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Protein-losing Nephropathy (PLN) in Dogs
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Protein-losing Nephropathy (PLN) in Dogs

Dogs
Health & Safety

Protein-losing nephropathy is a hereditary health condition that affects the dog’s kidneys, and that is particularly considered to be a risk to the soft coated wheaten terrier dog breed, although certain large-breed dogs also have elevated risk factors for the condition.

The condition tends to develop in adult dogs between the ages of around two and six years old, which means that sometimes, affected dogs will be bred from before symptoms become apparent, further increasing the spread of the condition. However, there is a health testing protocol in place for protein-losing nephropathy in the soft coated wheaten terrier that can enable the dog’s owner to find out their own dog’s risk factors for the condition, and so, make an informed decision on whether or not to breed from them.

In this article, we will look at protein-losing nephropathy in dogs in more detail, including how the condition is passed from dog to dog, the symptoms of the condition, and how to get your dog tested to find out their status. Read on to learn more.

What is protein-losing nephropathy?

Protein-losing nephropathy is the term used to refer to a range of different conditions or disorders that affect the nerve endings in the kidneys, known as the glomerulus, which leads to excessive levels of protein being eliminated from the body in the urine.

If the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, become damaged, or are affected by another underlying health condition, protein-losing nephropathy can develop and cause a range of systemic problems for the dog.

Some of the underling problems or health conditions that can cause protein-losing nephropathy in dogs include amyloidosis, kidney inflammations and infections, kidney failure, and kidney disease.

What sort of dogs are at risk for the condition?

As mentioned, the soft coated wheaten terrier is the dog breed considered to be most at risk of protein-losing nephropathy, but the condition also tends to occur in large breed dogs more than smaller breeds as a general rule, with the Bernese mountain dog, Golden retriever and Labrador retriever being other notable at-risk breeds.

The condition is slightly more prevalent in female dogs than it is in males, and dogs between the ages of two and six years old are those most commonly diagnosed with the condition.

What are the symptoms of protein-losing nephropathy in dogs?

As is the case with many internal health conditions, the symptoms of protein-losing nephropathy in dogs can be fairly varied and generalised, which can make it hard to identify the underlying problem and reach a formal diagnosis.

Some of the main symptoms of protein-losing nephropathy in dogs include:

  • Loss of appetite or refusal to eat.
  • Vomiting regularly, often after meals.
  • Weight loss.
  • Out-of-character behaviours such as aggression, distress, or confusion.
  • Swelling of the abdomen and limbs due to excessive fluid retention.
  • Drinking lots of water.
  • Not urinating very frequently or in normal quantities, despite the amount of water the dog drinks.
  • Pronounced sensitivities or acute allergic reactions to certain types of foods.
  • Systemic pruritus, or itching and irritation across the body.

If you spot any of these symptoms in your dog, you should speak to your vet as soon as possible in order to get a formal diagnosis of the condition, and rule out any other conditions that can present with similar symptoms.

The symptoms of protein-losing nephropathy in dogs can be subtle and mild during the early stages of the condition and can take several months or even years to progress to the point that they become obvious or have an acute effect on the dog’s health and wellness.

How is the condition transmitted?

Protein-losing nephropathy in the soft coated wheaten terrier is hereditary, and is passed from dog to dog by means of autosomal inheritance of a faulty gene that can be passed on from both sides of the breed line.

Dogs that only inherit one copy of the gene fault are considered to be at moderate risk of developing the condition, whilst dogs that inherit two copies are naturally at higher risk of becoming symptomatic.

Health testing for protein-losing nephropathy in dogs

There is a health testing protocol in place for dogs of the soft coated wheaten terrier breed that allows owners of dogs of the breed to find out the status of their dogs before breeding, to ensure that only healthy dogs are bred from.

In order to get your dog tested for their status, you just need to ask your vet to take a blood sample or buccal swab from your dog, which is sent away to an approved laboratory for testing, and the results returned later on.

If you are considering breeding from your soft coated wheaten terrier, both the prospective sire and dam should be tested first, even if both dogs appear fine – because the condition often develops later in life, and so an apparently healthy younger adult dog may still be at risk.

If you are considering buying a soft coated wheaten terrier or other dog breed affected by this condition, ask the breeders that you are considering buying from about health testing performed for their dogs, and ask to see the parent dogs’ results before committing to a purchase.

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