You Make The Diagnosis: Diseases Found In Soft-Coated Wheaton Terriers

This handsome boy is a Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier named Satchel.  He is a high energy, curious, healthy dog who enjoys life to the fullest.  Unfortunately, this breed is also prone to four serious medical problems.  Name the diseases.  This is a difficult challenge so there are bonus points to those who know all four. . .  

The four diseases are:      1)  Protein-losing Nephropathy (PLN)
                                             2)  Renal Dysplasia
                                             3)  Addison’s Disease 
                                             4)  Protein-losing Enteropathy (PLE)

PLN is a kidney disease in which large amounts of protein are lost in the urine.  Dogs with this problem often lose weight, have a poor appetite and drink tremendous amounts.  In PLE, the protein is lost through the intestines instead of the kidneys.  Common signs of this problem are vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss.  In severe cases, fluid might accumulate in the abdomen giving the dog a pot-bellied appearance.  Animals with either of these diseases may throw blood clots before other symptoms are noticed.  In Renal Dysplasia the kidneys do not develop properly.  The abnormal morphology (structure, size or shape) predisposes these dogs to renal failure.  I suspect this problem when I examine puppies who are not developing normally.  Addison’s disease is also called hypoadrenocorticism.  In this disease, the adrenal glands do not function properly.  These animals are depressed, weak and may collapse without warning.  

In order to catch these diseases early, I recommend the following tests on an annual basis: Complete biochemical profile, CBC (Complete Blood Count), urinalysis and either a urine protein/creatinine ratio or an ERD (Early Renal Disease) screen for microalbuminemia.  If abnormalities are found, additional tests to consider include an abdominal ultrasound, ACTH stimulation test, fecal alpha -1-protease inhibitor test and tissue biopsies.  

As is so often the case, early detection is critical.  While none of these diseases can be cured, they may be treated to lessen severity or slow disease progression.  I am happy to say that my friend Satchel is free of these conditions.  He is a wonderful dog and always a joy to see in the neighborhood.   

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.