Some of you may remember Boxer dog Chase featuring as our July 2013 Pet of the Month. Her condition is quite unusual and has required treatment that’s never far away from discussion in sporting news, so two years on, we thought it would be interesting to share an update on her story.
When only just over a year old, Chase started leaking urine in her bedding, and after a series of tests we diagnosed her with a breed-related juvenile type of kidney disease which leads to a deterioration in kidney function and excessive loss of protein into the urine (known as a protein-losing nephropathy). She has since been on medication to help control blood flow through her kidneys to try and slow down the progression of the disease. She’s also been fed on a diet specifically designed for dogs with kidney disease at mealtimes, with low phosphorous and sodium and a special type of protein more readily retained by the body.
In the three years from diagnosis, we’ve seen a gradual deterioration in Chase’s blood and urine results. However, last Autumn, Chase’s condition took a real turn for the worse. She lost her appetite and started to intermittently collapse, but reached the point where she would collapse with the smallest amount of exercise or excitement. This was due to worsening anaemia (decreasing numbers of red blood cells in the blood). Anaemia is a common problem with long standing kidney disease. Our kidneys produce a hormone called EPO (or erythropoietin) which stimulates the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells, but when the kidneys are diseased the body doesn’t produce enough of the hormone.
Some of you may have heard of EPO as it used to be a popular drug used illegally in sport to boost stamina by increasing red blood cell count and the ability for the body to carry oxygen more effectively round the body. EPO hit the headlines recently when professional road-racing cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his titles following a doping scandal.
Since the new year, we’ve given Chase regular EPO injections to help provide what her body isn’t making properly. Her red blood cell level has increased from a worryingly low 18% to a normal 44%. She is also a much happier dog again with a better appetite, though she’s not keen on us – the guys with the needles!