Hemodialysis in cats: when to do it? Possible risks for the cat

If your cat’s kidneys don’t want to work, she may have to do hemodialysis. What is it and what are the risks for Cats?

We know that cats are easily prone to kidney problems, especially when their diet is not correct and balanced. If you develop severe kidney failure, you may need hemodialysis. But what is it and for which cat health conditions should it be done? It should be noted that there may still be risks for Cats.

Hemodialysis in cats

Hemodialysis is a therapeutic treatment that the veterinarian chooses if the pharmacological one is no longer enough to cure our cat. But when?

The kidney is the body’s filter : waste substances are filtered from the blood plasma which will then be eliminated in the urine:

  • Drug metabolism products;
  • Products from the metabolism of hormones;
  • Waste of degraded hemoglobin;
  • Urea;
  • Urates;
  • Creatinine.

The filtration carried out by the kidneys is a complex mechanism that allows the cat to retain nutrients and eliminate those which, accumulating, could cause it intoxication.

There are conditions, however, that do not allow the kidneys in the cat to purify the blood such as:

  • Harmful accumulation of plasma potassium;
  • Harmful accumulation of plasma sodium;
  • Leptospirosis infections;
  • Overdose drug poisoning;
  • Food poisoning such as grape poisoning;
  • Viper bite poisoning;
  • Pulmonary edema;
  • Acid base imbalance;
  • Hyperazotemia;
  • Severe renal insufficiency.

In these cases the cat comes not only to feel hallucinating pains but to not be able to pee at all : this means that there has been no blood filtration by the kidney and, consequently, there is an accumulation of all the catabolises not eliminated. with urine.

At this point, the cat risks its life: its azotemia values ​​exceed 100mg / dl and creatinine 10mg / dl and if it does not respond to drug therapy during the day it would be vital to opt for hemodialysis.

In cat hemodialysis, a catheter, permanent or temporary, is applied to the jugular vein, so as to connect the animal to a machine: it is the dialyzer, in fact, which replaces the kidney and takes its place.

Useful tips

Like all treatments, hemodialysis could also pose risks for the cat. However, in the clinic he will be well followed and the doctor would intervene if complications occur.

The choice to replace renal function with a machine is what, ultimately, the vet is forced to take: acute renal failure in cats often comes to a point where they no longer respond to drug therapy.

It does not necessarily have to be a therapy that the cat has to do for life: if it was an infection that caused it, hemodialysis can only be useful for the time necessary for the disease to resolve.

In any case, a dialysed cat must be kept under constant control by the veterinarian : blood tests must be repeated often and the color of the urine in the cat must be assessed; the therapy must be gradual and not lead to a negative response in the cat.

It is very important to check that the blood does not clot during hemodialysis, that it flows well and at the right speed: sometimes it may be necessary to use an anticoagulant to prevent the blood from clumping.

If there are situations of anxiety and stress in the cat, especially during the insertion of the catheter into the vein in the neck, the doctor may decide to do a small anesthesia that helps the animal to calm down avoiding the risk of hurting itself.

If the kidney problems were caught in time, maybe the cat’s kidney could get back to working within a few days and it would all be just a bad dream.

If, on the other hand, the damage to the organ is irreversible, the choice of hemodialysis would be obligatory because the only life-saving for Cat. Today an animal on dialysis for life can live very well, above all because it is always controlled.

The overall health conditions of the cat, in fact, affect both the duration of the treatment and its success : a well-fed body certainly responds to hemodialysis compared to a malnourished or anorexic one.

Obviously a machine is not an organ: many cellular organisms in the kidney cannot be present in a machine: the result is a risk of anemia for the cat, especially if its weight is only a few kilos.

At this point, the treatment with hemodialysis must also be added to the one that stimulates the production of red blood cells: if this is not enough or does not work, a blood transfusion must also be made to the cat.

A correct diet for a dialysis cat cannot fail to affect: the accumulation of nitrogenous compounds in the blood leads to anorexia in the cat, with consequent vomiting. It is to stimulate the anorexic cat to eat that parenteral nutrition is sometimes carried out together with dialysis.

All this is very stressful for Cat; it is the moment when it needs us most, our love and a peaceful environment: if we were anxious, the cat would get stressed, only worsening the success of the therapy.

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