Aluminum hydroxide is used to treat kidney failure and as an adjuvant in vaccines for humans and it is used in much the same way in veterinary medicine. Aging dogs and cats often suffer from renal failure which causes a buildup of phosphates in the blood that can be fatal. Aluminum hydroxide binds phosphates so they may be more easily flushed from the system.
Treatment of Cats with Aluminum Hydroxide
Renal failure is a fairly common condition in cats, especially as they age. The primary treatment for renal failure is a low phosphate and protein diet combined with phosphate binders. Many owners have difficulty administering oral medication to cats so aluminum hydroxide in a dry gel powder which can be mixed with dry or wet cat food is recommended. The treatment can more than double the life expectancy of a cat with renal failure.
Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs
Most dogs suffering from chronic renal failure are older animals; however, some breeds are susceptible to poly cystic kidney disease which can occur in young dogs. There is no cure for CRF but a low phosphate, low protein diet coupled with therapeutic doses of aluminum hydroxide can extend the dog's life. Since dogs with CRF are more likely to develop additional related health problems than cats, other medications may be prescribed by the veterinarian.
Toxicity in Dogs and Cats
Unlike humans, dogs and cats do not accumulate aluminum in their bodies and they suffer from no toxicity to the medication. No side effects of aluminum hydroxide have been reported in dogs and cats, but owners must understand that phosphate binders are a treatment not a cure; the condition is terminal. Some owners have reported that dogs lived as much as eighteen months with the treatment and cats survived for as long as two years.
Aluminum hydroxide is used 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 herpesvirus and claicivirus, distemper, adenovirus-2 and parainfluenza virus. Mercury is also used in vaccines as a preservative and while alumina is not toxic to dogs or cats, there is some concern about mercury which is toxic to humans, dogs and cats.
Other Veterinary Uses
While dogs and cats with CRF benefit from treatment with aluminum hydroxide, it is also used for treatment of renal failure in other animals including horses. It is an adjuvant in vaccines for livestock animals including chicken and cattle. Renal failure in animals intended for use as food is not treated since a sick animal cannot be allowed to enter the food supply. Renal failure in dairy cattle is also not treated to avoid contamination of milk products.
The use of aluminum hydroxide for dogs and cats as a treatment for CRF is effective and safe. A restricted diet coupled with phosphate binders can extend the life of dogs and cats with this fatal disorder. As long as the animals continue to respond to the treatment, they can live comfortably and without pain.