Icon WebMD Expert Blogs

Tales from the Pet Clinic

with Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM

This blog has been retired. We appreciate all of the insights that Dr. Hohenhaus shared with our readers.


The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, review, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have... Expand

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Kidneys on Our Minds

By Ann Hohenhaus, DVM

Dog with Vet

The news has been full of stories about kidneys this week. The Oregon Zoo’s male black rhinoceros, Pete, sadly succumbed to kidney disease and the Seattle Times reported the Woodland Park Zoo’s male Sumatran tiger, Rakata, was euthanized, like Pete, for kidney failure.

The FDA continues to warn dog owners about the dangers of imported chicken jerky treats. Reports indicate they are associated with a rare kidney disorder called Fanconi-like syndrome.

Because The AMC understands the prevalence and serious nature of kidney disease and has a world-renowned specialist on staff who deals specifically with the kidney function of dogs and cats, we have become the U.S. hub for treatment in the northeast. In fact, all last week The Animal Medical Center hosted more than 150 national and international attendees at the Advanced Renal Therapies Symposium 2012 (ARTS 2012) –the only veterinary conference devoted entirely to disease of the kidney.

All kidney diseases are not the same

Even though kidney dysfunction is a common thread in the illnesses of Pete, Rakata, and dogs eating chicken jerky treats from China, the underlying disorders are quite different. Pete suffered from hemochromatosis, a disorder common to black rhinos and one where excessive amounts of iron are stored in the body, damaging internal organs such as the kidneys and liver. Zookeepers treated Pete by changing his diet and monitoring his response using blood tests. In dogs and cats with kidney disease, a diet change is one of the most important therapeutic tools veterinarians have to treat the disease.

Tigers are just like your cat

Rakata, the tiger, had kidney disease associated with old age, very similar to what veterinarians at The AMC diagnose in our geriatric feline patients. The kidneys gradually lose their normal functions of conserving water for the body and filtering out waste products of protein metabolism. Initially, the cat owner sees increased urine production, increased drinking, and when the disease progresses, cat owners may notice weight loss and a bad smell coming from their cat. This smell comes from a combination of accumulated toxins and the oral ulcers commonly seen in kidney failure. In pet cats with chronic kidney disease, veterinarians prescribe fluids, special diets, and medications to lower phosphorus, treat anemia and manage kidney failure-induced gastric ulcers.

Jerky and leaky kidneys

Fanconi-like syndrome is a strange kidney disorder where sugar (glucose) is found in the dog’s urine even though the dog is not diabetic. An unknown component of the chicken jerky treats seems to be damaging the kidneys, causing them to leak not only glucose, but amino acids, protein and electrolytes as well. If owners continue feeding the chicken jerky treats, the kidneys can be permanently damaged. Early elimination of the chicken jerky treats from the diet appears to reverse this disorder. This is a preventable form of kidney disease–simply avoid feeding your dog chicken jerky treats manufactured in China.

Fixing kidneys

With all these types of kidney disease, it is not surprising The AMC would host a conference like ARTS 2012, focused on better treatments for kidney disease. When this conference started in 2006, The AMC had only intermittent hemodialysis. We now have continuous renal replacement therapy, charcoal perfusion for removing substances toxic to the kidneys, and are investigating stem cell therapy for cats with IRIS Stage III kidney disease.

Let’s hope all these efforts are successful and we won’t have to think about kidney disease again. If you can’t avoid thinking about kidneys or have a pet with kidney disease, contact our renal medicine specialists for more information about their services or the recent ARTS Symposium at 212-329-8618.

Posted by: Ann Hohenhaus, DVM at 11:27 am

Subscribe & Stay Informed

WebMD Healthy Pets

Sign up for the WebMD Healthy Pets newsletter and get the latest on food, exercise and health news for Fluffy and Fido.


WebMD Health News