I got a comment from Dori the other day about Goldie’s liver and kidney failure and the possibility that it might have been caused by the arthritis medicine that she took. Since Dori didn’t leave an email address or any other way to get in touch with her, I thought I’d answer her in my blog.
Yes, it is possible that the arthritis meds that Goldie took could have played a part in her death, but I’ll never know for sure. Goldie was diagnosed with arthritis in 2003 – shortly before her 12th birthday. She was on Etogesic for a while and then switched to Deramaxx two months before she died. Because Blacky has been on arthritis meds since he was 2, I knew that we needed to have blood work done every 6 months to make sure that the meds weren’t hurting her liver and kidneys. We were always very careful to make sure the blood work was done and the results were always within the normal range.
Goldie was 14 years old when she died and her vet had told me at her last check-up two months before she died that it was highly unusual for a lab to live to the grand old age of 14. In the months before she died, I noticed that she had been sleeping more, she was starting to lose her hearing a bit, and she had started to lose some weight – even though she still had a good appetite and would eat anything I fed her. At that time, the vet told me that even though she looked like she was in good shape, that I should prepare myself for the fact that I probably wouldn’t have her around for much longer. It’s entirely possible that the liver and kidney failure was an old-age thing and not an arthritis med related thing.
I’ve said that Goldie’s liver and kidney failure came about suddenly – but it’s probably more accurate to say that by the time she started to show symptoms, the disease had progressed too far for us to be able to do anything to help her. The problems probably started after her last blood test in June 2005 but she didn’t show any signs of anything being wrong until October.
Goldie was quite the trooper – she had a high tolerance for pain and never complained about anything. We didn’t discover the arthritis until it had affected both hips, her tail, and part of her lower spine. From the x-ray that the vet showed me, I’m sure it bothered her for quite some time but she never showed any symptoms until it hurt her so bad that she just couldn’t walk anymore. Because she was fine one minute and not walking the next, I thought for sure that she’d had a stroke. The vet was completely shocked that Goldie had never shown any signs of being in pain. She did the same thing with the liver and kidney failure. She had a good appetite, her activity level was normal for a 14 year old dog, and she seemed fine. Then one day she got an upset tummy and I took her to the vet expecting for them to tell me she was having a gastritis attack or a possible ulcer. They did some blood work to rule out the ulcer and that’s when they discovered that her liver and kidneys were in complete failure.
Because of Goldie’s problems, I’m even more cautious about Blacky. He was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and arthritis when he was 2 years old and has been on some sort of arthritis meds for the last 7½ years. He has his blood work done like clockwork every 6 months and if the levels are even slightly elevated, then we do more tests to make sure that he doesn’t develop the same problems as Goldie. If I can help it, I’m not going to be caught off guard on this again.
I guess my advice to Dori would be to be aware of the dangers of the meds that the dogs are taking, but also be aware that without the meds the dogs would have a very poor quality of life. It’s quite a balancing act . . . .