Our dog's kidneys are failing

Angel, our 12 1/2 year old sheltie, has been very sick this week. She started vomiting Wednesday, continued through Thursday (though all she was vomiting at that point was bile), and started having the runs the same day. Now, as she’s gotten older, she’s had bouts like this, but they usually self-remedy in a day or two. She’d been to the vet before for it, and we knew the routine to help her through it. But when the diarrhea continued on Friday, and she still wouldn’t eat (including her anti-nausea pills–wrapped in normally irresistable peanut butter–we’d been trying to get her to eat since Thursdsay), it was time to take her to the vet.

The vet gave her some subcutaneous fluids and a shot of the same meds we had at home, then pulled some blood to see if anything was off. Unfortunately, the tests showed her kidney, phosphorous, and potassium levels were high. The vet thinks this is a more chronic, rather than acute, problem, and that as she’s aged her ability to fight it has weakened. This would explain the increasing bouts of nausea and vomiting, the increasing loss of appetite in the last few months, and her general “I don’t feel too good” demeanor. She spends most of her days lying down.

I’ve posted about Angel here before, though it’s been a while. She had been my parents’ dog, but my father’s Parkinson’s and other medical conditions meant that there was just no time to attend to her. She became obese, painfully arthritic, and spent her days sleeping under the deck. We took her in, shaved the weight off of her (which helped her arthritis tremendously), and have kept her up to date on her sheets and teeth cleaning. I’d like to think we extended not just the length of her life, but the quality of it.

Since we had RuffLlama, she hasn’t received as much attention. Thankfully, as she has aged, she hasn’t needed as much. Most of the time she’s just happy to be with her pack, snoozing on the floor in the same room as us.

For now, we’re going to see if we can perk up her appetite with the anti-nausea meds. When she came home last night, she did eat a little, and drank plenty. But this morning, while we were able to give her her meds, she only ate a few bites of her breakfast. We’ll see if she doesn’t perk up in the next few days…but this is starting to look like the end. :frowning:

With a wee sniff I scritch gently behind the ears and say “Good girl Angel, good girl…”

My father’s Beardie is in kidney failure. He is a bit of a genetic anomoly, he was born blind and has a heart murmur, they said he may live past two years when he was first born.
He is now about ten years old and about six months ago was given about two months to live. With meds and special food his condition has stabilized and he seems to be perking up. My dad is under no illusions - we all know it’s a matter of time, but as long as the time is quality time we are all okay with it.

If Farley ever seemed in pain or anything the decision would be swift and merciful, but as long as he is bouncy and happy we will continue to do whatever we need to.

He is a special little guy.

I just wanted to add that if it is the end then you can rest knowing that you have provided a wonderful life for your Angel - but it may not be.

Been there, done that.

As painful as it is, thankfully dogs can be euthanized.

Good night Angel.

Thank you for your sentiments. Angel is more perked up this morning, meaning…she’s up and following us from room to room. While she hardly touched her breakfast, she is watching RuffLlama carefully so she can swoop in and pick up a dropped graham cracker or Cheerio.

Double post. Sorry.

Shelties are a remarkable breed, I watched as our sheltie mutt Ruffles completed his life in a strangely comic circle. Having lush plumage on his chest was difficult for young Ruffie. It took him some time to learn to lift a leg rather than merely stretch when making his wee. He would often be a tad damp when he was younger because of this. Being the apple of the family eye (my father would often employ the dog’s name first when searching for mine,) both his hind legs were fixed when the tendons went bad on the slippery railroad ties that were steps leading to the back. As an old man, never grumpy may I add, Ruffy’s legs were a tad weak and he no longer lifted them whilst weeing and returned to the long stretch and the damp chest. This was the dog that taught me the nature of time and mortality when, as he was a wee pup and me a wee lad, I calculated his lifetime and mine, realizing that I would see him pass. I then calculated the expected of family and realized the same. Clutching the dear Ruffles on the stairs of my parents house as a little kid I caught on to the inherent sadness of life as I realized all will pass, including myself, and nothing really mattered at all except for that moment while I cuddled the dog and cried and cried.

That was a hell of a dog.

The oldest of my dogs, a nearly 14-year-old “teacup” (hate that term) poodle, has had chronic renal failure for several years now. Periodically she has bouts of vomiting and loss of appetite, and I say good night to her and believe she’ll be gone when I wake up in the morning, but so far she has not only held on but has bounced back with puppyish vigor. Sometimes all it takes is getting a taste of something into her to stimulate her appetite. Still, with every episode she gets a little closer to that day where I’ll take her to the vet and send her off into the ether. I’m glad I’ll be able to do that for her when the time comes.

Make sure Angel knows she is a good dog. They do like that so much!

Ruffian, you have my sympathy. We just lost our beloved, 10+ yr old German Shepherd, Titan, on November 30th. Your descriptions of symptoms and progression are eerily similar. Titan’s appetite very quickly went from eating his kidney diet food to human food to some human food to nothing in about a month. We were able to bring him home for the last 10 days of his life and know he was more comfortable here, but the end was really tough. We were fortunate enough to have a vet come to our house so we know he was comfortable (as much as possible) in the end. Our other dog, Spook, a Norfolk Terrier, was able to be with Titan those last days. This was the 1st time my wife and I had to go through this as adults, but the only advice I can offer after going through this is spend as much time with Angel as you can. You are in my thoughts.

I’m very sorry to hear about Angel. We went through this with our cat George throughout the summer and fall. We finally let him go on Oct 31.
Our vet gave our cat both an anti-nausea drug and an appetite stimulant, which worked when we could get him to take it, which was NOT easy, cats being cats and all that.

Perhaps an appetite stimulant appropriate for dogs exists and your vet would be willing to try it? Our vet prescribed Cyproheptadine HCl for us, but a Google search seem to indicate it’s only used as an appetite stimulant for cats.

People often stare at me in wide-eyed disbelief when they learn I have five large dogs (four labs and a golden retriever). They wonder how we can afford it, food, vets, all that stuff.
I never, ever worry about the costs, etc associated with it - I love having this many dogs and there’s no way I’d want any less than two.

But the hardest thing about having so many dogs is not the cost, cleanup, or attention. It’s the knowledge that at some point, all will pass. It’s easily the hardest thing by far about having so many wonderful companions.

The last one who passed, AJ, was a sheperd / chow mix who lived to only 7. He lived his life * fast *. He ran fast (35 mph and loved it), played hard and was a wonderful companion. He died in 2004 on the 4th of July while we were at camp. He just didn’t want to move anymore; just rested on the ground while the fireworks were going on overhead.

I laid him on our bed, caressed and kissed him and told him he was a good boy, and I loved him, and it was okay to go; he passed away shortly after the fireworks ended. I often think it was his way of saying goodbye, going in final splendor. I still miss him terribly, and my eyes are welling up as I write this.

**There is nothing harder in life than losing one you love, whether they have two legs or four. **

I recently lost the best dog in the world, Indiana Bones to cancer. Please give your Angel a few chest rubs, and an ear scritch or two from Indy and me.

The Rainbow Bridge

Dammit why are my eyes leaking?

Prednisone is an excellent appetite stimulant for dogs (and cats, too, I believe). Prednisone saved my dog Gizmo’s life this year - all he would eat was a couple of bites of chicken a day and he was down to about 31 lbs, and I could feel every vertebrae when I petted him. He was always a finicky, picky eater, but once canine cognitive disorder (effectively, doggy senility) kicked in, his appetite plummeted to nothing. Might be worth a try with Angel.

My vet started Giz on 1 pill twice a day (a pretty high dose, since we had no time to play around and dose up), and once he started eating consistently, we dosed down. He ate a whole bowl of food after the first dose of pred. Now he’s down to 1/2 pill every other day and is still eating like a pig, and has gained several pounds (up 39 lbs last I checked). Since he’s almost 14, we don’t worry much about the long-term side effects of steroids, since there really is no “long term” in this case - if we’re very, very lucky, he may have a couple more years.

Good luck with your puppers, Ruffian. As someone else said, the only bad thing about dogs and cats is that they never live long enough.

We lost our Orson to kidney failure just before Thanksgiving.

It’s not the worst of the diseases, but it’s bad enough. I’m sorry to hear about Angel.

Thanks everyone for your sentiments; I do so appreciate it. Kuboydal, your story amused me–and made me glad Angel is female, heh.

PurgatoryC, what you described in your poodle is much like what I’ve experienced with Angel. Sometimes, I expect to find her dead in the morning following a bad few days–and instead, find she’s ready to take on the day.

Motorgirl and porcupine, the vet did talk about giving her an appetite stimulant, but wanted to see if treating the nausea, diarrhea, and dehydration didn’t naturally improve her appetite. It does in fact seem to have helped.

Rick, I love the name Indiana Bones. What breed was he? Or was he a mix?

FourPaws, you echo something DeathLlama said when we were discussing what to do. Financially, it’s hard to decide–do we spend $1000+ on a geriatric dog just to give her fluids? Do we pay for bloodwork? And I realized–I was acting just like my parents…thinking money first. Of course, at this time of year (and considering I’m out on temporary disability because of my back, plus my truck needed $1500 in “maintenance”), it’s hard not to think money. But DeathLlama said, “Why else do we make money but to spend it on things that matter to us?” While we opted against the IVs, we plopped down the money for the bloodwork, medication, and subcutaneous fluids without pause.

I neglected to mention in the OP that Angel lost about 4lbs since she had her teeth done in June; she’s a little over 27lbs and had been about 31-32lbs. I asked about a special diet (our young cat had acute kidney failure from lily poisoning, and was on a special diet for a while after), but the vet said the main thing is for Angel to eat–anything. She wants me to call tomorrow with an update, and we’ll go from there.

Good news is–she ate readily yesterday afternoon and evening, and even had seconds of her dinner (granted, we gave her smaller portions). This morning she ate nearly all of her breakfast without the anti-nausea meds, and so far there’s no sign of diarrhea. She also perked up quite a bit yesterday since my parents came to visit. The vet said to watch for that–it’s a good sign. She also said to watch my parents’ reaction since they, as an outside party who hadn’t seen Angel in a while, would be more objective in observing Angel’s changes. What they saw wasn’t positive–they commented unsolicited on how thin she was (being a sheltie, you can’t tell until you pet her and feel her spine), and how slowly she moved.

Still, she’s in here with me now, cleaning the floor of spilled mac-n-cheese following my son’s lunch. She’s having a good day, though a “good day” now is very different from five years ago. Heh…this is the dog who wore a groove in my parents’ backyard from blazing back and forth to the side gates, barking furiously at the trash trucks, or people walking dogs, or whatever she felt the need to alert her “shepherd” to. The severe arthritis has kept her from living that life for many years now. Now, she is happy simply to be with her pack, dozing along the wall of the room.

A picture of Angel in her prime.

Here she is (with me and my folks) about five years ago, just before both she and my father’s health waned.

The vet said to observe Angel to know when it’s Time. When her bad days outnumber the good (I’d say it’s about 1:3 ratio of bad:good now), when she isolates herself and doesn’t respond to calls to come (it takes a LOT of “C’mon, Angel, come on in! Angel, come!” to get her to respond), when the things that normally excite her–treats, visits from friends, other dogs, cats, the trash trucks–no longer get much of a reaction, when it seems the life she’s living isn’t living…it’s time.

Aw, poor girl. I gave her a small chew bone, a “Freshie,” and she just can’t handle it. She bit it some, carried it around some, gave up, and has left it on the floor a few feet from her paws. Instead, she has flopped down on the floor next to me on the sofa. I hear the gentle rhythmic breathing of a sleeping dog.

Good girl, Angel, good girl.

My daughter named Indy when we got him. I don’t know just where she got the name.
We were never sure if he was a purebred American sofa-setter or a mixed with a sock retriever. :smiley:
Actually he was a Shepard mix with some chow and lord knows what else.

For cats, fluids are something you can give at home. It’s really easy. Can you do that for dogs?

I’m sorry to hear this. I’ve been down that road with animals before. It’s not easy and it is what usually gets them in the end.

If you go the fluid route, I found it is much cheaper to NOT buy supplies from the vet. I found a great source for needles online, and I found that my local hospital charged $4 for bags of lactated ringers - the vet wanted $20 for the exact same thing. It doesn’t have to be really expensive!

Sending good thoughts your way, Ruffian. I hope how ever many days remain for Angel, they’re comfortable and stress free. My dogs, Brewster and Daisy, are getting extra scratches and belly rubs from me. Hopefully they can send the extra love Angel’s way through some sort of doggy telepathy.

As far as money goes – to me, it doesn’t matter, as long as the rest of the family / pack is not deprived and it’s not superhuman effort just to keep your loved one around for your own well being.

As far as supplies – I buy most everything I need (vaccines, meds) online through Omaha Vaccine - www.omahavaccine.com as they have great prices and fast shipping. They even send you little gift certificates in the mail for your pet’s birthday. To give you an example, what it costs me to take one dog to the vet for routine shots (other than rabies) I can innoculate all five dogs. For tick/flea preventitive care, I can get BioSpot (or the like) for 1/3 of the cost at the vets – and when I mentioned it to him, he said even he couldnt get it for that price.

Think of your vet as a convenience store – because that’s what it is. If you need something right then and there, they have it, but you’ll pay for it. If you can shop around, then you’ll save loads of money.

After reading the OP, and writing my reply, I spend most of yesterday afternoon resting on the couch with the dogs laying on me (and them on each other). When I went to bed, my golden jumped up on the bed, and laid down lengthwise next to me, effectively spooning me. Meanwhile, the other dogs laid around all sides of me, pinning me in the bed. At least I knew I was loved (and warm). There’s no price you can put on love like that.