Much like Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s mythical search for a human fountain of youth, many pet owners can only dream of finding an animal equivalent of this miracle for their own aging companions. Pets, just as humans, age, and its effects lead to many-shared health problems like heart issues, arthritis and cancer. However, while heart disease affects humans more frequently in later years, chronic renal (kidney) failure is the leading cause of illness in older animals.
Aluminum Hydroxide’s Popular Use for Cats and Dogs
Although no wonder cure for kidney disease and/or kidney failure, aluminum hydroxide is often prescribed by veterinarians to manage the condition in both aging cats and dogs. Also used as an adjuvant (enhancing agent) for human and pet vaccines, aluminum hydroxide helps reduce elevated blood levels of phosphate (hyperphosphatemia) in patients. Aluminum salts aid in reducing the amount of phosphorus absorbed from the intestine by physically binding to dietary phosphorus. This approach flushes the buildup more easily from the system. Aluminum hydroxide powder is the most popular form of this medication today.
Aluminum hydroxide is cheap, effective and available over-the-counter. Since it has no taste or smell, most cats and dogs will eat the dry gel powder when it is sprinkled with dry or wet food. It can also be placed in capsules or comes in a liquid form. Dosages are determined by an animal’s weight and should follow a regular schedule.
Another bonus for the use of aluminum hydroxide in dogs and cats is it does not accumulate in their bodies and they suffer from no toxicity to the medication. Research reports have shown no serious side effects in dogs and cats, using the substance, though constipation may occur in small animals.
Aluminum hydroxide’s overall lack of toxicity makes it an excellent choice for use as an adjuvant in veterinary vaccines, especially those prepared with killed viruses. Most dog and cat vaccines are made with killed viruses including rabies, parvovirus, feline herpes virus and calici virus, distemper, adenovirus-2 and parainfluenza virus. Though mercury is also used in vaccines as a preservative, its toxicity to humans, dogs and cats, is noted by research.
Related Article: Aluminum Hydroxide Gel Soothes the Not-So Savage Beast >>
Kidney Dysfunction Is Forever
Kidneys in animals and humans clear waste from our systems. It is a complex system involving filtering, cleaning, regulating and monitoring. Due to aging, diet, genes and a thousand other factors, some of the tiny systems involved in the process get scarred or plugged up and quit working. Unlike liver, lung, bone or skin, the cells of a kidney cannot replace or regenerate themselves. This deterioration eventually leads to complete kidney failure, though the final end can come quickly or be more prolonged.
Renal failure or Chronic Kidney Disease has no cure, but successful treatment with aluminum hydroxide coupled with a restricted diet can extend a dog and cat’s life with this terminal disorder. Pets can live comfortably and without pain as long as they continue to respond to treatment.
Signs of Cat Renal Failure and Treatment
It is common as cats age to exhibit signs of renal failure or renal complications. Veterinarians will prescribe protein-controlled/low phosphate diets for felines with these health issues. Often, this prescription food will alleviate many of the renal problems. However, a few animals will refuse to eat this specialized food, forcing owners to look for other methods like using aluminum hydroxide (phosphate binders) to lower phosphate blood levels. Administering oral medication to cats can be challenging so the powder form works well for many owners. Several research studies also support the success of stabilizing chronic renal problems through diet and medication. These cats live longer (sometimes doubling life expectancy) than cats that receive no treatment. Some cats have lived for up to two years more following the renal failure diagnosis.
Dogs and Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)
Once again, age often plays a factor in kidney/renal problems in dogs, though some breeds may be prone to inherited conditions, too early in life. Polycystic kidney disease, though more frequently occurring in cats, may also appear in young dogs, shortening their life expectancy. The bottom line is there is no cure for CRF, but a conscientious pet owner can take steps to prolong the quality of a dog’s life through a low phosphate, low protein diet coupled with therapeutic doses of aluminum hydroxide. Dogs with CRF are also more susceptible to related health problems, so the animal’s veterinarian may make recommendations for other treatments and prescribe other medicines as well.
Aluminum hydroxide should be stored in a cool, dry place with a consistent room temperature. Keep it away from heat and direct sunlight. Liquid medicine should not freeze. Bathroom and kitchen storage for the product is not recommended either since exposure to heat or moisture will cause it to break down. As with most chemical ingredients, keep aluminum hydroxide away from children.
Your pets blood phosphate level will determine treatment and dosage of aluminum hydroxide. About two weeks later, another blood test should be conducted to check if the medication is reducing the phosphate readings or should be adjusted to correct the problem. Once a pet’s condition stabilizes, blood tests should be scheduled every four to six weeks to check on dosage accuracy and whether the animal still requires the medicine.
Other Veterinary Uses
The use of aluminum hydroxide also aids other animals, such as horses, with Chronic Renal Failure. It is an adjuvant in vaccines for livestock animals, including chicken and cattle. However, animals that are used a part of the food supply are not provided for CRF so the contamination does not appear in products consumed by humans. For example, renal failure in dairy cattle is also not treated to avoid contamination of milk products.
Live Long and Comfortably
As the search continues for ways to solve renal failure in humans and animals alike, pet owners can continue to provide the best possible lifestyle for cats and dogs with this condition through diet and treatment with aluminum hydroxide. Though no fountain of youth, the combined result of these two things keeps our beloved companions with us longer.