Health Screening for Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE), Protein‑Losing Nephropathy (PLN), Renal Dysplasia (RD), and Addison's Disease
Recommended by SCWTCA and its Researchers

Testing Protocols

Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers have been found to have a higher frequency than other breeds of certain serious diseases. Our veterinary researchers, Meryl Littman VMD DACVIM, Shelly Vaden DVM DACVIM, and David Williams ECVIM-CA/ACVIM, recommend owners test their Wheatens annually for evidence of:

  • Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE)
  • Protein-Losing Nephropathy (PLN)
  • Renal Dysplasia (RD)
  • Addison's Disease

Their recommendations to owners and their veterinarians include:

1.  Run the following lab tests:
  1. Biochemical profile, including:
    • Total protein (TP)
    • Albumin (Alb)
    • Globulin
    • Creatinine (Cr)
    • Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
    • Cholesterol (Chol)
    • Sodium (Na)
    • Potassium (K+)
    • Phosphorus (Phos)
  2. Complete Blood Count
  3. Routine Urinalysis, including:
    • Specific gravity
    • Dipstick
    • Urinary sediment
  4. Urine Protein/Creatinine Ratio
Your client may also ask you to run the ERD Test for Microalbuminuria or arrange for a Fecal Alpha-1 Protease Inhibitor (Fecal API) test through Texas A&M. If these results lead you to suspect RD or Addison’s, the following tests can be run:
  • Renal Dysplasia (RD):
    • Abdominal radiographs/Ultras`ound
    • Final confirmation of RD: Kidney biopsy (wedge, not Tru-cut); call Dr. Meryl Littman (see the end of this letter for her contact information) to discuss size
  • Addison's:
    • ACTH stimulation test
2.  Note the differences and similarities between these diseases:
Source: 1999 ACVIM PROCEEDINGS: Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier PLE-PLN;
Meryl P. Littman VMD DACVIM, Philadelphia PA
  RD PLN PLE Addison's
Age of Onset <1-3 yrs Mean ~ 6 yrs Mean ~ 4.5 yrs Young (in general)
Sex Predilection None noted Female: male=1.6 Female: male=1.7 Female (in general)
Polyuria/Polydipsia Yes Only 25% had PU/PD No, unless on steroids Yes
Vomiting/Diarrhea Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ascites/edema No Possibly Possibly No
Azotemia Yes Eventually No Possibly (pre-renal)
Kidney Size Small May be normal Normal Normal
Hypoalbuminemia No Yes Yes Possibly (melena)
Hypoglobulinemia No No Yes Possibly (melena)
Hypercholesterolemia No Yes Hypocholesterolemia No
Low Na/K ratio Not noted Rarely (~10%) Rarely (~10%) Yes
Urine Specific Gravity Isosthenuria Mean 1.023 Mean 1.033 Low (medullary washout)
Proteinuria None or mild Yes No No
Histopathology
   K = kidney
   I = intestine
Fetal glomeruli, fetal mesenchyme (K) Glomerulonephritis, glomerulosclerosis (K) IBD, lymphangiectasia, lymphangitis (I)  

3.  Look for these additional lab results
RD PLE PLN1 Addison's2
  • Elevated creatinine
  • Elevated BUN
  • Eosinophilia
  • Lymphopenia
  • Low total protein
  • Elevated serum creatinine
  • Elevated BUN
  • Elevated Urine Protein Creatinine Ratio**
    **Very important!
  • Elevated serum creatinine
  • Elevated BUN

Dr. Shelley Vaden, ACVIM, North Carolina State University and Dr. Meryl Littman, ACVIM, University of Pennsyvania state that:

"Research suggests that any dog with UPC ratio in excess of 0.4 and no evidence of urinary tract infection should be closely monitored for the development of glomerular disease. This finding should be of particular concern in any breed of dog that is known to have familial glomerular diseases, such as the Wheatens."

If any lab results show any abnormalities, you can consult with Dr. Meryl Littman or Dr. Shelly Vaden for current recommendations on diagnosis and treatment. They are working under SCWTCA and American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation sponsored research grants to help us better understand, treat and one day, prevent these diseases.

Find an ACVIM veterinary internist near you.

Dr. Meryl P. Littman
Professor of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
School of Veterinary Medicine
3900 Delancey Street
Philadelphia PA 19104-6010
(215) 898-9288
(215) 573-6050 fax (include cover sheet)
Dr. Shelly Vaden
Professor, Internal Medicine
North Carolina State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
4700 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh NC 27606
(919) 513-6235
(919) 513-6336 fax (include cover sheet)

Issued May 2004


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