What are the signs & symptoms that develop in affected dogs?
Progression of the disease is typically rapid, and affected dogs may exhibit muscle wasting, abnormal accumulation of fluids in tissue (usually first observed as edema in the limbs), and excessive thirst and urination. PLN dogs are also at high risk of clotting problems due to a loss of clotting protein (Antithrombin III). End-stage renal disease may present with vomiting, poor appetite, and lethargy, and most often occurs at about 12 months of age but can occur as early as six months or as late as 24 months of age.
When do signs and symptoms develop?
Affected dogs appear completely healthy as puppies, developing persistent protein in the urine (proteinuria) as the first symptom of the disease. The onset of proteinuria most often is between four to six months of age but can be as early as between two to three months or as late as between six to eight months of age.
How do vets diagnose this condition?
Diagnosis is made based on clinical history, physical examination, laboratory values, and genetic testing. Proteinuria, increasing azotemia (BUN and/or creatinine), and possibly low blood protein may be noted. Additional tests, including blood pressure and abdominal ultrasound may be recommended based on a dog’s clinical signs.
How is this condition treated?
There is no cure for ARHN; all currently available treatments are symptomatic or supportive in nature. Current therapies are aimed at reducing the protein load on the kidney, fighting the toxic effects of protein wasting, maintaining hydration, and addressing an elevation in blood pressure, if present.
What actions should I take if my dog is affected?
- Closely monitor your dog for changes in their drinking and urination patterns.
- Regular veterinary visits and laboratory testing will be vital to catching this disease at an early stage, where it can be more easily managed.
- Dietary and medication recommendations are based on how clinically advanced the PLN is. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations.
- Dialysis, kidney transplants, and gene therapy are being explored as potential treatment options.