Have you ever heard of a disease called “glomerulonephritis? Not many dog owners have. But this is a special type of kidney disease that is very common in dogs, especially certain breeds. It can be detected much earlier than other types of kidney diseases that lead to kidney failure. Early detection, the right treatment and the right diet can improve the quality of life for dogs with glomerulonephritis.
What is Glomerulonephritis?
The glomerulus is the part of the kidney that filters waste, water and other chemicals from the blood. The waste is then eliminated from the body in the urine. Persistent irritation or inflammation causes swelling of the glomerulus. The swelling makes it more porous so important blood proteins, leak out into the urine. Protein loss in the urine causes:
~Weight and muscle loss
~High blood pressure
~Fluid accumulation in the abdomen and legs
Dogs 4-8 years old seem to be at the highest risk for this problem. Glomerulonephritis can be easily detected by simple urine tests. High risk breeds should have their urine checked yearly so treatment and diet change can be started as soon as possible.
What causes glomerulonephritis:
Breed genetic defects
-Bernese Mountain Dogs
-Soft-coated Wheaton Terriers
Bacteria or parasite infections
Hormone diseases that promote inflammation
Antibiotics and other drugs
Auto-immune where a dog’s own immune system mysteriously attacks the cells of its glomeruli
Yearly vaccinations (research suggests yearly vaccines over-stimulate the immune system and cause persistent inflammation of the kidneys)
How is Glomerulonephritis Treated?
Early treatment with medications to lower blood pressure and low-dose aspirin seems to work best. Combined with diet changes, the life of dogs with glomerulonephritis can be extended.
What is the Best Food for Dogs with Glomerulonephritis?
Low protein diets work best for dogs with glomerulonephritis. High protein diets increase the loss of protein in the urine. Veterinary diets that are low in protein, high in carbohydrates and fats are not very appealing to most dogs. Homemade dog food provides more choices of meat, carbohydrate and fat that can be tailored to a dog’s individual tastes. Fish oil with DHA and EPA added to the diet reduces the swelling in the glomerulus and protein loss.
Dogs with glomerulonephritis need these diets for life, so homemade dog food recipes need to be specially formulated with less protein but still adequate in essential amino acids. These recipes also need vitamin and mineral supplements that meet all of the necessary daily requirements. Hearthstone Homemade has special recipes, supplements and fish oil necessary to manage glomerulonephritis.
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN