Amyloidosis In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

A beagle dog resting in the sofa

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Amyloidosis in dogs is a condition where proteins called “amyloid” are deposited in dogs’ organs and tissue, causing them to function abnormally. Amyloid is waxy and translucent in appearance and it cannot be dissolved or digested by the body. If the condition goes untreated for a long period of time, it could cause organ failure, especially in the liver and kidneys where the condition is most common in dogs. The symptoms of amyloidosis can vary depending on which organs are affected and the amount of amyloid deposited. Amyloidosis is an uncommon condition with several causes, though there is a known genetic predisposition among certain breeds. If you see the signs of amyloidosis in your dog, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Here is what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for amyloidosis in dogs.

Symptoms Of Amyloidosis In Dogs

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

The symptoms of amyloidosis in dogs can vary based on which organ is affected. Typically, kidneys are the most common organ in which amyloid is deposited; however, the liver, skin, or other internal organs may be susceptible to amyloidosis, as well. Here are several possible symptoms you may see in dogs suffering from amyloidosis.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Signs of straining or pain while urinating
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Ascites
  • Edema, especially in the legs
  • Fever
  • Swollen joints
  • Dehydration
  • Jaundice

Causes Of Amyloidosis In Dogs

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

There are several possible causes of amyloidosis in dogs, though the condition is fairly uncommon. Certain breeds are predisposed to congenital amyloidosis, including Chinese Shar-Peis, Beagles, and English Foxhounds. Cutaneous amyloidosis that affects the skin is most often reported in Golden Retrievers. The most common form of amyloidosis results from protein that is formed in response to inflammation, which means that almost any condition that causes severe inflammation can result in abnormal protein deposits. Here are a few of the conditions that can trigger amyloidosis in dogs.

  • Chronic infection or inflammation
  • Parasitic infections
  • Immune disease
  • Lupus
  • Cancer/tumors

Though amyloidosis can affect dogs of any age, the majority of canines diagnosed with the condition are over five years old. The risk for developing the condition gets higher with age. Age-related amyloidosis is fiarly common and mostly affects certain arteries.

Treatments For Amyloidosis In Dogs

A female veterinarian wearing a lab coat and a stethoscope is giving a golden retriever dog an exam in her clinic

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Unfortunately, there is no direct treatment for amyloidosis in dogs. Some drugs are known to block or reduce amyloid levels, but evidence of the positive effects of these medications on dogs is inconclusive at this time. There is no cure for the condition, and depending on which organs are affected and how far the condition has progressed, the prognosis may not be good, giving dogs with amyloidosis only months to live. This is especially true if a dog is suffering from renal failure. It is important to note that not all cases of amyloidosis are so life-threatening. It is important to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and prognosis.

Treatment focuses on support for the affected organs rather than on amyloidosis, itself. Dogs suffering from dehydration will be given intravenous fluids until they are stabilized. Underlying causes are treated accordingly, and long-term management, diet and lifestyle changes, and medications may be prescribed for at-home care. Follow up vet visits are necessary to monitor the progress of the condition and the state of the affected organs. If your dog is affected by amyloidosis, follow your veterinarian’s instructions for care and monitoring closely.