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Can You Spare a Kidney?

Canine chronic kidney disease is associated with aging and, in simple terms, can be considered to be the 'wearing out' of the kidney tissues. Kidneys do not rejuvenate themselves (unlike a liver), instead, they quietly go about their internal business of eliminating toxins, regulating hydration, maintaining a normal electrolyte balance, and releasing hormones to produce red blood cells.

Kidneys are the body's workhorses and seldom do they complain. At least 2/3 of the kidneys must be dysfunctional before clinical signs are seen. In many cases, this means that the destruction has been occurring for months to years (chronic) before failure has become evident.

Meet Lil' Schnitzel

For fifteen years, Lil’ Schnitzel went undiagnosed for several diseases (heart, kidney pancreatitis, and periodontal). We know this due to his medical charts, whereby his parent declined all annual wellness testing and dental cleanings.

Passing at the age of seventeen, Lil’ Schnitzel was well within the normal life span of a purebred Dachshund. At Living Grace Canine Ranch, living long is not the same as living in wellness. The question we seek to answer is:

What can caregivers do to improve a dog's quality of life during the final trimester of life?

You might be surprised that something as simple as nutrition goes a long way. However, the real difference occurs with early detection through annual comprehensive wellness exams.

Ranch residents benefit from annual comprehensive wellness exams, that include complete blood panels, thyroid testing, and urinary analysis. The purpose is simple: 'health screening'. Annual health screenings serve as our GPS for quality of life, both now and down the road.

Prevention is always the best route, but when not possible, early detection allows medical and nutritional intervention time to slow the progress of life-limiting challenges. Makes sense?

Meet Kidney Challenged Residents

Sixteen months prior, diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, our first line of defense was nutrition through implementing a medical diet formulated for kidney disease. Today, Hemi is healthy with the vigor of a young adult and his test results indicate ‘stable.’

Cupcake’s (age 13) chronic kidney disease has been stabilized with one simple change: diet.

Molly (age 15) is challenged by ‘acute’ kidney disease. Acute kidney disease occurs after consuming a toxic substance. In Molly’s case, only twenty percent of her kidney organ functions because of her owner’s ignorance by dousing her with garden pesticide (instead of pet-formulated flea/tick medication). Treatment involves a medically formulated diet, blood pressure medication (which helps lower pressure in the kidneys), and unpasteurized goat milk.


Treatment and follow-up care are relatively easy and inexpensive for most canines with kidney disease. Given stage diagnosis, there is most likely something that a caregiver can do to improve quality of life while enjoying the companionship of a dear friend.

Annual comprehensive wellness exams and dental cleanings are critical for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of life-limiting conditions. Depending on the diagnostic disease stage, with a bit of help from parents, many canines can live joyful lives for many months and years.

A worthy 2 minute read on canine kidney failure:


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