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Penelope S

Here’s the thing….I have a senior dog (going on 14) who was also diagnosed with early stage kidney disease. At the time, he was in major need of a teeth cleaning & that was the reason for the bloodwork. Other than the bloodwork saying something was wrong, he was (& still is) utterly asymptomatic – & as fit, energetic & active as a young dog. We did all the tests, including ultrasound & his kidneys themselves were perfect. Still, the vet didn’t want to do the teeth cleaning…despite all my arguments to the case that dental disease could be a contributing factor. So, I did the whole kidney prescription diet for nearly a year in an attempt to get his levels low enough that my vet would do the cleaning. It was a nightmare for both of us. He HATED – I mean HATED – the food. No matter what flavor or prescription brand I tried. He looked like I was punishing him every time I put a dish of it in front of him. The wet food especially – it smelled like a jar of old pennies so I can’t say I blame him. I could get him to eat it ONLY if I pretended it was a treat & fed him one kibble at a time – so that’s what I did. Guess what. After almost a year on that stuff, his kidney levels barely improved by a fraction of a fraction. His teeth got worse though. Like really a lot worse. Also, because of the super low protein content in these foods, he lost significant muscle mass. I read the ingredients…literally garbage. Wheat gluten, corn gluten, egg “product”, and chemicals…and way more fat (not from quality sources) than the high quality foods I’d been feeding him prior (are muscle wasting & pancreatitis a good tradeoff for kidney disease…?).

Last summer, he almost died. Spent a week in the emergency room after I rushed him there w a swollen face & 103 fever in late July 2020, came home a skeleton (they sent him home to die). Lost a tooth his last day at the ER – & was likely so sick thanks to a nasty abscess. IV antibiotics – heavy duty – the whole time he was there & immunosuppressant doses of prednisone. I syringe fed him high calorie dog food at home for a month, carried him downstairs for potty breaks because he was too weak. He lived though – got stronger. I weaned him off the steroids & did not go back to the prescription food. I started feeding him the food he was on prior to the whole mess – grain free, limited ingredient food, plus green tripe, egg whites…other things like boiled ground meats to vary his diet. Kept his protein high – (because it’s actually BAD to reduce protein in senior dogs & there’s no actual basis for doing so in early stages of CKD), fat moderate, looked up protein sources lower in phosphorus like lamb & beef (in comparison to poultry & salmon). He gained weight, including muscle & his energy levels came back. Most notably, he was excited about meal times again.

I switched to a new vet about 3 months after his ER visit. She said she didn’t understand why the first one wouldn’t do the teeth cleaning way back when. She also said that his bloodwork showed much greater improvement in his kidney levels since I switched back to his old diet compared to tests taken just prior to his ER stay. So we scheduled his teeth cleaning. Before all this started, the old vet had estimated he’d need about 5 or 6 teeth pulled. He ended up losing 14 because they had deteriorated so much in the time since this entire ordeal started. He flew through the cleaning w no issues & was up & running a couple days after. I’m still feeding him the same way & his kidney levels are consistently improving – almost normal levels when I had him tested a couple months after his cleaning. My new vet said I have been doing an excellent job w his diet, is happy w all his bloodwork & now he only has to get it checked at his semi annual checkups (instead of every month like the old vet at $250 a pop). He’s in excellent condition now. He’s a Shepherd/Shiba mix &, when I tell people he’s nearly 14, the reaction is complete disbelief. He keeps up no problem w my 2yr old female APBT mix who is extremely high energy. I have no doubt I will get several more years out of my good boy. Bottom line – do the research, get the 2nd opinions, & never assume your vet (or your own doctor for that matter) know a dang thing about nutrition. Basically find a vet who will work with you rather than one who can’t think “outside the box” or be bothered to keep up w more current research. They sell these foods based on what the manufacturers “sell” them. I wish there was a way to upload photos here – you would not believe the before & after.