Hello. This is probably age-onset kidney failure, which is sadly very common amongst dogs of this age. Much depends on how far advanced the kidney failure is. Has your vet explained how far advanced the kidney failure is? Has he said it is in the 4th stage, for example?
If your best friend does not seem to be suffering, and is still eating normally, then there may well be quite a few things you can do to prolong his life - and more importantly, his quality of life. It is however important to understand there is no cure for kidney failure, so anything that is done is simply things that will make him feel more comfortable and perhaps add a few months or even a year or two to his life (if the kidney failure is only in its early stages).
Do come back and let us know what the vet has said - and what tests have been done so far to diagnose the kidney failure. Tony
I have just found this piece posted last year by a qualified and experienced forum member, which explains kidney disease very precisely and suggests some useful treatments. Please read it in full, as it could well help your best friend now and in the future. Tony ...
Pet Kidney Function: Dogs and Cats
The kidneys serve many vital pet functions. They filter and remove toxic wastes from the body via the urine, regulate Calcium and Vitamin D levels, maintain fluid levels, and secrete the hormone responsible for red blood cell production.
Anything that interferes with the kidneys’ ability to function properly can cause kidney disease, which is the second only to cancer as a leading cause of death in pets. In most cases, progressive age-related deterioration is responsible, with no apparent cause.
Other causes of kidney disease include bacterial and viral infections, nutritional factors, immune system defects, toxins, and inherited breed disorders.
“Acute” kidney disease occurs suddenly, is much less common than chronic kidney disease in pets, and with prompt treatment is generally reversible. Long-term “chronic” kidney disease referred to as chronic renal disease is the most common form in dogs and cats. It is usually the result of slow age-related deterioration of the kidneys.
Signs of Pet Kidney Disease
Initially dogs and cats drink and urinate excessively. The urine produced is dilute so dogs become dehydrated and drink a lot to try to replace the lost fluids. No matter how much they drink; they are unable to maintain normal hydration.
Advanced signs of Kidney Disease include weight loss, vomiting, depression and loss of appetite. Signs are not apparent until 80 percent of kidney function is already lost.
Routine diagnostics include blood and urine tests as well as abdominal x-rays. A kidney biopsy is generally necessary to confirm the exact cause. In most cases, a biopsy is not obtained and treatment is symptomatic.
What Pet Owners and Vets Can do for Kidney Disease
Fluid therapy is the single most important factor in the treatment of kidney disease. The kidneys normally function to maintain fluid levels by concentrating the urine. With kidney disease, excess fluids are lost into the urine so dehydration is a major problem.
Good nutrition is also critical. The goal is to decrease the workload on the kidneys by decreasing the amount of waste the kidneys must eliminate. Excess dietary protein, phosphorus, calcium and salt create a lot of waste. Pet diets should therefore contain small amounts of high-quality proteins, low salt (use salt substitute), and minimal phosphorus. Home made diets are ideal and can be tailored specifically for each pet.
The most important parameter with respect to dietary protein is quality rather than an absolute amount. For example human dialysis patients eat eggs. Why? … Each egg contains 7 grams of pure protein on which the kidneys do not work at all to utilize.
Trying to determine protein levels, by reading pet labels can be quite misleading. For example, a chemical called Cyanuric Acid, used as a pool cleaner is approved as a pet food additive to artificially elevate protein levels.
In fact, the reason thousands of pets died during the 2004 and 2007 MENU pet food recall was not just because of the Melamine. The Melamine was present in the contaminated Chinese Gluten. The problem occurred when it combined with the Cyanuric acid which was also present in the pet food.
The Melamine and Cyanuric acid formed an insoluble precipitate in the kidney tubules of the dogs and cats that ate the pet food and this is what led to acute kidney failure and death for thousands of pets. The latest pet food reports available indicate that the melamine is no longer an issue but the cyanuric acid is still allowable and present in pet food.
Anemia or a low number of red blood cells is usually present in pets with Kidney Disease. Supplementing your dog or cats diet with B-vitamins and iron stimulates red blood cell production, which helps to counteract anemia.
Today kidney therapy may include Calcitriol, which is a natural form of vitamin D and is compounded specifically for each pet. Capsules are given by mouth once daily. Calcitriol helps prevent further kidney deterioration, regenerates the kidneys and helps restore normal function. It was given routinely to human dialysis patients.
In pets, Calcitriol is only effective when the value of the blood calcium multiplied by the blood phosphorus level is less than 40. After over 15 years, of successful international clinical trials, Calcitriol is still considered experimental in pets. So far the results have been excellent for both dogs and cats.
Kidney transplants are a treatment option in extreme cases, and are available at a few veterinary facilities in the US. The College of Veterinary Medicine, in Davis, California has a top notch Kidney Transplant and pet dialysis facility.
Long-term management involves monitoring kidney functions with blood and urine tests every three to six months. At home hydration can be monitored by pinching the skin on the back of the dog’s neck. Hold it for five seconds, then release. If it takes over five seconds for the skin to return to normal, your pet is dehydrated and fluids are indicated.
Pet owners may learn to give daily subcutaneous fluids, which are given under the skin at home. Sodium Chloride, rather than Lactated Ringers solution is preferred for fluid administration, because the Lactated Ringers solution contains both Phosphorus and Calcium neither of which are beneficial to dogs or cats in kidney failure.
Most pets enjoy quality life for several years post diagnosis.
Thanks so much for that Tony as it is very raw at the moment am not sure wots going on! My partner Carol is a critical care nurse and is the stronger one of us both she takes him to the vets as I really do get so upset but by what she was saying is that there is no medication for this but Putin him on a food supplement with the appropriate vitamins with his food may help! He started to drink lots an binge eat causing poorly tummies he already suffers with colitis an on medication for it, he also has developed old man warts my poor boy! But to me he still can have a mad moment but please help me understand what to expect will it b sooner or later an wot to expect when the time is rite! Thankgod so much Nita Carol!!! P.s. Do u think I am panicking, x
If your dog is eating food, then he is doing ok for now. It is when dogs refuse to eat that the end is usually near, particularly with kidney disease. It is vital you find out from your vet what stage the disease is at, because once you have this information, you can then develop a plan of action to help your dog. Please ask your vet what stage the disease is at and how long he/she feels your dog is likely to survive before the 4th stage of kidney failure sets in. Get back to us once you have this info.
As time progresses, you may need to provide anti-nausia medication, which will improve appetite and encourage your dog to eat - and of course, the right kind of food for kidney disease is absolutely essential. I/V Fluids are another potentially useful option eventually, though right now it seems getting the information from your vet is more of a priority. Tony
Thankyou Tony we are bk at vets Monday to pick his new food up!! An to get the second lot of blood test results as his potassium levels are very high the vet said she could not put a time on his little life as little dogs are different to big doggies!! His k plus was 8.5 thats why she took second blood test!! Still such a shock to us! Today the boy ok has had food an drank water an poo poo ok! Will get bk to you when I speak to the vet tony an your support is a great help. Nita
Hi Nita. Thanks for getting back. This can be a very traumatic time for owners, particularly as kidney disease and renal failure are often only discovered late. Sometimes, too late for us to do very much other than comfort our best friends. Dogs are extraordinarily shy at telling us when they are suffering. Many people suggest this is because in the wild they see signs of pain or injury as a weakness, which would cause a pack to disown the weakest member .. and even kill it. Injured pack members therefore tend not to show any sign of illness until the pain becomes intolerable. I hope your vet is able to offer you some reassuring news. It's good that your dog seams to be eating and drinking normally. Tony
Hiya Tony thanks for getting back to me! I am struggling to come to terms with this, it's the not knowing and what to expect I just can't get my head around it, we are tryin to act as normal as possible around him but it's such a struggle! Who knows he might survive a few years yet! But am I kidding myself I need to know so will try an get as much as we can at the vets!! Why Tony do our poor companions suffer so much!!!! Will he deteriate quickly? Sorry to go on but whoever you are your support means alto so thankyou
Hiya Tony our boy as just had some of his food they gave him royal canine renal hope he takes to it and it doesn't upset his tummy! The blood test shown today was lower and we go bk on Wednesday for a chat as the vet operating all day!! Feeling a little more positive but I do know it's a waiting game! His food says it's for chronic kidney disease!! Not sure if thats what he has, but whilst he is eating we are happy! But still not sure what to expect and when!! Thanks for listening Tony will get bk to you.
Hiya tony just a question do you think it's a good idea to give our boy some vitamins to help with his kidneys or just keep him on his new food which is full of vitamins please read up on his food I mentioned it in last comment if you don't mind!! We are so tryin to b normal but it's very hard. Thanks again for your support tony. Nita
Hello NIta....He really doesn't need any extra vitamins other than the food......However, you DO need to be feeding canned food & I would suggest you ask your Vet about a medication called "Benazepril"...It's a heart medication that is also used for Kidney Disease....It really does work well!!!!
Next, Here is a thread from this forum about Kidney Disease....It is lengthy & quite sad, but is worth the reading.....It may will answer some of your questions for the future....
Here it is:
Hi there thankyou for your reply! Our boy on stage 2 chronic kidney failure and taken to his new tin food great! Vet said his little.life.span cud b 3 months to a year and that we will.no wen.time is right! We love him so.much and will keep giving him the love we give him an make his little life as comfortable as possible!!! We are trying to keep happy for him but its just so.sad and upsetting!! We must think of the gud life he has had thanks again Nita x
Hi Tony not heard from you in a while hope your ok!! Please read my last post as there is nothing else to add to the post! We are just trying to make him comfortable as possible! We see him struggling a bit now he eating his new food ok but drinking lots and started getting US up in the night for wee sees!! My heart is breaking and we will never make him suffer!!! It's like a waiting game now! But your kind words has helped me through this so thankyou and hope you have a great Christmas with your loved ones! God bless. Xx big hug from gilly (our loved pooch)
Hi Nita. So sorry for not getting back straight away, but we've been struggling with traumas of our own, with a close relative that is terminally ill and unlikely to survive through the holiday period.
3 months to a year is probably a difficult thing to accept right now, particularly if your little friend is full of energy and eating and drinking normally. The problem with kidney disease is that it can deteriorate almost secretly in the background, until it becomes invasive and painfully obvious. When deterioration does become noticeable, it's usually fast acting, sadly.
If your dog is in Stage 3, then there's a good chance he will survive another 6 months and probably longer, with the right medication and diet. The time to start getting concerned is when he stops eating his normal meal or turns his nose up at his favorite treats. The reason dogs with kidney disease eventually do this is because their bodies are becoming so full of toxins they become nauseous - and this is the time to get your vet to prescribe anti-nausea medication and IV fluids, assuming your dog by then has stopped drinking properly.
But that's for the future ... for now, you are doing all the right things. I would suggest getting monthly blood checks, as this will show how far the disease is progressing and will help you and your vet maintain a viable treatment plan. Treatment is palliative, but useful to help maintain a good level of comfort and energy in your dog. The canned food is fine, certainly for now, and I would suggest keeping away from dried foods, as these just cause dehydration, which is the very last thing a dog with kidney disease needs.
My own dog, BB, passed away a year ago this Christmas. For her, things acted so incredibly fast. One day she was a little bit off her food, but still able to run along the local beach. The next day she could hardly walk and a day later she stopped eating anything, even cooked steak, chicken, etc., and wasn't able to stand up at all - which is when we had to do the right thing for her. It still feels quite painful to remember that period, but I subsequently learned so much about this disease and I'm happy to pass on what I learned to anyone that might want to hear it.
Give Gilly a huge hug from me - and try to carry on doing what you are doing as you are doing a great job. Best wishes, Tony xx
Tony I am so sorry to hear of your sadness!! You sound such a strong person and seem to deal with things so sensibly!! I really mean thankyou for all your support and am so sorry for been impatient! We are so new to this and as the day's go on I think I am dealing with it and other days so down!!! We will let him carry on with this food an when he stops eating then we will panic!! We love them so much our little friends but we must be strong for them and not think how sad we are!! Bless you Tony please take care I am here if you need a chat! It works both ways you help me and I am there for you... Big hug from us all. Xxx
Just one more question Tony!! Gilly eating his food really well but poo pooin a lot they seem to be normal poos but then wants more food!!! He only little boy and on an average a tin a day!! Should we give him more when he mithers for more as he seems to be pooin wot he eats out quickly!! On average 3 to 4 poos a day!!! Since eating this new food!!! Sorry to burden you at this time Tony but it's getting a bit sorry looking!!! Xxxxx
Hi. The change in pooing is probably due to the change in diet, rather than anything else, so I wouldn't worry about it. In terms of the amount to give him ... it would be worth asking your vet when you next see him, but in the meantime try to find out what the correct weight is for the breed (the internet will have these details, just Google it) and feed him enough to maintain that weight - the manufacturer of the tinned food will also advise you on this if you contact them about it.
It may just be that he likes the food more than what he was eating before and, like us all, wants more of it, not necessarily because he needs it, but just because he likes it.
Im also not sure what you were feeding him before, but some foods contain less water (particularly the dried food types and their varieties, which I am very much against), and tinned foods can cause more pooing, simply because they have a higher water content. In any event, it's certainly nothing to worry about. Of course, if you are concerned at all, just give your vet a ring and talk to him about it - if nothing else, this should help reassure you.
Thank you so much for your kind words. It's true, our best friends mean the world to us and while none of them ever live as long as any of us would like, they offer us such loyalty, love and affection during their short lives, we should rightly feel truly gifted to have them share our lives.
Have a wonderful holiday period and enjoy every minute you have with him ... he's a lucky boy to have so much love, attention and concern from you ... and I'm sure he would say thank you, if he could. Tony xx
I meant to add in my last post that there's a great website at http://dogaware.com/health/kidney.html which explains all there is to know about kidney disease in dogs, in a really easily understood way. The site also contains some fabulous advice on diet too, which I am sure you will find useful. Tony x
Hi Tony I just wanted to say thankyou so much for your loyal support I don't think I would of understood this situation an no way would I have coped with it! I am now understanding an taking each day as it comes!!! It's always a heartbreaking end and thats the part I dread!!! Merry Christmas Tony I hope your dealing with your sadness ok!! Am here if you need a chat! Take great care be strong and think of all those lovely hound dogs looking down on us!! Xx
Hi Tony hope you had a good Christmas and a better new year! Our boy gilly is still with us but at the ultrasound stage he is having one tomorrow as they want to know what stage he at now, his breathing is bad now the vet said it's his liver!!!! He is vert lethargic an lost interest in everyday things!!! Its so heartbreaking Tony but we must be strong for him an we never want him to suffer! He eating his renal food with a tiny new potato an carrot he won't eat it on its own!!t!!! Kind regards Tony with love Anita an Carol xx
Hello again. I am sorry to hear that Gilly has deteriorated and now may have liver problems. Owners often feel very helpless in these situations, but believe me, you are doing all you possibly can to help your boy. You might ask your vet about IV fluid therapy and anti-nausea medication. Dogs with kidney failure have a build-up of toxins in their bodies, which causes acute nausea and which then stops a dog from wanting to eat. Anti-nausea medication will help encourage him to eat, which in turn will provide him with some energy. Feeding is always problematic in dogs with this condition - and to be honest, I would tend to feed him whatever he will eat. Food is so enjoyable to dogs and major part of their day, so at this stage it's worth giving him whatever he wants. There are good canned foods specifically for kidney failure, but it may be worth asking your vet about diet and what is best for Gilly.
I know from experience just how dreadfully heartbreaking this is for you. There are few words of comfort I can give, except that you have given your boy a fabulous life and you are doing everything possible to help him. Just keep doing what you are doing and enjoy every day with him. Gilly is lucky to have you in his life - just as you are lucky to have shared part of your lives with him. Dogs are truly our children, our best friends and our companions - but none ever live as long as any of us would like. Sadly, that's just the way it is.
I hope you get some positive news tomorrow. Do come back and let us know. You are in my thoughts. Love, Tony x
Hiya Tony hope your well? Just a update on gilly! We can't believe how he is doing! We couldn't put him through his scan as worried about his little heart with the sedation an really they only wanted to see we're he's at! I think we know that! Vet said it's just diet control now as his liver very swollen! But Tony he has such a sprite sometimes an I can't get my head around the fact he is dying! Please answer my question as to the liver damage is that really bad an could he go at anytime! Wot could happen an what should we expect! With liver damage an heart problem now!! I am confused with this! We are making him comfortable as possible an will never let him suffer! We don't want to go down that road of prolonging his little life tryin out different remedies!!! Just need a bit of guidance with this as I am makin myself ill wit worry.... Thankyou big love xxx
Me again! Sorry I forgot to add that his breathing is really bad now!! Xx
Hi. I am no expert, but I do know a little ... the problem you have is that - in addition to other functions - the liver works alongside the kidneys to remove toxins. It is effectively a back-up for the work of the kidneys. When both the kidneys and the liver start to fail, the prognosis is very poor. The fact that Gilly also has heart issues makes the prognosis even less positive. In addition, it is essential not to put additional stress on either the kidneys or the liver, so any medications used to treat the conditions have to be chosen very carefully, because all medications put some strain on both organs.
Your vet is truly the best person to give you management advice, so please consult him/her and ask any questions you may have. Like most illnesses, liver disease can be treated effectively but only if caught early enough. Your vet will advise if there are any treatment options available.
As time goes on, Gilly can be expected to drink substantial amounts of water. This will happen due to the liver problem. However, this will also put some stress on the kidneys, as they help flush the system. The other concern here is that meats of all kind are ill-advised for dogs with liver disease - so anything you are feeding with meat in it is best avoided, under normal circumstances. That said, if your vet believes the prognosis is extremely bad, then I would feed Gilly whatever he wants and will eat - even if it is not the best thing for his physical health, it will almost certainly make him happier than going without his favorite foodstuffs.
It is interesting to note that the liver is capable of completely regenerating itself, and it is the only organ in the body that can do this - so that's why I mentioned, if caught early enough, liver disease can be effectively treated. The difficulty here is this is probably secondary to the other complications, so even if you had success in treating the liver failure, it is not possible to prevent the kidneys from shutting down.
There are a whole raft of physical problems that are likely to occur. These include seizures, refusal to eat, nausea, jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea and extreme lethargy. As Gilly becomes more sickly, he is likely also to suffer from depression, and perhaps this latter psychological problem will be the hardest to deal with.
The next obvious question you may have is when would it be appropriate to consider euthanasia. I think this is the most difficult question any owner ever asks on this forum. My reply would be ... whenever you think Gilly has 'had enough', when there is no real hope of improving the treatment (according to your vet) and when Gilly stops eating, wagging his tail and generally seems to have lost interest in life. I do know those words may be very hard to read and even harder to think about, and I am really sorry for putting them down in print.
In my own experience, a dog somehow manages to tell their owner when the time is right. It is almost always written in their eyes - and many owners understand that such a look is the most painful thing any owner ever sees.
I truly hope Gilly finds enough strength to keep going for a while to give you all time to come to terms with things. While he is interested in things going on around him and seems contented despite his condition, please just keep doing what you are already doing ... and give him a huge hug from me. You are all in my thoughts. Tony x
Hi tony hope ur well we are taking gilly to the vets tomorrow as his breathing getting quite bad and just today his little legs started to shake! Why is that tony!!! He is lookin rather sad and we are not sure what to do! We don't want him suffering at all but don't want to do anything drastic! I know an can see he not happy an he really tries an makes a effort for us!!! We just want him to go peacefully! It's the breathing we are worried about tony!!! I come to you as you give me peace of mind I hope you don't mind! Thankyou so so much!!!! Xxxxx