In my last blog I gave the background for chronic kidney disease (CKD). Now let’s look at possible causes and treatments.
Studies show an association between the feline distemper vaccine and CKD. It turns out that the viruses used in the vaccine are grown on feline kidney tissue cultures. While the vaccinated cat’s immune system is being stimulated against the viruses, it is also being stimulated against its own kidneys. That’s a great recipe for CKD.
In my opinion, another contributing factor in CKD is dry pet food. This is especially true for cats. It turns out that cats evolved from desert creatures. Since in the desert, there are few puddles to drink from, cats do not have a strong thirst drive. They were designed to get the fluid they need from the food (mice and birds) they ate.
Enter conventional kibble. If you have ever soaked dry pet food in water and watched it suck up all the fluid then you have an idea of what happens when pets eat dry food – it sucks much of the fluid out of their systems.
Research has shown that cats eating dry food make a more concentrated urine than those on canned food. The high concentration is due to the dehydration caused by the food. As I mentioned last week, dehydration damages the kidneys. The more concentrated urine also more easily causes the formation of crystals in the urine. Isn’t it interesting how cats are prone to CKD and urinary crystals? Ya think the food could have anything to do with it???
Once a pet has developed CKD, most vets want to pop them on a low protein prescription diet. Though the names of these diets may sound scientific, what’s inside is not. Remember how protein loss from the kidneys is one of the first signs of CKD? What happens if you lower the protein intake while the body is kicking out more protein? Basically, the body takes protein from its own muscle tissue. While the kidney numbers might look better, the patient is not. TREAT THE PATIENT NOT THE NUMBERS!
This study indicates that protein restriction does not stop the progression of kidney disease in dogs and this study and this study come to the same conclusion for cats. Protein restriction is only helpful in the late stages of CKD, especially when the blood phosphorus level starts to elevate.
And of course, high protein diets do not cause CKD. If they did, dogs and cats would not have evolved eating high protein diets. The ancestors of the dog and cat that could not handle high protein diets did not live to pass on their genes.
So, to prevent CKD in cats, limit vaccines and eliminate dry food. Once any pet is diagnosed with CKD, DO NOT put them on a low protein diet until late stages have been reached.
Next week I have more tips for helping pets with chronic kidney disease.