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Kidney Failure in Dogs
Old 08-02-2016, 08:26 PM   #1
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Kidney Failure in Dogs

Does anyone here have any experience with your dog suffering from kidney failure? Our little Yorkie was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure a couple of years ago. She was put on a special diet and I have been taking her in for blood work every 3 months to keep an eye on things. She seemed to be healthy and fine and dealing with the kidney problem with no apparent issues. Her BUN and creatinine although high, were being managed. Eating normally, drinking normally, active and playful (she's around 11 or 12 years old. We don't know for sure since she was a stray).

Suddenly last Friday she began vomiting which went on most of the day. Although unusual, not totally out of the norm for her and I wasn't really concerned because I could see she had eaten some berries that had fallen off the hackberry tree (not poisonous) and she has a sensitive stomach. But then as the weekend progressed she refused to eat and eventually was not able to walk. She would drink some water and would go potty when I took her out to the yard, but otherwise she slept around the clock for the entire weekend. Not a single bite of food since eating the berries Friday morning.

Monday I took her in to the vet first thing and her blood work showed total kidney failure and severe dehydration (none of this due to eating the berries). I talked with the vet for almost an hour and it was decided to put her on an IV to combat the dehydration and hopefully give her kidneys a chance to recover to their earlier status. The vet gave her a 50/50 chance of pulling out of this.

Today when I visited her she was actually eating (gobbling) some special canned dog food they had given her and seemed very happy to see me. Alert, giving doggie kisses, etc. She still wasn't walking, but otherwise seems to be doing much better. Tonight when I called to check on her they told me she was walking, albeit very wobbly, when taken outside to potty.

More blood work will be done tomorrow to see if her kidneys are functioning better and I guess we will make decisions based on that, but my question is, has anybody been through this with their dog? Any advice? Anything I should particularly consider? I want to keep her around as long as possible, but only if it's a good life for her. I want her to live, not just exist. Does anyone have any experience/advice they can share with me?
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:40 PM   #2
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Miss Molly,
Sorry, I don't have any words of wisdom for you. It sounds like you are doing what I'd do. Best wishes for you and your pooch.
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:21 PM   #3
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I've only had cats with kidney failure and none experienced total renal failure except perhaps toward the end. With cats, you are advised to give them subcutaneous fluids where you have tubing with a needle attached to a saline bag and insert the needle into the scruff of their neck and give them about 50ml of fluid. According to my vet, some cats do very well with this treatment once or twice a day and it can extend their lives 6-12 months with fairly good quality of life.

Of course my spoiled cats did not enjoy the treatment and while it may have extended their lives, quality of life was so so and they continued to deteriorate although more slowly. But if your little dog has had this condition for 2 years and your vet has not recommended this treatment, there is probably a reason.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:14 PM   #4
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Same for me only cats with kidney failure. But my vet did say that dogs can sometimes also respond well to subcutaneous fluids for a time (One of my cats now 16 has been on 150 ml every other day for 18 months and is doing well still). There are quite a few websites for pet owners with CKD cats, and I have found them very helpful. A few google searches would likely yield similar info on dogs. A few sites address both. I do hope you can have some more time with your dog. In addition to fluids, other drugs, such as Cerenia and famotidine will help with vomiting and stomach acid, respectively. Slippery elm bark powder in their food will help with overall digestive tract health, which does deteriorate with CKD.If subq fluids do turn out to an option for your dog, here is a video that may help:

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Old 08-03-2016, 07:13 AM   #5
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Thank you all. The vet mentioned moving to using sub q fluid treatments at home so the videos helped a lot. I think I will find this hard to do. I will hate sticking a needle in her all the time, but if this is what it takes to keep her feeling good, I will just have to bite the bullet.
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Old 08-03-2016, 07:49 AM   #6
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We went through this with one of our cats. Did the vet suggest bringing her back monthly for IV fluids? Such treatments may help her to get back to normal, as well as the special diet.
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Old 08-03-2016, 08:32 AM   #7
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MissMolly, if it turns out to be too upsetting for you to do it, as DFW_M5 suggests, it is an option to bring her to the vet for fluid admin. For my cat, I thought it less stressful to do it myself at home, especially with an every other day frequency. Really think more frequent fluids is more supportive of the pet's comfort. Suggest, if this is a treatment your vet recommends, that you do it on your Yorkie for the first time at the vet, with supervision. That made me more confident of my ability to do it at home. Also suggest using, on such a small dog, Ultra thin wall needles. I stated with 20 gauge on my cat, and now after 18 months moved to 21 gauge, A dog's skin may be a bit thicker, so you could start with 18 gauge...your vet may know better, or not, as most vets choose what works the fastest at the clinic. What will best for a pet who is going to be poked frequently over the long term at home is another story. You can get them online, something like $15 if i recall correctly for 100 of them. ThrivingPets.com I prefer getting the fluids and line at the vet, as it is actually cheaper than on-line and would rather not risk damage in shipment for a sterile liquid product like that.
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Old 08-03-2016, 09:25 AM   #8
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We went through this with one of our cats. Did the vet suggest bringing her back monthly for IV fluids? Such treatments may help her to get back to normal, as well as the special diet.
I've been through it with a few of my cats too. I ended up giving Maximus an IV the last few days he lived. It isn't that difficult and doesn't hurt them.
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Old 08-03-2016, 09:26 AM   #9
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Thank you all. The vet mentioned moving to using sub q fluid treatments at home so the videos helped a lot. I think I will find this hard to do. I will hate sticking a needle in her all the time, but if this is what it takes to keep her feeling good, I will just have to bite the bullet.
I think for kidney failure they need IV treatment to flush out the kidneys. You will get used to it and your dog will love you for it.
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Old 08-03-2016, 10:24 AM   #10
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I had a cat that lived with renal failure for more than three years. We figured that administering SubQ fluids would be more traumatic to her and took our vet's advice to mix additional water with her food and give her a "phosphorus binder" to bring down the phosphorus levels in her blood. Epakitin was the brand we used, and it did work.

At some point you have to ask yourself if your pet is still enjoying life. My wife and I are firm believers that "heroic efforts" to extend a sick pet's life is not doing the pet any favors. We did what we could to keep our cat comfortable and took her in for monitoring.
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Old 08-03-2016, 11:09 AM   #11
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I, too, had a Yorkie with kidney disease. Based on what you say, doing the sub-q fluids will help to wash the toxins from the blood that the kidneys can no longer filter. For support and information go to Yahoo Groups and look for K9 Kidneys.

This group gives help with education and emotional support. You will need to complete an application before you are admitted. The reason for this is to keep those who would like to profit by selling supplements off the list. They were very helpful to me when I managed my dog with this condition.

Rita
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Old 08-03-2016, 11:40 AM   #12
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Wow! Lots of information! Thank you all. Will it bother me to do the sub q - yes. Will I do it if it is necessary to keep her "healthy" - yes. Jonat's comment is of particular importance to me. I want to do what I can to give her a good life, but I do not want to extend it unnecessarily just for my benefit. I don't want her to suffer. I don't want any sort of "heroic" efforts, but if there is something I can do with little trauma to her but can extend her life for a few more months, then I will do it.

I went in to visit her this morning and she is doing much better. She was standing and toddled over to see me when I walked up to her kennel. She ate breakfast. There will be more blood work this afternoon and another consultation with the vet to see where we go from here. The vet is also one who believes you should not keep them alive at all costs. She feels their life must be a good life to live while receiving treatments. If we go the sub q route, I will have to see how much it bothers her to receive this treatment. If it's just too traumatic for her, well, then....I guess I will have to let her go before she gets so ill again.

Thank you all for your input. It is all helpful.
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Old 08-03-2016, 12:38 PM   #13
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This is a very emotional issue for me. I will be brief and direct to avoid getting myself all upset for the rest of the day.

I had a Black Lab with kidney disease.
I almost died from kidney disease.
It feels very, very bad to have kidney disease when the creatnine and BUN, etc are very high in the blood. I know this from personal experience. I felt like I was being poisoned. I have never been poisoned so I am really only guessing. It fell all-consuming and systematically whole body related bad, bad, bad. It was the sickest I have ever felt.

This only happened when the numbers were high. Initially, I felt fine during the early phases, which is where I think your loved one was in the beginning.

The worst thing that ever happened to me, and I have had plenty of bad luck, was to have my beloved daughter/dog pass away. It was over 7 years ago and I am still not "over" it. I am not religious but I hope there is a God because I want my dog to be in Heaven and continue to be as happy as she was during her brief life here with me on Earth.

My advice is to do what ever you can for your dog despite cost. You will be glad that you did it later. Keep in mind what you think your dog would do for you if the roles were reversed. She loves you unconditionally. Also keep in mind that if she appears to be suffering, she most certainly is. If the doctor says that she won't get better, end the suffering. It was the most horrible thing I have ever been involved in. To this day, I think I did the right thing.

Think of the dog. Don't give up too soon. Face reality. Suffering from SEVERE, "End Stage" kidney disease is really a bad feeling. Be sure you know where in the process she is. If she shows distress then she pretty much certainly is feeling very bad. Make sure you are right. Make sure it's the right time and be certain and double check and be right.

Mike D., who never met a person as nice as my dog, Emily Ann, the Black Lab.


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Old 08-03-2016, 01:06 PM   #14
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This is a very emotional issue for me. I will be brief and direct to avoid getting myself all upset for the rest of the day.

I had a Black Lab with kidney disease.
I almost died from kidney disease.
It feels very, very bad to have kidney disease when the creatnine and BUN, etc are very high in the blood. I know this from personal experience. I felt like I was being poisoned. I have never been poisoned so I am really only guessing. It fell all-consuming and systematically whole body related bad, bad, bad. It was the sickest I have ever felt.

This only happened when the numbers were high. Initially, I felt fine during the early phases, which is where I think your loved one was in the beginning.

The worst thing that ever happened to me, and I have had plenty of bad luck, was to have my beloved daughter/dog pass away. It was over 7 years ago and I am still not "over" it. I am not religious but I hope there is a God because I want my dog to be in Heaven and continue to be as happy as she was during her brief life here with me on Earth.

My advice is to do what ever you can for your dog despite cost. You will be glad that you did it later. Keep in mind what you think your dog would do for you if the roles were reversed. She loves you unconditionally. Also keep in mind that if she appears to be suffering, she most certainly is. If the doctor says that she won't get better, end the suffering. It was the most horrible thing I have ever been involved in. To this day, I think I did the right thing.

Think of the dog. Don't give up too soon. Face reality. Suffering from SEVERE, "End Stage" kidney disease is really a bad feeling. Be sure you know where in the process she is. If she shows distress then she pretty much certainly is feeling very bad. Make sure you are right. Make sure it's the right time and be certain and double check and be right.

Mike D., who never met a person as nice as my dog, Emily Ann, the Black Lab.


Thanks Mike. I can imagine how hard this was for you. My heart goes out to all pet lovers who have to face making this decision. When it it too soon? When is it too late? I will do everything I can, but not if she is miserable. I don't want her living in misery.
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Old 08-03-2016, 01:28 PM   #15
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Nothing to do with the present situation, but worth mentioning just to "get the word out" to dog lovers: Grapes, raisins, and currants can cause permanent kidney failure in dogs, and it can only take one or two to make it happen. I had my dog swallow a grape one time and she threw it up immediately (and seemingly everything else he had eaten for the last two years!), but that was pretty lucky.
I don't think vets know yet why these fruits have such high kidney toxicity in canines, but it's a fact.
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Old 08-03-2016, 03:03 PM   #16
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She's home! The vet said she responded phenomenally well to the IV treatment. Her blood work shows the lowest numbers she had in a year for her BUN and creatinine. She will now be on some medicine - aluminum hydroxide twice a day and still on the special dog food but moving to the canned variety instead of the dry (more moisture). The vet does not feel we need to move to the sub q treatment yet. She wants to see how well Molly responds to the medicine first. We will also be monitoring her blood more frequently. I take Molly back on the 20th for another blood test to see how she is doing. Fingers crossed.
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Old 08-03-2016, 03:48 PM   #17
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My sister had a 50% york, 50% something else (terrier maybe) that got kidney failure at about the same age as your dog.

Roughly the same thing happened: got very sick, diagnosed, went on IV fluids to flush out, stayed a few days with the vet for observation, and then put on special diet. It was really a tossup and obviously stressful too (no dog likes to stay the night at the vet!).

Doggie lived on happily but with a lot less energy (e.g. shorter or no walks) for about three more years I think, and then finally old age won out.
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Old 08-03-2016, 03:49 PM   #18
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Great news! enjoy each good day as it comes. My one dog is currently in pretty bad shape with dementia (13 1/2 yr old shepherd mix). Meds and supplements, and the love of "her" cats, who love her very much and on whom she dotes as if they were puppies, are keeping her happy and comfortable. She even occasionally wants a brief walk in the neighborhood. But this wont last forever. Also, please don't think subq fluids are necessarily (yes YMMV and that of your dog as well) all that upsetting to your dog. My cat Cleopas picked up more on my anxiety than on any discomfort she felt, until I learned to control myself better while sticking her. In fact, she is quite loving and active after a treatment (treats hep too with that) despite looking a bit goofy with the movable fluid sac bulge while it is being absorbed.
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Old 08-03-2016, 04:19 PM   #19
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Our dog, a Pyrenean Shepherd, (small, but similar to an Australian Shepherd) died of kidney failure at 17. She had kidney issues for several years before that and special diets, but she had a pretty long and happy life.
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Old 08-03-2016, 04:23 PM   #20
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She's home! The vet said she responded phenomenally well to the IV treatment. Her blood work shows the lowest numbers she had in a year for her BUN and creatinine.
Super news! Best wishes for both of you.
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