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:
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.