Health Tests Information for Veterinarians

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers (SCWT) have a predisposition to certain hereditary diseases.

The Key Veterinary Researchers recommend that owners test their SCWT's annually for evidence of:

Testing Protocols

Remind owners that their dog should be ‘fasted’ (ie not eat eight hours before the blood test), otherwise spurious results may occur, but drinking water should be available at all times

Biochemical Profile to include:
  1. Albumin (Alb) Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) Cholesterol (Chol) Creatinine (Cr)
    Globulin Phosphorus (Phos) Potassium (K+) Sodium (Na)
    SDMA Total protein (TP)
  2. Complete Blood Count to include Cytopenias and Eosinophilia.

  3. Routine Urinalysis is very important for Wheaten Terriers and often shows protein loss associated with PLN years prior to the disease showing in blood results. It is imperative that the disease is caught in the early stages to ensure a longer life.
    • Specific gravity
    • Dipstick
    • Urinary sediment
  4. Urine Protein/Creatinine Ratio

If there is an indication of Protein loss, a pooled urine test should be undertaken as follows:

Owners - as UPC varies daily owners should collect three samples:

  1. First thing in the morning for three consecutive days.
    If this is not possible, then the sample should be taken about the same time each day for three days.

  2. The samples should be saved separately in a refrigerator.

  3. Take the three samples to the Vet (do not pool them in one jar).

Vet - Take 1ml from each sample, gently mix the result and send this one (3ml) sample to your Lab. for one UPC determination. This will provide an average result for the 3 days.

Note: UPC on urine samples collected at the clinic are often higher than those collected at home, probably because of anxiety/stress and increased blood pressure at the clinic.

An alternative test for UPC is Microalbuniaria (MA Test)

Recommended, if IBD or PLE is suspected.
  • Digestive Panel - From Texas A & M University (TAMU)
  • The Fecal API Kit is available now through TAMU. Go to www.wheatenhealthendowment.org to order your kit to detect GI protein loss.
  • The Canine IBD/Enteropathy Assay is available through Antech Diagnostics
    Please note this test is NOT A STAND ALONE TEST and if you suspect PLE, this test should be undertaken along with an annual health test. Rule out blockages, Parvo, Lyme and Addisons and not rely on this test for every dog which has vomiting/diarrhoea etc. Also an infected bowel could affect the test results.
Renal Dysplasia (RD)
  • Abdominal radiographs/Ultrasound
  • Final confirmation of RD, kidney biopsy (wedge, not Tru-cut).
Addison ’s

ACTH stimulation test


Note the differences and similarities between these diseases.

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/Diarrhoea Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ascites / Edema No Possibly Possibly No
Azotaemia Yes Eventually No Possibly (pre-renal)
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
Histopathology
K = kidney
I = intestine
Fetal glomeruli, Fetal mesenchyme (K) Glomerulonephritis, glomerulosclerosis (K) IBD, lymphangiectasia, lymphangitis (I)

Source: 1999 ACVIM PROCEEDINGS: Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier PLE-PLN; Meryl P. Littman VMD DACVIM, Philadelphia PA

Other important laboratory findings:

RD PLE PLN Addison's

Elevated creatinine

Elevated BUN

Eosinophilia

Lymphopenia

Low total protein

Elevated serum creatinine

Elevated BUN

Elevated Urine Protein Creatinine Ratio Very important!

Elevated serum creatinine

Elevated BUN

Dr Shelly Vaden, ACVIM, North Carolina State University and Dr Meryl Littman, VMD DACVM (Retired), University of Pennsylvania 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 Wheaten Terrier.”

Remember: diagnosis of RD, PLE, PLN or Addison’s is dependent on evaluating everything – test results, clinical signs and symptoms – so do not assume one “bad” item means a dog has these diseases.


Further Reading:

A condensed information sheet on hereditary diseases and testing, by Dr Littman (July 2019) is avalable on this link (pdf opens in new tab)

PLN-Associated Variant Genes test - further details on the Genetic testing pages

Standards of Care for Proteinuria by Dr Shelly L. Vaden on this link (pdf - opens in new tab)

Efficacy of Telmisartan for the treatment of persistent renal proteinuria in dogs Click here for the Wiley research pdf document. (opens in new page)

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) - IRiS website

Comparison between Urine Protein:Creatinine Ratios of Samples obtained from Dogs in Home and Hospital Settings. Use this link. M.E. Duffy, A. Specht, and R.C. Hill – J Vet Intern Med 2015;29:1029-1035

Care of dogs with PLE - article from DVM360

For further information and advice please contact:

Meryl Littman, VMD, DACVM, Professor Emerita of Medicine (Clinician-Educator), University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, who led the research into PLN in Wheatens for decades, created “Recommendations Concerning Protein-Losing Nephropathy (PLN) in Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers".

Dr. Littman has retired from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine but is available for paid consultations. Please contact her at merylitt@vet.upenn.edu

Shelly Vaden, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, Professor Internal Medicine, North Carolina State University is available for consultation ONLY with veterinarians. If you wish a consultation contact her at slvaden@ncsu.edu


Abnormal results

It is strongly recommended that owners should make contact with the breeder, so that positive steps can be taken to inform owners of litter mates and/or progeny.


WHI would like to thank: Dr Littman, Dr Vaden and Dr Allenspach and the ©Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America (SCWTCA – visit www.scwtca.org) for their kind permission to reproduce this information

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