As you know we've been having on-going worries with Tansy over the last few weeks (well she is fifteen and-a-half), but it's got somewhat worse recently as her appetite has become so erratic. Thus another trip to the vet's was called for, and earlier this week she had blood taken so that several tests could be carried out. We've just had the results.
Basically they showed up quite a few things.
She has a persistent, non-specific infection, that surprised the vet as it isn't showing up in any other ways. She's had a couple of really thorough check-ups over the last couple of weeks and hasn't got a temperature, etc.
She's slightly anaemic.
She has between 50 - 75% kidney failure.
And about 60 - 70% liver damage.
The anaemia is almost certainly related to the kidney failure, as is her erratic appetite, as one of the functions that has been lost is getting rid of the nasty stuff that would have an affect on her appetite.
However, it isn't as bad as it sounds, really. The vet said that animals can live quite happily on only 25% kidney function, and the amount of liver damage is also within manageable levels. One of the contributing factors to the liver damage are the steroids that she's been on long term, to help with the itching that all Westies suffer from. Without them she's really miserable and can't get comfortable at all; thus it's a balancing act.
We had discussed the possibility of further investigations, before she had the blood tests. However, those (x-rays and/or an exploratory op) would both involve sedation and/or anaesthetic and as both of these put a strain on the kidney and liver, the vet has recommended that they aren't carried out. To be honest we'd pretty much decided this anyway; at fifteen and-a-half there seems little point putting her through an op that she might likely not survive.
She's still generally bright and reasonably bouncy, loves her walks, loves being with us, and isn't in any great amount of pain (although she does have arthritis as well), and is still enjoying life. The vet has given her two more lots of tablets, one to fight the persistent non-specific infection ,and the other to help get rid of some of the stuff the kidneys are not longer dealing with, so hopefully that will help her appetite. As the vet said, she's done really well, it is quite an age, even for a small dog, so now it's a case of doing what we can to help keep her comfortable and improve what life she has left.
She goes back in three weeks for another blood test, to see if the antibiotics have worked and generally check the various levels of organ function.
We were prepared for a lot worse; we did wonder about tumours or other really nasty stuff, and at least it's good to know exactly how things stand. Fortunately, both J and I are very much of the 'want to know' school. Which isn't, of course, to say that the news isn't upsetting, it is, but from what the vet said, it all sounds worse than it actually is, given how in effect little kidney and liver functions dogs need to carry on without suffering.
As it goes at the moment she'll be around for a while longer - how long will be no one can say - still doing her Court Jester act from time to time, as well as all the other things that make her Tansy. And as long as she isn't suffering and she is still enjoying life, that is what matters.
We're going out to tea with my parents very soon (wonders if J&T will get back from their walk in time). I doubt we'll be mentioning any of this to them. I know my parents and it's better that way, for all concerned - including Tansy.