Can dialysis really help a sick animal?

Acute kidney failure is successfully treated in 20% of animals

NEW YORK (CNN) – When you mention urinary problems in a pet, you probably don’t think of dialysis, but in some cases, animals become so ill, they need the procedure to save their kidneys.

This is tooter. He may seem fairly calm but a few months ago; this kitty was fighting for his life. “His kidneys were completely shut down.  He wasn’t making urine. He felt incredibly sick,” said Dr. J.D. Foster.

The culprit?  A toxic lilly plant. They are lethal to cats. Just one lick and tooter became deathly ill.  So his owner chose to put him on dialysis. “Dialysis functions to remove toxins that are accumulating within the blood in situations where the body is unavailable to remove them,” Dr. Foster continued.

Tooter is not alone. Acute kidney failure due to serious poisoning or infection is successfully treated in 20% of animals. Without the dialysis, pets with acute renal failure will die

Although the process is the same as in humans, animals don’t usually need dialysis over a long period of time, that’s because in pets the procedure re-builds their metabolic balance quickly which gives their damaged kidneys time to recover.

“He felt dramatically better.  He was able to go home and came back for dialysis. We’d send him home again and that bridged the gape for his kidneys to regenerate and repair,” said Dr. Foster.

The University of Pennsylvania veterinary school of medicine is one of a handful of hospitals that provide animal dialysis.  Their doctors recommend owners ask their veterinarians if the procedure is offered near them.

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