Australia's centre of excellence for treating bladder and kidney disease in dogs and cats
SASH Bladder & Kidney Centre highlights:
- Australia’s most qualified and experienced team of bladder and kidney experts
- Comprehensive care from a team of Specialists in Internal Medicine, Surgery, Critical Care, Pathology, Anaesthesia, and Diagnostic Imaging
- Offering services such as dialysis, minimally invasive laser surgery, and ureteral bypass surgery, found in few other hospitals
Our personalised approach
Dogs and cats with bladder and kidney diseases can show a huge variety of symptoms that can affect our loved one’s quality-of-life and can be frightening or even overwhelming for their families. If the pet’s disease means they’re no longer able to control their toileting behaviour, the family may even be unable to keep the pet in some circumstances. With so many different diseases that could be the cause, navigating the complex diagnostic, treatment and monitoring pathways on your own can be time consuming and unfruitful. Our aim at the SASH Bladder and Kidney Centre is to provide you with gold-standard medical information, specialist insight, treatment, and emotional support to make a personalised decision for your beloved pet in the context of your family’s situation.
The decisions around the ideal diagnostic or treatment pathways are often affected by factors outside of the patient themselves. Household logistics, work arrangements, other family members’ health, travel restrictions, religious or personal beliefs all come into play. Our team are respectful of all these considerations when presenting you with options, and are blessed to work in an environment where our state-of-the-art facilities and well-trained specialty team of bladder and kidney-focused veterinarians and nurses allow us to offer an expansive variety of pathways. We are happy to simply discuss the likely outcomes of doing nothing so that you can be mentally prepared if that is what you decide to do. Our strength comes from our lived experience of enabling thousands of families with pets affected by bladder and kidney disease to live their best lives.
What is bladder and kidney disease?
The medical discipline involved with the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease is called nephrology. Nephrology includes the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the kidney including acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, urinary crystals and disorders of electrolyte and pH balance. Diseases of the urinary tract, including the ureters, bladder and urethra falls under the urology discipline.
While cases of bladder and kidney disease are often treated by General Practitioner vets, these cases are increasingly referred to SASH by both GP vets and other specialist hospitals to receive the best medical care and have access to best-practice treatments, minimally-invasive techniques, and more complex surgeries.
What are some common signs of bladder and kidney disease:
- Excessive drinking or thirst
- Excessive and/or frequent urination
- Straining to urinate or difficulty passing urine
- Urinary incontinence or leaking urine
- Blood in the urine
- Dilute, watery urine
- Loss of interest in playing or interacting
- Decreased appetite
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Unexplained weight loss
Who should treat these cases?
Bladder and kidney diseases are commonly treated by Specialists in Internal Medicine and Specialists in Surgery. Many of the specialists in the SASH Bladder and Kidney Centre have trained or worked in universities widely regarded as being in the list of the world’s top 5 veterinary schools. However, there are additional qualifications after specialisation that confer further insight and expertise and improve the outcomes for these patients. We are lucky to have multiple specialists with additional qualifications and training in nephrology and urology that were gained after obtaining specialist status. Some qualifications held by SASH specialists cannot be found anywhere else in Australia and includes:
- Dr. Lucy Kopecny: Boarded in Internal Medicine, and Australia’s only veterinarian with a two-year fellowship in nephrology, interventional endourology and extracorporeal therapies from the University of California at Davis
- Dr. Bing Zhu: Registered Specialist in Internal Medicine, with a certificate from the Haemodialysis Academy at University of California at Davis.
- Dr. Joanna White: Registered Specialist in Internal Medicine with a PhD in kidney disease of cats and selected board member of the International Renal Interest Society
- Dr Julia Sumner: Registered Specialist in Surgery – prior to SASH Dr Sumner was Associate Professor of Small Animal Surgery at Cornell University, one of the few hospitals in the world with advanced interventional radiology and interventional endoscopy capabilities.
We have a team of nurses who receive additional training from these specialists to assist in the care and procedures these special patients require. Beyond studying courses and lectures normally targeted at specialist veterinarians, our nurses receive training from human medical procedural experts or fly overseas to world leading kidney and urinary facilities, such as the University of California Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, for additional hands-on experience.
In addition to specialist team members, the SASH Bladder and Kidney Centre is fully equipped to perform:
- Haemodialysis and therapeutic plasma exchange for acute kidney injury, immune-mediated disease, and toxicities
- Laser treatment for bladder stones to avoid surgery if possible
- Subcutaneous ureteral bypass (SUB) implantation for ureteral obstruction (kidney blockage)
- Soft tissue and minimally-invasive laser surgery to correct congenital malformations of the urinary tract (such as laser ablation of ectopic ureters)
- Advanced imaging including MRI, CT and ultrasound to diagnose and monitor diseases of the bladder and kidney
While short courses can be taken to learn about these procedures, our team at SASH are some of the few in Australia who have years of clinical experience at the world-leading universities who provide these very training programs. This makes the SASH Bladder and Kidney Centre Australia’s leading option for helping you decide whether an advanced procedure is appropriate for your pet, whether any special precautions or changes need to be made for your pet’s procedure outside of what is typically taught, and – most importantly – managing the post-operative or post-procedural outcomes and any complications that may occur. It’s why our specialists are often called on by other specialty hospitals for assistance with these cases.
As the Bladder and Kidney Centre is part of SASH North Ryde, we can also call on the services of other specialist teams that may be required for your pet’s care. These include specialists in Pathology, Anaesthesia, Diagnostic Imaging and 24-hour Emergency and Critical Care for patients requiring intensive support. The presence of these other specialists within the hospital is incredibly important, yet found in few other hospitals, for pets with bladder and kidney diseases, not only to come to the correct diagnosis, but to address these pets’ more complex requirements for anaesthesia and post-procedural care.
This combination of technical expertise, gold-standard equipment and supporting specialist services is unparalleled in Australia. But our greatest asset is our collective experience of guiding and counselling you – the family – as you navigate the challenges and triumphs of your loved-one’s treatment.
What will happen when I visit the SASH Bladder and Kidney Centre?
Our commitment to you and your pet starts with a thorough understanding of your pet’s history since birth. Our consultations normally take an hour so be prepared to go into detail about your pet’s life; the good, the bad, the ugly and the seemingly unrelated issues.
To assess your pet’s condition during the consultation, we will have reviewed a copy of your pet’s full medical record and all laboratory test results from your local vet. Sometimes the medical record and your verbal history is enough to make a diagnosis and discuss potential treatment plans or trials but often we will need to perform further testing to make a definitive diagnosis. Testing can include blood and urine tests (e.g. to determine the stage of chronic kidney disease), advanced imaging (to locate and describe an anatomic abnormality). With our highly-trained vets and advanced equipment, we may even be able to diagnose and treat issues within a single procedure and anaesthetic (e.g. urethroscopy & laser).
Once we have carefully diagnosed the disease process, we will discuss your personal wishes, concerns, and individual situation to together decide on the next course of action. Depending on your family circumstances, the goals for treatment might include cure, long-term disease control or palliation.
We will be there at every step and can work with your GP vet to provide shared long-term care in many cases. Regardless of your situation, we will ensure you are supported as a family while doing our utmost to care for your beloved pet.
If you have any questions about the SASH Bladder and Kidney Centre, please give us a call anytime.