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Rimady and kidney disease.

Species: Dog
Breed: boxer-hound mix
Age: 5-8 years
I took my dog to the vet because she yelped when I rubbed her belly above her abdomen, slightly below her chest in the middle of her two front legs. I also noticed when I was putting on her harness to go to vet, she yelped when I lifted up her leg to put it through.

She had a decrease in her appetite as well, and seemed a little less energetic. The vet said she didn't want to xray her because because when she examined my dog she yelped when she lifted up both front legs, & she'd have to take a lot of expensive xrays, but wanted to do a full blood panel to check what was going on because my dog was 7 yrs old and she was due for her checkup anyway. She asked if I notice her being bitten by a tick and I said no, but she did spend some time out side so it was possible. She tested for tick titers with the blood work and sent me home with tramadol and rimadyl for the pain. She also said she would call me the next day after she got the blood work results back. I took my dog home and gave her the tramadol and rimadyl as prescribed.( after her blood work was taken)
She seemed to be feeling a little better initially, but I got a call from the doctor the next day saying her blood work was back and I needed to bring her in for IV fluids because her kidney numbers were high and her red blood count was high. So I brought her in and the doc said that sometimes dehydration causes kidney numbers to go up and the iv fluids could help, but they need to keep her over night and she asked if I gave her the medicine she prescribed. I said
I did but this morning I only gave her the tramadol because she seemed a little better aand I just couldn't get her to take the rimadyl so I gave up on the rimadyl. and she said "oh good".

Well the next day I went in my dog was unrecognizable, her health had deteriorated so much. She looked gaunt and weak and trembled when she stood, and her kidney numbers had went up instead of down, and when we were in the court yard- now I saw she was peeing a significant amount of blood,when she was not doing that prior to taking her in. She looked very sick and I was very worried she wouldn't make it. She was also vomiting now, and wouldn't eat or drink without my coaxing her. I read you shouldn't give rimadyl to dogs with "hypersensitivity" and that it could cause kidney problems. My dog has had a history of allergic reactions in the past,
And had some kidney issues at the time I took her in. But I went from playing fetch on Monday to being told it would be best to put her down on Friday---so i'm just wondering if the rimadyl could have exaggerated her kidney problems.

I'm pretty in very to my dog, she has had quite a few allergy episodes, and I could always tell she was starting to have an allergic reaction, even up to two days before her hives appeared. She didn't have increased thirst,urination or vomiting, prior to taking her to vet. It just seemed weird that she could have been so sick, with out my noticing anything. Kidney failure runs in my family so I have seen humans going thru it, and it doesn't happen that quick, (4 days) without any symptoms- but I know dogs might be different. There was no possibility to exposure to rat poisen or radiator fluid or anything like that.

I like my vet and I will continue to use her for another dog, because she cares very much about my pets. I'm not looking to place any blame. It just didn't seemed very off -- her health deteriorating that quick, so i was wondering if it could have been the rimadyl exasperating it.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm so sorry to hear about your story. I also apologize that it took me longer than expected to answer.

Lucy's situation is an odd one. There are not many conditions that would cause pain in the front legs and then kidney failure. You didn't mention whether her tick titres were high or not. There is a condition called lyme nephritis that can cause severe and fatal kidney disease as a result of a tick bite.

From what you have described, your vet did everything that I would have done. If there was pain in both front legs, then I likely would not have recommended xrays right away as I would be unlikely to find anything. I probably would have prescribed some pain medication and did some blood work just as she did.

Rimadyl is actually a very safe drug. You will read a lot of negative things online but in my experience it is safe. When it first came out there were some dogs who had strange reactions in their liver when taking this drug. But this is extremely uncommon. Rimadyl is processed through the kidneys as well, but it would not cause kidney failure (unless a dog had eaten a very large number of tablets). If I had a dog with kidney disease, I would want to stop giving Rimadyl because it could make the kidney disease worse. However, a few doses would not cause a dog to go from slightly high kidney enzymes to renal failure. The Rimadyl did not cause this problem.

You may want to ask your vet about the possibility of a disease called leptospirosis. This can cause very serious kidney problems in a young healthy dog.

While I can't tell you what happened to cause Lucy to become so sick I can tell you with a good degree of confidence that this was not due to the vet care that she received.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Dr. Marie.

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Customer reply:

Tick titres were negative (She tested for lymes disease and rocky mountain fever and the test for leptospirosis was negative as well). It took three days for tick titres to get back, in the mean time she was given antibiotics intravenously with her fluids. Her bun and creatinine getting worse in the mean time and her overall health deteriorating so rapidly when I went to see her I had a gut feeling the meds were making her worse so I asked if I could take her home. Lucy had this look in her eyes like " "Mommy they are hurting me please help me" .I asked when I could take her home and they said she would get much worse if they stopped the fluids, so I left her there that day. By then she would no longer eat and I prayed but I had a sick feeling she wasn't going to make it. She started peeing blood. The blood was visible to the eye from a distance it was so red. Not brown (like it was diluted with urine, but so red it had to be at least about 50% blood without exaggeration. It was as if she was hemmoraging. The next day her eyes were bleeding as well. (not blood shot- but bleeding)The vet even said they were bleeding. She had deep set gaunt circles under her eyes, and looked very gaunt and had dried blood stuck to her fur running from the inside corners of her eyes. When her eye lid was lifted to look at her eyes there was blood oozing from the corners and the back of her eyeball. The whites were completely red and looked similar to pictures i've seen of Subconjunctival Hemorrhaging. Her legs trembled furiously as she tried to walk. the vet had told us she should be put down, and then the vet tech brought her in and that was what she looked like. So we took her home to say our goodbyes over night. In a few hours her eyes went from looking like Subconjunctival Hemorrhaging to looking just blood shot and the gaunt troughs under her eyes were gone. When she peed, her urine looked half as red as it did at the clinic. For a second I felt very hopeful and continued to monitor her pee, and I was considering letting the vet know, and cancelling or postponing putting her down. But my fiancé said she was in so much pain, that he thought it would be best for her to put her down, and talked me into agreeing.

Vets best guess after talking to a specialist was renal amyloidosis. My gut tells me that wasn't it. #1 I really don't think she has any shar pei in her.

I do believe the vet was doing her best and following standard protocol. I don't fault the vet at all, but I do think Lucy's situation was unique and that it is impossible to be able to give the correct meds on the first try 100% of the time, especially when animals cant talk and all you have to go by is the info you get from the owner (weather or not they can describe the symptoms correctly, or weather or not the owner noticed the things that are important to the vet to correctly diagnose them) and the vet is steered in a direction by the owner, who is the "interpreter" for the dog, when the owner doesn't speak "dog" or "vet".

I may be wrong but my gut says the meds made Lucy worse. Tetracycline isn't good for your kidneys either. I'm not sure what the other antibiotics were. And she was a pup with lots of allergies. Being right or wrong wont bring Lucy back and in some way I think it was a blessing that it happened so quick because it helped to minimize her suffering.

I do not fault the vet. I think she made the best diagnosis she could with the information she had. And Lucy's situation was probably unique. I guess i'm just writing to get a little better understanding, to know truly what happened so that I can learn from it and another opinion so that if my gut was right, I might not be afraid to speak up next time, instead of hushing my instinct because I am not a vet. I appreciate your response and the dedication to what you do. I know being a vet must be a very self sacrificing job, and I appreciate all the sacrafices every vet makes in trying to keep all of our loving companions healthy. God Bless

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Lucy really did deteriorate quickly. I really can't see that the meds were at fault here, though I do appreciate your concerns.

Hopefully I have helped to give you some peace. I wish I could give you more answers but please know that it is extremely unlikely that anything your or your vet could have done would have changed the sad outcome.

Dr. Marie.

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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.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.