New Jersey gets its first veterinary dialysis program

PARAMUS, N.J.BluePearl Veterinary Partners has begun offering dialysis to pets, using three new machines to provide life-saving care to critically ill dogs and cats.

Dialysis can be used to save dogs and cats who have swallowed toxic substances such as antifreeze or certain medicines, or who are suffering from kidney failure or sicknesses such as Lyme disease. This is believed to be the first veterinary dialysis program in New Jersey, providing a new option for pet owners and veterinarians in the Garden State.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity to extend care to pets with acute kidney injuries, toxicities or immune-mediated diseases that are otherwise fatal,” said Dr. Benjamin Davidson, a BluePearl veterinarian who is board-certified in emergency and critical care.

Dialysis machines can be used for:

  • Removing ingested toxins, such as antifreeze, which is highly toxic and frequently consumed by dogs and cats. It’s also useful for removing medications that pets sometimes swallow accidentally, such as Advil, which can be highly toxic to them.
  • For therapeutic plasma exchange in cases of immune-mediated diseases, such as Lyme disease. Plasma exchange involves removing the pet’s own plasma through a filter and replacing it with “fresh” donor plasma.
  • Removing excess toxins and fluids that build up when an animal’s kidneys are failing.

Dialysis has been used in veterinary medicine for many years, but it was offered only at a few universities and research institutions, which meant it was inaccessible to many pet owners. Now that’s changing, although there are still relatively few treatment centers around the country.

Dialysis treatment is available for pets in New York City, including at BluePearl’s Queens hospital, but this program provides a closer option for New Jersey residents. That can be critically important, Davidson said.

“Timing is of the essence, so the sooner we get the pet in and treated, the better it is,” Davidson said.

Humans sometimes get regular dialysis treatments for years, but that’s less often the practice in veterinary medicine. Dialysis is used for pets who have a good prognosis and whose kidneys are expected to recover after dialysis.

“We’ll support the pets and stabilize them until the kidney function returns,” Davidson said.