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Fanconi Syndrome in Dogs

fanconi syndrome in dogs

Fanconi syndrome can cause serious health issues for dogs, as this abnormality of the renal syndrome allows much-needed nutrients and electrolytes to be excreted through the urine. Owners who have been told that their dog’s breed has an elevated risk for this problem may find themselves wondering that Fanconi syndrome involves and what steps should be taken to protect their beloved pet’s health. Here is an overview of the condition to help dog owners understand and cope with this syndrome.

What Is Fanconi Syndrome?

Fanconi syndrome is a kidney disorder that can occur in both humans and dogs. It afflicts a specific part of the kidneys known as tubules. The tubules catch essential nutrients such as potassium, sodium, sugars, amino acids and phosphates which might otherwise be eliminated through urination. The tubules then reabsorb these nutrients so the body can continue to apply them to its various physical processes.

In Fanconi syndrome, the tubules fail to reabsorb these nutrients, instead allowing the body to expel them in greater-than-normal quantities. This kind of malnutrition can cause serious wasting of the muscles and other tissues, as well as abnormally high blood acid levels.

Risk Factors

An inherited problem, Fanconi syndrome can develop in a number of dog breeds, including Yorkshire Terriers, Whippets, Labrador Retrievers and Norwegian Elkhounds. Mixed-breed dogs can also suffer from Fanconi syndrome. However, Basenjis seem to have an especially high risk for inheriting it, with up to 75 percent of reported cases occurring in this breed.

Not all cases of Fanconi syndrome can be traced to genetics. Some dogs acquire the syndrome following treatment with certain antibiotics or cancer drugs, or in association with parathyroid gland issues. Other cases occur for no evident reason at all.

Possible Symptoms

While Fanconi syndrome can develop in puppies and older dogs alike, an owner might not see any clear symptoms of a problem until a dog is 2 to 4 years of age. The most common symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst and weight loss. It is worth noting that canine diabetes can cause these same symptoms, which might cause owners to suspect the wrong disorder at first glance. (Either disorder requires prompt veterinary attention and a precise diagnosis).

A dog with Fanconi syndrome may also show changes in his overall physical conditioning. In addition to a loss of muscle mass, an affected dog may seem sluggish, fatigued, and uninterested in eating. The syndrome may eventually lead to kidney failure.

The Importance of Veterinary Treatment and Monitoring

Basenji owners in particular should use urine glucose test strips to check their pet’s glucose levels every month. A veterinarian will test both blood sugar and urine glucose levels. High blood sugar accompanied by excessive glucose in urine more likely indicates diabetes. Excessive glucose in the urine with normal blood sugar indicates Fanconi syndrome.

Unfortunately, modern medicine cannot fix the tubules so that they will reabsorb nutrients properly. This means a dog’s Fanconi syndrome treatment will revolve around managing the condition, as opposed to curing it. The attending veterinarian will perform regular lab tests on a regular basis, checking the pet’s blood and urine for any changes over time.

A dog with Fanconi syndrome will usually receive various nutritional supplements to help make up for imbalances caused by the disorder. Doses of bicarbonate can help to reduce blood acid levels and keep them as stable as possible. Potassium supplements and other electrolytes can also prove helpful. If a dog has developed kidney failure as a result of Fanconi syndrome, the veterinarian will administer any additional treatment needed to slow the rate of disease and optimize quality of life.

Cost to Treat: $9,000 to $11,000


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