Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?
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  1. #1
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    Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    Hey all, my family has a Newfoundland that's 12 years old, and will be 13 in a couple of months. We've recently been wondering if her kidneys are starting to fail, due to the following symptoms.

    -Within the past year or two, she's become more restless at night to go outside. My dad usually has to take her out at 9 or 10PM, and she wakes my parents up at around 5 or 6AM to go outside. It was worse when this started happening (she'd have to go out at least once in between those times), however she no longer has a problem in the middle of the night.

    -Her nose is constantly chapped and cracked, and is extremely noticeable. My dad has taken to putting Vaseline on her nose a couple of times during the day, which keeps it moist. She's had this problem for at least a couple of years.

    -She's been having diarrhea on and off more often over the past couple of months. It usually lasts for a day or two and then goes away for a week or two. This may be due to us putting sour cream on her regular dry food, whereas we normally use non-fat yogurt (though use sour cream if we have no yogurt). We've been avoiding using sour cream recently to see if that stops the diarrhea.

    -Within the past year and a half, she's started doing this bizarre retch. She'll usually hack a few times (similar to the sounds directly prior to vomiting), and then make an ungodly loud retching noise. Last winter, she was doing it as often as once every hour or two, however within the last 6 or 7 months she rarely does it more often than once or twice a day. This began happening in conjunction with our discovery of a tumor around her stomach (we assume that it' benign), so we originally thought that the tumor was the cause. However, it could be coincidence.

    -About a year and a half ago, she lost all of the fur on the top of her back (isolated to the area directly above her tail). The area was about 4 or 5 square inches. She stayed bald in that area until just before last summer (2011), when it began to regrow. It's been constantly growing since then, and if you looked at her now you'd be hard-pressed to notice that it's any shorter!

    We've been researching online, and many of these symptoms can be attributed to failing kidneys. However, we're a bit doubtful of that because many of these things have been affecting her for as long as 2 years, and they aren't nearly as bad as they were at the beginning of that time period. Like any dog her age, she's having more difficulty getting around and getting up from the ground, but other than that she's really been quite healthy, hasn't had any loss of appetite (but what else is new; she is a 110 pound Newfoundland, after all), and always seems quite happy when up and about.

    Please let me know if these symptoms are typical of kidney failure or not. At this point we're all really accepting of it, considering she's outlived the average Newfoundland by a few years, and she's had a great life. Though, it would save us a lot of heartache if we knew that she's not having kidney issues. Thanks!
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  3. #2
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    Your vet would be easily able to tell you about her kidney function with a simple blood test. Has she been to the vet at all for any of these symptoms? Even if it does turn out to be something untreatable, at least you could improve her quality of life with the right meds.

    Sour cream and yogurt are very different. There are no probiotics in sour cream, and the higher fat could be causing loose stools.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    Thanks Willow. The sour cream is low-fat, however it is still very different, and that's why we were suspicious.

    She hasn't been into a vet for these symptoms specifically, though did have a blood test when she was in for a check-up over the summer (that's when we found the tumor). At the time she wasn't diagnosed with kidney failure, despite having most of these symptoms. However, things could have changed.

    We're planning on taking her in for a blood test in a couple of weeks, though we wanted to get an idea of her situation beforehand.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    Dogs aren't as prone to kidney issues as cats are. If her blood panel came up clean last summer they probably haven't gone too far downhill since then. Drinking (then peeing) a lot seems to be a major symptom of kidney failure.

    The hair loss could be a sign of Cushing's or a thyroid issue. Have the vet run tests for those. I think the cracked skin on the nose could be a sign of those, too.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    It wouldn't surprise me if she has a thyroid problem, as Newfies are very prone to that. Like I said, she has been a bit more problematic over the past year or two with needing to go outside during the night, but it's been less of an issue in the last few months. She also does seem to have been drinking more lately, however I'd attribute this to her drinking less frequently. Because it's gotten more difficult for her to get up in the past few years (her joints are surprisingly good for her age and breed, but her muscles have atrophied as is expected), she really only gets up when it's time to eat, time to go out, or when she's trying to get our attention if she needs to go to the bathroom (which is also funny, considering she never used to be good at this. Recently she's gotten very good at letting us know when she needs to go out), therefore those are the only times she drinks water. It may just be she needs to drink more when she does since she drinks less frequently.

    We also had our cat put down this past summer due to kidney failure (at the ripe age of 18), though his onset fairly quickly. A few days before his passing he really just stopped eating and going to the bathroom.

    I was curious because while kidney failure can present itself fairly quickly or slowly, it just seems that the onset of our Newfie's mentioned problems have been so slow and gradual that I was wondering if it's even possible that they're kidney problems.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    It's really a question you should be asking your vet. There are several things (or a combination of things) that it could be. But nobody here can do the lab work and tests to tell you what is going on, and if you can extend her quality time. And, even though she is elderly, you should be thinking of her comfort.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    I realize that you won't be able to tell me definitively what's happening, but I thought you could let me know if her symptoms and time-frame of the onset of these symptoms are typical or atypical of kidney failure.

    EDIT: By the way, when she was at the vet over the summer (after he hair had already started growing back), the vet said that she didn't have Cushing's. It could be something else, though it almost certainly wasn't Cushing's.
    Last edited by haon8; 01-15-2012 at 06:44 PM.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    These are questions you should be asking your vet, not a bunch of strangers on an Internet forum.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    If the kidney values were fine over the summer, she didn't have kidney issues at that time. While things can certainly change, if her symptoms are the same now as they were at the time of the bloodwork, I'd guess it is not a kidney issue. But, it does sound like an issue of something though, so you should really take her in for a full blood panel. Were it my dog, I'd stop obsessing on the kidney issue, and take the dog in to find out what the issue, in fact, is.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuma'sMom View Post
    These are questions you should be asking your vet, not a bunch of strangers on an Internet forum.
    I was under the impression that this was a Dog Health subforum.

    Like I said before, I'm not asking for a diagnosis. I'm looking for some opinions. I'm obviously not substituting this for a vet visit.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    Quote Originally Posted by haon8 View Post
    Thanks Willow. The sour cream is low-fat, however it is still very different, and that's why we were suspicious.

    She hasn't been into a vet for these symptoms specifically, though did have a blood test when she was in for a check-up over the summer (that's when we found the tumor). At the time she wasn't diagnosed with kidney failure, despite having most of these symptoms. However, things could have changed.
    .
    If they only did bloodwork, values do not show up as high until most of the kidney function is gone. I'd ask for bloodwork again, plus a urine test to see if she's leaking protein.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willowy View Post
    The hair loss could be a sign of Cushing's or a thyroid issue. Have the vet run tests for those. I think the cracked skin on the nose could be a sign of those, too.
    This^^^^^. The restlessness/panting is also a sign of Cushings. Unless they ran an ACTH test/ Dex Suppression test, they can't just guess and say it's not Cushings.
    Spay or neuter your pet! Founding President Of Thread Killers Anonymous.
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    Re: Are My Newfie's Kidneys Failing?

    Quote Originally Posted by haon8 View Post
    I was under the impression that this was a Dog Health subforum.

    Like I said before, I'm not asking for a diagnosis. I'm looking for some opinions. I'm obviously not substituting this for a vet visit.
    You're looking for opinions on a diagnosis and you haven't seen a vet.
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