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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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Dachshund

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1day- 4 weeks

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

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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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0 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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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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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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Miniature dachshund

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Fourteen Years

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Unknown severity

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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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0 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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Murdock

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Native American Village Dog

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18 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Cysts On Kidney

My one and half year old Alaskan Malamute/ Husky/ German Shepherd mix was just diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. His SDMA level was very high (27)and his creatinine level was just above the average range (164 umol/L). His BUN was in the high range of average. Is there a particular low protein/ low phosphorus diet that you recommend? I'm looking into homemade dog food recipes and am wondering if you have any recommendations. Also, what supplements/ vitamins/ medications do you suggest? Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/polycystic-kidney-disease

June 13, 2018

Murdock's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There are many very good prescription diets for kidney disease in dogs, and it may be best to have Murdock eat one of those, at least until things stabilize for him. As far as supplements, fatty acid supplements can be helpful for kidney disease, but it would be best to discuss any supplements with your veterinarian, as they know Murdocks full health status and have examined him.

June 14, 2018

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Lilly

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Native American Village Dog

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18 Months

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Mild severity

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None

I am a breeder and was just advised by one of my puppy families that their dog was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease. They are not a terrier or bully breed. They are a mix of Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, Siberian Husky and a small amount of Samoyed. I kept a female out of the same litter as the one diagnosed to use in my breeding program. I will be having her SDMA levels checked to see if they are high and make sure her Creatine and Bun levels are normal as well. If those all come back normal and her SDMA level is within the normal ranges, would she be able to be bred? or would she be considered a carrier? I read somewhere that a dog could not have the disease but be a carrier and pass it on to the offspring. There is no genetic test for my breed (Native American Village Dog). The only marker right now that we seem to have is the SDMA levels being high, followed by an ultrasound to see if there are any cysts present on the kidneys. This is devastating to me as a breeder as I have many pups out there that could potentially have it, if I find it is on my side of the pedigree and not the father's side. There was no way for me to know about this disease. Even if I had had genetic health testing done, the PKD genetic test available out there is breed specific to the Bull Terrier. Any insight you can give would be great.

May 12, 2018

Lilly's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

PKD is a dominant genetic trait, which means that a carrier will pass it on to the offspring. The parents of that litter should not be bred. It would be difficult to say whether the female from the same litter will have the disease, but given the varied genetics in your hybrid dogs, it would be unlikely that she would pass on the trait. Unfortunately, without genetic testing, there isn't any good way to determine if Lilly has the gene and will pass it on, however.

May 13, 2018

Thanks Dr. King. The mother has been spayed already and adopted so I have reached out to her new family to see if they would be willing to have her SDMA levels checked and if they are high do the ultra sound to confirm. They are open but can't do it just yet. I will be having Lilly's blood pulled this week and sent out to see. If her's show up high as well then an ultra sound with follow for her. What's odd is her mother was a hybrid cross (1st generation of NAVD's) which is why it seemed odd and Lilly's father was outside our bloodlines. Lilly's grandmother was also a hybrid cross so I am at a loss. Thank you so much for your time and advise. I am hoping and praying it's not on my side of the pedigree. This disease sucks. Have a blessed day.

May 16, 2018

Lilly's Owner

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Madies Cupcake Baby

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Boxer

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10 Weeks

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Thirst And Frequent Urination

At what age can a puppy be tested for PKD. Just found out that the mother of my puppy has severe PKD. I'm so worried that she has passed this down to her puppies. I've been told that the pups can't be tested until they're one as their kidneys are still developing. Please help

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Alexei

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Standard Poodle

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14 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

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Our 14-year-old Standard Poodle was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney disease 1.5 years ago on an ultrasound. We were told that at that time 1/3 of his kidneys were lost to cysts. Three years prior to this, one cyst was noted on his left kidney during an ultrasound for his liver. His symptoms include excessive thirst (long-standing), frequent urination, lack of appetite, and lethargy. In addition, he was diagnosed with Cushing's disease 1.5 years ago with a tumor on the pituitary gland. Over the past 1.5 years, he has progressing ataxia. Currently, he needs assistance getting up as well as going up and down stairs. He still walks ok and is not incontinent. I am wondering what symptoms I should watch for to tell me that he is going into kidney failure. He has been getting Entyce for over a year to increase his appetite, but it is still a daily struggle to get him to eat.

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Bernie

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Newfoundland

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7 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Dry Heaving

I have two Newfoundland dogs. The boy Bernie is a 7year old rescue that we have had for 4years. Over the past 4 months Bernie has been losing weight. We put this down to our vet telling us to starve him for a period as he had suffered a bad spell of very loose faeces. However over the past 3 weeks he has been belching and dry heaving. The vet done blood, urine and faeces tests which all returned normal. The vet then suggested an ultra sound scan. This has found Bernie has PKD. His left kidney has a very large cyst that has almost destroyed the kidney. Apart from weight loss and belching he has no other symptoms associated with the disease.He has good appetite and enjoys his walks still. I am unsure now what path to follow ie a cyst drain, renal based diet etc. Any advice would be most welcome. Roy Foster

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Avalanche

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Labrador Retriever

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Frequent Urination

Just found out yesterday our lab that is 4yo but new to us 2 months had him, that he has this and advanced in one kidney. Recommended diet change and recheck levels in 6 months or as soon as he exhibits symptoms. We are still learning him his personality . He had a bladder infection and couldn’t seem to stop peeing is why tested after antibiotics didn’t stop the leaking. Blood work came back kidneys compromised so referral from our farm vet to an vet in s hospital clinic setting with sonogram X-ray equipment where diagnosis was clearly seen on one already shrunken kidney. We are heartbroken as our last lab passed away at 15+ years old in September and this boy was one for my youngest son who just turned 10. I know it says special diet but chew sticks and treats I’m wondering on as we’ve had him in training to go from breeder pack dog to a house dog and he is extremely treat food motivated. We’ve still got training to do but most all good but he’s used to training treats etc. Just searching for him so we can try to give him a good comfortable life as he’s already in less than 3 months become our boy.

Polycystic Kidney Disease Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$2,000

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