Kidney Disease (Congenital) in Dogs

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Congenital and Developmental Renal Diseases in Dogs

Congenital (existing at birth) and developmental kidney diseases are a group of diseases in which the kidney may be abnormal in appearance, or may be abnormal in its ability to function normally, or both. These diseases result from inherited or genetic problems or disease processes that affect the development and growth of the kidney before or shortly after birth. Most patients are less than five years of age at time of diagnosis.

Symptoms and Types


Lack of appetite
Lack of energy
Excessive urination
Excessive thirst
Weight loss
Abdominal enlargement
Bloody urine
Abdominal pain
Fluid-build up under the skin


Failure of kidney formation (renal agenesis)

Complete absence of one or both kidneys

Abnormal kidney development (renal dysplasia)

Displacement of one or both kidneys (renal ectopia)

Glomerulopathy (disease of the group of small blood vessels in the functional unit of the kidney)

Kidney disease involving the tubules and tissue spaces (tubulointerstitial nephropathy)

Polycystic kidney disease, characterized by formation of multiple, variable-sized cysts throughout the kidney tissue

Dilation of small blood vessels in the kidney (renal telangiectasia), characterized by multiple blood vessel malformations involving the kidneys and other organs

Amyloidosis of the kidney, is a group of conditions of differing causes in which insoluble proteins (amyloids) are deposited outside of cells in various tissues and organs, compromising their normal function

Nephroblastoma (a congenital kidney tumor)

Multifocal renal-cyst adenocarcinoma, a hereditary kidney cancer in dogs

Fanconi’s syndrome, a generalized functional abnormality involving the tubules of the kidney, characterized by impaired reabsorption

Presence of glucose in the urine due to primary kidney disease (primary renal glucosuria)

Cystinuria, excessive excretion of cystine (an amino acid) into the urine

Xanthinuria, excessive excretion of xanthine into the urine

Hyperuricuria, excessive excretion of uric acid, sodium urate, or ammonium urate into the urine

Primary hyperoxaluria, a disorder characterized by intermittent high levels of oxalic acid or oxalates in the urine

Congenital nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, a disorder of kidney concentrating ability, caused by diminished kidney responsiveness to an antidiuretic hormone, such that excessive urine is produced


Infectious agents may cause renal dysplasia
Canine herpes virus infection
Response to certain medications
Dietary factors


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, taking into account the background history of symptoms and any possible incidents that might have led to this condition. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, onset of symptoms, and any information on your dog’s family history that you are familiar with. Your veterinarian will order a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis. Abdominal x-rays, abdominal ultrasound and an excretory urography (x-ray of your pet urinating) will all be performed to identify and characterize the kidney disease your dog is suffering form. There are some direct genetic tests that are available for detection of specific genetic mutations associated with familial cystinuria in Newfoundland dogs.


Treatment for patients suffering from kidney disorders is often supportive or symptomatic. Without a kidney transplant, there is no cure for developmental or congenital kidney disease. Dogs with high blood pressure should be switched to a low salt diet, and dogs with chronic kidney failure should have phosphorous restricted and their protein intake moderately restricted.

Living and Management

Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments for your dog to monitor the progression of the kidney disease. Animals with developmental or congenital kidney disease should not be bred; neutering is highly advised under these conditions.



This is an excellent article that gives a simple concise picture of the warning signs of congenital kidney disease.   Information is definitely a need to know if you are going to deal with this problem.

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