Juvenile Renal Disease in Dogs

Juvenile renal disease in dogs is a genetic disease affecting the kidneys. A number of breeds are prone to this disorder, which carries a poor prognosis.

Risk Factors for Canine Juvenile Renal Disease 

Juvenile renal disease is a genetic disease that affects some breeds of dog more than others. Some breeds prone to genetic renal disorders include:

  • Standard poodles
  • Doberman pinschers
  • Samoyeds
  • Golden retrievers
  • Great Danes
  • Shih tzus
  • Bulldogs
  • Yorkshire terriers

Many dog breeders may not be informed if a single puppy has been diagnosed with juvenile renal disease, and may not therefore be aware that their puppies are prone to this problem. Though hereditary, juvenile renal disease rarely affects all of the puppies in a litter. When it occurs, vets often treat it as an isolated incidence of disease, and dogs who carry the gene for it are also capable of producing healthy puppies.

Symptoms of Canine Juvenile Renal Disease 

Symptoms of kidney disease in puppies can begin to appear very early in life, at just a few weeks of age. Most dogs that have inherited this condition display symptoms by the age of two years. Most puppies appear to enjoy normal development until the onset of symptoms, although if the condition is severe, development may be retarded. 

The first symptoms of juvenile renal disease in puppies include excessive thirst and urination. Puppies with this disease may produce colorless or excessively pale urine. Urine may have a weak odor or be entirely odorless. As the condition progresses, symptoms worsen. Later stage symptoms of renal disease in puppies include:

  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting

Your puppy's breath may take on a strange odor, often described as "chemical," because his kidneys are not expelling waste from his body as they should. In some cases, juvenile renal disease affects only one kidney. When only one kidney is affected, the sick dog can typically live a normal, healthy life, free of symptoms, with no noticeable reduction in longevity.

Diagnosing Renal Disease in Puppies

Your vet will need a complete medical history and thorough physical exam to diagnose juvenile renal disease. Your vet may palpitate the abdomen or perform ultrasounds to evaluate kidney health. Urinalysis can help your vet evaluate kidney function. A tissue biopsy of the kidneys can help your vet diagnose this disorder, if the puppy is older than two months old, though this procedure is risky and considered unnecessary unless you are a breeder.

Treating Puppies with Juvenile Renal Disease

If your puppy is diagnosed with juvenile renal disease, a change in diet could alleviate his symptoms. Low phosphorus, low protein diets can help keep levels of toxins in your dog's blood low, easing the burden on the kidneys. Low phosphorus diets are known to slow the progress of kidney failure in canine renal disease.

IV fluids may be administered to treat the complications. The drug epogen can be administered to treat the anemia that often occurs with juvenile renal disease in dogs.