Tucker, his kidneys and me: the continuing story

Spoiler Alert: Tucker is okay, mostly

Nine days of tests.

Nine days of of worry.

Nine days of fretting and fear.

Nine days of of hugs and hope.

And in the end, a slightly inconclusive  conclusion.

As my kids would say, this is the TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) version of what happened. I’ll be writing a more extensive post to share what I learned about kidney disease in dogs.

Tucker snuggles with a white (formerly white) tiger friend

Tucker snuggles with a white (formerly white) tiger friend

Tucker is diagnosed with kidney disease

After discovering a higher than normal creatinine level in my dog’s blood during a routine blood test, our vet recommended we do more testing. A high creatinine number indicates kidney dysfunction, by as much as 75%. Kidneys are one (actually two) of the organs required for life. Unlike livers, kidneys cannot repair themselves. What’s gone is gone.

Not a happy scenario.

In addition to providing a urine sample, I also brought Tucker in for more bloodwork, to have an ultrasound performed, to have his his blood pressure taken, and, possibly, to do a set of  x-rays. This was all to determine how badly damaged his kidneys were, and possibly understand the cause. From there, we could determine what treatment — if any — was available to help my dog.

Jasper and Lilah

While Tucker was at the vet, Jasper and Lilah cuddled together. I think they missed him.

The results?

Tucker’s blood pressure and ultrasound were normal. His urine protein / creatinine ratio was, as the vet put it, “Beautiful.” An additional blood test, showed slightly high SDMA (Symmetric dimethylarginine; I’ll explain more in my other post). SDMA is a more sensitive indicator of kidney dysfunction.

A look back at previous blood work showed that Tucker’s creatinine level was also 1.7 in February. (Why didn’t we pay attention to it at that point? Veterinary guidance changes, and back then, apparently that number didn’t warrant further exploration.)

So, looking at the entire picture, here’s where we landed:

Tucker’s kidneys are not working as well as they should. This is a given, and will be taken seriously.

His creatinine hasn’t changed since his last test, and he is showing absolutely no symptoms of kidney problems (increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, lack of appetite). It doesn’t look like whatever is wrong with his kidneys is getting worse.

It’s possible that something happened to him in the past — even before I adopted him — that damaged his kidneys. The emphasis here is on the “-ed” in “damaged.” Note the past tense. Something that took place, but is not currently taking place. As in, the damage is done, but it doesn’t seem to be getting worse. But we don’t know for sure.

There is really nothing to do right now.

Just watch him. Closely. And bring him back to the vet if anything changes.

And test him again in six months.

Until then, it’s life as usual.

As if.

It’s kind of hard to stuff all that worry back into it’s original packaging and send it back.

But it’s the best news we could have hoped for, short of a machine glitch spitting out incorrect test results. And so I’ll take it.

No matter how you look at it, Tucker is adorable, and loved.

No matter how you look at it, Tucker is adorable — and loved.

Buy pet insurance

One last thought: Pet insurance is a godsend. I can’t emphasize this enough. We would have spent more than $1000 on Tucker for all his testing. Instead, Trupanion is covering 90%, after my deductible. I never had to make a decision for Tucker that was based on my finances. It is the best peace of mind money can buy, and well worth it.

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23 Comments on "Tucker, his kidneys and me: the continuing story"

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  1. Leona says:

    So glad to hear this news. Give him lots of hugs and kisses from me.

  2. Daisy says:

    I’m so relieved to hear this. We’ll keep sending prayers and positive thoughts that everything continues normally and the “past tense damage” remains in the past. I love that upside down picture!

  3. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    dood…..we R sorree to lurn thiz….{ we have had ta book mark yur page; noe email notice again } we noe all two well what kidnee izzuez due….heerz hopin yur kidneez never getz werse & even thou we noe dawgz R knot much inta fish…..stay a way frum it ~~~~~~ st francis’ blessingz ♥♥♥

  4. We all gave a big sigh of relief to read the spoiler alert. We went through a long kidney diagnosis with Pierre earlier, and the head peep got extra gray hairs during all the time it took to complete the testing. Big hugs to both of you.

  5. So glad that Tucker is okay! What a relief. Now try to relax! :)

    • Ooh, that’s a hard one, but we’ll try. Of course it didn’t help that we wound up back at the vet with Tucker after a close encounter with a squirrel. The squirrel lost, but not before biting Tucker on his chin. Never a dull moment.

  6. Ruby says:

    Oh Tucker! I didn’t knows you were havin’ problems! Wells, it’s good news that your peeps got the tests done and know about it, and now can keep a close eye. I gots my paws crossed that you will continue to be well, and chase the tree rats bunnies and any critter dumb enough to cross onto your estate! hehehehe
    Be well my half Airedale furiend (yes, I have unofficially knighted you an Airedale! BOL!!!! just sayin’…that sleepin’ pose is confirmation!)
    Kisses,
    Ruby ♥

    • Thanks Ruby! And thank you so much for knighting Tucker as half Airedale. We’ve always thought he has some Airedale in him. Just the other day, we walked past a woman with her Airedale, and she asked if Tucker had some in him. So, thanks to you, now it’s official!

  7. easy rider says:

    hugs and kisses and potp to you Tucker… and lots of treats…

  8. Jen Gabbard says:

    Glad to know they think it’s something that just needs monitoring for the time being considering all the alternatives that it could have been. It’s always so scary having to wait on test results, something that just sticks at the back of your mind no matter how well you try to distract yourself. And you’re right – no matter what way you look at it he is adorable and loved :)

    • Aw, thanks! You’re right; waiting is so hard. I wind up filling the time with worry. Tucker is pure terrier, going through life at full speed. It’s so sad to even think about something slowing him down.

  9. Emma says:

    Hope it is something that just stays in a holding pattern. We agree on the pet insurance, it has helped us immensely until the end with Katie when they wouldn’t cover a heart tumor which stunk, so we cancelled for her at that point.

  10. Well, that’s good news…in a way. We hope Tucker continues to stay the way he is. Kidney disease in dogs must be a little different than cats. Usually in cats, you do the bloodwork and urine analysis to make the diagnosis…no need for xrays and ultrasounds usually.

  11. Ellen Pilch says:

    Good to know Tucker is OK, I will add him to my prayer list.

  12. meowmeowmans says:

    We are really happy about this news. Thank goodness Tucker is doing well; we’ll be purring and praying that the “past tense” damage stays in the past. Hugs!

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