Meet the PatientSawyer Sees the Vet

May 14, 2020

Name: Sawyer

Species: Asian small-clawed otter

Age: 11 yr 6 mo (DOB 10/24/08)

Weight: 3.1kg

Reason for visit: dental exam, abdominal ultrasound

Asian small clawed otters under human care are prone to kidney stones. At this time, it is unknown what causes them or how to prevent them. Sawyer, one of the Zoo’s two otters, has a history of kidney stones which staff have been monitoring over the past few years. Recently, he has experienced mild weight loss and anemia (low red blood cell count) was noted during a previous exam.

When it was time for Sawyer’s routine exam, the Zoo’s Veterinarian, Dr. Colleen Clabbers, performed an assessment of each of the otter’s body systems, took bloodwork and a urine sample, and with the help of Dr. Keith Kremer, a veterinary internal medicine specialist, an abdominal ultrasound was performed as part of Sawyer’s full wellness exam.

Unfortunately, during the exam, Sawyer’s ultrasound showed a progression of his kidney disease as well as signs of chronic kidney injury. Kidney disease in otters presents very similarly to kidney disease in cats, and the weight loss and anemia are secondary factors that develop as things progress. There is no true cure for chronic kidney disease, only supportive treatments that we can give to treat the secondary complications.

The Keepers know both of our otters, Sawyer and his social companion Merrill, very well and understand their unique personalities. They are monitoring Sawyer very closely to make sure he remains comfortable and has a good quality of life. At this time, Sawyer remains active and eating well despite his diagnosis.