Teddy and Fritz
Barb Goshorn RN MSACN
“The Nurse Nutritionist”
Teddy, my 11 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi had been dying for years, but we didn’t know from what. For about four years, Teddy had symptoms that indicated he was ill with something but no test was ever conclusive as to what it was. His coat was rough and he had mangy bald spots. He had episodes of bloody explosive diarrhea. He was apathetic and had no interest in his family nor chasing a ball. He had arthritis, yeast infections, and was 20% overweight. Every test you could have done, we did, and every disease my vet could think of was ruled out. Teddy’s ill health was a real mystery.
By September of 2012, his diarrhea had exacerbated to the point where he was incontinent and would stool over-night in the mud room (where the dogs slept). This made Teddy even more dejected and depressed, so much so that he wanted to spend all day and night outside. Being outside all the time further isolated Teddy from the family and he became more and more depressed and anti-social. I brought Teddy to a specialist in October who ultra-sounded his bowel but couldn’t find cancer, an obstruction, or diverticula. By November, Teddy was so sick I brought him back to his regular vet (for what seemed like the 100th time) and finally we had an answer. Teddy was in kidney failure. Awful news, but at least we had an answer to what was wrong with him. By this time, Teddy was terribly dehydrated and was kept at the vets to be pumped up with IV fluids until he was stable enough to come home. The plan was to keep Teddy alive until the kids came home from college at winter break, so they could say good-bye to their beloved pet.
When I came to visit Teddy on the second day of his hospitalization, he looked so miserable and unhappy, I decided to take him home. Teddy was dying, and I wanted him to die surrounded by his familiar surroundings, not in a cage with bright lights and the non-stop barking of other dogs. My vet wasn’t happy about his going home, but eventually consented and I was given instructions, IVs, medications, and a special dog food for renal failure.
When I got Teddy home, I began to think about the progression of his “vague” disease which eventually culminated in kidney failure. I’m a nutritionist and I educate people daily on eating healthy “real food”. I had over the years thought about Teddy’s diet but, he was on the finest prescription dog food (for arthritis), so my vet discouraged me from making his food. Now I had nothing to lose. I spoke to my vet about a dogs nutritional needs. She said they didn’t learn much in vet school about nutrition but warned me to be cautious about too much phosphorus and protein due to his failing kidneys. I googled home- made dog food as well as read some horror stories on what dog food manufacturers use in commercial (and prescription) dog food, and began to experiment.
Finally I found a recipe I liked, and mixed up a batch. Because Teddy had been on so many antibiotics, I added a probiotic and a powdered multi- vitamin. Teddy chowed it down but amazingly so did Fritz our 7 year old Maltese/Westie mix. Fritz never ate. He was such a finicky eater, he only nibbled a little here and there. Within a week, Teddy’s diarrhea was GONE! Over the weeks and months, Teddy’s energy increased and he stopped limping (arthritis), he lost weight, and his coat grew back shiny and glossy. I stopped all his medications and IV’s. He now takes walks every day and is back to chasing his ball. (Corgis love to chase balls). Although Teddy is 11 years old he now acts like a puppy. Everyone who sees him can’t believe he’s the same dog. I am so happy I finally listened to my intuition that “good health begins with good food”, but so sorry it took me so long to follow my own advice, “you are what you eat”!
Disclaimer: This is Teddy’s story only. I am not a veterinarian nor is the intent of this story to deliver any veterinarian advice nor to diagnose any disease.