SDMA Testing: Educate Your Veterinary Team on These 5 Patients

In recent years, veterinary medicine has seen many developments. Among these, is the discovery and measurement of SDMA (symmetric dimethylarginine). Maximizing the value of this kidney biomarker by including it with every chemistry panel is crucial. But the first step is encouraging your team to test for SDMA—leveraging this article can help.

Train Your Veterinary Team on These 5 Patients

Keeping your team informed on why SDMA testing is important for these five patients will help empower them to have successful conversations with pet owners.

  Need more clues? Ask a kidney. Learn how Catalyst® SDMA Testing can reveal more for 5 key patients. Get the guide.

1. Well Patients

Here's what your team should know about including SDMA testing with routine visits.

  • SDMA helps with early detection of changes in kidney function—even in seemingly healthy pets.
  • A single mild increase can be a medical turning point and the first indication of ongoing kidney disease.47
  • A result within the reference interval is of great value for confirming health and establishing a patient baseline and allows for more individualized assessment in times of illness.

2. Cats with Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are two common conditions that often occur together in senior cats. Here's what veterinary teams should keep in mind.

  • Body weight can fluctuate pre- and post-therapy in cats with hyperthyroidism.14,15
  • SDMA is not affected by fluctuations in body mass; creatinine can be impacted making it a less reliable biomarker than SDMA.15
  • It is recommended to test SDMA in tandem with creatinine in these patients.

3. Preanesthetic Patients

There are a few things to be sure your team knows about including SDMA in testing with preanesthetic patients.

  • Preanesthetic diagnostics help identify underlying conditions that could become a risk during anesthesia or affect recovery.
  • Even seemingly healthy surgical patients might have undetected conditions that can complicate the procedure or anesthesia.
  • Evaluating SDMA as part of a preanesthetic screening can help detect potential issues and provide a sensitive indicator of GFR, which can assist in planning and initiating proper care on the day of the surgery.

4. Patients with Infectious Disease

Infectious agents are a significant category of primary causes of disease in cats and dogs. Here's what you'll want your team to know.

  • Assessing retrovirus status in cats is critical as it can affect overall systemic health and lead to kidney health issues.3,15
  • In dogs, certain vector-borne diseases have been linked to kidney function and long-term health issues.
  • Studies have shown that dogs with positive Lyme disease or Ehrlichia test results have an increased risk of CKD in endemic areas.19,20

5. Patients Presenting for Non-Wellness

The last group of patients to include SDMA levels in the diagnostic database are those presenting for a medical reason. Here's what your team should know about this group.

  • SDMA can contribute to the assessment of unwell patients presenting for a medical reason or a procedure.
  • Early identification of kidney disease can help lead to improved quality and quantity of life in the case of primary disease.
  • In concurrent illness, understanding kidney status can affect treatment choices and long-term follow-up.

Educating Your Team Starts with Consistency

The most effective way to educate veterinary teams is by providing consistent messaging to reinforce recommendations. It's essential to remember that teams are made up of individuals with different learning styles. Therefore, information must be presented, repeated, and reinforced in various formats to create a habit of comfortably delivering education. To achieve this, the following can be helpful:

  • Provide microburst resources such as laminated algorithms placed in the lab and treatment areas.
  • Schedule 10–15-minute lunchtime training sessions led by internal staff or reference lab representatives.
  • Encourage clinical team members to download and use educational apps and create three to four sound bites for clients that customer service representatives can access and use for client communication.

Remember to ask your team for feedback as you roll out training on these five patients. You may discover the best way to help them learn. And remember to make sure your protocols are appropriately established for when and how veterinary team members should talk about SDMA with pet owners. With consistency in how you educate your team about SDMA, and the protocols set up to support their work, you can feel better about being sure SDMA is run with every chemsitry for these five patients.


Read These Next

Natalie Marks

Dr. Natalie Marks has appeared on Good Day Chicago, WGN-Pet Central, NBC Morning News, ABC, CBS, NPR, and many local websites. Dr. Marks was featured nationally on the Today Show and CBS Nightly News and in multiple issues of JAVMA. Additionally, Dr. Marks has a regular column in Today's Veterinary Business, Healthy Pet magazine, has been published in Veterinary Medicine magazine, DVM magazine, Dogster, Vetted, PetVet, and was a reporter for Veterinary News Network. Dr. Marks sits on the Fear Free Executive Council and is a national educator helping other private practitioners develop these techniques. 

Welcome to Practice Life:
Everything Practice Management.

Sign up to receive stories and tips from peers and industry experts in veterinary practice management. IDEXX uses the information provided to contact you about relevant products and services.