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Renal failure.

Species: Dog
Breed: Rough Collie
Age: 1-2 years
Care and diet for young dog in last stages of renal failure...
My sister's dog, Marley, was diagnosed with renal failure at end-November 2010 (the vet thinks it is most likely genetic because of his age). He was very sick at the time of diagnosis and was given IV fluids and then put on a diet of Hills K/D. The vet was pleased with his follow up blood results on January 7th (I'm sorry I don't have full results with details of BUN and Creatinine levels but the vet said they had risen only slightly over the past 6 weeks since the previous test and that the diet appeared to be working for him). Marley seemed to be doing fine until the past 10 days when he lost his appetite a little (still eating, but not finishing his meals). He was still interested in going for walks etc. but my sister decided to have blood tests again just to be safe, and yesterday another blood test revealed BUN and Creatinine levels had doubled over the past 4 weeks since the January results, and the vet has said he now has only up to 1 month left to live.
The vet has advised that he be taken off his Hills K/D diet and that this is replaced with chicken/tuna if he will eat it (which he is doing). I rang the vet this morning on behalf of my sister to ask if carbs should also be included in his diet, and didn't quite understand the response. Initially I was told that that his diet should be protein as a mixture of protein/carbs would be tougher for him to digest. I got the impression that they didn't think that carbs were important. However, when I responded that we were just checking to make sure we were doing the right thing and we would continue with the protein diet and not mix in carbs if it was too much for him to handle, they replied that we should give him a small amount of carbs (something bland like rice or potato) to help him maintain his weight and could probably continue on a diet of protein only for 2 days and then a mixture of protein & carbs on the third day.
This seems to go against everything I've read about diet for dogs in renal failure where the advice seems to be a diet low in protein and phosperous, but I'm not an expert and since Marley seems to have so little time left, perhaps the vet is more concerned that he continues to eat and therefore the poultry/fish is a tastier option for him.
What advice would you give re. care and diet of a dog in final stage renal failure?
Thanks
Sharon


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thank you for taking the time to ask about your sister's dog. I'm so sorry that Marley is not doing well.

I think I understand where the confusion is here. You are right that dogs with renal disease should be fed a low protein diet. Protein is processed via the kidneys. A high level of protein makes the kidneys work harder. So, we try to feed dogs a reduced protein diet when they have kidney disease.

However, when a sick dog stops eating then sometimes we need to do whatever we can to encourage him to eat. So, I think what your sister's vet is saying is that at this point, let's do what we can to get him to eat.

If, after a couple of days of eating the chicken and tuna (i.e. the yummy stuff) his appetite is starting to come back then we can add some carbs. I don't know that anyone knows the exact right balance to feed.

What your vet may be concerned about is that if we offer Marley too much of a variety of food we can cause some stomach or intestinal upset. So, a small amount of rice or potato is likely going to be tolerated more easily.

To answer your last question - what advice would I give for care and diet of a dog in the final stage of renal failure, here's what I would say. If the dog is not eating anything at all, then I would give him whatever he wants to eat. I would also prescribe some famotidine (pepcid) to help cut down stomach acid. I would recommend bland chicken and rice mostly.

Now, I don't know all of Marley's case, so things may be different for him. It is unusual for a young dog to have renal failure. Sometimes giving a dog another period of 24-48 hours on IV fluids can do wonders for the kidneys. You may want to ask your vet if this would help.

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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