Our Critical Care Department offers hemodialysis for the management of acute or chronic pet kidney failure. The kidneys have many roles, including filtering waste products, drugs, and toxins out of the body and when the kidneys fail these normal waste products build up to toxic levels. Intravenous fluids may help flush these toxins out of the body, however, when this type of medical management is unsuccessful, dialysis is indicated to help remove these toxins. For acute kidney failure, dialysis is used to allow the kidneys to recover function or until it becomes clear that the kidneys are not going to heal. Most of the time kidneys repair themselves within about four weeks. With chronic kidney failure the kidneys are permanently damaged and dialysis is continued three times each week for the rest of a pet's life. In this situation, kidney transplant is the only alternative to chronic dialysis. There are different forms of dialysis and our Critical Care Specialists will evaluate your pet and determine the best plan for them.

Emergency & Critical Care

What is Critical Care and How is it Different from Emergency Care?

Critical care = Intensive care

VCA MECA specializes in the care of patients whose conditions require 24 hour monitoring and treatment, through our Wisconsin’s Emergency Vet Animal Hospital ER Team in our state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The two different types of medicine are complimentary to each other. For example, often an emergency patient will turn into a critical care patient who needs 24 hour doctor and nursing attention because their condition changes to a status in which close monitoring and life support measures in the ICU may be needed. Most veterinarians who treat animals on an emergency basis or administer critical care medicine have years of experience or are specialty trained to treat such patients.

Examples of patients needing critical care monitoring:

  • Complications with Diabetes
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Chronic/Acute Kidney Failure
  • Other Organ Failure
  • Injuries Requiring Veterinary Blood Transfusions
  • Patients Needing Respiratory Support on a Animal Ventilator

While your general practice veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems and handle many routine emergencies, certain situations require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in handling emergency and critical care for your pet. An emergency and critical care specialist typically works in tandem with your general practice veterinarian on a referral basis, as well as with any other needed specialists, until the emergency is resolved.

What Is An Emergency and Critical Care Specialist?

A board certified specialist in emergency and critical care is a veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in treating life-threatening conditions. An emergency and critical care specialist can help in the following kinds of cases, among others:

  • Traumatic injuries of all kinds
  • Respiratory emergencies
  • Poisonings
  • Animals in need of blood transfusions
  • Animals in shock
  • Coma or severe seizures
  • Diabetic crises 
  • Acute or severe illness

How Can I Find A Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care for My Pet?

If your veterinarian does not handle after hours emergencies, then he or she probably already has a referral relationship in place with a local or regional emergency hospital. You can also look for emergency specialists in your area on the ACVECC website. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when and where to refer you and your pet for emergency or critical care is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.

When Does My Pet Need Emergency Care?

Any of the following situations can be considered an emergency:

  • Difficulty breathing or severe coughing
  • Ingestion of a foreign object, drug, poison or unknown substance
  • Bleeding or unexplained bruisingBlood in vomit, feces or urine
  • Severe vomiting, retching, or diarrhea
  • Swollen, hard or painful abdomen
  • Serious woundSuspected broken limb
  • Any injury to the eye
  • Loss of consciousness
  • SeizuresInability to move or sudden weakness
  • Unusual or erratic behaviorSigns of extreme pain
  • Straining to urinate (especially a male cat)
  • Labor that does not progress
  • Prolonged heat exposure, overheating or heat stroke 
  • Snake bite

What Is Critical Care?

While an emergency is unfolding, or throughout recovery from a serious illness or accident, ongoing diagnostic and therapeutic care and constant monitoring of your pet's condition are required. Many emergency and critical care facilities offer 24-hour supervision of critically ill pets and, just as in human hospitals, may have dedicated Intensive Care and Critical Care Units (ICU/CCU). Such facilities are equipped to provide oxygen therapy, cardiac monitoring, blood transfusions, and nutritional support. Such facilities also typically have advanced diagnostic capabilities onsite, such as ultrasound and echocardiography.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Many emergency hospitals work on a referral basis with general practitioners. In some cases, your pet will only be referred to the emergency service for after-hours care. In other cases, your pet may be in the care of the emergency and critical care specialist for the duration of the emergency and recovery, but then referred back to your general practitioner veterinarian for follow up and routine care.

Our Emergency & Critical Care Services

Aggressive Analgesia
Blood Donation
Continuous ECG Monitoring and Telemetry
Direct Blood Pressure Monitoring

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