Kidney Failure vs. Dehydration in Cats

Cat Hydration A pet’s attitude, appetite and behavior can provide a lot of clues to us humans about their health. This might seem less important than it really is at first glance, but remember that dogs and cats cannot speak to us in a shared language. Even more vexatious, cats are well known for hiding signs of disease or pain until the situation is well advanced. So, as responsible pet owners, becomes especially important for us to pay attention to even minor behavioral oddities in our pets.

Dehydration is one of those minor things that can creep up on a pet and only serves to make everything else much worse. While there are many causes of dehydration in pets, one of the most important among felines is kidney disease or kidney failure. When you know how your cat might respond to dehydration or kidney failure, you can better attend to her needs in a timely fashion.

Recognizing and Addressing Dehydration
Veterinarians warn that dehydration in cats evolves in basically the same way it happens in humans: output exceeds input. In other words, if a cat does not take in enough fluids, or loses too much without replacement, then she can become dehydrated. Dehydration most commonly occurs through vomiting, diarrhea or excessive urination, but there are other causes as well. Like humans, cats can exhibit signs of extreme fatigue when they are dehydrated. They may also display sunken eyes and dry or tacky gums in response to the physical stress that dehydration is causing. Should you notice these signs, place your pet in a cool room and give her a bowl of fresh, cold water. If she is sick enough she may well refuses to drink, in which case you need to contact your regular veterinarian, or us, or an animal emergency clinic straight away. Significant dehydration rarely gets better on its own and makes everything else worse in the meantime.

Identifying and Managing Kidney Failure
Kidneys are tasked with the job of removing normal metabolic waste products from the body and moving them to the bladder for elimination. When cat kidneys begin to decline into failure, though, they may no longer be able to separate the necessary water and dissolved salts from those normal metabolic substances that are toxic in high amounts. As a result, toxins build up in the cat’s blood stream. The body detects this and then attempts to compensate by increasing the fluid (urine) output. As a result, kidney failure can lead to excessive removal of water from your cat’s body, making her go to the bathroom on a more frequent basis. Because her body does not have enough fluids, she may soon become lethargic, inappetant, and show red and tacky gums.

Kidney failure, when present, requires immediate veterinary attention in order to reverse the dehydration and restore kidney function. However, this condition is complex and often calls for more than just additional fluid input. Seek help from a licensed veterinarian who can provide appropriate treatment strategies.

Chastain Veterinary Medical Group understands that a medical crisis can happen at any hour. That is why we offer emergency vet services at both Meadow Brook Animal Hospital in McKinney / Frisco and at Preston Road Animal Hospital in Dallas. Call us today at (469) 759-7620 to learn more about our emergency vet clinic options.

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