One of the first things that your veterinarian will want to do is get your dog’s history from you.
You can help by being able to answer basic questions such as
- is your dog is eating normally
- has been any change in their drinking habits
- were there any changes in urination
- are they acting abnormally (vomiting, lethargic, diarrhea, etc.)
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The next thing that your veterinarian will need to do is a physical examination.
This exam should evaluate your dog from nose to tail and everything in between.
A thorough examination can reveal abnormalities that will help diagnose your dog’s illness. It allows the evaluation of your pet’s overall physical condition. As well as it helps determine what other diagnostic testing needs to be pursued.
Blood testing for kidney disease
Blood testing is an essential part of both diagnosing and monitoring the progress of kidney disease. Here are some of the tests that your veterinarian will likely want to perform.
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine are both tests that measure the amount of nitrogenous wastes accumulated in the bloodstream. In both canine and feline kidney disease, these values are expected to increase.
- Blood electrolytes, such as phosphorus, calcium, and potassium, may change as a result of kidney disease and their measurement is often used to direct treatment.
- Blood protein levels, especially albumin, are usually measured as well. In some forms of kidney disease, albumin may be lost through the kidneys and blood levels may decrease as a result. Protein levels can also be used to determine whether your pet is dehydrated.
- A complete blood cell count measures red blood cell and white blood cell values. This group of tests may indicate anemia (low red blood values), dehydration (which causes elevated red blood cell values) or changes in the white blood count resulting from kidney disease.
Urine testing for kidney disease
Urine testing is also an important part of diagnosing kidney disease in dogs and cats. Some of the urine tests we commonly perform are:
- Urine specific gravity, which measures the concentration of your pet’s urine. In kidney disease, the urine is usually not very concentrated.
- Urine protein levels. Protein may leak from the kidneys in some forms of kidney disease and show up in the urine.
- Other tests that look for blood, red blood cells, white blood cells, crystals, and other abnormal substances in the urine, which may indicate disease of the kidneys or the lower urinary tract or the presence of abnormal substances in the bloodstream which overwhelm the kidneys (such as bilirubin from the liver.)
- Urine protein: creatinine ratio, which compares the amount of protein in your pet’s urine in relation to the concentration of his urine and gives a truer measure of the significance of protein found in the urine.
Other tests may be necessary, depending on the results of the basic tests listed above. For instance, if a specific disease like leptospirosis is suspected as causing your pet’s kidney disease, testing for this disease may be indicated. On the other hand, if an anatomical defect of the kidney is suspected, different testing may be recommended.
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