I work with dogs for years now, I was a caretaker at a shelter, I’ve met a lot of dogs with different health conditions, now I work at an animal hospital, I meet sick pups and their owners every day. I’m kind of comfortable with all the pet health stuff and know a lot of things about the possible problems and how not to freak out.
I’m there to comfort owners, I’m the one, who tells them to keep calm, the doctor will take care of their little four-legged friend, don’t panic, the pet needs to feel that you are calm to feel safe.
And now here I am, with MY sick pup, completely freaked out, asking my vet for a lot of completely unneccessary examinations, writing freaked out e-mails to my cousin who also happens to be a vet…
Kami’s problems started half a year ago. She bumped into stuff, fell into holes, I thought something is not okay with her eyes. But nothing serious. I took her to the vet, and it turned out to be her kidneys. Yepp, the kidneys are behind the deteriorating eyesight.
I bought every medicine, I bought food which is good for her kidneys, everything.
Half a year passed, and now she is completely blind, insecure, doesn’t eat, sometimes shakes, sometimes forgets where she wanted to go, freezes down in the middle of her action. Of course I am freaked out! Who wouldn’t be? I take her for check up every two weaks, we do control blood lab every three months, I give her tons of meds. I trust our vet. He knows Kami since I got her. He is smart and kind. He explains everything, so I can understand what’s happening with my dog. But I still keep asking other vets I know too, if anyone has any other idea what to do. Of course they tell the same as my vet.
They all tell me, that this is not the end, sometimes dogs get old, change, but after that, they can happily live for years, I just have to take care of her, and accept the fact that our life has changed. And I already know this. I tell this to the owners at the animal hospital.
But now it’s me, and now it’s my dog. The same situation from a different perspective.
So, what is exactly happening to Kami? (disclaimer: I’m not a veterinarian, I’m just a biologist, who works with dogs and vets)
The function of the kidneys is to filter the blood from everything you don’t need in there, and then send the “waste” to your urinary bladder, so you can pee it out. The functional units of the kidney are the nephrons. Blood flows through them and it does a double filtration. Filter some stuff out (some of it is “waste”, some of it is needed in the blood), then the vessels suck some of it back (the things it needs, plus some of the “waste”), then filter the rest of the “bad stuff” out (useful stuff stays in your blood). There are many many nephrons in a kidney.
As the dog gets older, some of these nephrons “die”, stop functioning. If you are lucky, that’s all. But in some cases, too many nephrons die. Booom, chronic kidney disease. The worst part is that in most cases, you can’t just go and investigate the causes. First, because it’s impossible to find out, second, because you weren’t ahead even if you knew. The only thing you can do is helping out the still functioning part of the kidney.
So you give food to the dog that’s not not too stressful for the kidneys. You have less nephrons to clean the same amount of blood. If you overwhelm them, they won’t be able to do the work.
You give meds that support the kidney, and meds for every consequences of kidney problems: for gastrointestinal protection, immune system protection, blood protection, sometimes you also need liver protection. Vitamine B for the loss of appetite. If the case is serious, even some steroids (Kami needs them unfortunatelly)
These stuff usually don’t have serious side effects, only the steroids can be a bit dangerous, so you have to check on the dogs liver function as well. But it is advised to check on haematology and blood chemistry regularly (CBC)
I don’t want to go in more details, because I think it wouldn’t be helpful for anybody, and it would be harder to understand, so nobody would win anything on it 🙂
If any vets reading this and think I’m incorrect in something, feel free to correct me (physiology is not my major at the university, but I studied it for two semesters) 🙂