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14146674 tn?1433798390

I lost my beautiful dog Abby to kidney failure on May 28

Hi Everyone,

Last Thursday my beloved girl Abby went to the Rainbow Bridge. She was toy poodle cross I adopte six years ago and was almost twelve years old. She was diagnosed last year after blood work was done when she wasn't feeling well (she had pancreatitis). Her numbers were stage one and we went ahead with dental work and removing five decaying teeth to lessen the risk of infection.

Abby also had an extensive orthopedic device installed in her front right elbow to repair a fracture that occurred before I adopted her. She was taken by animal protection officers (I work at a humane society) from a horribly abusive family and had one surgery paid for by the humane society to fix her elbow but she required three more since I adopted her to finally fix the break. Her last surgery was two years ago. At that time she was overweight and struggled to make it through the six hour surgery but she made it. My girl was a fighter. She also had gastroenteritis twice in addition to pancreatitis. Always one with a sensitive belly, I had to feed her a vet gastro food for many years to keep her system in check.

When I found out a year ago Abby had kidney disease I was devistated. But like so many here, I did research and switched her to a homemade diet. I also started her on Renavast, salmon oil and anything else that may work. Until last week she was completely fine. Or as least she presented that way. She would throw up every now and then but not often but had diarrhea a few times a month. I should have had her levels checked more but I was lulled into a false sense of security. I took Abby to work with me everyday for six years. She was my 24 hour a companion. I thought if she was declining, I would see it.

In a year she lost about five pounds but that put her back to a normal weight. I knew her kidneys might have been a part of it but she was also more active with her leg. I thought as she moved through the phases of this disease there would be more signs. I was wrong.

On May 14 I left for a 12 day trip with my husband to England. Abby's normal pet sitter was out of town so a friend of mine offered to watch her. She only worked four hours a day and was an experienced dog owner. Her Mom watched her dogs so she could devote all her time to Abby. The fight night Abby cried and waited by the window watching for me. The next day she threw up. We attributed to her being nervous about me leaving. She started eating less but not by much. For the next week or so she did great. Went on three walks a day and settled in well.

A few days before we got back she messaged us and said Abby had some blood in her stool. Not a lot and it only happened twice. I said to keep and eye on her and if needed I would take her to the vet when back. The day before I arrived home, she stopped eating and became very depressed. When I arrived to pick her up, my normally over the moon excited to see me dog could only lick my nose and manage a few excited spins. That night we went to bed early after Abby had some cooked hamburger and she sleep all night and seemed incredibly tiring, The next morning she ate breakfast and we went to work. I took her to meetings with me because I didn't want her to be alone and she just sat tired on my arms. I work with vets and they said just to keep an eye on her but that she was probably just upset I left her. My boss told me to take her to my vet. That she didn't look right. I was able to get her in and the vet couldn't find anything wrong, gave her some sub q fluids to perk her up and said he would call with her blood results tomorrow.

I took her home and she refused to eat. She struggled to go up the deck stairs after going outside. She started pooping a black tar like substance and throughout the night it elevated to bright red blood. I was panicked. I dropped her off at the vet at 7:30 am. A few hours later I got her results. I am in Canada so I know we measure differently but her BUN was 64+ (machine could not read any higher). Normal range is 2.5 to 8.9. Her phosphorous was 6.46+ (again it couldn't read any higher) and normal is 0.94 to 2.13. Her creatine was 1407. Normal range is 27 to 124. My vet said if she was a person she would need a transplant and her kidneys had failed. I was in shock. We agreed to keep her on an IV to flush her system and he started meds to help her nauseous. A palliative care vet tech called me to discuss options. I said I wanted her home and wanted to give her a peaceful death but hopefully after a few weeks of being happy. Overnight she didn't respond. I visited her the next day and the smell of her breath was unlike anything I ever experienced. She was so happy to see me but clearly sick. But she cried when I put her back in the kennel. She wanted to go home with me.

My husband and I came back later in the day and we spent about 45 minutes with her. Despite being sick, she acted very normal. Wagging tail, happy to see us and loving as always. But she also seemed distant. She didn't respond to her name. And of course the smell. It was so strong. I held her in my arms as she peacefully passed and I whispered in her ear over and over how much I loved her. I am heartbroken.

This all happened to fast I am wondering if there is anything I could have done differently. If she was taken to the vet sooner when I was gone, could she have pulled through for longer? Did me leaving stress her to the point her kidneys failed? Did I do the right thing putting her down or should I have brought her home and tried to give her more time. I feel so much guilt and in shock. She was my whole world and I feel like I failed her. I'd do anything to have her back. I miss her more than anything in the world.
5 Responses
1916673 tn?1420233270
Hi. Wow. That must have been tearful for you writing your post ... it was certainly tearful for me reading it. Your story is not unlike my own 3 years ago, when I first discovered the dreadful truth of how quickly kidney disease can deteriorate once symptoms start. The problem is, as you may know, outward observable symptoms don't show until stage 4, the final stage of kidney disease. By this stage, there is very little that can be done, other than palliative management, IV fluids, diet change, and all those things you already did for your best friend and companion.

The thing I did learn very quickly was that catching this disease early is the only way anyone can hope to have some real effect on the illness. Changes introduced early won't prevent the inevitable, but it certainly adds that elusive quality ... time ... and prolongs life. The only way of detecting kidney disease early is to have regular (at least annually) blood and sometimes more importantly urine tests undertaken. I now do this with my other dogs as a routine measure and it is very reassuring to get good results.

You gave Abby everything you could give a dog ... despite the dreadful start she had, the orthopedic work and dental work that had to be done, you provided her with as much of a healthy life you could. You certainly have nothing whatsoever to feel guilty about. Instead, you should be comforting yourself with the knowledge that you gave her a loving, caring and wonderful life, albeit far too short.

I'm not sure if it will help, but some dog owners that do feel guilt in grief, have said they found something I wrote some time ago of some comfort. You can find it here:

http://www.infobarrel.com/When_a_Pet_Dog_Dies

You will also find a whole variety of articles written by me about canine kidney failure on my website at www.tonyboothwriter.com

I am pleased you have joined us here. We are a family of friends, all with one thing in common, we have had or do have a dog with kidney disease. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge here, and everyone is very empathic and supportive. Losing a companion and loyal best friend is, I think, harder than losing some human friends and family. We spend much more of our time with them and them with us. We share our adventures, and our secrets, happy days and sad days with them. When they have to leave us, it is devastating, painful and can be life altering.

We are here for you and we understand.

Tony
14146674 tn?1433798390
Thank you so much for your reply Tony. I read your article on loss and it was helpful. I am sure many dog owners dealing with kidney disease and failure feel guilt. It is so hard not to be able to fix the ones who are dependent on us the most. I have one more question, because Abby's levels were so high, is that something that would have happened quickly or built up over time until her kidneys just couldn't function anymore? I do work with Vets but find unless they've cared for an animal themselves with the disease, the knowledge just isn't as in depth as here.
1916673 tn?1420233270
Hi. Yes, the toxic levels build up slowly over sometimes several years. But no symptoms usually, until such time as the kidneys are so damaged that the dog (usually) starts to turn their nose up at food. By this stage, the disease has usually reached stage 3 or 4. I should add, there is no stopping the progression of kidney disease and the damage it does to the kidneys is irreversible. We can however sometimes halt the disease in its tracks and improve quality of life, for a time. The most success is with early diagnosis and fast intervention. The best way of finding out if something is wrong with the kidneys early is to have annual urine tests and blood tests - actually, a urine test (looking for protein) will identify kidney failure about 9 months before it will show in blood results.

Owners often feel very guilty that they didn't spot a problem beforehand, but truthfully, without symptoms, we just would never know anything was wrong. I now have my dogs urine and blood tested every year, just to be on the safe side.

Hope that helps.

Tony
14146674 tn?1433798390
Thank you Tony. We discovered her kidney disease in June of last year but it was stage one. She was doing great until just four days before I had to put her down. As the Vet said, they kidneys were coping until they couldn't. Her last year of her life was pretty great though and she showed few symptoms of being sick until the very end. Thankfully I did learn in the early stages she was sick and was able to prolong her life through diet and supplements. Like all owners, I just wish I had her longer. Forever if possible :)
1916673 tn?1420233270
Hi. It was great you discovered it early and managed to have that extra time to share experiences with her and her with you. We all know only too well how devastating this illness is, but early diagnosis is so important, as it means our interventions really can make a big difference.

Tony
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