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Posts: 4
It's been almost three weeks and I know I need help dealing with the loss and unanswered questions.....

How could I not know she was sick?  Arlie was overweight and I had tried everything.  She finally started to loose weight and I was so proud.  She looked great.  Then, she wouldn't eat her dog food but went crazy for other food.  So, I thought her appetite was fine and she was just finicky. As it got worse, I gave her different foods and they worked.  I was out of town (our house-sitter was with her!) and when I got back she was excited, ran, barked, etc.  Then, two days later she seemed lethargic.  We went to the doctor the next morning and she was diagnosed with kidney failure.  I rushed her to the vet and we started fluid therapy.  We did it for four days - 8:00 am - 5:30 p.m.  I didn't want to take her to another 24 hour vet because she had never spent the night away or alone.  After four days there was NO change in any of her levels.  I knew by looking at her before I got the results.  She died on her own 10 days later at home. 

How long was she sick?  If I had noticed it earlier could I have saved her?  Does anyone have experience with kidney issues.

As soon as I knew she was sick we started the special food and medicine.  But, quickly she stopped eating and I had to feed her food and water through a syringe.  The last interaction I had with her was force feeding her and that is breaking my heart.  I gave her a little food and she threw up.  As I went to clean up the mess she had a seizure or something and died. 

I am trying to find information on what caused this and what could have happened if I had known earlier. 

Posts: 174

Yes, I know how devastating kidney disease is and I harbor enormous guilt over the death of my Sherry.  She at first stopped eating and I stupidly thought that it was stress related because we had just loss Daisy too pancreatic cancer and my husband had brought home a new kitten to make me feel better.  Unfortunatelly Sherry was really upset and stopped coming upstairs at night to sleep with me.  Then she lost her appetite and I tried giving her appetite pills to get her to eat more. That worked for a while and then she became overweight so I thought but it was only fluid buildup.  I even starved her to death since I thought that she was eating more and was becoming overweight since she was a small cat so I began removing her bowl when she was eating too fast. Then a month later she began withdrawing more and the fluid kept increasing but I didn't realize that it was because her poor little body couldn't absorb protein anymore and that was making her eat more.  It wasn't fat.  By the time I made the vet appt. it was already too late and a week before the appt. she began convulsing and I rushed her at night to the emergenc hospital where the vet said she was already dying and unconscious and she was so filled with fluid that the vet couldn't even get a blood sample because her skin was beginning to peel off because the disease had caused her cell walls to disintegrate.  The vet said she was shocked that I hadn't taken her in sooner.  Now I'm haunted by the fact that I failed to take care of her and caused her death.  My other cat who is 19 has CFR but a milder case and has been treated with medication for it and is here 4 years after diagnosis.  My other 16 year old has been treated for 2 years for hypoidthryoidism and is doing OK.  Daisy had had cancer for several years and was also on meds to reduce the tumors and she died a painless death while I was with her.  She was fine one minute and collapsed and died in an instant withought even a moment of pain.  This winter the cfr cat and his sister were hospitalized and treated with fluids and meds for an unknown virus and eventually recovered.  All this happened within a 3 month period and I think that since Sherry was younger I was in denial.  The guilt is overwhelming still even 2 months later because I'm sure that she could have lived longer and not suffered so much at the end if I only hadn't assumed that all of it was stress related because she'd lost her best friend and only 2 days later had a kitten replace Daisy.  I feel like a murderer and have had nightmares about her dying and begging me to help her.  Kidney disease seems to affect cats differently.  Some get a more virulent form of it than others.  With taco I had brought him in sooner because his symptoms were just lack of appetite and I noticed it in time.  It seems that with all that was going during the winter and the high vet bills made me be in denial that anything really serious was going on with Sherry.  She was the most affectionate of my 6 cats and slept with me every night of her life and had a wonderful ritual of cuddling me by burrowing between me neck and shoulder and nursing with out withdrawing her claws and kneading there without every scratching.  Now I will never have her sleep and nurse me anymore and the kitten is sweet but nowhere near as affectionate.  The guilt is tearing me apart so I know what you are going through.  Keep posting here because the people here are wonderful and can share some of your grief and give you support.

Rena (Sherry and Daisy's mom)

Posts: 1,328
Sorry about Arlie. I think each pet is different with kidney failure. Take care.

Posts: 55
I don't know about dogs, but kidney failure is fairly common in cats.  I have heard that as people age they develop cancer, as cats age they develop kidney disease.

I have been in your situation in the past with a cat - it was a very very difficult time for me.  I then took it upon my self to learn all that I could - is a wonderful place to learn and it may help with understanding what happened to your Arlie.  There are possibly websites about kidney failure in dogs too.  What I learned helped my other pets.  (Frankly, I do not think there is enough literature at vet's offices to educate their clients about what to look for in their pet's health.) 

You are not a vet, I am not a vet.  Cats and dogs instinctively hide weakness.  We educate ourselves as much as possible, take them to the vet regularly for lab work, and whenever we see a change in their behavior we take them in - that is all we can do.  Even with that vigilance, there will be undetectible health issues.

I would say that it was just Arlies time to go.  That doesn't make it any easier.  When it is your time, you will just go.  People drop dead without warning.  So, why did Arlie's life have to end that way then - ask yourself what lessons you can learn from this.  Give yourself a break - you cannot know everything and there is very little you have control over.  It is hard, no doubt, but do not beat yourself up.  Arlie loves you and is with you and would not want you to do that.

Take care of yourself and keep coming back here.

I am so saddened for you....


Posts: 820

I lost my cat Rupert to kidney disease in January.  He was 15 and very healthy until 15 months before he died.  He developed a blood in the eye.  We thought he had been sitting to close to the wood fire.  It went after 2 days.  When it came back 2 months later we took him to the vet.  He had kidney disease and high blood pressure which caused the blood in the eye.  Blood in the eye in cats is serious - I did not know this and feel very guilty for this oversight.

He went on blood pressure pills and Fortekor for 14 months and had many many vet visits.  He did well but hated the kidney food he had to eat and used to steal his sisters food. In January this year I noticed he had lost a lot of weight and took him to the vet.  He was there for 5 days on a drip and he refused to eat.  He came home but went down real fast and He was dying before my eyes and I called the vet out.  He said we had gone over and above what most people would have done but I still feel I didn't do enough.  I always gave him water everywhere but the next cat I have will not be fed the rubbish food from the supermaket because I believe that is what killed him.
I feel guilt over not knowing, the food, not picking up he was sick earlier and the pts.  He was my best friend and companion and I miss him every day and I will never get over this loss.  In order to move on we have to forgive ourselves and I can't do that.  I will never forget him.
Don't blame yourself they are gifts and all soon we have to give them back, unfortunately.  Ruperts Mum

Posts: 774
I know some things on renal failure. I work with at Veterinary Internal Medicine  Hospital with a Board certified internest in Veterinary Internal Medicine.
Sometimes you never know what causes renal failure. In cats it seems to me (and this is only my opinion) but, if you see a cat that is over 16 years of age they usually have some sort of kidney disease going on, and if nothing else kills them, you can figure kidney failure will. Dogs can develope kidney disease form so many different things. From something toxic, to congenital. It can happen for no known reason. Even when a necropsy is done it will sometimes not show the why only the what. Lillys are plants that can cause it, so can tylenol, as can a disease called leptspirosis. Antifreeze can do it, will do it, It can be just a congenital, inherited weakness in the kidneys. Most of the time you just don't know. It can also be associated with hypertension.
How old was your dog and what type breed of dog was she?  What medications was she on?  What did the Vet tell you?
I will try to answer anything I can, but chances are there is no way of knowing.
Dogs and Cats both mask their symptoms of illness so it is very hard to know when they are sick until they are so very sick. that is why any change in behaivor dog, or cat, you must takevery seriously. You din't kno that and I doubt it would have changed anything in the end.
I am so sorry.
They do kidney transplants at some university ceterinary teaching hospitals, but they are not a common procedure. Personally I don't think it is fair because they take a kidney from a healthy dog to use on the sick dog and I doubt they have the healthy dogs consent.
Please let me know if I can do anything. But I think it is you that has to do something not anyone else. YOU need to forgive yourself. You did nothing wrong.

Posts: 23


I had a similar problem that I did not address until too late.  My dog Barney had heart, kidney and liver failure in the end.  He lived until 14+ and seemed to slow down the last 5 months.  He was drinking more and eating more but I see now was losing weight.  I was blaming this on "old age"  Oh I guess it was in a sense but the dying kind.   I am really upset like you that I didn't see things, didn't know what to look for and was totally clueless about what I could have treated. He was always heavy and his stomach still looked big but that was fluid retention around his organs.  I know that now.  I haven't had dogs since I was a child and I am 41.  They just had nothing to treat animals with in the 70's and 80's.  From reading here, even the discerning people miss some things too. 

You said your dog was heavy for a long time....My beagle was overweight his whole life past 5.  Beagles think of nothing but food (at least mine did) and I am wondering if he had Cushing's Syndrome.  They always have a pot belly and since so many dogs look like this the owners don't address it.  My vet just said he was overweight.  I can't remember him not looking "pregnant".  I tried everything too and had success with my Shepherd so I don't feel like a total failure, but I do feel I failed him and can't accept it.

I have REALLY beat myself up researching this stuff on the net after the fact so I cannot recommend doing this to yourself.  I am sure you are upset enough.  I just want to mention Cushings Syndrome as these dogs always have a ravenous appetite and always drink a lot of water.  It makes it that more difficult to see the end signs since they have been like this for years. 

My dogs kidneys failed in the end along with everything else.  My vet speculates that his heart wasn't pumping right (he did x rays and bloodwork)and when that happens the other organs start to fail.  I see now he was in kidney failure those last few months. 

He always drank and ate like crazy anyway and I didn't face that he was doing it more and how serious it could be.  It's not like I thought he could live forever, he was over 14, but I wish I could turn back time, take him in and at least have tried to treat it. 

Kidney failure is VERY hard with dogs though.  They do not have the success as cats can, I found this out through my research.

Also, I don't know if this may make you or anyone else feel better, but both Oprah Winfrey's dog recently died at 13 of this and Martha Stewart's dog died at 12 going on 13 of kidney/renal failure.  Oprah is a big dog lover and has all the money in the world at her disposal (and Martha has almost as much) for vet care, life saving procedures, etc. and it couldn't save either of their dogs.   They also apparently were not euthanized from what I read and died at home. 

Small consolation for my failures but I try to remind myself that my Barney trucked along for 14+ years being overweight with a plethora of health problems that in the end I was clueless about, but was eating and wagging his tail until the last week.  So at least he had some quality of life.  I just hate to think of him suffering for a minute. 

 I have a friend with Kidney Failure who is on dialysis so I got to hear the human version of it.  He says it's not painful in the end.  People go off dialysis and into hospice to die.  Without a transplant it is fatal for people too. But many people don't want to be on dialysis their whole life.  That is stressful and draining and can make you feel like you are half alive according to him.  After stopping dialysis it takes 8-30 days approx to die.  So it is a very fatal disease with no cure but a transplant for anyone.

Rupertsmom;  don't be too hard on yourself about the food part.  I did this too.  It may not have been the grocery store food.  I say this as if you read any of my other posts, I had several dogs, was feeding them all grocery store brands, name brands but nothing gourmet and expensive.  My Sheltie was heavy too , but only in the end and didn't have any organ/kidney problems.  He was PTS for arthritis when he couldn't walk anymore.  My German Shepherd is 15 (well PAST her life span according to my vet) and just had sugery yesterday and nothing showed up in the preoperative bloodwork. She is at a good weight with no health problems.  Just arthrititis that will probably take her in the end.  I am even worried that the expensive meds I give her could put her into kidney failure prematurely as that is a side effect of these.  I have no choice as I have to keep her walking and mobile or she has no chance. 


Posts: 4
Thank you to everyone for your comments.  It is helping a bit.  Arlie was a coon hound. Half Black and Tan and half Bluetick.  She was eight in February.  She was always overweight and did look pregnant.  For the most part she ate Sensible Choice food.  I started to give her diet food - which I had done before.  It never seemed to do much.  But, this time she lost weight.  She had arthritis and I was determined to help her lose weight to help with the arthritis pain.  She wasn't on medication except when the symptoms were bad.  I was thrilled when she started to lose weight.  Obviously it wasn't the food and she had been sick for a long time. 

The last two months were stressful for her. Our 14-year-old cat died in February.  We had remodeling done at the house.  And, I travelled a lot.  Her regular house sitter was always with her.  So, when she ate less I thought it was a combination of not liking her diet food and the stress. She really, really looked good at first. Then, of course, she didn't. 

I didn't know about Lillys and this summer my Lillys didn't come up.  At first I thought she just dug them up - as she did to most of my flowers.  But now I am afraid she ate them. 

A friend says that it was my fault that I didn't notice because I gave her such a happy life that her happiness overpowered her pain.  That actually has helped a bit because I sure tried to make her happy.  Every day! 

One thing I read said to take what you learn from this horrible experience and use it to help other animals.  So, I am trying to learn.... 

Posts: 774
It could have been the lillys provided they were the kind I am thinking of that cause renal failure. You can look it up on the MERCK vetmanual online. just google it. Very easy to understand info and menu.

The thing is if it hadn't been the lillys it would have been something else. It is not your fault. But I know you have to forgive yourself it doesn't matter what anyone else says.

I hope you do forgive yourself soon

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