New kidney test diagnoses disease much earlier

A revolutionary kidney test, described by veterinarians as the most significant advancement in the field of veterinary medicine in 30 years, is turning back the clock for hundreds of thousands of pets.

One in three cats and one in 10 dogs is likely to suffer chronic kidney disease (CKD) as they get older.  It remains one of the most common diseases among ageing cats. Yet because symptoms rarely show up until the disease is advanced, most pets don’t survive long after diagnosis.

Until now, veterinarians have relied on urine and blood tests to help isolate kidney ailments but the IDEXX SDMA, launched globally last year, is more targeted and less impacted by other diseases. Since the new test became available more than 350 000 pets worldwide have been diagnosed with kidney disease that traditional tests might have missed.

The test can detect kidney disease in cats up to four years earlier than before and up to two years earlier in dogs. Early detection allows for prompt intervention which can extend and improve the quality of a pet’s life.

What owners say about the test

Mrs Julene Snyman, a cat owner from Somerset West, says the test has given a 16-year-old Gena a new lease on life.  “Gena wasn’t grooming herself anymore, she was urinating in strange places and she drank a lot of water. She wasn’t looking at all well. I took her to Country Pet Spa for grooming to get the knots out of her fur and the vet at the adjacent Country Animal Clinic asked if she could do a kidney test on her as she was worried about her condition.

Gena before she became ill

“Three years ago another vet diagnosed leukaemia and said she wouldn’t make it through the first year but she’s still here so I said yes to the test.”

Veterinarian Dr Ebeneze Spamers ran the SDMA and Gena tested positive for kidney disease. The cat was immediately prescribed blood pressure medication and switched to a new diet, Hill’s k/d. This specialist food increases a cat’s appetite so they continue to eat and get the nutrition they need to stay well. Appetite loss is a common symptom among pets suffering kidney disease.

Gena after she became ill but on the road to recovery

Gena’s condition has markedly improved in just three weeks, says Mrs Snyman. “She’s looking so much better. She’s stopped urinating in odd places and she’s grooming herself and drinking a lot less water. I can’t believe the difference.”

Gena will need to visit the vet regularly for weigh-ins and blood and urine tests to monitor her progress.

Recognising symptoms of CKD

– increased water intake. Cats may start demanding that you open the tap, or drink from a pond or pool, or try to get water from your glass

– increased urination

– urinating in a different place to where they usually do

– weight loss and a loss of appetite

– decreased grooming: they may start looking unkempt

– pale gums

– pain when you pick them up under their tummies

– constipation

“Pets suffer more health issues as they age yet because most don’t show signs of disease until very late, treatment may be less successful and therefore more expensive. Your pet’s best chance of a long and healthy life is early prevention and disease detection, and making the lifestyle changes necessary to prolong life,” says veterinarian Dr Ingrid de Wet.

How to protect your pet

– All pets should undergo an annual veterinary examination; dogs older than 7 and cats older than 10 need to see the vet twice a year

– Change your pet’s diet. “Buying the correct, age-appropriate food for your senior pet is probably the simplest and most effective way you can make a difference to their health and wellbeing,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor at Hill’s Pet Nutrition South Africa.

– Stick to an age-appropriate exercise routine.