Anticipation, not reaction, is the key to successful management of critically ill small animal patients. Animals must be effectively treated and actively monitored to detect or prevent organ compromise before organ failure occurs. This often requires aggressive and repeated resuscitation and support throughout the course of definitive therapy.
Tissue hypoxia and organ compromise or failure can be a direct result of the primary disease or can be secondary to the disease or its therapy. Organs frequently affected include the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, lungs, GI tract, and liver. When the disease process is multisystemic, problems such as malnutrition and coagulopathies must be anticipated. Optimal care requires a thorough and methodical approach to diagnostic procedures, monitoring, specific therapeutics, and supportive care.
Last full review/revision March 2012 by Rebecca Kirby, DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC; Andrew Linklater, DVM, DACVECC