The Simple Urine Test that Catches Feline Kidney Disease Early

Kidney Disease – A Common Killer for Cats

Chronic kidney disease is one of the most undiagnosed conditions we see in practice. The main reason is that it’s hard to detect just through an external examination unless of course it’s already quite advanced.

The danger of chronic kidney disease is that there are very few observable symptoms for a very long time. In fact it’s not until about 3/4 of the kidney tissue is damaged that symptoms of renal failure start to become obvious to most cat owners. Little wonder it’s called the silent killer of cats.

Once the disease has become too advanced – there’s little that can be done to provide quality of life for your cat.

What’s so sad about this common scenario is how easily this disease could have been detected in it’s early stages just by running a simple urine test.

How to Detect Feline Kidney Disease Early

The main function of kidneys in the body is to reabsorb water from food and metabolic processes to maintain the body’s hydration. As kidney function is progessively lost, they lose their ability to conserve water therefore causing your cat to lose more water than it can replace through eating and drinking.

A cat with kidney damage will consequently have more dilute urine than a cat with normal kidney function.

Age is no barrier to chronic kidney disease. Some cats are affected early in their life, maybe through a congenital defect and in others it develops over time. We’ve seen cats as young as 6 months of age already showing evidence of impaired kidney function.

Thankfully, if detected in the early stages many things can be done to slow down further progression of the disease and provide your cat with quality of life for many years to come.

To test the state of health of your cat’s kidneys we can run a simple urine test called a Urine Specific Gravity Test (USG Test). This means looking at a sample of your cat’s urine through a special instrument called a Refractometer.

This instrument can often pick up kidney dysfunction earlier than a blood test can.

It’s a relatively quick and inexpensive test that can be done during any normal consultation with on the spot results.

All we need is a fresh sample of your cat’s urine for you to bring along.

The main reason why this test is often overlooked is because people find it difficult to collect a urine sample from their cat. If your cat is an indoor cat, and uses a litter tray, then a sample obtained from a clean tray filled with a non absorbent litter is quite suitable.

Refer to our Senior Pet Page for further information on how to collect a urine sample from your cat.

If this is not possible then we can extract a sample of your cat’s urine either by gently pressing on the bladder to encourage urination into a sample dish or by a method called Cystocentesis whereby a small sterile needle is insterted directly into your cat’s bladder.

Help Your Cat Live for Longer through Regular Testing

Since chronic kidney disease is such a common killer of cats, we recommend all cats be tested at least ONCE a YEAR with their annual vaccination or health check – or twice yearly for older cats (7 Years Plus)

Is The Test Expensive?

No – you’ll pay only an extra $16.50 for the test in addition to the consultation or vaccination fee if you bring a sample with you. Naturally if we have to extract the sample via other methods described above the fee will be more due to the additional time involved.

Please don’t wait until your cat starts to show symptoms of kidney disease as by then it’s already reached the advanced stage and there’s little we can do to provide extended quality of life,

Make an appointment to have your cat’s kidney function tested soon and avoid the heartache of a late diagnosis.

How to Ensure Safe Anaesthesia for Your Pet

Preparation is Everything when it comes to Anaesthesia

Many people are still quite afraid when they’re advised their pet needs surgery. And it seems the concerns are less about the procedure than the general anaesthesia required to perform the surgery.

And in a way, they have a point. Vets take anaesthesia very seriously because, regarless of all the precautions they take to minimise risks to your pet, there’s no such thing as a “100%” guarantee of safety.

Thankfully over the last few decades there have been great improvements in the quality and safety of anaesthetics in both the human and animal medical fields. For the most part, the agents used are extremely safe and adverse reactions are rare.

The Gold Standard for veterinary Anaesthesia these days is Gaseous Anaesthesia – namely Isofluorane. This is an extremely safe anaesthetic for young and old pets alike. Much safer indeed than previously used intravenous anaesthesia.

3 Steps Vets take to Ensure Safe Anaesthesia

  1. Detailed patient History and Physical exmination
  2. Pre – Anaesthetic Blood testing and i.v. Fluids during the procedure
  3. Patient monitoring – during and after surgery

Your vet starts by taking a detailed history of your pet to include any medications your pet may be on, vaccination status, heartworm status (dogs), previous illnesses, results of any previous tests and so on.Pre-Anaesthetic Blood Testing for Dogs

Your pet is then given a physical exam to check for any external abnormalities or signs of illness.

So now we know how your pet checks out on the outside but that leaves us with no idea about what’s going on internally – and that’s a concern.

Your vet will ask for your consent to run a simple blood test to check the overall health of your pet’s main organs (namely liver & kidney) – the ones most likely to be adversely affected by the anaesthetic medications if damaged in any way.

Without knowledge of any “hidden” disease – your pet’s life can be at risk.

The $95* Test That can Save a Life

Recommending Pre – Anaesthetic Blood Testing is your vet providing “Best Practice Medicine” and should not to be confused with upselling or recommending an “unessesary” procedure simply to make more money.

Similarly – asking for your consent to provide important iv fluids through a drip to maintain your pet’s blood pressure and temperature and help flush the toxic anaesthetic by – products from the body after surgery is equally important. It also helps speed up and smooth out the recovery process.

Studies have shown that a small percentage of pets develop kidney dysfunction or failure 7 – 14 days after having general anaesthesia. This risk is reduced significantly by providing i.v. fluids during surgery.

Yes, both of these “procedures” can be declined – perhaps due to cost but at the same time you need to be aware of what you’re leaving on the table.

Many diseases such as kidney or liver disease do not show up externally until quite a bit of damage has already occurred and it’s these hidden problems that can put your pet at risk from anaesthesia.

This is why always recommend Pre – Anaesthetic blood testing for all our surgical patients including all desexings – especially those in their middle to senior years.

The Good News is – this simple and potentially life saving test is most often performed in the clinic’s own laboratory just prior to surgery. Results are then immediately available. This means you don’t need an extra trip to your vet.

* Fees may vary between clinics

Why Do I Have to Sign a Consent Form for Anaesthesia?

There are 2 reasons why you need to give your written consent for Anaesthesia.

It is a regulatory requirement to have your written consent for a procedure which involves general anaesthesia
To acknowledge you fully understand all associated risks of anaesthesia

What Precautions does a Vet take to Keep my Pet Safe under Anaesthesia?

A trained surgical assistant monitors your pet’s vital signs throughout the procedure and adjust anaesthetic volume as determined by these signs.This ensures your pet remains stable. In addition, any number of different special monitoring equipment is attached to your pet to measure vital statistics such as pulse, blood Oxygen levels and respiration.

Why is a Catheter inserted into the vein?

A catheter is always placed to enable an i.v.drip to be attached as well as provide quick access for the administration of any emergency drugs should they be needed.

How long does it take for my pet to Wake up and Recover after Anaesthesia?

This can vary from patient to patient and with the length and type of procedure performed.

Patients are strictly observed after surgery, especially until the time the breathing (endotracheal) tube can be safely removed. This marks the time your pet has regained their swallow reflex and can breathe safely again.

What happens if My Pet’s Blood test shows an Abnormal Result?

Depending on the results, your pet may require further diagnostic testing and treatment for the condition. This means surgery is delayed until such time your pet is stabilised and your vet deems it safe to proceed.

So next time you’re asked about “blood testing and fluid therapy” before your pet’s surgery, what will you decide?