Of all the things I wrote on this blog, the one that really grabs hold of me and forces me to think, critically, it was the time I wrote about Syringe Feeding my dog Lettie near the end of her life.
I made decisions, some were right, some were “right for me”.
It has been four years since, and I’m right around the anniversary that day that we let her go. In fact, one day past. April 11, 2013.
Yesterday, coincidentally, I got a comment on that posting from Holly.
My 16 yr old , rat terrier , Aggie, was diagnosed with renal issues by the ER vet on Sunday. She wanted me to put her down and when I didn’t agree, she sent me home with medication for her nausea and iron supplements. I will say they did give her subcutaneous IV fluids. I was provided a leaflet and told not to feed her protein….try oatmeal. I took her to my vet today and we have a plan. She is end stage, but at least he is trying to see if we can get her numbers down. I am feeding her via syringe with Hills A/D. He has started her on a phosphorous binder, antibiotic and more fluids. Thank you for your article. It’s calming to listen to others who understand the love we share for these creatures who only love us unconditionally.
Remember, I am not a Vet. I’m just some blogger sitting in a chair in South Florida writing about my own experiences…
I will say that everything that the vet told Holly was true to what I was told. Low Protein, Low everything. I had to wonder what on earth Lettie was getting in the prescription food.
This is basically what happened before mankind discovered Dialysis. You flush the body with IV fluids, mostly water, to get the things out of the body that the body considers waste. Dialysis machines are frighteningly expensive, and here in the US in this day and age, it’s well known how obscenely expensive health care is, let alone sending your dog or cat through this treatment.
Then you get a reprieve.
We went through three cycles. You will know when it is time to stop. Lettie told me.
Lettie was a McNab and Border Collie cross. She had The Eye of a BC, but the webbed and cat like feet of a McNab. She also knew how to get her point across. Through the feedings she never bit. I tried all sorts of foods to try to keep her energy up. Finally one Friday morning, I knew.
Lettie stopped eating, looking at me, she stepped away from the syringe.
A Herding Dog can understand a lot more of your language, body and verbal, than you would realize. I asked her if she wanted more.
A dog looking away but not walking away spoke volumes. It was her saying “I’ve had it, I will do it if you want, but I don’t think it is for the best.”
That was the day that I made arrangements.
I had bought her fully almost a year. The last month was for me to get ready. It was time, I knew it too.
So that’s the thing. You have to really KNOW your pet. They do love you unconditionally, even if you’re not doing right by them.
It will test you and your resolve. They may be a bad candidate for this treatment. Dogs or cats may scratch or snap or just otherwise back away.
Some people are wrong for this – their view is that “the dog is just a pet”. I will hold back comment on that mind set.
It is a lot of prep work to feed your pet this way. Not for everyone. It was for me.
In the end, you will make your own decision, and it will be right. No judgement. Especially if you try and don’t manage to get the feedings to work.
Lettie understood all this. She taught me when it was time, and she told me when she was done.
By going through the treatment, you are buying time. You are purifying the blood of a dog under Renal Failure. You are partially resetting the clock, but you can’t completely replace what is lost. All this will weaken them, but it will buy time.
Bottom line, yes, I absolutely would do this again.
Two weeks after I lost Lettie, I was told by someone who is very close to me this:
“Bill, it hurts too much, give another dog a chance, Lettie would want that.”
I did. Rack is here at my right elbow while I am writing. He is his own challenge with all his fear issues, but at four years on, we’re learning.
Rack? Yes, he knows that I don’t give him an ice cube until the second time I make coffee so don’t beg until then.
Good luck with your feedings. Buy the time. It is worth it.
If you’ll excuse me now, I have to give a very good dog a cookie.