Kidney disease… food?
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  • So Arwen is 12 1/2.. has cups disease, been on steroids about 7 1/2 yrs to control it (low dose every 3 days). I get her teeth cleaned every 3 to 4 mos AND brush nightly.

    I took her in Tues. for teeth cleaning but her yearly blood work came back not good, kidneys. We are waiting on protein evaluation, but I am wondering in the mean time who has had their dogs on kidney diets, which commercial food did their dogs like best, etc.

    While she is probably in fairly early stage, meaning she isn't going to have her life cut dramatically short, my options are limited. With her ongoing autoimmune, I always knew she was probably not going to make it to 15 or older. But honestly I am pretty sad right now. She is eating, drinking, totally normal for now. If it comes to needing subq… i really will have them sew in a port. She fought me for almost an entire YEAR over brushing her teeth.. not quality of life to stress her for liquids.

    (pic of Cara using poor Arwen as a chair)
    attachment_t_16270_0_arwen-as-cara-chair.jpg

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  • Oh crap. kidney disease really sux. it just plain sux. And i'm sorry. Been there with my beloved Digital the brindlewonderkid. There is a yahoo canine kidney group that is really helpful. I really believe, to answer your question, is that home cooked food is the best. Rotating protein sources often. You will need to add Calcium to balance the phosphorus, but it's just simple math. not scary. I had charts and a food diary in the beginning. that was helpful. Once i got used to doing it, i didn't feel the need to continue the diary. It's a HUGE learning curve, but it is do-able. You can, basically because you have to. SubQ wasn't too bad. In the end, Diggie had them daily. Get the tiny needles the yahoo group suggests. it will make things easier. And you rotate where you poke. You can email me if you need more info that you think I might know. Digital has been gone for about a year and 1/2 now. He was 16.5 at the time, so a good long life.

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  • How about the Kidney diet from Dr. Dodds? And get that with the fluids… my kids at the end with needing fluids would really tell me when needed... I didn't push it if they put up a fuss.... as they need to tell us if it is OK or not...

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  • I was so traumatized with fluids with Sayblee, screaming and fighting even though we tried the numbing stuff (blanking).. and she was good about EVERYTHING I had ever done to her but that. Arwen flips over everything. I will of course try when we reach that point, but I really do see a permanent port far more of an option if she responds as badly as I suspect. I don't consider Sayblees final time to have been quality. I was fighting for her life, but I wouldn't put Arwen through that just to prolong things. I know the risks of ports, but I would prefer that to the hell it was with Sayblee.

    Anyway the vet just called and she talked to specialist.. who said could be lepto or fanconi (no to that, she is DNA clear) but not likely– So we are going to retest her in 2 wks, then schedule abdominal ultrasound and possibly/probably needle biopsy to make sure not hepatitis or something else. For $300.. I can't imagine not finding out for sure. In the mean time will put on kidney diet. She said her gut level feeling is that it is kidneys.

    I don't mind doing home cooked, but research on commercial is very good too. For now will use that til I know. Thank you all. I am a bit less panicked, it is what it is and with help we'll get through it. She has had a good 12 1/2 yrs, if I can give her a couple of more, especially with her immune issues, I will count myself lucky.

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  • Sorry to hear about this, Debra. It's never fun to have health issues, and particularly tough when the patient resists treatment. Hard to explain you are only trying to help! I have just had to put down a mare who would have turned 29 in May, due to recurrent laminitis. I nursed her through it four years ago, but given her age and several other factors, it was time. I sure hope your girl can have several more years and that giving them to her doesn't prove onerous. Unfortunately we never know whether our efforts are buying quality time until after the fact. Best wishes to you and Arwen.

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  • The problem i had with Diggie was that he'd eat something for a while and the flat refuse it. So, he ate the rx food for a little bit, then would NOT touch it. At the end I was struggling with him to put food in his mouth. ugh. the kidney disease makes them nauseous so they don't want to eat even though they are hungry. Join the yahoo groups. at the time, they recommended some kidney pills i ordered from HealthyPets dot com (I think, it's been a while and not memories i want to keep). And helped with the home cooking.

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  • I've never dealt with kidney issues long term, but a couple of times with older dogs nearing the end, and I had the same issues. Not willing to eat the prescribed food and having to struggle with substitutions. I had one old girl who would only eat her favourite vegetables and turned her nose up at food that she had formerly relished. I've done force feeding, reluctantly, but you really can't do that for long.

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  • @eeeefarm:

    I've never dealt with kidney issues long term, but a couple of times with older dogs nearing the end, and I had the same issues. Not willing to eat the prescribed food and having to struggle with substitutions. I had one old girl who would only eat her favourite vegetables and turned her nose up at food that she had formerly relished. I've done force feeding, reluctantly, but you really can't do that for long.

    Yes, exactly. Diggie passed on after having lived with kidney failure for about a year and a half. The end was hard. When he passed, I think I had about 5 or 6 different protein sources in the freezer prepped for him. (sigh) In the beginning, he'd eat something for several days to about a week, in the end, i would just put out 2 or 3 different foods just in case there was something he could stomach.

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  • A couple of people and vet tech friends said the new Hill Science kidney canned diet stew was universally loved so I ordered it for now. The vet says her protein loss is big, but the BUN and Creatinine are not horrible and her phosphorous is actually normal. I wondered if my always feeding high quality protein and limited grains has helped.

    I wonder also if you can use cyproheptadine on them for appetite? Right now she is fine, but I'll ask if it's okay. I already have her on generic pepcid just because of the steroids and the vet said keep her on it.

    Kim I wonder if you are thinking about aluminium hydroxide powder?

    On force feeding… I force fed Sayblee for over 6 mos before cyproheptadine was recommended. Fortunately she would swallow whatever I put in her mouth, didn't fight. Not sure if Arwen would be so compliant. But really, if I can't help control the nausea enough for her to eat... that may be the time to let her go.

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  • Thank you. Everyone. I don't think the owners of most breeds have such unique dogs with unique issues. It is comforting to have people here who have been through it (whatever IT is… from destructiveness to health issues to chewing through leases!).

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  • First Basenji's

    Debra,
    So sorry to hear about Arwen. It is always so hard on us 'mommies' to witness the decline in any health issue. I only dealt with the symptoms of crystals in Hershey towards the end of his time with me. I did so much research online and spoke to many DVM about the causes and consequences. The sturvite crystals were pretty much indicative of 'something going on in his system'. (that Vet didn't tell me for sure that it was his system breaking down) It was literally just old age 12.9yrs. For his food, I ended up starting with the RX Science Diet u/d, read the ingredients and flinched!!! really, why was I spending $ for corn??? Long story short-went to raw feeding (not for everyone, just got tired of recalls etc) and Hershey had a great last three months of life, actually acted like a puppy playing with Candi etc-good quality right up to the point where he did not eat for the one day, went into a disorienting stage, restlessness, and whining in a 24hr period-of course this was New Years Eve!. He gave me 'The Look' that everyone said happens, so I made the decision to have a Vet/friend come over that night. What I am saying is to be open minded as much as possible for HER needs. She probably has years left under your care, but if the port is something that is going to stress her and you, then really, her immune system will break down due to stress over a course of time. Just give her the best you can, for her and what is comfortable for you. I am sure your best is above and beyond most dog owners for sure!

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  • Just saw your post and I'm sorry to hear about Arwen. Sometimes it is hard to grasp that a dog whose already gotten the "short end" of the health stick could have something else Pop up like this. Luckily you have good vet staff and this isn't your first rodeo, she has had a good, long life and it sounds like things could've been worse with the blood results so I am keeping my fingers crossed that you both have enjoyable times ahead. Keep us posted!

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  • @Buddys:

    but if the port is something that is going to stress her and you, then really, her immune system will break down due to stress over a course of time. Just give her the best you can, for her and what is comfortable for you. I am sure your best is above and beyond most dog owners for sure!

    Actually I think you misunderstood. The port is to help UNSTRESS it. Being stuck daily or 2x daily stressed Sayblee, screaming, fighting even with numbing spay and ointment. If they sew in a port, you don't have to stick, just protect the port with a onesie or something and put liquids into it. When the time comes, we'll try the smaller needles, but if that stresses her how I think it will, I'll just have the vet sew in a port and use that. Thank you for your concern. My head knows that at 12 1/2, she is a senior, but I'd hoped for 15 or more healthy years.

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  • First Basenji's

    I hear ya, we want them with us for as long as possible!!! Thanks for the info, I may need to understand a port one day…..I just thought of a port being a strange appendage (for a dog) like I was used to when I was a tech in the nursing industry....

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  • The port is pretty much the same for dogs and humans. Here is a pretty fancy one for IV fluids:
    http://www.norfolkvetproducts.com/companionport.html

    But for subq fluids, I guess the actual term is subcutaneous catheter.
    http://www.practivet.com/DetailGIF.aspx

    This one allows several accesses:
    http://www.dechra.eu/Critical-Care-Tips/Endo–Sof-Subcutaneous-Catheter-Set.aspx

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  • O

    I'm so sorry to hear this about Arwen. Kidney disease is scary, and it's an effort to manage , but you get into a routine quicker than you'd think. I started out supplementing Spencer's dry food with home-cooked, since he hated all the store-bought kidney diet food (including the stew) and would only eat it doctored up. I soon found that it was just as easy to home-cook everything. I experimented with all sorts of combinations, always including a primary protein source like lean chicken, turkey or a scrambled/boiled egg, mixed with rice, veggies and an omega-3 gel cap. I avoided corn, but Spencer loved most other veggies– green beans, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrots and squashes.

    I know that a lot of people use recipes, but I knew what he could have and what he liked, so I just planned my own meals accordingly and gave him a blander portion of what I had. I fixed a lot of stir fries and steamed veggies and grilled a lot. I've never eaten healthier than those last few years with him. His quality of life was good and his kidney values, though elevated, stayed within his "normal" range until almost the end. Hopefully, Arwen responds well to her new diet and has good, happy years ahead!

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  • That is very encouraging. I have been boiling chicken to add to her food and she approves so far of it and the KD stew and kibble mix. I worry about eggs though as they are really high in sodium (I am on low sodium diet so sadly aware as I sit here eating a cup of egg white scrambled on a low carb tortilla– it's significant portion of my allotted sodium)... so I'll be researching diets if I have to move to totally home cooked.

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  • have you joined the yahoo kidney list? Seems like egg whites were good, but the yolks had lots of phos, so those should be limited. And of course you'll need to add in Calcium to balance the phos.

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  • O

    Eggs are the highest quality protein, so I gave Spencer one hard-boiled organic egg a week, divided over 2-3 days. Crushed eggshells are a good source of calcium, and boiling eliminates any threat of salmonella. You can add about 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed eggshells to a meal, if desired. It balances the P. You can also use Epakitin as a phosphate binder. It's a powder that mixes into the food, and most dogs don't mind the taste. Not all dogs need the Epakitin, though.

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  • When I fed raw (rotties/chows) I used lots of egg shells. :) I feel competent with raw for healthy dogs, just not for sick. I may check to see if my old book for Strombeck has updates or consider IT recommended by the wonderful Wendy. As long as she willingly is eating the hills science (with added boiled chicken), I'll stick with that while researching the other options.

    http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?A=2615

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