This disease is very uncommon in dogs and has been found only in a few breeds such as those belonging to the bull terriers and beagles. The reason may perhaps have a lot to do with the genealogy of these breeds. Polycystic kidney disease in dogs or PKD is an inherited disease, and does not have a cure. This condition is more prominent among cats of certain breeds. Since the disease is irreversible, the only thing that can be done is to keep it under control and prevent the cysts from spreading.
This condition is present at the time of the puppy's birth and gradually begins to show its symptoms as and when the cysts begin to form. These cysts grow into the kidney's tissue and eat into them, thereby causing the cysts to fill up with fluid and matter. The growth of these cysts depends a lot on the diet as well as the hereditary traits of the breed. As and when the cysts grow, they begin to obstruct the normal functions of the kidney tissue (glomeruli) and thereby bring about gradual kidney failure. Let us learn more about the symptoms of PKD in dogs.
Symptoms of PKD in Dogs
These cysts do not show when the dog is still a puppy, but begin to appear out as the dog grows. Here are some signs you must look out for so as to keep the disease from aggravating further into the liver.
- Dogs with this kidney condition, feel very thirsty and need a lot of water throughout the day.
- Because of which they urinate often as well.
- They have difficulty eating and digesting the food. Check for a drastic fall in the appetite of your dog.
- The dog will vomit often.
- As a result of not eating much and the throwing up, the dog begins to lose weight.
- These dogs may also suffer from hypertension.
- Check for breathlessness and agitation or anger.
- There will be behavioral changes such as, being tired all the time and being sad or upset (whining), most days.
- There may be signs of minor abdominal convulsions, wherein the muscles twitch uncontrollably.
Treatment for Canine PKD
If your dog has all these symptoms, you must get him checked immediately. An ultrasound or a biopsy will determine what is causing the symptoms. In case the dog is detected with PKD, you must find out the extent of the spread. A bacterial culture will determine if there is a secondary infection active in the dog or not. Since there is no cure for this disease, the best would be to help reduce the pain for the pet. This can be done through medications which help reduce the fluid in the cyst and prevent them from spreading further. Some amounts of painkiller will be needed if the dog is suffering. There are only certain preventive measures which can be taken once the dog has been diagnosed with PKD. You must get your dog checked every 6 months for secondary infection. The reason being that the cysts can lead to bacterial infection and sepsis or pus within the tissues of the affected area
On a daily basis, all protein and phosphorus must be removed from the pet's diet. Proteins aggravate the cysts and promote their growth. The dog must be given calcitriol or vitamin D supplements as this helps stunt the spread of the cysts. The vet will also prescribe Erythropoietin which is a glycoprotein secreted in the kidney. This substance promotes the production of red blood cells which will help the kidney regain a bit of its functions. Another method known as aspiration is often used in PKD among dogs, where the fluid in the cyst is removed through injections. This helps alleviate the pain in the pet.
PKD in dogs can be prevented from becoming life-threatening, if proper treatment is provided and there is early detection. Getting your dog regularly checked will help keep most health complications at bay.