Amyloidosis is a group of conditions that result from abnormal deposits of a protein called amyloid. Amyloid can be deposited locally, affecting only a single location or organ, or it can be deposited throughout the body, affecting many organs. In this condition, there is an irregular build-up of amyloids (proteins) in the dog. The build-up of these proteins hinders normal organ functions.
When the deposition of amyloid occurs in the liver, the condition is specifically referred to as hepatic amyloidosis. It is a progressive disease which can eventually lead to liver failure.
In most cases, accumulation of amyloid in the liver occurs secondary to an underlying inflammatory or lympho-proliferative disorder. For instance, abnormal growth of lymphocytes (white blood cells) can trigger amyloidosis or it can occur as familial disorder.
Most affected dogs are believed to have acquired this condition due to an underlying cause. Certain breeds of dogs are also predisposed to this condition such as shar peis, beagles, and foxhounds.
Amyloidosis usually affects multiple organs. Clinical signs are often associated with renal involvement. Other signs may indicate high lever enzymes, enlargement of liver, coagulation disorders, liver rupture leading to hemoabdomen (blood in the abdomen), and/or liver failure.
Common symptoms and signs associated with this condition include:
Episodic fever and swollen hocks (Shar-peis)
Episodic joint inflammation, pain, and signs of meningitis (Akitas)
Sudden lack of energy
Anorexia (loss of appetite)
Polyuria and polydipsia (excess thirst and excess urination)
Abdominal fluid – blood or fluid
Yellowish skin and/or whites of eyes
Diffuse pain: head pain, and abdominal discomfort