Glomerulonephritis in dogs results in an excessive loss of protein from your pets system that is discharged in their urine.
It is a chronic, but not an acute, kidney disease and is a very difficult disease to properly identify simply because the spectrum of symptoms will vary tremendously.
Dogs of any age and any breed can get this disease, and if left untreated, it can and often does lead to a chronic kidney failure.
Some dogs will show absolutely no symptoms at all; while others may show symptoms of a chronic kidney failure.
Some dogs may also have symptoms that relate to a sudden blockage of major blood vessels which cause the loss of the usage of their rear legs and is a medical emergency.
The kidneys of your dog are made up of thousands of extremely small filtering units that are referred to as glomeruli.
These small units filter the water and other small substances for your pet’s bloodstream.
The tubes of the kidney, following this filtering process, will reabsorb the vital substances such as electrolytes and glucose.
They will also absorb any unnecessary substances along with small amounts of water in your pet’s urine.
This disease occurs when there is inflammation of these small units in the kidneys, and the body’s antigens and antibodies become trapped in the glomerulus vessels.
This ignites your dog’s immune system and as a result it damages the vessels.
Glomerules are a tiny looping of blood vessels that filter waste from the blood.
The immune system reacts to what it is believed to be an attack. However, what makes this disease so difficult is that it is considered to be idiopathic.
An idiopathic disease is one where the actual origin is unknown.
However, the result of this condition is an excessive amount of protein being depleted because it is going into your pet’s urine.
Because there are so many dogs that will show no initial symptoms this disease may not actually be discovered until your veterinarian runs a urinalysis and discovers protein in the urine.
And by that time, it may be too late for your dog.
Although some dogs may not show any symptoms related to the kidneys, there are still several symptoms that you can watch for as most dogs will show you something.
The first thing to watch for is a swelling or a tenderness of your pet’s abdomen. This may or may not be accompanied by swelling of the paws, the ankles, the face, or the scrotum.
The scrotum is protuberance of both skin and muscle that contain the testicles.
Swelling in any of these areas in your dog is obliviously something that is not normal and can alert you that something is wrong.
Other symptoms of Glomerulonephritis in dogs will include a gradual but increasing consumption of water, followed by increased urination; much more than normal for you dog.
But the two most chilling symptoms will be a sudden loss of vision, or a sudden attack of difficulty in breathing.
If they exhibit any of these last two symptoms, your dog is now facing a medical emergency.
Since Glomerulonephritis in dogs is considered to be idiopathic.
Because of this there is an extensive list of both infectious and non-infectious inflammatory diseases that can trigger this life threatening condition in your dog.
The infectious inflammatory diseases will include viral infections, infectious hepatitis, bacterial infections, and Lyme disease.
Other diseases include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Brucellosis, as well as Dermatitis, an infection of the skin.
Infections in the prostrate, the uterus, and the heart valves can also trigger this disease; as well as Heart-worms and fungal infections.
Non-infectious inflammatory causes could include inflammation of the pancreases, the joints, cancer, or any type of mast cell tumors or tumors.
However, in over 80 percent of the cases of this disease, there will never be an actual known cause; making it very difficult to diagnosis and treat.
Because Glomerulonephritis in dogs is so very difficult, there will have to be several tests ran exclusively to rule out any other diseases.
The first obvious test will be a compete urinalysis to look for and identify protein in the urine.
This will be followed by a CBC, complete blood count, to look for anemia, inflammation, and low platelet counts.
The next test that will be run is a serum biochemistry to look for low protein concentrations in your dog’s body.
And finally, there will have to be a kidney biopsy ran to see if it may be another form of kidney disease that may be affecting the glomeruli.
The treatments for Glomerulonephritis in dogs will be almost as extensive as the potential causes.
It will also be different for almost every dog as it will all depend on the severity of the condition.
If it can be identified, the most effective treatment will be in treating the antigens that are causing the inflammation.
However, this only happens in about twenty percent of the reported cases.
Where it cannot be identified, the first form of treatment will be immune-suppressive drugs to help suppress the antibody formations.
However, these are often ineffective.
Low doses of aspirin will be given per your dog’s body weight to help with the inflammation.
ACE inhibitors will also be used as they help to decrease the production of antigens as well as reducing the blood pressure within the glomeruli.
This process helps to reduce the amount of protein being lost in the urine.
However, the most effective treatment for Glomerulonephritis in dogs will be dietary.
In the early stages of discovery with this disease, adding protein to the diet was tried, but this only served to aggravate the condition, not improve it.
What several veterinarians found was just the opposite.
By reducing the amount of protein slightly, it reduced the amounts that were being lost.
Limiting the amount of sodium also helps simply because this disease causes the retention of sodium, increasing the risk of hypertension.
The most effective dietary change may possibly be adding Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, especially fish oil, as it helps to reduce the inflammation of these very small filtering cells.
Glomerulonephritis in dogs is a very silent and vicious disease for your dog. If it is not caught in the very early stages, the prognosis for your dog is about 90 days after discovery.
If it is found and treated, with the guidance of your veterinarian, most dogs can survive it and live a long and healthy life.
However, monitoring and testing for relapse will part of the treatment.