Fanconi Syndrome in Dogs

Fanconi Syndrome in Dogs

Health & Safety

Fanconi Sydrome is a disorder that affects a dog's kidney function with Basenjis being one of the breeds that appears to be most affected. The condition sees a lack of reabsorption of specific solutes found in the urine which includes water, sodium, potassium to name but three. It is thought to be an inherited disorder, but it is not yet known how a dog passes Fanconi Syndrome on to their offspring.

Breeds Affected by the Condition

As previously mentioned, the Basenji seems to be the breed most at risk of inheriting the disorder, but instances of idiopathic Fanconi Syndrome have occurred in other breeds too although a lot less frequently and this includes the following breeds:

  • Border Terriers
  • Norwegian Elkhounds
  • Whippets
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Mixed breeds

A diagnosis can be made when dogs are anything from 10 to 11 weeks old with most showing clinical signs of there being something wrong when they are anything from 2 to 4 years old.

Symptoms of Fanconi Syndrome

The clinical signs of there being something wrong vary on the severity of a dog's condition and whether they are experiencing kidney failure. Signs there may well be a problem with a dog's renal function include the following:

  • An excessive need to urinate
  • An excessive need to drink
  • A reduced or lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Poor body condition
  • Abnormal or reduced growth in young dogs and those that are still growing

What Causes Fanconi Syndrome?

As previously mentioned, Fanconi Syndrome is an inherited disorder that affects seems to affect Basenjis more than other breeds. However, Acquired Fanconi Syndrome"" has been seen in other breeds that have been treated with certain drugs which includes specific antibiotics as well as chemicals commonly used to treat cancers.

Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would need to have a dog's full medical history and be told how the onset of the condition first presented itself. They would then carry out a complete blood profile on a dog suspected of having developed Fanconi Syndrome. This would need to include a complete blood count as well as a urinalysis which would help establish the levels of solutes like sodium, potassium, phosphate, glucose, bicarbonate and amino acids found in a dog’s system. They would also look at analysing blood gases which would show whether a dog's kidneys are functioning as they should when it comes to absorption.

Treating the Condition

It is essential that any drugs or medication a dog may be taking be withdrawn just in case they are trigger for them having developed the condition. However, every case must be treated individually. Young dogs that may be suffering from certain deficiencies in Vitamin D or calcium and prosphorus would need to be given the correct supplements to correct the balance. With this said, any dog that’s been diagnosed as suffering from either acquired or congenital Fanconi Syndrome, can go on to lead a full and normal life providing they are given the correct treatment to correct any imbalances.

However, the prognosis depends on whether a vet can establish the underlying causes of a dog’s condition. When left untreated, Fanconi Sydrome whether acquired or inherited, can lead to a dog developing a serious kidney disease which could prove life-threatening.

Living with a Dog with Fanconi Syndrome

When dogs have been diagnosed as suffering from Fanconi Syndrome, a vet would typically like to monitor their serum biochemistry every two weeks to make sure the treatment is working and to amend dosages as necessary. With this said, once a dog's serum potassium concentrations are stable, the vet would still need to see a dog every two to four months to keep an eye on things.

Fanconi Syndrome can affect a dog badly, very quickly or a dog's condition could remain stable and manageable for several years. However, when the prognosis is poor, it is usually because a dog has developed acute renal failure. Some dogs suffer from seizures whereas others may develop other forms of neurologic dysfunctions which sees them become clumsy, their eyesight becomes seriously impacted or they may even suffer from dementia and sadly why this is, remains unknown.


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