Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs – What We’re Doing: Sophie’s Story, Pt. 7-A Setback

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs – What We’re Doing: Sophie’s Story, Pt. 7-A Setback
Heart Disease, Heart Health, Pet Health, Sophie's Heart Dis-ease Journey / By

Previous post re-cap:

  • Sophie was stable; her BUN had decreased from 78 to 54 with the adjusted midday dose of Furosemide
  • The results of the mold test I’d done in the house, post “remediation,” came back with a confirmation we had been living in a house deemed dangerous and having the ability to make one sick
  • The new supplement I added from Pet Wellbeing called Kidney Support Gold to support the damage the Furosemide was doing to her kidneys

I Didn’t See This Coming

Dis-ease is a rollercoaster. When I last wrote a month ago, Sophie was stable, her BUN was down and we were all happy. I was relieved. In fact, this video was taken just a few days ago.

Sophie Running

Today, just 4 days later, and we’re in a different place. I’m very concerned about her kidneys.

It’s a juncture that’s not surprising. The drug furosemide, which is very effective at keeping the fluid build up in her lungs and around her heart at bay, is very hard on her kidneys. It doesn’t take long for them to start deteriorating and that’s why many dogs with heart dis-ease end up with kidney dis-ease, too. I’ve learned more I want to share with you for pet parents reading this whose dogs also have congestive heart dis-ease or failure or if, sadly, any of you have to face this one day, too.

Things were pretty stable for the bulk of the past month, or so I thought. There were days Sophie would bound down the street and my heart would sing, and others where she’d sleep a lot.

About a week or so ago, she started having incontinence when she slept. It could be overnight or on the spare bedroom bed during the day. There’s a large window in there and she parks herself on that bed and watches the house, barking at passersby like the great watch doggy she is.

Because Sophie had never done her business in the house, at first I thought she was back to heavy licking of her paws and creating large wet spots. But, it soon became obvious they weren’t saliva spots at all. So, I started researching for a homeopathic remedy for incontinence and reached out to Dr. Adriana Sagrera, the homeopathic vet we’ve been working with all along.

I also followed my intuition. I was feeling for a few days like it was time to get another blood test done of Sophie’s chemistry with electrolytes, to see where her kidney values were. It had been three months since she’d been on the meds, the supplements from Dr. Jacqueline Ruskin and Dr. Sagrera, and about a month since I’d added the Pet Wellbeing Kidney Support Gold.

I took her in last week, expecting either stability or a decrease in the BUN, which is the Blood Urea Nitrogen level that tells you the level of urea in the blood. Urea is a waste product and should be moved out by the kidneys. But, if they’re not functioning well, it builds up. Just how much is determined by how high the BUN reading is. The top end of normal is 27. Sophie’s was 54 at last check.

The Results

I said What?! when the receptionist handed me the results of the test. Her BUN was off the charts, showing above 130. And, this time, her creatinine level rose, too, something that often doesn’t happen until the kidneys are failing by 75%. It was a gut punch and it was time to circle the wagons again and figure out a solution to get these levels down.

The local vet at Crossings Animal Clinic agreed that cutting out her midday dose of furosemide completely was a good thing to do. I reached out to Dr. Julia Lindholm, Sophie’s cardiologist, with the lab report and news and asked her to please call.

What Her Cardiologist Had To Say

Later that day, we spoke and she agreed with cutting out that dose, but she had some other suggestions. First, she said Sophie’s echo cardiogram from June showed her heart swelling had gone down somewhat; her heart looked smaller, which was a great sign. So, she felt we had some wiggle room to cut out that dose.

She also suggested a lower protein diet. She did this because a higher BUN level is sometimes attributed to a high protein diet. With Sophie on a raw diet, it could be a factor. That she’d been on raw since she was a puppy and it had never affected her BUN before meant her kidneys could no longer handle it. BUN is the primary end product of protein metabolism, so it is literally affected by the levels of protein being digested. She said if I could cut the protein down to 30% of her meal, it could help bring the BUN levels down. The challenge was going to be finding a recipe or food she would eat. Sophie has always been a meat girl, not really interested in vegetables or fruit. These are things I’d had to hide in the meat, well the veggies were. Fruit was something she just wouldn’t eat. Hearing that a diet change could help was music to my ears. This is something I can and would do.

I started researching prepared raw diets for kidney support. I didn’t know this, but Darwin’s Pet offers one and the ingredients look great. It is only offered with a prescription from your vet, which I actually think is smart because the formulation is not for dogs that don’t have compromised kidneys and they don’t want the responsibility of pet parents making the decision of putting their dogs on this without the expertise of their veterinarian’s ok.

I also saw one from Just Food for  Dogs, but it has white and brown rice included and a bunch of added synthetic supplements. I didn’t like any of that. White rice breaks down in the body as a simple sugar and there’s no nutritional value there. Brown rice has been shown to have arsenic, yes, arsenic in it! I stopped eating brown rice about a year ago when I found that out. Very few brands go through the expense and time to do the level of oversight with the grower and their soil, and the level of washing to remove the arsenic. And, synthetic supplements, often added into commercial food, is not bioavailable in the same way natural vitamins and minerals are from food, and sometimes, they can be downright unhealthy.

So, I opted for Darwin’s, a food I had my dogs on many years ago and served me well then.

If you’re a proponent of healing naturally and raw feeding, this will make you smile knowingly because, undoubtedly, you’ve come across this, too.

When Your Local Vet Won’t Play Ball

I reached out to my local vet at Crossings to ask for the prescription. She turned me down, saying she was uncomfortable because it was a raw diet and she tried to steer me toward a Hills or Purina product for Sophie. I politely told her I would never put Sophie on one of those foods; they were terrible for dogs and that, sadly, vets aren’t trained in med school about nutrition. The tiny bit they get is sponsored by…Hills! So, they are led down that path from Day One, a path that is definitely not in the best interest of our pets.


Dr. Sagrera wrote the prescription in a heartbeat and now, tomorrow (Monday) I’m ordering. I’m praying hard that Sophie will eat this food. She’s become picky again, a function of the very high BUN levels.

I’ve also learned that muscle wasting is one of the side effects of heart dis-ease and Sophie is experiencing that, too.

She’s lost weight. She went from being around 10lbs her whole life, down to 9.7lbs in June, then down to 8.78 lbs a few days ago at the vet. This concerns me, too.

And, I will never give up on my girl! I’ll be back to let you know how it’s going with and what I think of this new diet, and the results of another blood test in about a month’s time.

Please hold your babies close and cherish every moment. We never know how long we have with them. I’m visualizing Sophie vibrantly healthy, her BUN levels normal, her Creatinine levels normal and living her best life!

To their best health ever.


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