The prognosis for these animals is affected by how quickly we pick up these changes in renal function. Traditionally, the blood and urine tests we used to tell us about kidney function may only show changes when there is already 75% loss of kidney function.
However, we now have the ability to measure symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA). SDMA is an amino acid produced by the body and excreted by the kidneys. SDMA levels in the blood will increase when renal function is impaired (i.e. when less is able to be excreted by the kidneys). SDMA elevations may occur much earlier in renal disease than other markers of renal function.
An important fact about SDMA is that it remains unaffected by an animal’s body mass or other concurrent diseases – this gives us an important tool in the management of pets with hyperthyroidism, chronic renal insufficiency or those who are on long term medications that could affect kidney function. As well as management of illnesses, SDMA can be used in conjunction with routine blood tests as part of senior health checks so that we can provide our pets with the best possible quality of life.