What is Polycystic Kidney Disease?

The cysts will grow and advance slowly over the kidney, but eventually they take over the healthy kidney tissue. The enlarged kidneys will be unable to function normally and progressive renal failure will occur.  Kidneys are essential to the body; they are part of the urinary system, remove waste from the bloodstream, stabilize fluids in the body, and help maintain normal red blood cells. When renal failure occurs the kidneys are not able to get rid of the toxins in the bloodstream nor can they stabilize fluids in the body. Polycystic kidney disease may also lead to a bacterial kidney infection that can spread into the bloodstream. Polycystic kidney disease may become life threatening to your pet.

Polycystic kidney disease is more common in Terriers, including Bull Terriers, West Highland White Terrier, Cairn Terriers and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a rare genetic disease characterized by fluid filled cysts growing on the kidneys.  As polycystic kidney disease progresses it will make the kidneys more susceptible to infection and to progressive renal failure.

Polycystic Kidney Disease Average Cost

From 233 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Dogs

In the early stages of polycystic disease (PKD) there may not be any visual signs. As the cysts grow and spread the symptoms of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) may include one or more of the following:

  • Enlarged kidneys
  • Very thirsty
  • Frequent urination
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
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Causes of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Dogs

Polycystic kidney disease in dogs is an autosomal-dominant congenital condition.  This means that the cause of PKD is that the canine inherited the abnormal disease gene from one of his parents.  The dog that passed on the abnormal gene may or may not have the disease. If your pet is diagnosed with PKD, it is important not to breed your canine, as they would be passing the abnormal gene to the litter.

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Diagnosis of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Dogs

Your veterinarian will take a thorough medical history of your pet.  He will ask you what symptoms you have observed and when they started. The veterinarian then will perform a physical exam on your dog which may include taking the dog’s temperature, blood pressure, palpation of the abdominal area, and listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Dogs with PKD usually have enlarged kidneys that may be felt during the physical exam. A complete blood count, serum creatinine, and urinalysis will help determine your dog’s overall health. In patients with PKD the red blood cell count may be lower than normal.

A CBC can also establish if there is a bacterial infection. The creatinine levels in the serum can show if the kidneys are functioning normally. In PKD patients there is usually too much protein in the urine. The veterinarian may recommend x-rays and an abdominal ultrasound.  Your pet may need to be sedated for these procedures. X-rays can confirm that the kidneys are enlarged. The ultrasound will be able to determine if there are any cysts on the kidneys and the size of the cysts.

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Treatment of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Dogs

There is no cure for polycystic kidney disease.  The objectives in a treatment plan for PKD are to help slow down the spread of the cysts and alleviate any discomfort the pet is experiencing. If the ultrasound showed that the fluid filled cysts were very large, the veterinarian may recommend draining them. A needle is inserted into the cysts to be drained; the procedure is done with the help of the ultrasound.  Your pet will have to have general anesthesia. Usually the dog is sent home the same day of the procedure.  Pain medication will be prescribed. If there are any infections, your pet will be prescribed antibiotics

The veterinarian may suggest a low protein diet for your pet and Vitamin D supplements.  There are also some natural and holistic   treatment plans. Probiotics can help cleanse the body of waste toxins. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can help lower your pet’s blood pressure and heart rate.

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Recovery of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Dogs

Patients with polycystic disease will need frequent follow-up visits to monitor the growth of the cysts and to determine if there are any secondary bacterial infections. When cysts become too large, it can cause discomfort to your dog.  The cysts may need to be re-drained. Bloodwork and urinalysis will need to be re-checked. It will be important to keep your pet on a low protein diet and to make sure he is drinking plenty of water. There is no cure for polycystic kidney disease but dogs can go on to live full lives.

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Polycystic Kidney Disease Average Cost

From 233 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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Polycystic Kidney Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Dachshund

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1day- 4 weeks

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

They Usually Lose Mass And Get Quiet, Stop Suckling, Then Pass

Necropsy showed enlarged kidneys with cysts. Polycystic Kidney Disease was diagnosed. 3 in a litter of 4 expired the same way. This happened in a previous litter. Is there a genetic marker that could be ised to avoid this problem in future breedings?

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. With so many puppies in the litter having died from this I think it would be good a idea to not breed the pair together again. I would strongly recommended having both the male and female altered. Polycystic kidney disease is inherited and by breeding them again there is the risk that you are going to produce more dogs with this disease.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Miniature dachshund

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Fourteen Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

My dog was recently diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (the cysts are completely covering a now non-functioning kidney), and told we have to remove one of his kidneys. He’s 14. I’m wondering if this is a good idea since he is so old, or if there are any other options less invasive.

July 18, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That is a reasonable concern, given his age. I might get a second opinion from a veterinarian who is able to examine him and see his condition. You can also have an honest conversation with your veterinarian about risks vs benefits for a 14 year old dog and that type of surgery. Asking about his prognosis afterwards and what happens if you don't have the surgery are reasonable questions, as they know more about his situation. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 18, 2020

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Polycystic Kidney Disease Average Cost

From 233 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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