Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a common problem in older cats and also many older dogs. Sadly, many if not most elderly pets will have some degree of kidney insufficiency; chronic kidney disease remains one of the leading causes of death in cats.

Conventional veterinary treatment of kidney disease includes a prescription diet that is low in phosphorus with a low amount of high quality protein, together with fluid support when necessary and medications to control anemia and vomiting. These medications help control the symptoms of kidney disease but do not reverse the kidney damage. Chinese veterinary medicine can be used to directly affect the kidneys, and experience shows that cats and dogs treated with Chinese medicine (in addition to conventional medicine where appropriate, especially fluid replacement) typically have longer and higher quality lives than those treated with conventional medicine alone.

Overall, Chinese veterinary medicine provides a safe and generally fairly effective way to treat kidney disease in both cats and dogs. Conventional veterinary medicine has few options and cannot really improve kidney function, simply treat the symptoms. In contrast, Chinese medicine can improve the functioning of the kidneys and extend the lives of cats and dogs with this disease.

Chinese Herbal Medicine for Kidney Disease

Herbal medicine is the mainstay of Chinese veterinary medical treatment of canine and feline kidney disease. Certain herbs used in Chinese medicine have been scientifically shown to improve blood flow to the kidneys and improve their function. Typically, cats and dogs treated with Chinese herbal formulas have improved appetites, decreased thirst and decreased urination, and blood tests show that their kidney values return to normal to high-normal levels. Many animals treated with Chinese herbal medicine can live with a good quality of life for years if it is used consistently.

Acupuncture for Kidney Disease

Acupuncture does have genuine benefits for patients with kidney disease. Research has shown that acupuncture can reduce high blood pressure, which is often a problem in patients with kidney disease. Acupuncture can also improve blood flow to the kidneys and reduce inflammation, maximizing the functioning of the kidneys and prolonging the patient's lifespan. Although not all pets, especially cats, will tolerate needle acupuncture, quick and painless laser acupuncture is an alternative.

Food Therapy for Kidney Disease

Cats and dogs with kidney disease need a diet that is low in phosphorus and includes high quality protein. These benefits can be obtained from a commercial prescription diet, but carefully formulated home made diets can also fulfill these requirements while also providing whole foods and fewer chemicals and additives. Patients can also be given foods that address their Chinese medical diagnosis, for example warming foods if they are too cold internally and cooling foods if they are to warm.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Acute kidney failure may be caused by poisoning (such as from drinking antifreeze), trauma to the abdomen, heart failure or a blocked urinary tract, among other causes. Symptoms appear rapidly and immediate veterinary treatment is essential. In contrast, symptoms of chronic renal failure appear more gradually and less dramatically, and so may initially not be noticed. Symptoms of chronic renal failure initially include:

  • Increased water intake
  • Increased frequency of urination; cats may begin to urinate outside the litter box due to the box becoming dirty more quickly

As the disease progresses and toxins accumulate in the body, further symptoms may appear:

  • Reduced urination
  • Lethargy and reduced energy
  • Reduced appetite, weight loss
  • Dryness of the fur
  • Anemia
  • Bad breath
  • Ulceration of the gums and tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coma and eventual death


New York Veterinary Acupuncture Service provides acupuncture, herbal medicine, Tui-na and Chinese food therapy on either a house call basis or at several area clinics. House calls are offered in New York's Orange County (Newburgh, Middletown, Beacon, Warwick, Goshen, Washingtonville, Florida, Chester, Monroe, Harriman, Tuxedo and surrounding areas). Thursday house calls are available in Manhattan. Fees vary by location; for more information, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Office visits are available as follows:

High Point K9 Center
2224 Mt. Hope Rd., Middletown, NY
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for appointments

Compassion Veterinary Health Center
235 South Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY
Contact CVHC on 845-473-0358 for appointments

Contact NYVAS