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Dogs and kidney failure

My mom's dog is in kidney failure. The vet sent her home with meds, an iv and special food. He will not eat any food and is barely drinking any water. He is really just laying around. My mom wants to know if the dog is in physical pain? He does not act like he is in pain, but dogs don't show pain like we do. I know she loves him and only wants to do what is best.
19 Responses
675347 tn?1365464245
There is a lot about the later stages of kidney failure I don't know. There are others in this Community who know a LOT about it.
But what I do know is that the dog is likely to have anemia, will be exhausted, not able to do much, and will most likely feel terribly nauseous. As the kidneys filter toxins, kidneys that don't work, cannot any longer filter those toxins, and they build up in the blood, effectively making the dog feel poisoned.
So that level of discomfort -although maybe not excruciating pain -is still a pain of sorts. Imagine how a Human would feel with a bad dose of food-poisoning that never goes away.....that's maybe something similar.
Constant nausea makes any enjoyment of life, even the simplest pleasures, disappear entirely.

What medication did the vet give her? And did the vet say anything about any possible level of improvement at the stage your Mom's dog is at?

The ony thing that can be done with kidney failure -at any stage is stabilize the current kidney fuction. As it is impossible for the kidneys to get any better -they do not "heal" or regenerate, the best-case scenario is that with good medication and diet, they will stabilize and not get any worse. If too much kidney function is already lost, by the time of diagnosis, then the prognosis, I'm afraid, is not that good. The best to be expected is that the symptoms can be held at bay for as long as possible, wth medication, careful feeding, and fluids.

Has the vet given any anti-nausea drugs? That might help quite a bit, as a dog won't eat and often won't drink if it is feeling very sick.
Avatar universal
The vet says the dog will die soon. That was on Monday. She is considering just taking him to be put to sleep. She does not want to prolong his suffering especially if he is in pain. She wanted me to find out if the dog could be in pain. If so she will probably have it done tomorrow. I just feel so bad for her and I want to give her the info she has asked me to find. Thank you for your help and if you know more please share.
Avatar universal
As far as I know the vet gave her antibiotics and iv for fluids and some hills science diet food to try to force feed him.
675347 tn?1365464245
As it stands I don't think force feeding a dog who probably feels very nauseous is going to help. The thing to do right now would be to see if any anti nausea medication would help. It won't help for ever, and the point will most likely be reached when letting go and having him put to sleep is the best thing. But he may just perk up and eat something of his own accord if he feels a little better.
I don't mean to suggest prolonging his suffering, but maybe something to ease his symptoms for a while, perhaps.
If he won't eat, it might be hard to give him the anti nausea tablets. You could ask the vet if trying a shot might help?

But at the same time it's best to go with instincts. Of course as all medication can only really hold things at bay -at best, it's wise to be prepared to help him out of this world gently when the time feels right.
Avatar universal
I have passed tho info along to my mother. Thank you very much for your help.
1832268 tn?1326819610
I am sorry to hear about your Moms dog. How old is her dog?
You say the vet told her he will die soon...?
Does that mean that the Vet has told your Mother that her dog is in Stage 4 of the disease..?
Stage 4 of the disease is considered end stage. The stage of the disease is determined by the Blood work. Bun Creatinine, and Phosphorus levels. Ask the Vet what Stage your dog is in.

Did the Vet offer to administer IV fluids..?  If the dog is in a Lower stage of the disease, often the vet will administer IV fluids for a couple of days. Many times, this will help to alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease, and make the dog feel better for awhile.

What type of symptoms is your Moms dog showing..?
Any vomiting or diarrhea yet...? Blood in the stools..? Shivering, subtle stumbling, ulcers in the mouth or on the tongue, brown coating on the tongue? Foul breath..?  

If her dog is not eating, it may help if she can get some anti nausea meds into the dog.  Crush the pills between two spoons...add a small amount of water...draw it up into a syringe and administer. Also as Ginger has mentioned, the Vet could administer a Shot.

As the disease progresses, the dog may or may not experience seizures, or stroke. Several people report that when their dogs have died from this, prior to dying, the dogs vomiting is almost continuous. There is also the possibility that the dog may slip into a coma, and die in his sleep.

Sadly, if the dog is not eating or drinking, and is indeed in the later stages of the Disease, there is not much that can be done for him.
Please let us know how he is doing.
My heart goes out to you.

675347 tn?1365464245
This is so terribly hard for you, and your Mom.
Please, if you can, tell her not to let it get to the stage of constant vomiting. At that stage, if no medicines will work, and it gets to the point where anti-nausea drugs do not help, nothing is going to help at all, and he will be suffering.
If things get so bad, it is best to let him go to "sleep" as peacefully as possible.
There is no dishonour in death. Love is the thing that matters most.
1832268 tn?1326819610
If your dog is in one of the earlier stages of Kidney Disease, the Disease can be slowed down, and the symptoms can be managed.
There are many reports of dogs surviving for several more months, to several more years. All dogs are different, and of course there are many variables involved.
I have read many articles on the internet that will state that to die of Kidney Failure is a painless death. Some of these articles have gone so far as to call it a gentle death.  I am not so sure that I would totally agree with these statements.
In my opinion, when a dog is in stage 4 (the final stage) of this disease, the toxins in it's body are making it very sick. These toxins are poisoning the dog, and the dog must feel absolutely horrible, unless of course, it is one of the lucky ones who slips into a coma, and is unaware of what is happening.
This build up of toxins must make the dog feel horribly ill during the final weeks of it's life.
The people who reported the repeated vomiting prior to their dogs death, were the same people who tried desperately to keep their dogs alive by trying to force feed their dogs food, water, or medications.

I would agree with Ginger, that if the anti-nausea medications are no longer working, it is time to say Good-bye to your dog.
When your dog is refusing to eat, or drink, and the medications are becoming a struggle to administer, then I think your dog is telling you that it is ready to leave.

Knowing what Stage of this Disease your dog is in, will help you to make better decisions.
82861 tn?1333457511
I lost a dog to kidney failure and while I wouldn't say it's particularly painful, it is incredibly miserable.  As others have mentioned, nausea and eventually vomiting is a huge problem.  I was able to control my dog's nausea pretty well until the end with phenergan, which is usually prescribed for humans but can be given to dogs.  

Vets typically go with reglan for nausea at first because it's cheap and usually well-tolerated.  BUT, it's metabolized in the kidneys and as the damage to the kidneys progresses, the reglan can build up to toxic levels in the blood.  (Not a pretty sight.)  A vet can offer plenty of other (and more expensive) nausea meds to try but I found that the phenergan worked the best.  It really was surprising to me that my dog went back to eating normally as long as her nausea meds were on board.  Like night and day.  One minute she was throwing up her toenails and 15 to 20 minutes later she was fine.  You just never know.

Your mom could probably keep her dog going for a while longer with some heavy-duty nursing, kidney diet (preferably homemade), a phosphorus binder like aluminum hydroxide (found in over-the-counter indigestion products), effective nausea meds and possibly sub-q fluid injections if the dog can't stay hydrated on her own.  Since the kidney diet isn't exactly great nutritionally speaking, vitamin supplements are a good idea as well.  It a whole lot of work and you have to have a great pilling technique because that's a whole lot of pills to administer on a daily basis.  If sub-q fluids are necessary, she'll probably need to learn how to do that at home or she'll have to see vet on a nearly daily basis.

What I mentioned about the phosphorus binder is really important.  While phosphorus is an essential mineral, mostly early in life when bones are growing, it is deadly to failing kidneys.  A binding agent basically grabs hold of the phosphorus so it can be excreted from the body.  Calcium is a great phosphorus binder and it's cheap (think "Tums" antiacids) but dogs in kidney failure usually already have high calcium which can cause cardiac problems.  Aluminum hydroxide is a better choice if you can find it in a product with no calcium.  I think one called "Alu-Tab" is available in Europe and Canada but I haven't seen it in the States.  Since my dog's calcium was only borderline high, Tums made a world of difference in her overall quality of life.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying goodbye now.  Kidney failure is so miserable that there certainly is suffering involved.  If your mom simply can't do all the necessary nursing - it really is a lot more work than you might imagine - saying goodbye is the right thing to do.  I really feel for her.  It's such an awful feeling to be helpless in face of something like this that has only one end.  The only choice we have is in the timing.  :-(
Avatar universal
Thanks to all for your help and concern. Scooter was put to sleep not Long after my original post. We know that while he was living we all loved him very much and he had a great life.
441382 tn?1452814169
I'm very sorry to hear about Scooter.  With him being as ill as he was, though, you did the right thing by helping him from this world gently.   By the act of bringing them home to live with us, we are promising them that we will do our best to keep them free from pain.  When there are just no other options, as much as it hurts, we are giving them the last gift we can give them - the release from their sickness.  You lived up to your promise to Scooter and didn't allow him to suffer.

I hope that your great memories of him help you through this very sad time.

Avatar universal
Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words.
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