Can dialysis help a kidney-diseased cat?
Q: My cat was vomiting occasionally, and he was a little wobbly when he walked. Most worrisome, he turned up his nose at tuna. The vet ran blood tests, which showed that his kidney function was abnormal because of an infection. Will dialysis help?
A: The kidneys eliminate toxins from the body via the urine. When the kidneys aren't working, toxins build up, causing illness. If they haven't been too severely damaged, dialysis can give the small, bean-shaped organs time to recuperate.
Cats who are very ill usually must be hospitalized for treatment and will receive either intermittent hemodialysis or continuous renal replacement therapy, both of which require machines with filters to remove and cleanse the blood.
For peritoneal dialysis, expect to take your cat in for treatment three days a week. You may also need to give your cat oral antibiotics and administer fluids subcutaneously (beneath the skin) while the kidney infection is treated. It can take one to four weeks for the kidneys to heal completely.
Damage caused by infections can be successfully treated 50 to 75 percent of the time. A kidney infection like the one your cat developed is a good example of how having pet health insurance can pay off. Dialysis is expensive, especially if it requires hospitalization, but in the case of an infection, it gives the cat a chance to recover and lead a normal life.