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 -or-
    MA test for microalbuminuria -or-
    ERD Health Screening
  5. Optional: Fecal API test through Texas A&M if suspicious of PLE

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)
  • 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
Kidney Size Small May be normal Normal Normal
Hypoalbuminaemia No Yes Yes Possibly (melaena)
Hypoglobulinemia No No Yes Possibly (melaena)
Hypercholesterolaemia No Yes Hypocholesterolaemia 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
   K = kidney
   I = intestine
Fetal glomeruli, Fetal mesenchyme (K) Glomerulonephritis, glomerulosclerosis (K) IBD,
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**
  • Elevated Microalbuminuria**
    **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."

Find an ACVIM veterinary internist near you.

Updated 07/2016   (Posted 11/23/2017)

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