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Glomerulonephropathies - what are they and what should you do?

Glomerulonephropathy is a term that encompasses conditions that lead to protein loss through the urine (proteinuria) due to kidney inflammation. There are various types of glomerulonephropathies; and the definitive way to distinguish them is via a kidney biopsy.

Dogs are more commonly affected by glomerulonephropathies than cats. Oftentimes, glomerulonephropathies are immune-mediated; they are caused by immune-complex deposition. Therefore, in addition to treating the symptoms of GN, it is important to also investigate possible underlying causes of chronic inflammation, such as infectious diseases, for example. However, most commonly, GN is idiopathic in origin. There are also familial forms of GN that may not be due to immune-complex deposition.

In GN, protein is lost through the urine, which can lead to blood protein loss (hypoalbuminemia). This can result in fluid accumulation in the thoracic or abdominal cavity and can also cause blood pressure and clotting issues.

Common treatments for patients with GN may include therapeutic prescription diets, blood pressure medications that help reduce proteinuria, symptomatic treatments for chronic kidney disease, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, antithrombotic medications (in dogs) and in some cases, immunosuppressive medications.

GN in dogs carries a worrisome prognosis – in fact, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “an survival time of dogs with glomerulonephritis was 87 days, the prognosis with early diagnosis and appropriate therapy is much better.” Therefore, if your dog is suspected to have a glomerulonephrotpathy, make sure to follow your veterinarian’s diagnostic and treatment advice!


Glomerulonephritis in Dogs and Cats. Veterianry Partner.

Glomerular Disease in Small Animals. Merck Veterinary Manual.

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