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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

* This is the Veterinary Version. *

Amyloidosis in Dogs

By Otto M. Radostits, CM, DVM, MSc, DACVIM (Deceased), Professor Emeritus, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan ; David A. Ashford, DVM, MPH, DSc, Assistant Area Director, International Services, APHIS, USDA ; Craig E. Greene, DVM, MS, Professor, Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia ; Eugene D. Janzen, DVM, MVS, Professor, Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary ; Bert E. Stromberg, PhD, Professor, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota ; Max J. Appel, DMV, PhD, Professor Emeritus ; Stephen C. Barr, BVSc, MVS, PhD, DACVIM, Professor of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University ; J. P. Dubey, MVSc, PhD, Microbiologist, Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, USDA ; Paul Ettestad, DVM, MS, State Public Health Veterinarian, Epidemiology and Response Division, New Mexico Department of Health ; Kenneth R. Harkin, DVM, DACVIM, Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University ; Delores E. Hill, PhD, Parasitologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture ; Johnny D. Hoskins, DVM, PhD, Small Animal Consultant ; Jodie Low Choy, BVSc, BVMS, IVAS Cert, Menzies School of Health Research; University Avenue Veterinary Hospital, Northern Territory, Australia ; Barton W. Rohrbach, VMD, MPH, DACVPM, Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Medicine, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University of Tennessee ; J. Glenn Songer, PhD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology, University of Arizona ; Joseph Taboada, DVM, DACVIM, Professor and Associate Dean, Office of Student and Academic Affairs, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University ; Charles O. Thoen, DVM, PhD, Professor, Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University ; John F. Timoney, MVB, PhD, Dsc, MRCVS, Keeneland Chair of Infectious Diseases, Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky ; Ian Tizard, BVMS, PhD, DACVM, University Distinguished Professor of Immunology; Director, Richard M. Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University

Also see professional content regarding amyloidosis.

Amyloidosis is a condition that occurs when amyloid, a substance composed of abnormally folded protein, is deposited in various organs of the body. Some types of amyloidosis are hereditary in dogs. (Chinese Shar-Peis are known to be at risk for hereditary amyloidosis.) Others occur as a result of diseases such as heartworm infection, various cancers, or other inflammatory or immune-related conditions. However, the cause is often unknown.

Amyloid can be deposited throughout the body, or in just one specific area. This causes damage by displacing normal cells. The disease can become fatal if amyloid is deposited into the tissue of critical organs, such as the kidneys, liver, or heart. All domestic mammals may develop amyloidosis, and aged animals commonly have minor deposits of amyloid without signs or problems.

There are several types of amyloid, and the classification of amyloidosis is based on which amyloid protein is involved. Deposits of AA amyloid can result from chronic inflammatory diseases, chronic bacterial infections, and cancer. The amyloid is usually deposited in organs such as the spleen or kidneys. The animal may not show any signs of disease. If AA amyloid is deposited in the kidneys, it can lead to a buildup of protein and result in kidney failure. AL amyloid is another common form of amyloid. AL amyloid tends to be deposited in nerve tissue and joints.

Because of its wide distribution and stealthy onset, amyloidosis is difficult to diagnose. However, your veterinarian might suspect amyloidosis if your dog has a chronic infection or inflammation and develops kidney or liver failure. No specific treatment can prevent the development of amyloidosis or promote the reabsorption of the protein deposits.

* This is the Veterinary Version. *