Kidney Failure in Dogs (cont.)

Dialysis

Dialysis describes two therapies that try to duplicate the filtering tasks of the kidneys. In peritoneal dialysis, special fluid is put into the abdomen using a catheter. The fluid then washes tissues and absorbs toxins from the body across tissue barriers. After a set period of time, the fluid is removed through the same catheter, taking the toxins out with it. This technique has been used in veterinary referral centers for short-term kidney problems such as antifreeze poisonings.

Hemodialysis is the second technique. This therapy is only available at a few referral centers across the country, because the equipment is expensive and must be specially designed to work with dogs. The dog's blood is circulated through a machine with filters that tries to duplicate the filtering tasks of a healthy kidney.

Kidney Transplant

Another option for dogs with terminal kidney failure is to consider a kidney transplant. Kidney transplants are only done a few veterinary referral centers, but are becoming more common. As with human transplant patients, drugs must be given post-transplant to prevent organ rejection. These drugs are quite expensive and must be carefully calibrated to minimize side effects.

This article is excerpted from “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.