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Renal (Kidney) Amyloidosis in Dogs

By: Dr. Arnold Plotnick

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Kidney amyloidosis is a rare disorder of protein metabolism in which abnormal deposits of protein called amyloid is deposited in the kidneys. The cause of kidney amyloidosis remains poorly understood. It is a hereditary condition in certain breeds of dog. It also may occur in other breeds or mixed breeds as a reaction to chronic infections and inflammatory conditions.

Most dogs with kidney amyloidosis are old at the time of diagnosis (9 is average age). The disease can occur in any age or breed, with one study showing Beagles, collies, and walker hounds at increased risk, and German Shepherds and mixed-breed dogs at lower risk. It is a hereditary disorder in shar-pei dogs.

Amyloid deposits in the kidney lead to excessive protein loss in the urine and eventual chronic kidney failure. Amyloid may also be deposited in other organs like the liver, spleen and pancreas, causing them to malfunction as well.

What to Watch For

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Intermittent vomiting
  • Labored breathing due to thromboembolism (blood clots in the lungs)
  • Ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen)
  • Edema (swelling of the limbs and/or face)
  • Possible previous history of joint swelling and fever in shar-peis

    Diagnosis

  • Complete blood count and chemistry panel
  • Urinalysis
  • Urine protein/creatinine ratio
  • X-rays
  • Biopsy of the kidney

    Treatment

  • Identify and treat any underlying infectious or inflammatory condition that may have led to the amyloidosis
  • Manage any concurrent kidney failure
  • Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO)
  • Colchicine

    Home Care and Prevention

    Manage any concurrent kidney failure as described by the veterinarian with prescription diets, subcutaneous fluids, hormonal therapy to correct anemia and vitamin D therapy. Control hypertension with medication if necessary and minimize risk of thromboembolism (forming blood clots) using low dose aspirin, if prescribed.

    There are no specific preventative measures against amyloidosis.

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