Kidney Failure is Caused by Old Age? Really?

My friend’s 13-going on 14 year-old Golden Retriever, Hanna, is dying of kidney failure.

When I asked the vet what caused this, he said, “old age.”

c 2007 -- In spite of her discomfort, Hanna has always been an exceptionally happy dog

Alice, Hanna and their terrorist friend, Molly-cule, c.2007

Hanna, Molly and Alice spent a lot of time up there on the wooded hill!

Hanna, Molly and Alice spent a lot of time up there on the wooded hill!

But this is a dog I’ve known since she was 6, and she wasn’t in in premium condition then. She was chronically, crazy-itchy, particularly her paws, ears and genital area. For as long as I’ve known her, she’d scoot her bottom along the ground, chew at her feet until they were pink, and claw at her ears that were puffy from inflammation.

We were told years ago that the dog had a yeast infection.

I knew a man 15 years ago who had systemic candida. It really knocked him down hard. He cured it by avoiding sugar, carbs, and all fermented foods. It took over a year before he began to believe he was going to live.

When I first met her, Hanna’s diet was far from high-end. She ate medium quality kibble—the medium-priced stuff from Costco.

In the summer of 2007 I insisted we try to detox her. We fed her organic chicken broth for a week, then cooked chicken and rice. She did not improve much—probably because of the rice. Too many carbohydrates.

In the summer of 2008 we fed her buffalo meat and sweet potatoes. Again, she showed a little improvement, but she did not get well. In this case it may have been due to the sweet potato that undermined our progress. Carbs again.

At my urging, my friend shifted to higher-end dog food, but it was still kibble, so the dog was still consuming carbohydrates. To compound the issue, my friend is less than vigilant about stamping out fleas, so between the out-of-control yeast infection and the fleas, the dog was chronically, insanely itchy. She often had tapeworms– and this went untreated for long spans of time.

Thinking Hanna had an allergy to chicken, my friend switched over to a salmon kibble. The dog ate that for the next few years. I campaigned unsuccessfully for her to select a meat other than salmon. After all, people are advised not to eat more than 12 ounces salmon or other ocean-going fish per week due to concentrations of mercury. A dog should not eat it every day… month after month… year after year.

What’s wrong with eating Mercury?

Well… for one thing, Mercury can cause kidney failure.

I also begged her to get her to abandon kibble of any kind and select a no-carb raw food. Instead, the dog was put on Prednizone.

Unable to utilize nutrients from food, Hanna's weight continued to drop

Hanna at 51 lbs., wasting away

When my friend took a two-and-a-half month cruise this winter, she dropped Hanna off to stay with me. I was appalled by the dog’s condition. The moment she arrived, I plopped Hanna in the bathtub to wash away the fleas. The water ran red with blood. The dog was a rack of bones—51 pounds. I had always known her to maintain her weight at 62 pounds.

During the fall months my friend had begun to feed Hanna what she regarded as a “higher quality” kibble: Signature Trout & Salmon Meal Formula. She had selected it because it did not have corn or wheat or “other carbs,” but what she failed to realize was that there is no kibble that is carb-free. You will not find a starch-free kibble because starch from carb sources is needed to form the pellets.

I assume Signature’s intent was to appeal to the “anti-grain” consumer. They merely substituted peas for common “enemy grains” (corn, soy, wheat generally speaking). Signature used peas as the third, fourth and fifth ingredients:

  • Trout
  • Salmon Meal
  • Peas
  • Pea Flour
  • Pea Protein

I have not found a lot of criticism regarding peas as a starch additive in dog foods. However, Mercola, who seems to be on the cutting edge of advocacy for healthy living for humans and pets has an article entitled “How Some pet Food Companies are Responding to Consumer Demands” in which the Author, Dr. Becker concludes: “You won’t find pea fiber in high quality commercially available pet foods, nor will you find it in “healthy recipes for homemade pet meals.”

In another article, “Disappointing Trend in Rising Pet Food Market,” Kimberly Kalander, who founded Murphy’s Premium Pet Food Market, expressed her concern about the use of peas in dog food:

“Peas belong to the legume family.  Legumes are high in phytic acid.  Phytates have a tendency to bind calcium, magnesium, and iron in animals and humans.”

Of particular concern to Kimberly is the ingredient, pea protein:

“High placement of this ingredients on the ingredient list could indicate concentrated levels.  I prefer not to see pea protein or peas in the ingredient list at all…”

She sees a link between lectins found in peas (and other carb crops) in digestion disruption, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, nutrient absorption disruption, autoimmune disorders, allergies and even “stupidity” and aggression issues.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanna managed to choke down about half a bag of Signature before she refused to eat any more.

When I took Hanna in late December, I tucked the bag away and fed her what I was feeding my dogs that month: raw duck from Natural Pet Pantry. I supplemented with Stella & Chewy’s Turkey Meal Mixers and/ or Primal Freeze Dried Duck or Turkey/Sardine. I added a Chinese herb mix to try to combat the yeast infection. I had to lightly cook her food each day as she was unwilling to eat it raw. Her itching decreased and her right ear healed from the chronic infection she’d had for years. She was not chewing on her feet, but her left ear stubbornly remained inflamed and she still scooted along the ground.


In spite of the fact that she was eating as much as my 90 pound Bouvier, Wil, she continued to lose weight.

When my friend got home in mid-March, I insisted she take Hanna to the vet. That’s when we got the diagnosis: Kidney failure. The prognosis: dismal.

Given the fact that this dog has been suffering from a chronic yeast infection for the past seven years, has been fed mediocre dog foods for most of that time— kibbles, the first or second ingredient of which was Salmon for the past 3 or so years, how could a vet blame her kidney failure on “old age”? Are there so many dogs dying from kidney failure that vets just assume that kidney failure is a foregone conclusion for a senior dog?

I see it from a different perspective—and this is personal, because I’ve lived it and I live it still:

The cause of the kidney failure could easily be due to mercury poisoning alone.

Symptoms of kidney poisoning that Hanna has are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Chronic tiredness
  • Joint aches
  • Allergies
  • Genital discharge

Of course, mercury has a lot of bedfellows with regard to leading to kidney failure.

Hanna was also subjected to multiple doses of Frontline.

And she may have been poisoned with

  • Household bleach, detergents, and disinfectants
  • Lead, zinc
  • Garden products (fertilizers, weed or moss killers)

(My friend is extremely lax with household and garden toxins.)

Sometimes I want to bang my head against a tree I get so frustrated. How can people not see the correlation between diseases and systemic allergies and the increase of environmental toxins/ degraded food? How can vets be so clueless as to the probable link of these factors to the rise of diseases?

Hanna, always sweet... always patient...

Hanna, always sweet… always patient…

Chelating mercury from a body is very tricky business and should never be done without the oversight of a qualified doctor. But if Hanna were my dog, finding a vet who could oversee a chelation program would be the top of my list.

Alas, I suspect it is too late for this gentle soul.

Articles Referenced:

Becker, Karen, Dr. “Another Pet Food Filler Ingredient Revealed: Pea Fiber.” Healthy Pets, 16 May 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Kalander, Kimberly. “Disappointing Trend In Rising Pet Food Market.” Truth about Pet Food., 01 Oct. 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Mercola, Joseph M., Dr. “Revised Protocol to Detoxify Your Body from Mercury Exposure.”, 13 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Vaughn, Susan. “Heavy Metal Symptoms | Arsenic, Lead,.” Symptoms Lead Poisoning, Heavy Metal Poisoning, Heavy Metals, Toxic Heavy Metals. Wellness Unlimited Solutions, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

© 2015, Tara Felder (Please contact to re-publish this or any article I’ve written. Thank you.)

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