What are Amyloidosis?
Amylodiosis can occur throughout the body. Hepatic amylodiosis occurs when amyloids, or insoluble proteins, form deposits within the liver. Hepatic amyloidosis often occurs in conjunction with amyloidosis, or protein deposits, in other areas of a dog’s body, such as the kidney, spleen, adrenal glands, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract. There is a high risk of liver failure or failure of other affected organs, and amyloisis can be fatal. Amyloidosis can develop as the result of chronic inflammatory diseases, chronic bacterial infections and malignant tumors, or as a hereditary condition. Hereditary amyloisis occurs more commonly in Chinese Shar-Peis, Akitas, and Collies. Dogs with hepatic amylodiosis typically display symptoms of liver failure first; however, some may exhibit signs of kidney distress earlier.When a dog’s body produces new proteins, peptide chains are designed to fold into a certain shape. Insoluble proteins resistant to digestion result from incorrect folding, and when they are deposited in tissues, they displace normal cells in a condition called amyloidosis.
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Symptoms of Amyloidosis in Dogs
- Swollen hocks
- Joint inflammation
- Joint pain
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal discomfort
- Buildup of abdominal fluid
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
Causes of Amyloidosis in Dogs
- Inherited hepatic amyloidosis occurs as an affect of conditions that cause protein mutations. In Chinese Shar-Peis, it occurs as a result of cyclic fever specific to the breed that are known as Shar-Pei Fever Syndrome. Akitas are predisposed to develop amyloidosis as a result of cyclic fever and multiple joint inflammations. Collies who have Cyclic Neutropenia or Gray Collie Syndrome, which is a stem cell disorder, are also predisposed to developing amyloidosis.
- Acquired hepatic amyloidosis develops as a result of plasma cell tumors, or myelomas, causing overproduction of a certain protein, and severe inflammation as a result of chronic inflammatory diseases, chronic bacterial infections and malignant tumors.
- Mild and asymptomatic amyloid formations occur to some extent in all elderly dogs as a simple result of age. These types of protein deposits are not likely to affect your dog’s health, and, therefore, unlikely to be diagnosed.
Diagnosis of Amyloidosis in Dogs
If your dog is exhibiting signs of liver or kidney failure, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately. If your dog has amyloidosis, it is likely the condition had been present long before you began to notice symptoms.
Your veterinarian will perform several tests in order to distinguish a diagnosis of amyloidosis from other possible conditions. It is important for you to inform your veterinarian of your dog’s complete medical history, as well as a thorough report of how symptoms have manifested in your dog.
A blood sample will be taken and analyzed for a complete blood count to measure red and white blood cell levels, which may reveal anemia, and a blood chemistry panel, which can reveal abnormalities in liver or kidney functioning. Additionally, a urinalysis is an important diagnostic tool, as elevated protein in your dog’s urine will indicate compromised kidney function. Your dog may need to be held overnight in order for multiple samples of urine to be taken so that the protein level in your dog’s urine can be measured over time. X-rays and ultrasounds may be taken in order to abnormalities in organs that your veterinarian suspects may be affected, and a kidney or liver biopsy may be necessary in order to confirm a suspected diagnosis of amyloidosis, as amyloid deposits can be viewed under a microscope.
Treatment of Amyloidosis in Dogs
Amyloidosis is a progressive disorder with no curative treatment. Treatments are palliative, and survival time depends upon what organs are affected and how severely they have been damaged. You will need to discuss your dog’s condition with your veterinarian in order to estimate your dog’s survival time and choose a course of treatment.
Palliate treatments may begin with IV fluids to stabilize fluid levels if your dog has compromised kidney functioning and/or severe dehydration. If there is no protein found in your dog’s urine and kidney functioning is assessed to be good, you will likely be able to take your dog home for treatment. These treatments will depend upon the organs affected, for instance, you may need to change your dog’s diet. If your dog’s kidneys are affected, the diet will likely restrict phosphorous and protein; if your dog is suffering from high blood pressure, the diet will restrict salt.
Recovery of Amyloidosis in Dogs
Different dogs have different survival times. Time from diagnosis to death can range from two months to two years. Akitas with amyloidosis typically have a very short survival time. Management will involve regular check-ups to monitor your dog’s organ functions. You will need to watch your dog for outbreaks of fever and contact your veterinarian immediately in these situations or if other symptoms develop. Complications include liver rupture, blood clots, and severe bleeding.