KIDNEY DISEASE ~THE SILENT KILLER
The two main types of kidney
disease affecting the
Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier are Hereditary Nephritis (HN) and
Polycystic kidney Disease (PKD), both are currently a major problem within
the breed. HN is currently well recognised in the breed whereas PKD is not
as well accepted but has been present in some dogs recently scanned these
dogs were also diagnosed with heart conditions. In reality it is
difficult to say what type of KD the dog had as little investigation is
Both HN and PKD
are inherited diseases for which there is no cure, however, there are
screening tests available to help detect early signs of the disease so these
dogs are not used in breeding programs and the best treatment can be given
as early as possible, hopefully improving the life of the dog.
I hope this page helps you
understand what KD is, how it is inherited and what steps you can take to
prevent breeding any bullies with KD and buying puppies from KD free
The famous Bull Terrier
Jackandandy held the breed record for siring the most champions, died at
just 8 years old from Kidney Disease, as did half of his off-spring, this
disease strikes even the best.
I have tried, as much as
possible, to explain the processes in laymans terms so that everyone can
understand the information whether from a medical background or not.
WHAT THE KIDNEYS
Canine Kidney - click to
The kidneys primary function
is to regulate the plasma and tissue fluid in the body by the formation of
urine, quite simply the kidneys are filtering harmful toxins from the body
through the urine. In the process of urine formation the kidneys also
The volume of blood plasma
- and thus contribute significantly to the regulation of blood pressure,
The concentration of waste
products in the blood,
The concentration of
electrolytes and other ions in the plasma and
the pH of plasma.
As you can see, if the
kidneys do not work correctly it can have a devastating affect on the whole
body. As the kidneys degenerate the body will simply fill with harmful
toxins, poisoning the blood, the blood pressure will rise and the
concentration of electrolytes and the pH of the plasma will fluctuate
causing stress to other organs.
The signs of KD
KD is well known as the
SILENT KILLER as quite often there are no signs or those that are there are
so easily missed or confused with symptoms for other things.
Some signs include:
Increased water consumption
Bad breath (end stages)
Sudden weight loss (end
Blisters (end stages)
Shivering (end stages)
Lethargic (end stages)
Vomiting (end stages)
With PKD the dogs are often
'squirters' constantly having loose stools.
Of course a dog may
show just one of these signs and in many cases the dog shows no signs or
symptoms at all, if your
Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier
is young you may not notice the fact
that he/she drinks a large amount of water or urinates a lot.
Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terriers affected
with KD will live a perfectly normal life, play, sleep and eat as any other
showing no signs of illness until the final stages of KD kicks in. This
normally happens over just a few days and in some cases as quickly as 24
hours, the dog deteriates quickly with a great shock to the owner. The final
stage is when the kidneys finally pack up and unfortunately there is nothing
the owner or the vet can do other than humanly release the dog from pain and
There is no cure for KD, some
diets and medication may slow down the speed of the kidneys degeneration,
however this is still un-proven and the end result will be death. The age of
Bull Terriers dying varies greatly between 2 years - 8 years old (some above
and below this figure). Because most
owners/vets are unaware of the dogs illness, these dogs are bred from and,
unfortunately pass this dreadful disease onto their puppies.
How is HN and PKD
Extensive research was
undertaken in Australia into
Kidney Disease affecting
the Bull Terrier. Along with medical research each bullies pedigree was
looked at in great detail. It was found that both forms (HN and PKD) are an
autosomal dominant hereditary disease, this means that each dog carrying the
KD gene will develop KD in its life and only one parent need have this gene
to pass it onto roughly half the litter.
Information on the research
can be found by clicking the link below. The report may be hard for you to
follow if you have no medical back ground, try to find someone who can
explain the report to you in easier to understand terms! Print it of and
show it to your vet!
Testing for HN and PKD - The
CORRECT test's and results
There is a screening test available (and quite
cheap!) to help detect any kidney disfunction called a Urine Protein/Creatinine
(UPC) ratio test. This test shows how much protein is in the urine, too
much could suggest kidney problems and further investigation would be
required. Please note at this point, some breeders test for kidney
disease by blood test, blood testing will NOT clear your
Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier of
kidney disease. It is a well known and proven fact that KD does not show
in a blood test result at the early stages, blood tests only show KD
when the majority of the kidneys has ceased functioning. Again,
Blood testing DOES
NOT clear a Bull Terrier from KD.
The UPC ratio for a
Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier should be below
0.3 this is unique to the breed so your vet may not be aware of this,
for most dogs a result under 1.0 is acceptable to show normal kidney
function - again for a Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier it should be below 0.3. In the
research done in Australia it was proven that
Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier with results
above 0.3 also went on to develop KD.
You can collect your dogs urine yourself or any vet will be able to take your dogs urine and
send it to the lab for analysis, if your vet is unfamiliar with the UPC
test then ask them to speak to their lab who can explain further.
Your dogs urine will need to be collected in a
clean sterile pot, the first wee of the morning is required at mid flow
and your dog should be starved the night before.
The same test is done for both dogs and bitches,
however, be sure your bitch is mid season as any blood in the urine can
affect the results.
The UPC test does not diagnose KD, if the test
comes back above 0.3 it is firstly important that you do not breed for
the time being. You must rule out any urine tract infections, your vets
can do this. If you are unsure then have the dog take a course of
suitable antibiotics to clear an infection.
Once this has been done and you have given a week
for antibiotics to clear you will need to re-test. If these results come
back above 0.3 then it is likely your dog has kidney problems and should
not be used to breed from.
The only way to be 100% certain on what is happening
with your dogs kidneys is to have a biopsy, this should be a quick procedure
and the only way to tell what kind of kidney disease your dog is suffering
or if the UPC is high due to other factors. My advice at present would be to
have this carried out and of course to share this information with others,
this is the only way
Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier breeders and clubs can begin to monitor
these disease in the breed.
The UPC test is used as a screening process only,
Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier with result above 0.3 should NOT be used to breed.
The UPC test will need to be carried out 6 monthly -
yearly to monitor your dogs kidney function. A clear result at a 1 year old
does NOT cover a dog for life and this can change as the dog gets older, in
my own opinion stud dogs should be tested 6 monthly until the age of 4, then
yearly and bitches should be tested mid season before they are mated.
If you own a breeding dog/bitch ensure you have a copy
of the UPC ratio results from your vets (lab report), if you are buying a
puppy be sure to ask for the results (make sure you see the UPC
ratio print out from the lab) and please, please ensure they are in
date (minimum of yearly).
UPC/Ratio is best done when the dog is at least 1 year
old & then on a regular basis of at least yearly for dogs (6 monthly is
better for stud dogs) & prior to a bitch being mated. A certificate will
be given to the breeder/owner giving the UPC/Ratio. Click below for
picture of certificate (they do come in various forms, this is just to
show what information should be available.)
PKD is totally different to HN, they are two seperate
conditions. PKD has been known to be in the breed for many years with
only a couple of breeders regularly scanning for it, but during 2010
when a couple of dogs scanned showed cysts present and the information
was shared, many breeders are now testing breeding dogs. The scan is
easy to do & costs between £35 - £50 (UK) for a once in a lifetime
check. It is wiser to wait until your dog is over a year old to perform
the scan. After years of scanning and monitoring for PKD in Australia
where much KD research has taken place it is believed that PKD checking
over five generations is the only way to clear your line of PKD. Unfortunately PKD does not always show in a UPC test,
especially during the early stages. The only way to be sure your dog/bitch
is not suffering from this disease is by having the kidneys scanned. This
may require a light sedation to ensure the dog keeps still during the
process however will not be painful to the dog at all.
The scan will detect whether the kidneys are normal or
if there are abnormal amount of cysts present. A copy of the report should
be kept in order to show potential puppy buyers. If only 1 or 2 cysts are
present at time of scan it is advisable to rescan in 6-12 months.
Only one test in a dogs life is required to clear them
of PKD. It is possible to have puppies scanned as young as 6 weeks old
however it is advised to wait until they are around 1 year old before
testing. Five generations of testing will truly give you a clear line.
PKD is often associated with Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)
which is why it lays undetected, heart conditions are easier to detect
and show many more clinical signs, once a heart condition is detected it
is usually accepted within this breed so no further investigation is
advised, however if you have a dog who has had a heart condition
detected, especially in a young dog a PKD scan is advisable. PKD
positive dogs often live out their life to old age, as a rule they are
far more likely to die in old age to a heart condition than to PKD.
A once in a lifetime kidney scan, best done when the dog is at least 1
year old will detect any cysts on the kidneys. A certificate will be
given to the breeder/owner to say whether cysts present or not. Click
below for picture of certificate (they do come in various forms, just to
see what information should be available)
The way forward
If breeders all worked together and tested their stud
dogs and brood bitches, removing those dogs with UPC's above 0.3 and any
showing signs of PKD these diseases could be seriously reduced and almost
wiped out in a matter of years, vitally important for puppy buyers to ask
for the lab reports of both parents and check they are in date, along with
other relevant 'in date' health test results.
In my opinion there is absolutely no reason why a
breeder would not test their breeding stock for such a horrific disease, if
any breeder has a valid reason then please feel free to tell me!
Please remember why this disease is called THE
SILENT KILLER and ask yourself again, how do you know your dog is not
suffering in silence?
NOTE: INFORMATION SUPPLIED
ON THIS PAGE IS FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR DOG
HAS ANY OF THE ABOVE SYMPTOMS OR PROBLEMS PLEASE SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR
Written by Debbie
Debbie would like
to offer her grateful thanks to Peter Siesz from
Bullytrax Bull Terriers and Dr Caroline O'leary
School Of Veterinary Science) and her dedicated team for all
the help, advice and explanations to help understand kidney disease and
for giving the thirst to want to know more about BT & MBT Health.