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Nurse-led renal clinics

02 February 2015
13 mins read
Volume 6 · Issue 1


Renal insufficiency is commonly seen in all veterinary practices in companion animals. Veterinary nurses play a vital role in aiding the client in improving the wellbeing of their pet in the management of the disease. Veterinary nurses can contribute by aiding in owner compliance, nutritional advice and aiding in improving quality of life for the pet.

In all animals, clinical symptoms of renal dysfunction are not evident until 65 to 75% of renal tissue has been destroyed (Lister and Rand, 2006), and many veterinary practices instigate renal screening for older patients as part of senior clinics and prior to the start of pharmaceutical regimens (normally osteoarthritis treatments). Nutritional management can affect many consequences of renal failure, and is the cornerstone of its management. Chronic renal failure (CRF) has many physiological effects, these include the decreased ability to excrete nitrogenous waste (and thus build up of azotaemia), sodium and phosphorus, and an increased loss of potassium. Other clinical symptoms may include systemic hypertension, secondary hyperparathyroidism and non-regenerative anaemia (Lane, 2005), and therefore these aspects should be monitored as part of the nursing clinic.

Attendance at nurse clinics for animals that have been newly diagnosed or with suspected renal disease should be instigated as soon as possible (Box 1). All patients should be referred to a veterinary nurse with appropriate knowledge, in order to discuss diet, medications (if required), compliance (McLeod, 2008) and any future requirements for diagnostics and reviews of the patient. The nurse is well placed to answer any questions that the owner may have. This is a role that should be performed by a veterinary nurse for a number of reasons:

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