Glomerulonephritis can be a primary autoimmune disease or secondary to infections, heartworm, cancers, and other autoimmune diseases. It is potentially lethal. In primary glomerulonephritis the immune system attacks the glomeruli, the filters in the kidneys. Dogs with glomerulonephritis may exhibit lethargy, weight loss, and occasionally fluid accumulation in the abdomen and elsewhere. When kidney damage has advanced sufficiently, the dog will show signs of kidney failure including vomiting, increased drinking and urination, and bad breath.
Positive diagnosis is made by ruling out other possible causes and biopsy. Primary glomerulonephritis can be treated with medication and reduction of dietary protein. Long term care requires re-evaluation every three to six months.
Primary glomerulonephritis is a type of autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are genetically predisposed; if a dog has the disease, it has the genes. Dogs affected with primary glomerulonephritis should not be bred. Their near relatives should not be bred to mates with a family history of any autoimmune disease.