Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Of Kidneys and Protein

One of the challenges of Sparkey's care right now has to do with protein. The old guy is eschewing all foods with the exception of fresh meat and chicken which we're cooking for him in small quantities every day or two. While he used to eat rice, some cooked veggies, canned food, and dry dog food, he will only touch these high-protein foods now. The risk of such a high-protein diet in the face of renal failure is that the kidneys can no longer process the waste products of protein metabolism and the blood levels of these waste products are now chronically elevated and will eventually cause him problems which could hasten his demise.

That said, a dog can only live 7-10 days without food---less without water---and without such special foods, Sparkey would definitely waste away to nothing and die anyway. The vet says that he cannot really build new muscle at this point in his life, and he is now quite thin and bony. Still, protein is essential for many other physiological processes other than muscle building, including maintaining blood volume, enzyme and hormone production, etcetera.

Thus, we are faced with a difficult situation to finesse, and we can only do what we can to keep him afloat. Mary has found that he will eat some corn tortillas at times, but the vet warns us that his food likes and dislikes will change rapidly and frequently and we'll just have to keep trying different things. Acupuncture is one thing we have yet to try, but first we must look at our financial state. (Any donations towards acupuncture sessions would not be refused, and we plan to hold a Sparkey Tag Sale to raise money towards his treatment.)

For now, we keep fresh water on hand (although he much prefers the toilet!), and offer him marrow bones, tortillas, various treats which he may or may not reject, and high-quality cooked meat, chicken or fish which we cook outside. Our general feeling that he might as well eat whatever he likes in the moment and his kidneys will eventually fail no matter what. The overall goal, of course, is just to keep him happy and comfortable every day.

Any ideas, recommendations or advice would be well-received.

Til next time, keep Sparkey in your hearts.

---Keith

2 comments:

Peggy said...

I'll keep you and Sparky in my thoughts. I have an old cat, Jonah, age 15 with almost identical problems. We did the subcutaneous fluids for about 3 mos. and then discontinued. Its one day at a time.

Take care
Peggy

Keith, RN said...

indeed it is, peggy, how is jonah without the IV fluids?

are you from zaadz?

love,
mary