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Cat Health

Detecting Early Kidney Disease in Pets


March is National Kidney month for humans, but today we want to raise awareness about kidney disease in pets.

Kidney disease is a leading cause of death in pets. In fact, 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 10 dogs will get kidney disease in their lifetime.

That number increases as pets mature – over 50% of cats over the age of 15 will develop kidney disease!

In the past, veterinarians were unable to detect kidney disease until the kidneys had lost nearly all of their function. At that point, treatment options were very limited and diagnosis was usually a death sentence. 

But earlier this year, researchers discovered a new bio-marker for kidney disease that allows vets to detect its onset years earlier than the current method. Now —for the first time ever— we can do something to help our pets. 

The IDEXX SDMA kidney test can detect this serious disease months to years earlier, when there is still time to do something about it.

“Kidney disease is a condition that impacts many of my clients’ pets and is often detected too late to take preventive measures,” said Dr. Andrea Kirsch, Owner of Natomas Veterinary Hospital. “Being able to identify kidney disease earlier with the SDMA test allows me to work with my clients to adjust diet and environment in the hopes that we prevent further kidney deterioration and enable the pet to live a longer and healthier life.”

[heading style=”1″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]What is SDMA?[/heading]

SDMA is short for Symmetric dimethylarginine. This is what is known as a “methylated arginine amino acid”. SDMA is excreted and metabolized by the kidneys. SDMA is also a biomarker of kidney function and it correlates with the “glomerular filtration rate” (GFR). 

Traditionally, the only way that veterinarians could discover loss of kidney function is to monitor creatinine levels. However, scientists discovered that SDMA increases earlier than creatinine in chronic kidney disease. In fact, SDMA increases when there is as little as 25% – 40% loss of kidney function. Creatinine will not increase until there is a 75% loss of kidney function. 

Since SDMA is not affected by other diseases or by a lean body mass (if kidney function is not affected), veterinarians can diagnose kidney disease months or even years earlier than with other tests. 

[load_module id=”210″] [heading style=”1″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]Signs of Kidney Disease[/heading]

Kidney disease is nearly impossible to detect, primarily because cats are so great at hiding any disease (even in its advanced stages). Sadly, chronic renal failure cannot be reversed or cured, so treatment is focused on slowing its progression and making your pets comfortable in the meantime.

[box title=”Symptoms of Kidney Failure” box_color=”#ff9933″ radius=”13″]In the last stages of the disease, you may see symptoms that include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent/excessive urination
  • Weight loss (anorexia, vomiting)
  • Acute blindness
  • Blood in urine (hematuria)
  • Seizures, comas
  • Depression, lethargy

[heading style=”1″ color=”#ff9933″ style_color=”#ff9933″]The IDEXX SDMA Test[/heading]

The IDEXX SDMA kidney test is a blood test that detects SDMA levels. Since SDMA levels are so sensitive, kidney disease can be detected months (even years) earlier. If SDMA levels are elevated, your veterinarian can prescribe a plan that can help preserve your pet’s remaining kidney function – this may be as simple as a change in diet or lifestyle changes. It can also help your veterinarian determine how advanced the disease is and how best to treat your pets to preserve their quality of life. 

How do I get this test?

Ask your veterinarian about running the IDEXX SDMA test – it’s available to all veterinarians in the US and Canada. In fact, many veterinarians are already including this test in their routine testing at no extra cost! If your veterinarian is not using this test, please ask them to send your pet’s blood samples into IDEXX Reference Laboratories. 

Don’t miss this inexpensive way to save your pet’s life. 

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