Polycystic Kidney Disease

In pets with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), cysts, which are closed sacs filled with fluid, air or partially solid material, gradually replace healthy tissue in the kidneys. This pet health condition has a genetic basis in some canine and feline breeds, but it can occur in pets of any breed. PKD is more common in cats than in dogs.

Polycystic Kidney Disease

How it Affects your pet

In affected pets, cysts form in both kidneys. In some animals, cyst formation begins shortly after birth, and in others, it does not begin until adulthood. At first, animals with this disease show no symptoms because they have sufficient functional kidney tissue to compensate for the area taken over by the cysts. Eventually, however, the kidneys lose so much normal tissue that they can no longer function properly, and affected dogs and cats develop renal failure. As the kidneys fail, they cease to be able to properly rid the blood of toxins. In addition, they can no longer properly maintain fluid, electrolyte and mineral balance in the body. Cysts are also predisposed to infection. If bacterial infection occurs in the kidneys, the affected pet may become seriously ill. If not properly treated, bacterial infections in the kidneys can cause irreversible renal damage. These infections can also spread to the blood and cause life-threatening sepsis.

Common symptoms

Affected pets may show no symptoms in the early stages of PKD. When they become noticeable, symptoms of this pet disease often include the following: Poor appetite, Weight loss, Increased thirst, Excessive urination, Depression, Vomiting and Enlarged kidneys.

Treatments

There is no cure for PKD, so treatment is aimed at alleviating symptoms and minimizing complications. If the cysts enlarge to the point that they are painful, fluid can be drained from them with a needle. This is, however, a temporary solution since they will refill. If the cysts become infected, antibiotics are prescribed. Other medications and dietary modifications are used to manage renal failure. Once PKD is diagnosed, frequent monitoring to assess kidney function and identify bacterial infections is necessary. Early treatment of complications and infections provides the best hope for a good outcome.

Breeds Affected

Feline breeds predisposed to PKD include the following: Himalayan, Persian and Scottish fold. The following canine breeds are also predisposed to this pet health condition: Cairn terrier, West Highland white terrier, Bull terrier and Beagle.

Polycystic Kidney Disease Affects

  • In affected pets, cysts form in both kidneys. In some animals, cyst formation begins shortly after birth, and in others, it does not begin until adulthood. At first, animals with this disease show no symptoms because they have sufficient functional kidney tissue to compensate for the area taken over by the cysts. Eventually, however, the kidneys lose so much normal tissue that they can no longer function properly, and affected dogs and cats develop renal failure. As the kidneys fail, they cease to be able to properly rid the blood of toxins. In addition, they can no longer properly maintain fluid, electrolyte and mineral balance in the body. Cysts are also predisposed to infection. If bacterial infection occurs in the kidneys, the affected pet may become seriously ill. If not properly treated, bacterial infections in the kidneys can cause irreversible renal damage. These infections can also spread to the blood and cause life-threatening sepsis.

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