Boxer Health - JKD

We will use all resourses available to us prior to any breedings to limit the incidents of JKD in any of our puppies & adults.


What is Juvenile Kidney Disease - JKD

Kidney disease or kidney failure is common in all breed of dogs. Kidneys can be damaged by contact with poisons or simply by old age.

JKD differs in so much as it now appears to be inherited and affects younger dogs, typically between five months and three years of age. Boxers are not the only breed to suffer from JKD, but it does appear that the gene responsible in other breeds cannot be found in Boxers. The search for the Boxer JKD gene is still progressing.

JKD starts by ensuring that one or both kidneys fail to develop completely during the embryo's growth in the womb and after birth there seem to be immature structures in the kidneys that remain, making it impossible for them to function 100%. JKD kidneys are also smaller then fully functioning (completely developed) kidneys. A Boxer with JKD affecting only one kidney may be symptom free and might live a normal lifetime.

Juvenile Kidney Dysplasia symptoms are unspecific, subtle and may be difficult for owners and vets to recognize in the first stage of the disease. Symptoms and signs include:

• increased thirst,
• urinary frequency and/or incontinence – difficulties house training
• poor appetite
• vomiting
• lethargy
• hematuria (blood in urine).
• failure to thrive,
• weight loss

These symptoms can also occur in other conditions or diseases. However, especially in Boxers who are prone to genetical disorders, they should not be ignored and basic investigations performed.

From the medical and pathophysiological point of view we can divide causes of kidney failure into: pre-renal, renal and post-renal. Treatment may vary depending on the cause.

Prerenal causes (so before the kidney) are grossly due to insufficient blood supply, therefore kidney filtrate lower amount than they should. This is due to dehydration, bleeding, renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the artery supplying the kidney).
Renal (in the kidney) causes affect the kidney directly and these can be toxins, bacterial, viral infections, parasites, medications/drugs, antibodies (autoimmune disease), renal cancer and also anatomical abnormalities of the kidneys. Juvenile Kidney Dysplasia is an example of a CONGENTITAL structural deformity of the kidney. The kidney is not fully developed, has a distorted architecture and contains immature cells – it is a kidney, which cannot function properly. These changes occur in utero and individuals ARE BORN with this. It is not a condition that is acquired after birth.

Post-renal causes (after the kidney), which obstruct the outflow from the kidney, like stones, strictures, and tumours.

JKD/JRD was initially thought to represent a very small percentage of cases leading to kidney disease. However, it actually seems that it is more common and occurs in family groups. More interestingly it was noted that puppies diagnosed with Juvenile Kidney Dysplasia occur more often in certain bloodlines and litters. Hence, the motivation to find the gene responsible for it.

I would like to emphasize that the term Juvenile Kidney Disease is freely used in the context of Juvenile Kidney Dysplasia, which can be misleading for some, because as stated above causes of kidney disease are broad. It is only JKD - the inherited-congenital kidney defect that is the prime subject of this website, multiple online discussions debates and research by Dr Bruce Cattanach.

JRD/JKD stands out from other causes with unique abnormal ultrasound findings, which you would not see otherwise. They also stand out with characteristic biopsy/pathology findings but this rarely takes place, as many owners do not wish their dog to suffer from a kidney biopsy or have a postmortem, not mentioning the costs.

Many causes of acute kidney disease are potentially reversible. JKD, however is an example of chronic kidney disease and is irreversible. Juvenile Kidney Dysplasia is a progressive, incurable disease, leading to death. In addition, please be aware that kidneys are very efficient and clinical symptoms present when more than 70-75% of their function is impaired. Their impairment can be EXACERBATTED in a reasonably functioning dysplastic kidney by a trivial cause like dehydration, infection (usually UTI), stress, pregnancy and medications. This decompensation also occurs eventually as the dog grows and the demand exceeds the filtrating capability of the abnormal kidney to maintain its function.

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For more information and frequently asked questions re Boxer JKD follow the link

Contact Details
L Hetherington & J Y Lawson
Penrith, NSW, Australia
Email : [email protected]

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