Jack begins the next chapter of his life in kidney failure

The tables have been turned on me, and this time I was the pet parent facing the diagnosis of kidney failure in my beautiful senior boy Jack. I thought I would share our story to show you how the diagnosis came about.


Jacks story - a dog with kidney failure


Everything was well Monday morning, I had decided over the weekend that it was time for Jack to have another dental so we headed off into the veterinary hospital like nothing was wrong. I had noticed that maybe he was drinking a little bit more and had urinated on the floor twice over the weekend.



Now one of the first things that I always do when my boy Jack comes in for an anaesthetic is a pre-anaesthetic blood test... this is where things started to unravel. Whilst I was busy consulting my wonderful nurses collected his blood, identified that he had a kidney issue and went about collecting a urine sample. His previous blood test in November was all within the normal ranges. How quickly things can change.


For this I love my nurses - they were able to present all of the information to me so that I could make my next decision. Here is a copy of his blood results - it shows elevations in urea & creatinine which are both indicators of kidney function. Unfortunately, there has to be >75% damage to the kidneys before you will see elevations in urea & creatinine.


Jacks blood results - showing that he is a dog in kidney failure


Now, Jack still had diseased teeth, so the dental was still required but our approach had to change. My awesome nurses got him set up on a intravenous fluids and we made an appointment for a specialist abdominal ultrasound for the following day.


Great news with the abdominal ultrasound - no sign of anything other than old man kidneys (YAY! No underlying cancer!). Time to go ahead with his dental procedure.


specialist ultrasound - to ensure no cancer causing his kidney failure


Now I didn't get many photographs of this - I was quietly freaking out. I went into pet owner mode instead of vet mode and asked one of my brilliant vets to take over his dental for me. We were monitoring his heart rate, his respiratory rate, his blood pressure, his temperature and his anaesthetic depth. We radiographed his teeth and found out which teeth need to be removed.


Jack dental procedure - as a dog in kidney failure


Nerve blocks were placed. The diseased teeth were extracted and the gums sutured closed over them. The remaining teeth were scaled & polished, he was given more pain relief and he was woken up from his anaesthetic. We managed to clip three of his four legs during his recovery but the one with the bandage remained wrapped up so, he now only has one Clydesdale leg and three chicken legs.


Happy days, Jack is back home, eating well and living it up on the couch in his favourite place. He does have the most ridiculous hair cut of his life (yet another reason why I am a vet and not a groomer). He has hairy arm pits, one fluffy foot, three chicken legs & a completely shaved belly (not to mention the hack job I did on his body). He's still cute to me all the same.


The consequences of the diagnosis for both Jack and I are the following:


Now that Jack, my dog, has kidney failure 2


It can be hard accepting a life changing diagnosis in your furchild, but when you have an amazing group of vets and nurses to help you through it makes a big difference (even if your are vet). I can be hard accepting a potentially terminal diagnosis with no known time frame, with only average survival times and statistics as a guide. Every pet is an individual. Some will progress quickly others will progress slowly. Only time will tell what path Jack's disease process will take.


The key point I want to make here, is that no matter how well they look from the outside, how mild their symptoms might be, even a vet can be surprised by the blood results. So, I strongly urge you, if your pet is having a general anaesthetic, do a blood test - you never know what they might be hiding.


The symptoms of kidney disease are:

Signs of kidney disease in dogs & cats

If you suspect your pet might be suffering from kidney disease please contact your local veterinary hospital and make an appointment. It could save their life.


4 Responses

  1. So sorry to hear about Jack – it’s such a shock when you find out something is wrong, even when you have a senior pet. At least Jack is in the best possible hands and I know you’ll continue to treasure every moment with your handsome boy 🙂

  2. Oh dear, what a shock. So very sorry to hear about Jack 🙁 17yrs and 9mths! Wow.
    A very lucky boy to have such a great Mum taking care of him.

    Love the one furry leg haircut, could be a new trend 😉

  3. […] Jack Begins the Next Chapter in His Life in Kidney Failure Informative and heart felt article about dealing with the diagnosis of kidney failure. What makes this even more heartbreaking is hearing it from a veterinarian; the tables were completely turned when she learned of her senior dogs diagnosis. […]

  4. Sad to hear your Jack got sick, but how blessed he is to have you as his family so loving and caring. Our Racer is a staffordshire terrier and about 10. He got diagnosed with acute kidney failure last week as well as a UTI. He is still at the vet receiving fluid treatment and antibiotics. We see if he can come home tonight after they recheck his numbers, or if he needs another day. They said he will be on kidney food and medication. He is the most wonderful dog, so loving and kind we could not part with the vets “alternative” to let him go as the second option. If you have any advice for us, maybe what is helping your Jack, we would greatly appreciate it. Prayers that your Jack keeps improving he looks like a sweetie.

    • Dr Belinda Parsons

      Thanks Angela. Somehow your message slipped through. I hope that Racer is doing ok. It’s terrible when they are sick. Jack is benefiting from acupucture and trigger point therapy for his arthritis and I’m sure the acupuncture is also helping with his appetite. Kidney food is the mainstay of treatment – at this stage Jack doesn’t need to be on medication and I’m hoping to keep it that way. Other options are herbal medicines. You would need to take him to a vet that can prescribe herbal medicine as well. Good luck with Racer
      Warm regards,

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