Renal Dysplasia In Dogs And Cats A Kidney Defect

A Dog Laying With His Paw Across His Feline Friend

Renal dysplasia is a kidney abnormality where one or both kidneys do not fully develop and are relatively small in size. This defect can lead to poor kidney function and even cause them to fail completely. Learn more about renal dysplasia here.

Renal dysplasia is a congenital disease in which one or both of a pet’s kidneys develop abnormally. With renal dysplasia, the kidneys are typically small, deformed, and never fully mature. This condition often results in poor kidney function and, in many cases, kidney failure. While renal dysplasia is much more common in dogs, it can also affect cats. Read on to learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments of renal dysplasia in dogs and cats.

Causes of Renal Dysplasia in Dogs and Cats

The exact causes of renal dysplasia -- also known as progressive juvenile nephropathy and familial renal disease -- are not fully understood. In some pets, the condition is inherited through a recessive gene. Commonly affected dog breeds include the Alaskan MalamuteBedlington TerrierChow ChowCocker SpanielDoberman PinscherGolden RetrieverKeeshondLhasa ApsoMiniature SchnauzerNorwegian ElkhoundSamoyedShih Tzu, and Standard Poodle.

Some experts believe that the condition can also be caused by something called an intrauterine fetal infection, which is a bacterial or viral infection of fetal tissues that occurs in the mother’s uterus during pregnancy. Possible causes of intrauterine fetal infections include the canine herpes virus, poisoning, and fetal trauma.

Symptoms of Renal Dysplasia in Dogs and Cats

Despite the fact that renal dysplasia is congenital (present since birth), symptoms often do not appear until weeks, months, or several years into a pet’s life. In some cases, a pet may not show any symptoms or may show symptoms that are mild enough to go unnoticed.

The symptoms of renal dysplasia will vary depending on the severity of the condition but will commonly include:

Treatment for Renal Dysplasia in Dogs and Cats

Visit your veterinarian if your pet is showing symptoms of renal dysplasia. Your veterinarian will diagnose the condition through a physical examination and testing. Testing may include full blood work and chemistry, a urinalysis, an x-ray and/or ultrasound to evaluate kidney structure, and a kidney biopsy. A kidney biopsy is the only test that can definitively diagnose the condition.

Renal dysplasia can be tricky to treat. In most cases, a pet with two dysfunctional kidneys will end up suffering from kidney failure and is not likely to survive long-term. The outlook is better for pets with only one dysfunctional kidney. However, those cases are rare.

The treatments available for renal dysplasia are intended to stabilize the pet and promote normal kidney function. Common treatment options include:

Pets suffering from renal dysplasia may benefit from a special diet that is low in salt and easy to metabolize. Your veterinarian may recommend food or prescribe a specific diet. Vitamins and supplements may also be useful to compensate for any nutrients the pet is losing through excessive urination.

  • Fluid therapy

Many pets with renal dysplasia become dehydrated and require hospitalization to restore fluid levels. All pets suffering from renal dysplasia should have regular access to clean water.

  • Medications

Your veterinarian may prescribe medications to treat complications associated with renal dysplasia. For example, if your pet’s dehydration is the result of vomiting or diarrhea, your veterinarian may prescribe an antiemetic or antidiuretic. If your pet is suffering from bone pain, your veterinarian may prescribe painkillers. Never give your pet any medication without first consulting your veterinarian, as some medications could make your pet’s condition worse.

  • Dialysis or Transplant

In severe cases, your veterinarian may suggest kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant. However, these procedures are costly and usually only offered through specialized clinics.

There is no way to prevent renal dysplasia. However, you should not breed affected pets because the disease is sometimes inherited.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the life expectancy of a dog with renal dysplasia?

In some cases, dogs with mild renal dysplasia may live a relatively normal lifespan with appropriate management, which may include dietary changes, medication, and regular monitoring by a veterinarian. However, dogs with more severe forms of the condition may experience kidney failure and other complications, which can significantly reduce their life expectancy. Severe forms of renal dysplasia can have a very poor prognosis, with affected puppies often not surviving beyond a few months. For dogs with moderate renal dysplasia, a lifespan of one to two years is possible in most cases.

What does renal dysplasia look like in dogs?

Renal dysplasia is a congenital disorder that affects the kidneys of dogs. The condition can manifest in different ways, depending on the severity of the case. Some dogs may not show any symptoms of the condition until later in life, while others may show signs at birth or in the first few weeks of life. Symptoms of renal dysplasia can include increased drinking and urination, decreased appetite or weight loss, poor growth or failure to thrive in puppies, vomiting or diarrhea, lethargy or weakness, pale gums or mucous membranes, and abdominal pain or discomfort.

What causes renal dysplasia in dogs?

Renal dysplasia is a congenital disorder, which means it is present at birth and is caused by abnormal development of the kidneys while the puppy is still in the womb. The exact cause of renal dysplasia is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to genetic factors, as the condition tends to run in families. In some cases, environmental factors such as exposure to toxins or infections during pregnancy may also play a role. The abnormal development of the kidneys in dogs with renal dysplasia can result in structural abnormalities, such as abnormal tissue growth, malformed blood vessels, and cysts. These structural abnormalities can interfere with normal kidney function, leading to a progressive decline in kidney function over time. Depending on the severity of the condition, dogs with renal dysplasia may experience a range of symptoms, including increased drinking and urination, poor appetite or weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea, and lethargy.

What should dogs with kidney disease avoid?

Dogs with kidney disease may benefit from a lower protein diet, as excessive protein intake can put additional strain on the kidneys. However, the optimal level of protein for dogs with kidney disease can vary depending on the stage of the disease, so it's important to consult with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to determine the best diet for your dog. Dogs with kidney disease may also benefit from a low-phosphorus diet, as high levels of phosphorus in the blood can further damage the kidneys. Foods high in phosphorus, such as dairy products, organ meats, and certain grains, should generally be avoided or limited. Excessive sodium intake can lead to fluid retention and high blood pressure, which can worsen kidney disease. Dogs with kidney disease should avoid high-sodium foods such as processed meats and table scraps. Adequate hydration is important for dogs with kidney disease, as dehydration can worsen kidney function. It's important to ensure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh water at all times and to encourage them to drink frequently. Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can be harmful to dogs with kidney disease and should be avoided or used with caution. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving your dog any medication.

What is renal dysplasia in a dog?

Renal dysplasia is an inherited kidney condition in dogs. It is characterized by abnormal development and formation of the renal tissue, leading to structural and functional abnormalities within the kidneys. Although the precise underlying reason is still not completely understood, the illness is thought to be hereditary. Renal dysplasia can affect one or both kidneys, and it can range in severity. It frequently leads to the development of cysts, fibrous tissue, and nephron malformation, which are the functional kidney units in charge of filtering and processing waste from the blood. These anomalies prevent the affected kidneys from functioning properly, which results in decreased kidney function and associated side effects such as chronic renal disease. Excessive drinking and urinating, a lack of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, and occasionally blood in the urine are all possible clinical indications of renal dysplasia. Even while the illness can be present at birth, symptoms can not show up until much later in life.

What is cat renal dysplasia?

Cats with cat renal dysplasia have kidneys that are not developed normally. This uncommon disorder causes anatomical and functional abnormalities in the kidneys as a result of aberrant renal tissue development. Similar to renal dysplasia in dogs, the precise etiology of renal dysplasia in cats is unknown. However, a hereditary component is thought to play a role. One or both kidneys may be affected, and the severity of the ailment might vary. It results in the development of cysts, fibrous tissue, and abnormal nephron development, which are the kidney's functional units in charge of filtering waste from the blood. As a consequence, the affected kidneys are unable to perform their normal functions, resulting in reduced kidney function and potential complications such as chronic kidney disease. Increased thirst and urination, decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, and rarely blood in the urine are some of the clinical symptoms of cat renal dysplasia. The symptoms may not appear right away after birth, and they may continue to worsen over time.

What are the signs of renal dysplasia in dogs?

Given the gravity of the illness, different dogs may exhibit different indicators of renal dysplasia. Increased thirst and urination are frequent clinical symptoms that may point to the kidneys' impaired capacity to concentrate urine and control fluid balance. Added to a decreased appetite and weight loss, dogs with renal dysplasia can also exhibit lethargy. Due to poor waste removal and electrolyte imbalances, they could come off as weak and lacking in energy. Additionally, gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea, can occur. Blood may occasionally be found in the urine, a sign of possible renal injury.

What causes renal dysplasia?

In both dogs and cats, the precise etiology of renal dysplasia is not entirely understood. However, there is widespread agreement that there is a genetic component. Given that certain breeds are more vulnerable to renal dysplasia than others, inherited factors play a key influence in the development of the disorder. Rheumatoid dysplasia has been linked to breeds including the Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Bull Terrier, and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. These genetic components may cause aberrant renal tissue development during the fetal period, which might result in morphological and functional problems in the kidneys. Nephrons are the functional units of the kidneys, and it is considered that the faulty genes causing renal dysplasia interfere with their proper development and differentiation. This disruption in normal kidney development can lead to the formation of cysts, fibrous tissue, and malformation of the renal structures. Additionally, environmental factors, such as exposure to toxins or infections during pregnancy, may contribute to the development of renal dysplasia. 

More on Kidney Health

Canine And Feline Kidney Failure Symptoms - What You Need To Know
Prescription Diets For Dogs With Kidney Disease
Warning Signs Of Kidney Failure In Cats

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