I posted in another forum and finally figured out I needed to also post to this user group vs. another pet forum....anyway, my dog Hurley was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease/failure in 2011 and has lately been displaying many of the obvious signs that his kidneys are starting to shut down. He has been on KD for the past three years (plus a couple months since it was earlier in the year of 2011 that he was diagnosed). I have been having to add baby food (turkey or chicken flavor) to get him to eat since he decided one day KD alone was not appetizing. He always scarfed down his KD and I would add a little bit of water so he could eat it since he did not have many teeth. I have had him for ten years and did not come from a good home or lack there of I should say since he was abandoned and was not given long to live. Well, ten years later here we are. He is losing his balance, walking odd with his back legs (my husband and I call it the "sumo walk" although it makes me feel bad to joke about it). He sleeps the majority of the day. On May 5, 2014 he weighed in at 8.1lbs, he was weight again June 27 at 6.75. I know his kidneys are just shutting down and that this is the end stages, but I wanted to know if anyone has gone through this before with a dog and how long it took because I am unsure of when to notice if he will be in pain. He does not seem to be in any obvious pain that I can other than maybe just slower and doesn't play, etc. He is about 15 or 16 years old, but we never really knew his actual age - just always estimated. Anyway, our family cat had renal failure also, and we did the fluids and all for a good six months and she had a slower painful death. She was scheduled to be put to sleep but the night before she passed away at our home. I have been told it will not be as slow with my dog, but I just need to get some advice form fellow pet parents on this. I work during the day and I am constantly worrying about when I get home, if he will be alive, and feel terrible leaving him at home and don't want him to be alone. I am hoping to just stay home a couple of days should I notice that it's only a matter of time (hours vs. days). Then, I can be home. I don't think my work will let me work from home in the case that it takes another 6 weeks. Although, he has been eating less and less, but does show some enthusiasm to eat and still does his perimeter check in the kitchen. Diarrhea and peeing daily, but sometimes goes in the house without control. Sorry that was long. Trying to cover everything in case someone can relate.
Hi. I'm glad you found us here. If Hurley was diagnosed in 2011, you have done extraordinarily well getting him to this stage. Just out of interest (may be useful for others here) what happened in 2011 for the diagnosis to be made?
Is he on anti-nausea medication? If not, I would start this fairly soon. The toxins building up inside Hurley's body, resulting from the kidneys being unable to process and evacuate them, are causing him to feel sickly - and it is through feeling sickly that dogs go off their food. At this stage, eating is vital, as it provides energy and nutrition. The fluids (given IV) simply help produce urine that help flush more toxins out, so this can be useful in helping bring the blood levels back towards normal when they are seriously abnormal.
You have asked an almost impossible question. How long does it take for the kidneys to fail, beyond which a dog will be suffering? The truth is, every dog is different and, as you have rather proved already, some can survive a very long time, given the right approach and management. My own dog died 3 years ago from this dreadful disease, and it all happened within 3 days. Day 1 a bit off her food, day 2 at the vet and a bit lethargic, day 3 not eating anything and not able to stand up or walk.
I think you will know when the right time has come. Hurley will tell you, in his own way. Thankfully, I don't believe that time has arrived as yet.
You might have a read of a piece I have written about kidney failure and diet. You can access this at:
Thanks - I am not quite sure other than him drinking too much water or was not drinking enough, and had a few stints of bacterial infections due to him getting into food he should not have by my former roommates at the time.....The vet decided then to run his kidney values. And, at that time it was very minor, but they wanted to get him on KD right away. He maintained weight and other things like pee and poo and drinking and eating normally for a couple solid years (minus the occasional issue), but just the past month or two started displaying signs of aging and kidneys getting worse. He does not do well at the vet with needles anyway (last visit he got his nails trimmed and he was unusually relaxed for the tech). So, I am worried about getting him fluids at the vet, and he won't let me do them at home. He is so tiny that I am afraid they won't even find much of a vein (although, I know they probably could), but don't want to put him under more stress. He seems very comfortable now, and I know fluids could help (he is drinking a somewhat normal amount of water on his own and the water I add to his food). Just feel like fluids would only hold temporary for him at this point. I may cook him some plain chicken so it is not just baby food and/or KD - mix it up a little and see if he eats more. He is on a strict diet not to eat anything else. Someone suggested melons, but that has too much sugar I feel and would just do more harm than good. Although good for water hydration, the sugar would just not digest well I am guessing. And, thanks for the input on time frame. I know I really can't get a definitive answer, and sorry to hear about your loss.
Hello again. It is possible to give fluids by subcutaneous delivery, rather than into a vein. This tends to be much easier to do at home and less stressful for both the person administering and the dog. You might talk to your vet about this as a possibility. Additional fluids can be a real lifesaver in these situations, so it is worth pursuing.
If you have read my piece mentioned in the first post, you will know that adding a little honey to food can help make kd food more palatable. You could also try natural (not flavored) yoghurt. I think it is also worth giving a little cooked chopped cabbage to his diet, maybe every third day (reasons given in the article).
If you give chicken, make sure it is human grade chicken with the skin on. The reason being human grade chicken is high quality protein, rather than low quality often found in manufactured dog foods or chicken intended for dogs. Again, this is explained more in the article I wrote.
You do have to be a little careful of baby food, though I understand your reason for giving it. Sometimes it contains things that are not good for dogs with kidney failure. You just have to check the ingredients carefully.
And finally, on the subject of water, make sure his bowl is filled with filtered water - as tap water often contains salts and other minerals that will stress the kidneys.
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