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01 Introduction


This article is from the Juvenile Renal Disease, by Susan L. Fleisher

01 Introduction

In January of 1990, I had my twenty one month old Standard Poodle
puppy put down. She was one of three puppies in a litter of eleven to
die of Juvenile Renal Disease. All three of the puppies with the
disease appeared healthy and grew normally until clinical signs
appeared at ten months in one, and twenty months in the other two. She
died two weeks after being diagnosed. The disease is devastating. The
prognosis is dismal. Nobody expects to lose a puppy of that age. I
have been collecting information since her death on the disease that
killed her.

Despite the fact that several articles on Juvenile Renal Disease and
Familial Renal Disease were published in veterinary journals in the
1970s, and many others have been published since that time on JRD in
Dobermans Pinchers, Alaskan Malamutes, Norwegian Elkhounds and
Samoyeds as well as in Standard Poodles, most individual cases of JRD
are treated by owners and veterinarians as isolated occurrences rather
than as the manifestation of a genetic disease. The disease is also
well known in Rottweilers, Shiz Tsus and Lhasa Apsos, and is seen in
Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Portuguese Water Dogs, Shar Peis,
Miniature Schnauzers, and Cocker Spaniels, among others. It is now
being seen in Golden Retrievers, a breed in which it had not before
been recognized.

qq Symptoms

Early symptoms of Juvenile Renal Disease include drinking copious
amounts of water, something that might not be readily apparent in a
house with more than one dog, frequent urination, and dilute urine
which has little color or odor. Some affected puppies will leak urine,
others won't. As the disease progresses, vomiting, weight loss,
anorexia, lethargy, and muscle weakness are seen. There is often a
chemical odor to the breath, and teeth are sometimes discolored. Some
puppies grow normally until they are diagnosed, and some appear as
failures to thrive.

Treatment for JRD consists of a low protein prescription diet, Hill's
K/D, and, in addition, IV fluids can be given to act as a kind of
dialysis. Epogen, an expensive drug which needs to be carefully
monitored, can be also be given to treat the hypoproliferative anemia
of chronic renal failure. Some Veterinary schools are experimenting
with kidney transplants, but transplanted kidneys in dogs are commonly

These treatments are palliative at best, and the prognosis for JRD is
grim. Puppies usually die within several months of being diagnosed,
almost always before age two.

I do know of several dogs who have JRD with less severe kidney
involvement, and who are being well maintained on low protein diets.
These dogs are both more than three years old, and were diagnosed
before they were symptomatic. One because his litter was decimated by
the disease, and one because his vet was giving free BUN tests to
his/her clients.


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