Diagnosis of Kidney Disease

If a vet suspects an animal has kidney disease based on discussion with a pet owner, diagnosis is usually performed by:

  1. Clinical Examination – looking for signs such as dehydration and smelly (uraemic) breath
  2. Blood test – to check the kidney function. Increases in blood chemicals called SDMA, BUN and creatinine often reflect kidney problems. Phosphorus levels may also rise and red blood cell counts may fall in more severe cases.
  3. Urine test – to check the concentration and chemistry of the urine. Lower concentrations and increased urinary protein can indicate kidney issues.
  4. Ultrasound – this can be useful to examine the shape, size and structure of the kidneys to look for any reductions or problems.

Early diagnosis is one of the most important factors in successful treatment of kidney issues, and with some of the more recent advances in both blood tests and imaging, kidney dysfunction can be identified before it's even causing clinical signs. We would recommend all senior cats and dogs, especially those over 13 years, have a yearly blood test to help detect kidney problems (and other issues) before they become serious.

Click on Treatment and Prevention of Kidney Disease to go to the next page in this article.