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Dopamine in Urinary Disease

By Patricia M. Dowling, DVM, MSc, DACVIM, DACVCP, Professor, Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Dopamine, an adrenergic neurotransmitter with specific receptors in the renal vasculature, is frequently used to combat reductions in renal blood flow that may contribute to acute renal failure. It also increases glomerular filtration and sodium excretion. Dopamine has a very short half-life and is administered as a constant-rate infusion of 2–5 mcg/kg/min. Higher dosages cause tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, and peripheral vasoconstriction. Animals that do not produce urine with dopamine alone may respond to a combination of dopamine and furosemide. Dopamine is given as above, and furosemide is given at 1 mg/kg/hr, by IV bolus. If no improvement occurs within 6 hr, conversion is unlikely, and infusion should be discontinued. Dialysis (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis) may be required to maintain these animals.