Kidney disease is an illness that affects millions of pets every year and is, in fact, the leading cause of death in cats. An early diagnosis may prolong the life of these pets as medical and nutritional interventions have shown to provide significant improvement in the condition of suffering pets.

At present, chemistry tests that look for waste products that accumulate in the blood (elevated creatinine) and urine tests that measure urine dilution are used to identify pets that have compromised kidney function.

One of the major reference laboratories, Idexx, has now introduced a test that may be able to detect kidney disease two to four years before creatinine levels rise above normal levels. The test called SDMA is a simple blood test that not only can help your veterinarian make a diagnosis much earlier, but is more reliable as well, according to the manufacturer.

The test may be especially important when pets become seniors, around seven years of age. Checking for kidney issues is most common at this time and, for some pets, this test can be incorporated into their annual chemistry profiles.

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Collecting and transporting a urine sample during wellness and illness exams should also be considered, along with the SDMA test. Check with your veterinarian to see if your pet could be at risk of kidney disease and to discuss the best tests to make a diagnosis.

Questions? Send them to Dr. Sandeman, Home & Garden, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801. Or, email to Dr. Sandeman cannot answer letters or email personally, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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