May 01 2011


A 14 year old Dalmation mix

In May of 2010, Maggie, a 14 year old Dalmation mix, was examined at the hospital because she had been vomiting. Dr. Nicol ordered a blood panel which revealed elevated kidney enzymes and Maggie was diagnosed with advanced kidney failure.  In pets with kidney failure, the kidneys are unable to filter the waste products and they begin to build up in the blood stream. Kidney disease can occur for several reasons and in Maggie’s case it was most likely due to the aging process. Maggie also has a grade 5/6 heart murmur.

Since Maggie’s diagnosis in 2010, her treatment program consists of three heart medications, one to control the workload of the heart, one to control the fluid build -up in her lungs, and one medication that helps both the kidneys and the heart. This medication aids the heart by opening up the blood vessels as they leave the heart and so reduces the resistance to blood circulating around the body. This reduces the work that the heart has to do. At the same time, it opens up the blood vessels that return blood to the heart, reducing pressure on the heart. It aids the kidneys by dilating the blood vessels to the kidneys, which provides them with an adequate blood flow. Maggie is also on medications to improve the way her kidney’s function. The first medication is a probiotic and soluble fibre that uses three different types of bacteria that eat the nitrogenous waste products that are in Maggie’s intestines. This helps the kidneys by reducing the amount of waste products that they need to filter by creating a concentration gradient allowing nitrogen waste to move from the blood in the intestinal villa into the soluble fibre in the intestinal lumen. The second medication is one that binds phosphorous. This is important for dogs with kidney disease.

These are just the medications that Maggie takes, some of them twice a day, but there is a lot more that goes into keeping Maggie healthy. Maggie’s care requires an incredible amount of diligence. Maggie’s family cooks a healthy low protein diet and low phosphorous diet for her as Maggie refuses to eat the commercial foods. Maggie requires a low protein diet to reduce her kidney’s workload by avoiding excessive by products that the kidney needs to excrete. Maggie also has a magnetic pet bed which, it is said, increases blood circulation on the areas where pain occurs, hence forcing blood to flow through a magnetic field. The heat produced from this process would increase the flow of oxygen to the affected area to help speed up the healing process. Maggie’s family also monitors her very closely for signs that her kidneys are not functioning well. The signs include not eating, depression, lethargy drinking more water and urinating more than usual, vomiting, and strong breath odour. When Maggie’s family feels that she isn’t doing as well they bring her intravenous fluid therapy. Large quantities of intravenous fluids are given to “flush out” the kidneys. This flushing process, called diuresis, helps to stimulate the kidney cells to function again and adequately meet the body’s needs for waste removal.

Maggie is one of our most famous patients and has been coming to our hospital since 1998. We have had the privilege of getting to know Maggie and her family very well from her frequent visits to the hospital. Maggie’s family is incredibly diligent in caring for her. Maggie is incredibly spunky and tenacious and we appreciate her ability to make us laugh every time she is in the hospital.

Maggie, sadly, lost her battle with renal disease and was euthanased in October 2011, surrounded by her family. A photo tribute to Maggie can be found on our facebook page.

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