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Pyelonephritis in Cats

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Pyelonephritis is an inflammation of the kidney. We generally refer to pyelonephritis as a bacterial infection of upper urinary tract including any part of the kidney.

General Causes

  • Ascending urinary tract infections (originating from the lower urinary tract) caused by bacteria

  • Hematogenous (from the bloodstream) seeding of infection is much less common

    What to Watch For

  • Excessive drinking and urinating
  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Straining to urinate
  • Bloody urinations
  • Malodorous urinations
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

    Diagnosis

    Baseline tests to include a complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis are recommended in all patients. Although often within normal limits, there may be changes consistent with kidney failure or urinary tract infection. Additional tests may include:

  • A bacterial urine culture to check for associated infection

  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) to rule out calculi (stones) and other diseases that might mimic pyelonephritis

  • Abdominal ultrasound to visualize the urinary tract (in particular, the renal pelvises) and other abdominal structures

  • Excretory urography (a dye study of the upper urinary tract including the kidneys and ureters)

    Treatment

    It is most important to determine whether the patient's condition warrants admission to the hospital for treatment or treatment at home as an outpatient. Treatment may include:

  • Dietary modification in those patients with concurrent renal (kidney) failure or urinary calculi

  • Antibiotic treatment, based on urine culture and sensitivity

  • Fluid therapy

    Home Care

    Administer all medication and diet as directed by your veterinarian. Return for follow up as recommended and notify your veterinarian if any change is noted in your pet's condition.

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