Complete Veterinary Nephrology & Urogenital Care
Nephrology and urogenital care is the branch of veterinary medicine that addresses kidneys, bladder, prostate, and other urogenital organs. The three conditions we encountered most frequently are urinary obstructions in cats, urinary bladder disease, and kidney disease in both cats and dogs.
Many urogenital and kidney diseases require a higher level of diagnostics and disease management, which is one of our strengths at Carlson Animal Hospital. Our high-end equipment (such as our digital ultrasound capacities), which is the similar to that used at human hospitals, and expertise prove to be a great advantage for your pet. We’ll help whether the situation is chronic (appears over time and is ongoing) or acute (occurs suddenly). We know managing chronic conditions is not easy. Early stage renal or kidney issues, for example, can be managed. We’ll help you to sort through the options available, provide the best care, and ensure that the time you have with your pet is quality time.
This is a picture of an x-ray in a dog with urinary bladder stones. They can be visualized on the right middle of the image just in front of the pelvis on the extreme right.
Prevention over treatment
From a preventive perspective, we do our best to keep your pet’s kidneys and other urogenital systems in the finest possible health. Many of these diseases can’t be avoided, but early detection may slow the progression as well as help to maintain a good quality of life. Regular veterinary examinations that include blood work and urinalysis can identify problems in early stages.
Your awareness and observation is critically important in detection. If you notice changes in your pet’s drinking or urination patterns, such as drinking more, needing to go out more, straining to urinate, or if your indoor cat begins to urinate outside the litter box, please contact us.
Kidney disorders can occur in both cats and dogs.
Kidneys are hardworking organs, filtering waste products that are produced by the body. In the case of kidney failure, these waste products are not filtered properly and begin to build up in the blood stream. While we cannot always prevent kidney disease, there are some preventive measures, such as avoiding toxins (including Easter lilies in cats, antifreeze, accidental overdose of prescription drugs, etc.) and bringing your pet in for routine veterinary examinations. These good preventive measures can increase the chances of a favorable outcome and reduce the seriousness of the disease when detected. When patients present with acute kidney disease, we carefully and quickly assess the likely possible causes and treatments.
Acute kidney disease, for example, may require very specialized care, such as peritoneal dialysis (introducing medical fluids and flushing out toxins) or hemodialysis. This type of treatment is only performed at universities or specialized referral institutions. We will, in these cases, refer you to the best institution to treat your pet’s condition.
Chronic slowly progressing kidney disease is much more common in elderly pets. In fact, very few senior cats do not have some level of renal disease. For cats and dogs, hardworking kidneys are a vulnerable organs that deteriorate with age, especially since cells of the kidney cannot replace or regenerate themselves as they do in the liver, lungs, bone, and skin.
Cats, Urinary Issues, and Obstructions
We have been practicing veterinary medicine for over 30 years and have seen that urinary tract obstructions occur more commonly in male cats, but dogs and female cats may also be affected. Urinary tract obstructions can be caused by stones, urinary disease, or prostate disease. Cats may also accumulate minerals in the urinary tract that can cause an obstructive plug. Regardless of the cause, prompt action is frequently necessary. The first sign that your cat might have a blockage or urinary issue is that he or she is straining to urinate. You may notice the cat is going to the box more frequently, but urine output is low. The cat may also cry out or vocalize while in the box. Obstructions can be very serious, so please contact us if you notice any of this behavior.
PetMd offers a very helpful overview of urinary tract obstructions in cats.
We offer advanced imaging such as digital radiography, contrast studies to evaluate the kidney (intravenous pyelogram), urethrae (urethrogram) and urinary bladder (cystogram), digital ultrasound and a cystoscopy. Our equipment is similar to the equipment that you find at your hospital, or used by a medical specialist.
We have, and utilize, digital radiology in our diagnostics at Carlson Animal Hospital. Digital x-rays allow non- invasive evaluation of the kidneys, urinary bladder and prostate. Digital pet X-rays are vastly superior to the older film X-rays still utilized at many veterinary hospitals. Digital radiology provides better images at a higher resolution, allowing more accurate assessment of the structures imaged. Plus, digital X-rays are not developed, they are available instantaneously and can be stored or e-mailed for a specialist consultation without your pet leaving our community, if warranted. This advanced technology has truly revolutionized the way in which we practice medicine. When you come into our office, ask to see a digital image; you will see the value and clarity of the images for yourself.
Contrast radiography utilizes contrasting black (air) and white (dye) colors as seen on an x-ray. We use this when assessing kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethrae. An intravenous pyelogram, which is a radiological procedure used to visualize abnormalities of the urinary system – including the kidneys, ureters, and bladder, is capable of giving us an estimate of kidney function.
You are probably most familiar with ultrasound in that they are used to visualize a human fetus while still in a mother’s womb. Ultrasound is a noninvasive, advanced technology that utilizes sound waves to examine specific internal organs (liver, kidneys, intestine, spleen, pancreas, urinary bladder, heart, etc.) and other soft tissues. Ultrasounds are an important diagnostic tool and augment X-rays, since they may show "real-time function" vs. the still images X-rays provide. Our ultrasound machine has color flow Doppler capabilities, allowing assessment of blood flow within vessels and various organs. We also use ultrasound to safely guide collection of cells or tissue samples for advanced diagnostics, as needed.
Cystoscopy is a procedure that allows our doctors to look directly inside your pet’s urethrae and urinary bladder. A cystoscope is a telescope-like instrument that contains lenses and fiber optics (small glass wires that make bright light). The doctor may look directly into the cystoscope and project an image on a computer monitor. Similar Cystoscopes are used by urologists, and specialists in their human practices.
This scope allows us direct visualization of the inside of the urethrae and urinary bladder. This allows us to carefully evaluate the internal wall and visualize stones if present. The goal is to avoid invasive abdominal surgery while removing the stones with a special basket via the scope. Once removed, the stone can be analyzed to determine a preventive protocol designed to limit reoccurrence. At times the urinary bladder wall may appear abnormal in appearance. The cystoscope equips us to biopsy the urinary bladder wall if warranted, again without abdominal surgery.
– Joanna Senter