney itself. The kidneys work is through a process of filtration of waste products that the body normally produces which are put into the blood then the blood flows through the kidney to be filtered. The kidney contains thousands of microscopic vascular filters which are called neprons and when these neprons become damaged or plugged up the kidneys are no longer able to filter out the waste products. Certain toxins can cause the neprons to become damaged, such as antifreeze, some human medications, and some plants like easter lillies, but there are many more. Bacterial or viral infections that attack the kidney will damage it, as will an immune response generated by the pet’s own body which attacks the kidney tissue.
Question: we have talked about problems that damage the kidney before the kidney and in the kidney what about after the kidney?
Answer: issues that occur after the kidney that cause kidney failure are called post renal. Post renal kidney disease is usually associated with urinary tract obstruction which does not allow the urine to be passed outside of the body normally creating a buildup of toxins in the body. Obstructions are usually stones that plug up an area of the urinary tract, for or pets they usually get caught in the urethra which is from the bladder to the outside.
(Courtesy of Dr. Larsen)