Dog still going strong
after hemodialysis
at UF two years ago

Todd Parker

Todd, a mixed-breed dog owned by James and Melonie Parker of Tennessee, shown going for a car ride, one of his favorite activities. (Photo courtesy of James Parker)

By Sarah Carey

Two years ago, James and Melonie Parker of Tennessee, who own a mixed-breed dog named Todd, brought their beloved pet to the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital for treatment of an acute kidney injury.

Today, Todd’s owners continue to remember and acknowledge the care their dog received at UF with regular emails and updates to Dr. Leo Londoño, the emergency and critical care veterinarian who managed most of Todd’s care, including the hemodialysis treatment he received to save his life.

Hemodialysis is a method of treatment for acute kidney injury that is only offered by a handful of veterinary medical specialty hospitals in the United States. Although he takes regular medication and is fed a strict diet, Todd has returned to his normal weight and regained his muscle tone, James Parker said.

Dr. Leo Londono

Dr. Leo Londoño

“I truly believe Dr. Leo (how Parker refers to Londoño) is one of the most caring and compassionate men, M.D. or D.V.M., I have ever met through all the years in the hospitals where I was trained,” he said.

The Parkers have owned Todd since they found him seven years ago on the dock of their lakefront property, nursing a gunshot wound to his hip. Both of the Parkers come from a medical background and it was obvious to them by the way Todd behaved one Sunday morning in September 2014 that something was very wrong.

“Melonie first noticed that he didn’t have much of an appetite,” said James Parker, a semi-retired pharmacist. “I noticed he had an excessive thirst and I smelled an unusual odor from his breath.”

The couple took Todd to a local veterinary clinic owned by a friend of theirs. They soon learned that tests showed Todd’s blood urea nitrogen and creatinine levels were “off the charts” and took Todd to an emergency clinic in Chattanooga, about 30 minutes from where they live.

Despite five days of treatment, Todd did not improve. The Parkers went online and became convinced that hemodialysis was Todd’s only hope.  Taking into account the driving distance and UF’s reputation, the couple decided they needed to bring Todd to Gainesville.

“I was told that dialysis treatment wasn’t available there, but I proudly disagreed and asked that all lab results, X-rays and records be transferred to UF,” James Parker said. “I said I’d be picking Todd up from the clinic at 1 a.m. and requested that they have a hydration bag hanging for the trip.”

The couple arrived at UF with Todd around 8 a.m. on Sept. 25, 2014.

“Upon arrival, Todd was very lethargic and nauseous,” said Londoño, a clinical assistant professor with UF’s small animal emergency and critical care service. “His kidney values were still elevated, despite having been in a hospital for five days.”

Londoño advised the Parkers that the only way to improve Todd’s health was to provide dialysis treatment and to place a feeding tube, as the dog hadn’t eaten in a week.

“Nutrition is very important in these cases,” Londoño said.

Todd was one of the fortunate 60 percent of animals with this condition that will improve as the result of hemodialysis treatment. Although the cause of Todd’s kidney problem was never determined, he likely fell into the category of animals with some type of infectious underlying disease,  Londoño said.

UF’s is one of the nation’s busiest hemodialysis centers, and is unique among veterinary specialty hospitals in that critical care specialists manage and monitor severe cases of acute kidney injury and intoxications with dialysis.

“It is with the greatest respect and love that we are proud to say we were patients at UF,” James Parker said.

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