Thursday, September 14, 2017

Walking on the Eggshells of Old Age

My blog is about the journey I am taking with my two wonderful dogs. Unfortunately, the path doesn't always lead me in the direction I would prefer....

This week I took Wilson, who is now 14 and 4 months, to the vet for a senior check-up. I had noticed he was having trouble chewing a beef tendon he had been eating fine for years. I thought we might find a cracked tooth. Because Wilson takes an anti-inflammatory for his arthritis, I asked for a blood test also. Those drugs can be hard on the liver.

Well, his mouth checked out just fine, a bit of gingivitis being the only problem. What I wasn't expecting was the bad news we received on his blood work. His kidney values are all well past high-normal which indicates he is in the beginning phases of kidney failure! This really caught me off guard, as his last blood test was in February and all was perfect. My vet called us back in for a blood pressure test as kidney problems and high blood pressure go hand in hand, sort of a chicken or the egg relationship. Well, his blood pressure was on the moon!

So overnight I went from thinking I had a healthy old man to one that has started his decline. Kidney failure, when chronic, isn't an immediate death sentence, but a more gradual slide into bad health. It is also very common in older dogs. For now I am treating the high blood pressure with drugs, adding a supplement called Azodyl to his food to help remove the toxins his kidneys are no longer cleaning out, and another supplement to reduce the amount of phosphorus his body absorbs. Unfortunately, he can no longer take his arthritis medicine regularly anymore as it is hard on the organs. Hopefully he won't be too uncomfortable. My vet recommended I switch his diet to the prescription version of Science Diet or Royal Canin. Not gonna happen! I will do my research and find a higher quality food. FaceBook friends recommended a prescription diet from Darwin's that sounds like a much better choice. This is all new to me, so an education is in order. Hopefully it will all come together to slow the speed of Wilson's decline. There's a very good chance he will still be here this time next year, fingers, toes and all four paws crossed!

Here's my sweet old man on a recent morning.....

He's worried about where his breakfast is,
 and that's a very good thing
for a kidney patient!


  1. What a shock! We know older pets do have problems, but that seems to have just jumped out at you. At least you know now and hopefully will be able to manage it. We'll keep our paws crossed, too.

  2. Oh no! I ran into that (on a less scary scale) with Blueberry. I stopped her RX anti-inflammatory and synthetic supplements and have her on healthier alternatives that appear to be working well. I also did research on Darwin's as I am with you in not wanting to give a prescription kibble diet. It's good to know that there are healthier options available for our dogs when they face these illnesses. I think many of us can empathize with the sucker punch when we think it's just a routine exam and it turns out all isn't as well as we had thought. Prayers and hugs for you.

  3. I remember the first painful days after diagnoses (at different times) of kidney disease in my two dogs and my twin. If there is one piece of advice I can offer, it is don't give up. There is a plethora of information on diet that I found helpful for my dogs. Oddly, most of the vet information is "proprietary," that is, available to vets only. However, the information on human renal diets is readily available. I'll email you with any links, or information, I found particularly helpful, as I cared for our standard poodlish and our borderish colliesh. Wilson is one of our favorite cardigans, in our "extended" family. Take good care.

  4. I'm sorry to hear of your unpleasant surprise. I bet that you'll figure out how to manage his kidney decline in a healthy way. You might also consider Adequan for his joints. It's an injectable form of glucosamine that has helped our dogs a lot (it isn't hard on the organs). Take care.

  5. So sorry to hear about this. It is impossibly hard when our dogs get older. I hope you can find a good diet for him, and another way to keep his pain at bay.

  6. Oh, Taryn, that is so tough! I'm sure you know how much we love Wilson! He is fortunate to have you taking such good care of him. That is a gorgeous photo of your handsome, distinguished guy. We'll be thinking of you often.
    All my best, Terry (& kisses from Reggie)

  7. Ugh. It is so hard when they start to get older, but you do such a great job keeping the boys healthy (and happy!) and I'm sending our best pawsitive thoughts your way that for sure he will still be here this time next year. Since our dogs both passed (too young!) from cancer, they never got old enough to have this issue so I don't have any words of advice, but hopefully you can find some good info that will help. We love Wilson and want him to be around a LOT longer!!! Sending hugs from me and gentle nose pokes from Rita.

  8. We've been through this three times, and it's heartbreaking every time. We hope Wilson will stay comfortable.

  9. I am so sorry. Wilson and you are in my good thoughts. I'm not sure with dogs, but with cats, switching to an all canned food diet helps the life expectancy after diagnose. As always though, ask your vet first.

    I received the news of my cat having an aggressive terminal cancer on August 31th. She recently passed. :-( It's hard. Love him no matter what!

  10. Replies
    1. It's funny, once you know something is wrong, every off step or sleepy mood makes you worry. He seems to be OK. Still eating well which is a good sign. He will get his blood pressure and kidney values checked in a couple more weeks to see if he is holding steady. Thanks for asking about him!

    2. Oh good - I'm glad he's doing well. Yes, it is true that we suddenly take more notice of those little things that before we would not have given a second thought.


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