Screening recommendations for UK Breeders
At this time the simplest, most economical and sensitive screen for identifying any developing kidney failure is the urine specific gravity screen (USG). This test measured the ability of the kidney to produce concentrated urine. Boxers with symptoms of Boxer JKD will produce consistently more dilute urine compared to normal individuals
The USG test can be done by a vet on a urine sample while you wait. Breeders can purchase Refractometer for their own personal use. A Refractometer can be readily purchased online or from your vets.
Urine Specific Gravities (USGs) have two applications at this time:
a. screening puppies prior to sale and as a 'follow up' of all puppies sold
b. screening adults and breeding stock
Screening all Puppies:
USG screening is not applicable for very young puppies as they all have immature kidneys that have yet to function like adult kidneys, it can be trialed after the puppies are 8 weeks of age and should definitely give valid results on puppies over the age of 3 months as they should have mature kidneys and the ability to concentrate the urine.
It is recommended to attempt to carry out USG testing on all puppies before sale. The breeder should also make arrangements for all puppies sold to be re-screened every 6 months until they are 3 years of age. All records for the whole litter should be kept. Anything abnormal should be reported and investigated further.
Puppies with consistently low USG values should be investigated further using different diagnostic blood and urine tests, and the results reported.
All puppy owners should be asked to keep a careful watch for any urinary tract infections (UTI) that might develop, this may be the first sign of the symptoms of Boxer JKD developing in the puppy, together with difficulty in house-training and excessive drinking. It is suggested that a BoxerJKD handout be given to all new puppy owners.
Adults can be screened at any age but it is advisable that all bitches should be screened before any breeding, as pregnancy may trigger the onset of the disease symptoms in what were 'sub-clinical' cases. All adults with consistently low USGs should be investigated further with all the diagnostic tests available, and reported.
A careful watch for all urinary tract infections (UTI) is advised as this may be the first sign of the developing Boxer JKD.
In the future
The new SDMA screen should be available in Europe next year and may be expected to be included with Urine Specific Gravity screening. This is however a blood test and can not be performed by the breeder.