Could your dog have this kidney disorder?

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It’s never a good thing to learn that your dog has a disease, but a diagnosis of kidney dysplasia can be especially devastating, especially if your dog is still a puppy. kidney disease is something often associated with older dogs, but renal dysplasia is more common in young dogs. Although there is no cure for this disorder, there are ways to treat the symptoms and manage the progression of the disease to make your pet more comfortable.

What causes renal dysplasia in dogs?

Kidney dysplasia is a disorder that occurs when one or both kidneys fail to develop properly in the womb. Within the kidney are structures called nephrons that filter blood, remove waste products, and retain nutrients essential for bodily function. If there are not enough nephrons present, the kidneys fail, causing a buildup of toxins and fluid in the body.

The severity of renal dysplasia depends on the number of functional nephrons present in each kidney. Bilateral renal dysplasia affects both kidneys and is usually the most severe form of the disease. Dogs with unilateral renal dysplasia may have one functioning kidney and mild to moderate disease.

Kidney dysplasia mainly affects dogs and humans and is rare in other pets like cats and horses. It is a congenital disease, that is, it is present at birth. Although often diagnosed when puppies are very young, some forms of renal dysplasia don’t show up until adulthood.

Is renal dysplasia in dogs hereditary in certain breeds?

Most cases of kidney dysplasia are inherited through genes, but sometimes they can occur due to prenatal infection. All breeds of dogs can suffer from renal dysplasia, but certain breeds of dogs are more frequently affected such as:

In 2011, lone researchers a possible genetic marker for renal dysplasia in dogs, but the study has raised questions of validity within the veterinary community. Genetic testing for this marker is available from a company called DOgenes. This test can help breeders determine if a dog has the marker and could pass it on to offspring. However, the Institute of Canine Biology warns that this test may not be valid. Ask your veterinarian if you are concerned about genetic testing for your dog.

Signs of Kidney Dysplasia in Dogs

Dogs with kidney dysplasia usually don’t show signs of disease until they develop kidney failure. In severe cases, puppies can get sick right after birth or in the first three to six months of life. Dogs with mild to moderate forms of kidney dysplasia may not develop kidney failure until they are adults or even old. The most common symptoms of kidney failure include:

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Kidney Dysplasia Treatment Options for Dogs

Contact your veterinary if your puppy or dog shows signs of kidney disease. Your veterinarian will discuss your dog’s medical signs and history, then perform a physical exam. Next, your veterinarian will take blood and urine samples for lab tests that assess kidney function.

If lab tests show kidney dysfunction, your vet will likely recommend some form of diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays or an ultrasound. X-rays allow the veterinarian to visualize the size and shape of the kidneys. An ultrasound will give the vet a more detailed look at the soft tissue density and structure in and around the kidneys.

Kidney dysplasia will cause one or both kidneys to appear small and irregular. Your veterinarian may also recommend a surgical biopsy of the affected kidney to establish a definitive diagnosis.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for renal dysplasia in dogs, nor any specific treatment for this disorder. Treatment is to manage kidney problems caused by renal dysplasia. Kidney disease will continue to get progressively worse, but treatment can help relieve symptoms and slow disease progression. Treatment usually includes fluid therapy, anti-nausea medications, potassium supplementation, phosphate binders, and appetite stimulants as needed.

How long can a dog live with renal dysplasia?

The life expectancy of dogs with renal dysplasia varies depending on the severity of the disease and the subsequent onset of renal failure. Newborns and young puppies with severe forms of the disease rarely survive more than three to six months. Dogs with moderate renal dysplasia typically live to be one to two years old. When treatments no longer allow a good quality of life, some pet owners opt for humane euthanasia, but it is a personal decision that each family should discuss with their veterinarian. Mild forms of the disease are less common, but these dogs can lead normal lives before symptoms appear.