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Protein Deposits in the Body in Dogs

Amyloidosis in Dogs

Amyloidosis, a condition observed in dogs, involves the accumulation of a waxy translucent substance known as amyloid in various organs and tissues. This proteinaceous deposit compromises normal organ function and can lead to organ failure if left untreated. While the kidneys and liver are commonly affected, amyloid deposits can occur in other organs as well, with multiple potential causes. Debate persists regarding whether amyloid deposition initiates the diseased condition or is a consequence of preexisting conditions.

In dogs, clinical manifestations often stem from amyloid deposition in the kidneys. Although there’s no established genetic link, familial amyloidosis has been documented in Chinese Shar-Peis, Beagles, and English Foxhounds. Breeds predisposed to this condition include Chinese Shar-Peis, Beagles, Collies, English Foxhounds, Pointers, and Walker Hounds. Dogs older than five years, particularly females, face a slightly higher risk compared to males.

Symptoms and Types

Amyloid deposition can occur in various organs, leading to a range of symptoms depending on the affected organ, the amount of amyloid deposited, and the organ’s reaction to the deposition. Among dogs, amyloid deposition commonly occurs in the kidneys, though Chinese shar-peis may also experience liver involvement. The symptoms observed in dogs with amyloidosis include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Occasional diarrhea
  • Ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen)
  • Edema, particularly in the limbs
  • Fever
  • Joint swelling
  • Dehydration
  • Jaundice, particularly evident with liver involvement

Causes

  • Persistent infections
  • Long-term inflammation
  • Parasitic infections
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Tumors (neoplasia)
  • Familial predisposition, as observed in breeds like the Chinese shar-pei, beagle, and English foxhound

Diagnosis

To diagnose your dog’s condition, it’s crucial to provide a detailed history of its health, including background information and when symptoms first appeared. Your vet will perform a thorough physical examination and order various tests such as a blood profile, chemical blood profile, complete blood count, and urinalysis. These tests help assess organ function and identify any complications arising from the disease. Urine tests are particularly important if the kidneys are affected by amyloid deposition. X-ray images and ultrasound scans will be used to examine the kidneys’ structural features and detect any abnormalities. Typically, a diagnosis is confirmed through the examination of tissue obtained during a kidney biopsy.

Treatment

If your dog is diagnosed with chronic kidney issues leading to kidney failure, your veterinarian will likely recommend hospitalization to address dehydration and stabilize your pet. Treatment will focus on addressing any underlying causes that may have contributed to the condition. Dogs in kidney failure require comprehensive medical care and ongoing management for an extended duration. Your veterinarian will develop a treatment plan tailored to your dog’s needs and prescribe medications based on the severity of the disease and any accompanying conditions or complications.

Recovery and Management

Managing this condition involves a long-term treatment approach as it tends to progress over time. While many animals can resume normal activities, they may require a specialized diet recommended by your veterinarian, especially if the kidneys are affected. It’s crucial not to administer any medications to your dog without consulting your veterinarian first, as most drugs require normal kidney function for proper excretion from the body. Since there’s suspicion of a familial association with this condition, it’s important not to breed affected animals to prevent passing on the trait to future generations.

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