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Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a slowly progressive, irreversible, inherited kidney disease that can result in renal failure. This is a common condition in some cat breeds and relatively uncommon in dogs. Australian bull terriers may be affected.

The disorder is often present at birth. Multiple small cysts slowly grow in size, causing the kidney to enlarge dramatically. The cysts replace the normal kidney tissue, while kidney function continuously declines. PKD often progresses to cause clinical signs of kidney failure.

Clinical signs of PKD are non-specific and are similar to those seen in dogs with chronic renal failure of any cause. These include depression, decreased appetite or anorexia, excessive drinking, excessive urination, weight loss and sporadic vomiting.

What to Watch For

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia or reduced appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination (Polydipsia and polyuria )
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Occasional vomiting

    Diagnosis

    Physical examination findings and routine laboratory data are recommended for diagnoses. The results will vary depending on the severity of the disease.

  • Complete blood count.
  • Serum biochemical profile
  • Blood pressure
  • Urinalysis
  • . Radiographs
  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy

    Treatment

    There is no specific treatment for PKD. Treatment is the same as that for chronic kidney failure of any cause, for example:

  • Restricted protein and phosphorus diets
  • Possible subcutaneous fluids
  • Phosphorus binders
  • Calcitriol (Vitamin D)
  • Erythropoietin

    For more information on the details of treating renal failure, go to Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure in Dogs

    Home Care and Prevention

    There is no specific home care for dogs with PKD that have no symptoms. Dogs with PKD that have developed chronic kidney failure undergo home care typical for that condition including:

  • Prescription diet
  • Possible subcutaneous fluid therapy
  • Medication

    There is no way to slow the progression or prevent the onset of chronic renal failure once PKD has been diagnosed.

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