Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ivan’s New Diet

Ivan visited the vet for titers and routine blood work the first of April. On April third we received the results. The titers showed sufficient immunity levels so he doesn’t need boosters for parvo & distemper.  However, his blood work showed some elevated kidney levels.  Ivan’s kind pediatrician explained this was cause for concern but not panic. While I tried to breathe and not panic, she said he needs a low protein diet and encouraged us to get him to drink more water. She told us protein and phosphorous are the things to avoid as much as possible.

We cook for Ivan so we visited a veterinary nutritionist on April 8 to get a lower protein diet.  The veterinary nutritionist proclaimed Ivan very handsome and gave us some basic information on protein, phosphorus, and kidneys.

Healthy kidneys can easily filter protein waste, which is removed from the body in urine. Unhealthy kidneys lose the ability to remove protein waste. A reduced-protein diet helps limit the amount of waste that builds up in the blood, and may slow down the progression of kidney disease.

The veterinary nutritionist sent us a low protein diet a couple of days later. Some of the changes include replacing some of the chicken in his diet with pasta and using the Canine-K version of the Balance-It supplement.

Ivan is being a very good boy about this diet change. We serve his new diet mixed with water, and he eats this soupy concoction with gusto. He and Dasa get dishes of water laced with chicken broth a couple of times a day. I present this with enthusiasm, and they dive in, licking their dishes clean. (Every time this happens I feel an odd pang that my children get so excited about water with a dash of chicken broth, as though they are orphans starving in the wilderness.)

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine are some of the blood tests that measure protein waste and assesses how much the kidneys are working. In April Ivan’s BUN was 61 and his creatinine was 2.2, both above normal. There are a lot of other numbers to consider and it’s a lot to assimilate.

He’s been eating the new low protein diet for a couple of weeks and drinking additional water with sploops of chicken broth. The first week of May they retested Ivan’s kidney levels. The BUN is now 27, in the normal range, and while the creatinine is still high, it decreased ever so slightly to 2.1  Ivan is full of energy, races through the house with his teddy, roodles impatiently for food, destroys paper with great élan, and trots happily down the street on his walks.

When we received the results of the May blood test, I took a deep breath and thought, OK, it hasn’t gotten worse. I can breathe for three more months until the next test. I’m going to take a lot of deep breaths and play with my puppy boy.


  1. It's always heart-warming to see someone who cares for their dogs as well as you obviously do. Best wishes to Ivan.

  2. You've no doubt done a ton of research already, but our basenji (RIP) had kidney dysfunction for several years. I had to give her calcitrol drops and a phosphorus binder and feed her prescription kibble. I mixed the kibble with homemade food. She did GREAT on that regimen. She did get a couple of UTIs but apparently that is not unusual. Good luck (and if you want some prescription kibble, I still have half a giant bag left if you want it!)

  3. Obviously I'm aware that Basenjis have sensitive kidneys, but I'm wondering - is a high-protein diet generally a bad idea for our B's? I'm thinking of switching my girl onto Orijen, but I worry about the high protein content.

    Here's to Ivan's next test showing great progress!