Kidney Database


The purpose of the OFA kidney database is to provide a phenotypic screening tool for inherited kidney diseases. Currently, the best way to decrease incidence of these diseases is by screening for and identifying the cats and dogs that have these abnormalities, and removing them from breeding programs.

Testing for Kidney Disease:

While there are certain values on routine bloodwork that will detect damage to the kidneys, the UPC (urine protein creatinine ratio) is a more sensitive urine test that may detect early abnormalities, often long before clinical symptoms are seen. The kidneys are responsible for filtering toxins and waste products from the bloodstream, while keeping important particles such as proteins in the blood. The portion of the kidney responsible for this filtration is called the glomerulus. When the glomerulus becomes damaged, as it may with many renal disorders, its ability to filter is compromised. Small proteins that would normally not make it through this filter, and would therefore be left in the bloodstream, are instead able to leak through the glomerulus and are lost in the urine. The UPC is a urine test that specifically looks for levels of protein within the urine to detect early changes.

An abnormal result, or high protein levels in the urine, indicate there is likely an issue present that is affecting the glomerulus, but it is not specific as to what that issue may be. An abnormal result may require further diagnostic testing to identify the primary issue within the kidneys, such as with additional testing of the blood or urine, or with ultrasonography. Your veterinarian may help determine the best steps for your individual dog should you receive abnormal results.

This test may be done at any time once the animal has reached 12 months of age. This ensures the highest likelihood of being able to detect early or mild abnormalities.

Information for Veterinarians:
A urine sample may be collected either through free catch, catheterization, or cystocentesis. This urine sample can be submitted to any veterinary approved laboratory that provides a UPC result. Please ensure you verify the tattoo or microchip number of the dog when obtaining the sample. The application form can be found at:

Examples of Kidney Diseases:
There are a wide variety of congenital and inherited abnormalities. Listed below are some of the most common inherited diseases seen in both cats and dogs, but many more conditions and diseases do exist. If any abnormalities are detected on initial screening, it is best to discuss further diagnostics and recommendations with your primary veterinarian to fully diagnose the animal’s underlying condition.
Renal dysplasia – This condition refers to abnormal development of one or both kidneys. This is most commonly noted in:
◦ Lhasa Apso
◦ Shih Tzu
◦ Standard Poodle
◦ Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
◦ Chow Chow
◦ Alaskan Malamute
◦ Miniature Schnauzer
◦ Dutch Koolker Dog
◦ Airdale Terrier
◦ Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
◦ Great Dane
◦ Boxer
◦ Irish Wolfhound
◦ Bedlington Terrier
◦ Persian cats
Primary glomerulopathies – This is a condition in which the formation of the glomeruli is abnormal and the glomeruli deteriorate rapidly. This has been described in a variety of breeds including:
◦ Samoyed
◦ English Cocker Spaniel
◦ Bull Terrier
◦ Dalmatian
◦ Doberman Pinscher
◦ Bullmastiff
◦ Newfoundland
◦ Rottweiler
◦ Pembroke Welsh Corgi
◦ Collie
◦ Beagle
Polycystic kidney disease – this is a condition in which multiple cysts form in one or both kidneys. These cysts continue to grow as the animal ages, to the point where they cause significant increase in kidney size and decrease in function. This has largely been described in:
◦ Bull Terrier (particularly those from Australia)
◦ Cairn Terrier
◦ West Highland White Terrier
◦ Persian cats
◦ Domestic Long Hair cats
◦ Himalayan cats
Amyloidosis – This is an inherited condition in which the animal deposits certain abnormal proteins within the kidney, which subsequently creates significant damage to the kidney (as well as occasionally within other organs). This is described most in:
◦ Shar Pei
◦ Beagle
◦ English Foxhound
◦ Abyssinian cats
◦ Siamese and other Oriental cats
Immune-mediated glomerulonephritis – This disease process is characterized by inflammation of the glomeruli. This is generally caused when immune complexes (mixtures of antibodies and antigens) get trapped within the glomeruli, and the immune system reacts to their presence. This has been described in:
◦ Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier
◦ Bernese Mountain Dog
◦ Brittany Spaniel
Tubular Dysfunction (Fanconi’s Syndrome) – This is a condition in which the kidneys are unable to reabsorb electrolytes, glucose, or amino acids appropriately. These are instead lost in the urine. This is most commonly seen in:
◦ Basenji
◦ Miniature Schnauzer
◦ Norwegian Elkhound
◦ Shetland Sheepdog

The progression of these diseases generally leads to chronic kidney disease and early kidney failure. Clinical signs and failure may occur as early as 8 months of age, depending on the cause and severity of disease, or the affected animal may not show symptoms until closer to 8 years of age. Signs of kidney failure may include decreased appetite, vomiting, weight loss, and an increase in drinking and urinating. There are unfortunately no successful long-term treatments for these conditions, and treatment is targeted towards symptomatic care and ensuring comfort and quality of life for as long as possible.