Multiple cysts or polycystic condition is the presence of more than one small pouch like structure in the kidneys. These cysts are thin walled tissues that contain fluid or semi-solid substances inside. When these are left untreated, they may grow bigger and occupy most part of the kidneys, leading to kidney failure. Multiple cysts are a rare genetic, autosomal disease in dogs that is mostly seen in the kidneys and sometimes in the liver also. In dogs, this disease is specific to certain breeds and they are born with small cysts in their kidneys.
Symptoms of Multiple Cysts
Though multiple cysts in dogs is not so common, when it is seen it is more troublesome. Since it is a genetic disease it is present right from the young age. In the younger stages, the kidneys and the cyst are small and while growing they also grow. As the cysts grow, it occupies most of the kidney tissues making the kidney difficult to function, leading to kidney failure. The cysts itself do not show any outward symptoms and they are visible only when it reaches the point where the kidneys fail to perform. At this stage the symptoms are the same as kidney failure. The symptoms arise when the cysts grow further and kills the nephrons. Without the nephrons, the kidneys cannot perform and that leads to complete stoppage of the kidney functions. It is the severe tissue damage that leads to symptoms and not the mere presence of the cysts.
The dog may show abdominal palpitations due to the muscles twitching uncontrollably. High blood pressure or hypertension are the other symptoms. Abdominal pain is a common occurrence as the kidneys enlarge and press the other organs. Sometimes the dog may have fever because of any infection in the kidneys. The kidneys are more vulnerable to many diseases at this stage.
There are no known causes for the multiple kidney cysts in dogs. Genes are primarily responsible for this condition. Some environmental and endogenous factors are also believed to be involved. Some compounds like parathyroid hormones and peptide hormone-vasopressin contributes to the cyst formation, though not confirmed.
There is no definite and complete cure for multiple kidney cysts. The only thing that can be done is to slow the progression of the cyst growth. The treatment is done as in kidney failure cases. The veterinarian may prescribe medications to fight any secondary infections.
Medications are also prescribed for vomiting. Subcutaneous fluids may be administered in cases of dehydration due to kidney failure. The treatment is more effective if the cysts are diagnosed at an early stage. At this stage the progression of the cysts can be slowed down. But in no case can the cyst growth be reversed or cured. Removing the fluid from the cyst may work for a while but the cyst will get the fluid back soon. The dog with multiple cysts should be closely monitored and they need to be taken for check up every 2 months or at least every 6 months. The primary focus is given to the diet, supplements, and fluid intake.
Since the exact reason for the development of the kidney multiple cysts is unknown, there are no specific preventive measures. If the specific breeds that are prone to multiple cyst formation are known, measures may be taken to prevent breeding with those vulnerable breeds. It helps reduce the genetic diversity and reduce the occurrence of this disease and also in eliminating these unwanted traits gradually. Breeds that are vulnerable to multiple kidney cysts are, Golden Retrievers, Blue Merle Collie, Shiba, Belgian Shepherd, West Highland White Terriers, Staffordshire Bull terrier etc.
What we can do is to give proper care to the affected loved ones. if it is diagnosed early, take measures to ensure that it does not worsen. With proper diet and care the sufferings of the dog can be reduced. Give the medications at the proper time and make sure that the dog has adequate fluid intake. Always remember there is no complete cure and the survival of the dog depends entirely on the care it is given. Multiple cysts itself are not lethal but circumstances may arise that makes life more difficult for the pets.