The Silent Genetic Killer in Dogs

Arctic German Shepherd Rescue Canine Renal Dysplasia Ramiel

Ramiel came to the rescue as a five and a half week old puppy who had suffered a fractured elbow due to an accident in the home while the breeders were away. He has undergone two surgeries to treat the fracture but unknown to us at the time of rescue, he had a genetic kidney problem which resulted in multiple medical issues which now will prevent him from being adopted. He will become a sanctuary dog and live out his days here at the rescue.

Ramiel's first signs of kidney problems started when he was eight and half weeks old when he developed a urinary tract infection (UTI). Even though a UTI is unusual in male dogs, it was thought to be due to an infection acquired during surgery to fix his fractured elbow 2 weeks earlier. The infection was treated and no further workup was ordered at that time.

Ten months later, Ramiel developed his second UTI and this time there was more concern as recurrent UTIs usually mean a problem with the bladder or kidneys or an underlying disease. Ramiel had a urinalysis and was given some antibiotics but after two weeks of treatment, he still showed symptoms of a UTI, so he then had a urine culture, blood work and an screening ultrasound. The ultrasound showed hundreds of crystals in his bladder and his blood work showed some worrying kidney function values. Ramiel completed another round of stronger antibiotics (Baytril) and we waited. Despite two rounds of antibiotics, Ramiel still had urinary symptoms and at that point, a more in-depth ultrasound was ordered which determined that he had Canine Renal Dysplasia, which is improper development of the kidneys, almost always due to a genetic disorder. The ultrasound plus blood work confirmed that Ramiel is in early kidney failure, which will be monitored by periodic blood work to evaluate the progression, slow or fast, of his kidney disease and which will in turn determine how long he may have left. His next office visit is in May 2016.

Often there are no warning signs for kidney disease and it does not become apparent until the kidneys begin to fail. Initially owners may notice signs of increased urination and drinking and dogs experiencing end stage renal failure may have other symptoms including vomiting, weight loss, poor appetite (anorexia), lethargy, muscle weakness, poor coat, dilute urine and secondary urinary tract infections. The symptoms and severity of renal disease are highly variable and the lifespan of the dog is dependant on the severity of the defect at birth. Dogs with a moderate to severe defect may have no symptoms at all until the renal function is diminished by 70-75%. There is no cure, and at some point the kidneys will no longer be able to compensate for the diminished function and then the disease becomes fatal.

Arctic German Shepherd Rescue Canine Renal Dysplasia Ramiel

Ramiel is currently in mild renal failure and blood work will be drawn at regular intervals to determine the progression of the disease. Treatment is supportive only as there is no cure, and we don't know how long he has left as it depends on too many unknown factors.

The rescue is determined to give Ramiel the best possible life for as long as he has to live as he will not be adopted due to his medical issues. Like Emmy before him, he, too, will have a good life at the rescue and people can follow his story and see his photos on the rescue's Facebook page. Ramiel is on a good diet, supplements like Cranberry/D-Mannose to help prevent another urinary tract infection and eventually he will be on other medications, such as phosphorus binders, as his illness progresses. As of March 2016, Ramiel's urine shows no more bacterial infection but he still has increased thirst, increased urination, bed wetting at night and dilute urine - all signs of his kidney disease.

If anyone wishes to donate to help with Ramiel's veterinary care, special diet, supplements and medications, please visit our Amazon Wish List or consider a Paypal or check donation.

Congenital renal disease is becoming more prevalent in all breeds of dogs but there is now genetic testing available to screen for it. We strongly urge every breeder to have their dogs tested to avoid passing this terrible disease on to a litter of pups who will pay the price for something that is preventable. Don't let this killer genetic disease get passed on. It's too hard to say goodbye to good dogs like Ramiel!

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Rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming abused, neglected, abandoned or unwanted dogs since 2005.

PO Box 82464
Fairbanks, Alaska 99708
Happy Tails - Our Adopted Dogs
Happy Tails - Our Adopted Dogs