What is Boxer Juvenile Kidney Disease (JKD)
Kidney failure is common in all of us, including our dogs. Kidney damage and disease can be caused by exposure to noxious agents such as anti-freeze, systemic bacterial infections such as leptospirosis, tick borne diseases or even some parasites. The onset of kidney disease typically also occurs with increasing age. In addition these causes there are also several different inherited forms of kidney disease. The problem of inherited (familiar) kidney disease has been recognised in several different breeds of pedigree dogs and according to the knowledge at the time of the identification has been called by a variety of different names (see Publications).
It has been recognised for at least a decade now that there is an inherited kidney disease in Boxers. There are several published papers from different parts of the world describing both the history, the clinical findings and the histopathology. One paper also shows a familial link between the affected individuals (see Publication).
In the UK we use the simple non-specific name, Juvenile Kidney Disease, JKD, as this has been used from the first recognition of the disease in the UK. The term, Juvenile Renal Dysplasia (JRD) and even Renal Dysplasia (RD) has been used in Sweden and America. In Norway and Sweden it has also been called Progressive Nephropathy of Juvenile Nephropathy. To avoid any confusion that may be caused by the differences in the terminology globally, in this website we have chosen to call the inherited form of kidney disease found in Boxers, Boxer JKD.
Irrespective of the cause, kidney disease symptoms are unspecific and subtle such that in dogs, owners and the vets may have difficulty recognising the very first stages of the disease. Problems with house training of young puppies have often been claimed retrospectively as the first signs that something was wrong with a puppy, followed by the onset of urine tract infections (UTIs). With Boxer JKD, the abnormal kidney structure that is the cause of the reduced function is irreversible. The kidneys did not develop normally during the gestation period. The kidneys fail to mature into normal kidneys in the first couple of months of life. The disease is usually progressive and can lead to fatal end-stage kidney disease. The age of onset of symptoms and survival times of dogs can vary greatly. This is a reflection of the severity of the kidney abnormality in the individual. Kidney development in the embryo is complicated and is not yet fully understood. At this time, there is no clearly-defined description of the process that causes the onset of symptoms or the progression of inherited kidney disease in any breed.