Glomerulonephritis in dogs is an immune-mediated disease that involves inflammation of the glomeruli, which are the filtering units of the kidneys responsible for filtering waste products & excess water from the blood.
Glomerulonephritis occurs as a result of immune complexes (an immune complex is an antibody which is bound to an antigen) becoming trapped in the glomeruli leading to inflammation (swelling) & scarring. This impairs the filtering ability, causing blood & protein to be lost in the urine.
Glomerulonephritis often runs in conjunction with infections or other diseases, such as;
- Bacterial infections.
- Chronic bacterial infections.
- Chronic fungal infections.
- Heartworm infection.
- Immune-mediated polyarthritis.
- Tick borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis & Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
- Pyometra (infection of the uterus).
- Viral infections.
Many cases of Glomerulonephritis are idiopathic (unknown causes).
What are the symptoms of glomerulonephritis in dogs?
There are often no signs of the disease, most cases begin long before symptoms appear. There are two clinical forms of glomerulonephritis, the first is the nephrotic syndrome & these dogs may develop;
- Subcutaneous build up (edema) of fluid
- Ascites (peritoneal cavity fluid)
The second form is renal failure & symptoms may include;
- Hematuria (blood in urine)
- Polydipsia (increased thirst)
- Polyuria (increased urination)
- Polyarthritis (inflammation in many joints)
- Weight loss
Both forms have small, firm kidneys. The nephrotic syndrome possibly represents the early stage of glomerulonephritis & the renal failure the latter. 
How is glomerulonephritis diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination of your dog & obtain a medical history from you. He will wish to perform some blood tests including;
- Complete blood count/biochemical profile/urinalysis to identify hypoalbuminemia (low blood protein), anemia, proteinuria (large amounts of protein in urine), hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol).
- Specific tests for FeLV, FIP, FIV.
- As dogs may also have hypertension (high blood pressure), your veterinarian may check blood pressure. As is used on humans, in dogs an inflatable cuff is placed on the dog’s front leg or tail. In humans, a stethoscope is also used, this isn’t possible in dogs & a Doppler or oscillometric device is used instead.
- Kidney biopsy is the only method to give a definitive diagnosis of glomerulonephritis.
How is glomerulonephritis treated?
Treatment involves finding & treating the underlying cause if possible.
- Diuretics to remove excess fluid.
- Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
- Medidogion which helps reduce blood pressure, these are usually calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors & diuretics. The calcium channel blocker amlodipine is most often prescribed. Medidogions won’t cure high blood pressure, but will assist in controlling it.
- Low sodium, high protein diets may be of help.
The medical articles on this site have not been written by a veterinarian & should not be considered a replacement for a veterinarian visit. The articles are provided for informative purposes only.
Always seek immediate veterinary advice for any problems (health or behavioral) in your pets.
While great care has been made in the creation of this Glomerulonephritis in dogsarticles, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or omissions on these pages. If in any doubt whatsoever, seek professional medical advice.