Kidney failure in dogs

Teddy, my nine year old black lab/golden retriever/irish setter mix, was diagnosed with kidney failure this summer.  I took her in for a totally unrelated issue.  Actually, I officially took her in for her shots because I was embrassed to take her in for the reason I thought was serious.  (Too many doctors and vets have looked at me like I’m crazy – see my post about figuring out that Teddy had a herniated disk.) 

When we got to the vets office, the first thing they did was weigh her, at which point they discovered that she’d lost 17 pounds!  The shots were forgotten and they immediately went into diagnostic mode.  They also listened carefully to my explanation of the symptoms I thought they’d ignore (Teddy came in from the backyard freaked out and hid behind a chair for the day and wouldn’t jump up on the sofa or bed), they checked her back out completely and ruled out any back issues and then suggested blood work.  When the blood work came back the vet spent a lot of time explaining to me what each measurement meant and how he had used a combination of them to make a diagnosis of kidney failure.  (The time he spent and the clarity of his explanations was better than any doctor or vet I’ve ever been to.  And to think I’d said he was pretty reserved!  I take it back – he’s great.)  Then he told me the bad news, the problem is fatal.  He said she had anywhere from two months to two years to live.

Here are some of the things he said we could do to help alleviate the fact that her kidneys are failing:

  • Keep weight on her!
  • Limit exercise.  Take her for short walks instead of runs, for example. (Unlike the previous vet, the one that finally diagnosed the slipped disc, he didn’t suggest eliminating all walks.)
  • Feed her dog food especially designed for kidney failure.  Although when I told him about Teddy’s allergies, he suggested staying with the food that was currently working and switching to the senior diet. 
  • Feed her less protein and more carbs.  (Her kidneys can’t process protein well anymore.)
  • Do NOT feed her puppy food.  This is what I immediately thought and what the receptionist also suggested.
  • Feed her supplements of pasta or rice and egg whites.

So how’s Teddy doing?  Great! She loves people food – she’s gotten quite obnoxious about it.  And she has a ton of energy since we started feeding her pasta.  (She’s become some what of a snob and definitely prefers egg noodles over rice and won’t touch overcooked rice!)  It’s been two months and although very skinny, she seems very happy and full of energy.

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