Are Kidney Transplants Performed in Companion Animals?

July 30, 2018

While dogs don't typically recover well from kidney transplants, cats actually do quite well.

While dogs don't typically recover well from kidney transplants, cats actually do quite well, says JD Foster, VMD, DACVIM (SAIM), internist and director of extracorporeal therapies at the Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington, D.C.

"Kidney transplants are done. There have been lots of challenges with successfully transplanting dogs—they tend to have a much harder time handling the immunosuppression that's required for them to not reject the transplanted kidney. And we've seen a number of those dogs develop skin infections or complications just due to the immunosuppression.

Cats actually do quite well with the immunosuppression, so there are probably 2 or 3 hospitals in the country that are performing kidney transplantation in cats. The University of Pennsylvania has certainly done the most at this point. And I would suggest that with a cat with chronic kidney disease, the outcome and the expense is probably—better outcome and probably cheaper expense to get transplanted rather than have chronic dialysis. So, if I see those patients that are cats I'm usually trying to get them screened to make sure they're a good candidate for kidney transplantation and then send them to one of those hospitals.

Because dogs don't tolerate transplantation very well they're great candidates for chronic dialysis; they do really well."