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Renal Dysplasia in Dogs (Familial Renal Disease)

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Renal dysplasia, also known as familial renal disease or progressive juvenile nephropathy, is a disease in which development of the kidney tissue is abnormal. Clinical signs of the disorder typically occur before the age of two years. Ultimately, renal dysplasia can result in Chronic renal (kidney) failure and death.

Kidney failure is the malfunction of the kidneys to filter waste products produced by the body. Waste products are normally carried by blood to the kidneys to be filtered and excreted in the form of urine. When the kidneys fail, they are no longer able to remove these waste products causing toxins to build up in the blood producing clinical signs of kidney disease. Kidney failure affects almost every body system causing many changes throughout the body and usually results in the following:

  • Abnormal filtration of blood and retention of waste materials

  • Failure of hormone production (including substances that stimulates the production of red blood cells [erythropoeitin])

  • Inability to convert vitamin D to form calcitriol which is important in normal bone development

  • Disturbance of fluid, electrolyte and acid-base balance

    The disease is most commonly inherited. It is more common in dogs that cats. It can occur in any breed, age or sex. Most animals begin to show symptoms of disease before the age of 2 years. Breeds predisposed to renal dysplasia include the cocker spaniel, Lhasa apso, golden retriever, shih tzu, Dutch kookier, Finish harrier and soft-coated wheaten terrier.

    What to Watch For

  • Anorexia or reduced appetite
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst and urination (polydipsia and polyuria[PU/PD])
  • Weight loss
  • Bone pain
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stunted growth
  • Hematuria (bloody urine)
  • Abnormal bone structure (such as enlarged mandible/maxillae or pathologic fractures

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