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What is Protein Losing Nephropathy?

The kidneys are a critical organ responsible for filtering many waste products out of the bloodstream. Occasionally, the kidneys can become damaged or inflamed as a result of diabetes, autoimmune disorders, or blood clots. This can interfere with their normal function, causing stones, bloody urine, or loss of blood components beyond the waste material. Protein-losing nephropathy is a specific kind of kidney ailment that usually affects large-breed dogs, leading to the seepage of protein and blood serum into the urine. This disease often goes undiagnosed and can lead to fatal end-stage kidney failure if not caught and treated promptly.

Breeds Affected

Common breeds affected include:

  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier (especially common between the years of 2 – 6 years)
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever

Females are historically more at risk than the males.

Protein-losing nephropathy is characterized by defects in the filtering system in the kidneys, leading to loss of protein and plasma from the blood rather than only the waste products meant to leave the body. This condition may arise idiopathically and often co-presents with hypertension.

Protein Losing Nephropathy Average Cost

From 278 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Protein Losing Nephropathy in Dogs

  • Abnormal behavior
  • Weakness
  • Refusal of food
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive fluid buildup in tissues
  • Abnormally low urine production relative to water intake
  • Severe reaction to certain foods, this may include an adverse reaction to corn, tofu, cottage cheese, milk, lamb, and cream of wheat. Adverse reaction symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, or chronic itching throughout the body.
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Causes of Protein Losing Nephropathy in Dogs

  • Autoimmune
  • Diabetes
  • Blood clot in kidney
  • Parasitic infection
  • Genetics
  • Food allergy or intolerance
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Diagnosis of Protein Losing Nephropathy in Dogs

Protein-losing nephropathy can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms come on gradually and may go unnoticed for many years. Signs of a problem usually begin with a general lack of energy and decreased appetite, so be prepared to give the veterinarian a detailed account of any changes in your pet’s behavior, eating habits, or urination. The veterinarian will use these observations along with a physical exam to determine what tests to perform. A physical exam may reveal edema, which is the abnormal presence of fluid in your dog’s tissues.

The next line of diagnostic action will be blood and urine testing. These may require you to collect your pet’s urine at home, or for the vet to take a blood sample in the office. Protein-losing nephropathy will often reveal low levels of the protein albumin on a blood test due to the loss of protein through the urine. Excessive blood clotting factors and creatine will also be present.

The veterinarian will use an ultrasound to look for clots, stones, or other abnormalities. This is a non-invasive, real-time imaging system that can be done in even a small clinic. If any stones, clots or damage is found, an x-ray or CT scan may be needed. These often require larger facilities, and so you may be referred to an animal hospital for the images.

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Treatment of Protein Losing Nephropathy in Dogs

There is no real cure for protein-losing nephropathy. Treatment is aimed at preventing further damage to the kidneys, ameliorating the symptoms and fixing the underlying cause, if any. Drugs that inhibit Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) can be helpful in decreasing the amount of protein lost in the urine. Low doses of aspirin are also prescribed to prevent atypical blood clotting. The high blood pressure often seen in dogs with protein-losing nephropathy may be treated with beta-blockers or calcium channel inhibitors.

Parasitic infections that have become severe enough to cause organ failure are difficult to treat. High doses of antiparasitic medication place even more stress on the animal’s kidneys and run the risk of killing the dog as well as the parasites.

Sometimes the presence of parasites or food allergens can cause the body to attack its own tissue even after the parasite or food has left the body. In these cases, drugs that suppress the immune system can be effective if given in time.

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Recovery of Protein Losing Nephropathy in Dogs

The outlook is generally poor for dogs that have protein-losing nephropathy as the condition has usually advanced to a state beyond what a veterinarian can treat. Even with treatment and diet modification, affected animals only survive a few years.

However, if protein-losing nephropathy is caught early, and the cause is identified, successful treatment with the appropriate medication can save the animal. Diet modification may be needed, as certain foods such as wheat have chemical signatures very similar to the animal’s own body. If an allergic reaction occurs, some of the immune system components sensitized to the food allergen may misidentify the dog’s kidneys or gut lining as foreign. In this case, taking care to keep your dog away from the allergen combined with immunosuppressants carries an excellent prognosis.

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Cost of Protein Losing Nephropathy in Dogs

Unfortunately, there is no cure for protein-losing-nephropathy. There are, however, a few different drugs that can help treat it. One category of drug that the veterinarian may prescribe is an angiotensin converting enzyme (or ACE) which decreases the amount of protein lost in urine. Enalapril is in the ACE category and can cost between $35 and $85 per 100 ct. Benazepril is another example and can cost between $15 and $55 per 100 ct. The veterinarian may also suggest low dose aspirin to help avoid blood clotting. Buffered aspirin helps minimize the inflammation or irritation while still allowing proper absorption. Buffered aspirin usually costs between $12 and $44 per 100 ct. Finally, the veterinarian may prescribe a beta-blocker or a calcium channel inhibitor that is used to treat high blood pressure that can occur in dogs with protein-losing-nephropathy. Amlodipine Besylate is a calcium channel inhibitor that can cost between $28 and $56 per 100 ct. However, Atenolol is a beta blocker that can cost between $15 and $25 per 100 ct.

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Protein Losing Nephropathy Average Cost

From 278 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,000

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Protein Losing Nephropathy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Panting, Weight Gain

My dog was diagnosed by my vet as having protein losing nephropathy and was put on Enalapril. She was tested 2x for Cushings Disease and came up negative. Her protein level has been tested every few months, she was switched to Science Diet prescription KD food and I reduced her food amount. Her protein levels still are increasing (not by much) so the vet keeps increasing dosage of Enalapril. Yet she is still panting, not losing weight at all. At my wits end!

July 10, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. Another reason that she may be panting and not losing weight can be due to hypothyroidism. Your vet can easily test for this issue. If your dog is not responding to treatment for PLN it may be best to see a specialist. I would start with at least getting her thyroid levels checked. I hope your dog starts to feel better soon.

July 10, 2020

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Kona

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Cocker Spaniel

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9 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

My dog was diagnosed with protein losing nephropathy a year and half ago. He has been doing ok until recently. Within the last two months he has lost weight in addition to losing his appetite. He has begun appearing a bit lethargic as well. I took him to my vet a week ago and his kidney numbers and urinalysis were good. He isn't losing a lot of protein and his kidneys aren't great but appear to be stable. They also checked for parasitic infections and those were negative as well. The vet's diagnosis was my dog was just a picky eater and to try different foods to get his appetite and weight back up. I have tried many foods and my dog will just eat enough to sustain himself. He no longer eats filling meals. I have noticed he appears to have difficulty chewing, and my vet did say his teeth were decaying due to his disease. I'm not sure this could be contributing to his eating habits. Also he has started to appear to have difficulty producing solid stools. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as I love my dog and would like to keep him by my side a bit longer.

July 2, 2018

Kona's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Dental pain may be a contributor to a loss of appetite, however without pressing around the gums I cannot determine if this would provoke a pain response or not. You may want to try giving Kona some smooth wet food mixed with water syringed into the mouth as this should help in getting some nutrition into him, but without examining him myself I cannot give you any more guidance. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM http://veterinarycalendar.dvm360.com/protein-losing-nephropathy-proceedings

July 2, 2018

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Sparky

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Golden Retriever

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10 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Poor Appetite

Hello, my almost 10 yr old Golden Retreiver was recently diagnosed with proteinuria. I was given omega 3 and blood pressure medication along with 1/2 pill of baby aspirin daily. The vet also changed his food to k/d. How long do I have to wait to see a change on him. He is not very active and has poor appetite.

March 27, 2018

Sparky's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Any change or recovery would depend on the underlying cause of the proteinuria; however improvements may be seen after days weeks or months, it is just a case of keeping contact with your Veterinarian and monitoring for improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 27, 2018

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Frank

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Australian Shepherd Lab mix

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9 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

is ple more often caused by an autoimmune thing or more by cancers and the other cause I've read about. I have one vet saying one thing and another saying the opposite. They both stand by what they are saying and basically just short of the other is wrong

Feb. 27, 2018

Frank's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are a few different types of protein losing enteropathy with the condition being an umbrella term for a few different conditions which causes intestinal protein loss some of which may be primary conditions or secondary conditions; conditions causing protein losing enteropathy include lymphangiectasia, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal cancer, gastrointestinal ulceration, fungal infections and gastrointestinal parasites. Without examining Frank, I couldn’t say which specific cause is causing the protein losing enteropathy as either of your Veterinarians may be correct. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/condition/protein-losing-enteropathy-ple https://wagwalking.com/condition/intestinal-tract-disease-lymphangiectasia

Feb. 27, 2018

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Apollo

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Boxer

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My dog was diagnosed with PLN 4 yrs ago. He has been on benzapril and Purina kidney management food for just as long. The past 4 days he won’t eat , we have to mix in some sliced meat in his kibble and he picks around it. He is very lethargic and has peed a few times uncontrollably. He won’t even go out to pee sometimes. (Which is not like him at all) tonight as I was laying with him his body was shaking .. every 20 seconds or so. I just want to know what to do ? Is it worth taking him to vet when I already know their is nothing more they can do to help him? Are his symptoms signs he is dying ?

Feb. 7, 2018

Apollo's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Apollo, I cannot say whether this is the time or if there needs to be a change in the approach to managing his condition; you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination just to determine exactly what is happening and if the time has come, you can make a decision then. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 7, 2018

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Sway

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American Pit Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Albumin 1.7

I need some advice please. So my dog Sway has what we thought was PLE caused by Lymphangiectasia. His albumin level 2 months ago was 1.7. He lost 5 lbs in less than a month, and had low vitamin B. So after a month on a strict low fat, high protein diet, vitamin supplements he had gained 4 lbs back, no more diarrhea, solid stool, and is in great spirits all in all. For the past week or so we have been checking his total protein in hope that if the TP was coming up then his Albumin level should and would also go up. His TP started at 4.8 and had risen to 5.5. His Globulin level has also raised. So everyone was feeling great about these numbers and that we were making some type of progress. Well those spirits crashed like the Titanic yesterday when the results came back that his Albumin level was still at 1.7! It hasn't decreased but sadly it has risen either. The consensus is that he is losing most of the protein through his urine. Which apparently is Protein losing NEPHROPATHY. So we did a urine test, that consisted of 3 separate samples combined into one to check his protien/creatine (not sure about that spelling) ratio. Those results will be back to tomorrow. Most likely cause of this is kidney disease, or impaired kidney of some type. Now here comes my heart wrenching dilemma....The vet wants him to start taking a drug called CellCept, generic name Mycophenolaye Mofetil. This drug is a immune suppressant that has some serious side effects that can and most likely will (due to my research) cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, and anorexia! It also has the risk to raise the chance of lymphoma! So I have this drug that is suppossed to help him but has a high chance of making him sicker and more importantly reverse the progress we have made. I know that if he develops diarrhea, and or vomiting he will lose even more protein through his intestines and additionally through his urine. They say that benefits can out weigh the risks but I'm just not seeing how that is possible. This medicine scares the ever living crap out of me, to a point that I am suffering from extreme anxiety from it. He is supposed to start taking it today but I'm struggling to give it to him morally. The nearest emergency vet is over a hour away and that doesn't sit well with me either if god forbid over the weekend he has some reaction to this drug and I am without immediate vet care. So I'm telling myself i will give it to him Monday, if nothing else to make me feel better for not giving it to him today. Does anyone have any knowledge, or personal experience with this drug?

dog-name-icon

Sway

dog-breed-icon

American Pit Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Albumin Level 1.7

I need some advice please. So my dog Sway has what we thought was PLE caused by Lymphangiectasia. His albumin level 2 months ago was 1.7. He lost 5 lbs in less than a month, and had low vitamin B. So after a month on a strict low fat, high protein diet, vitamin supplements he had gained 4 lbs back, no more diarrhea, solid stool, and is in great spirits all in all. For the past week or so we have been checking his total protein in hope that if the TP was coming up then his Albumin level should and would also go up. His TP started at 4.8 and had risen to 5.5. His Globulin level has also raised. So everyone was feeling great about these numbers and that we were making some type of progress. Well those spirits crashed like the Titanic yesterday when the results came back that his Albumin level was still at 1.7! It hasn't decreased but sadly it has risen either. The consensus is that he is losing most of the protein through his urine. Which apparently is Protein losing NEPHROPATHY. So we did a urine test, that consisted of 3 separate samples combined into one to check his protien/creatine (not sure about that spelling) ratio. Those results will be back to tomorrow. Most likely cause of this is kidney disease, or impaired kidney of some type. Now here comes my heart wrenching dilemma....The vet wants him to start taking a drug called CellCept, generic name Mycophenolaye Mofetil. This drug is a immune suppressant that has some serious side effects that can and most likely will (due to my research) cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, and anorexia! It also has the risk to raise the chance of lymphoma! So I have this drug that is suppossed to help him but has a high chance of making him sicker and more importantly reverse the progress we have made. I know that if he develops diarrhea, and or vomiting he will lose even more protein through his intestines and additionally through his urine. They say that benefits can out weigh the risks but I'm just not seeing how that is possible. This medicine scares the ever living crap out of me, to a point that I am suffering from extreme anxiety from it. He is supposed to start taking it today but I'm struggling to give it to him morally. The nearest emergency vet is over a hour away and that doesn't sit well with me either if god forbid over the weekend he has some reaction to this drug and I am without immediate vet care. So I'm telling myself i will give it to him Monday, if nothing else to make me feel better for not giving it to him today. Does anyone have any knowledge, or personal experience with this drug?

Protein Losing Nephropathy Average Cost

From 278 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,000

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