What is microalbuminuria?
Albumin is an important protein that is found in blood, but is not normally present in the urine of healthy pets. Microalbuminuria refers to the presence of small amounts of albumin in urine (“micro” = small amount, “uria” = present in urine). Finding small amounts of albumin in the urine may indicate underlying health problems, and may be an early warning signal of renal (or kidney) damage or disease.
What sorts of conditions result in microalbuminuria?
There are many conditions that can potentially damage the kidney and lead to microalbuminuria. These include inflammatory conditions (e.g. dental disease, chronic skin disease, bowel inflammation etc.), infectious disease (e.g. heartworm infection, Lyme’s disease, Ehrlichia infection etc.), metabolic disorders (e.g. diabetes mellitus, overactive adrenal glands), hypertension (high blood pressure), and cancer.
What sample is needed to do the ERD test for microalbuminuria?
All that is needed is a small amount of clean urine. The sample can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. If it is going to take longer than 24 hours to get the urine to the veterinarian, the sample should be frozen.
If my dog has microalbuminuria, does this mean my pet has progressive renal disease?
No. In fact, the majority of dogs with microalbuminuria will not develop renal disease. In most cases, correction or management of the underlying health problem results in resolution of the microalbuminuria. However, in a small percentage of dogs, the microalbuminuria persists, and the degree of albumin loss worsens over time. These pets are at risk for progressive renal disease, which could eventually lead to renal failure.
If my dog has microalbuminuria, what is the next step?
If microalbuminuria is detected, your veterinarian will likely recommend further testing to look for underlying health problems. The exact sequence of tests will depend on the history and clinical signs of illness exhibited by the pet, but will likely begin with urinalysis and basic blood tests. If there is no evidence of underlying health problems, then regular check-ups every 3-6 months are advisable to assess the pet’s health status and to monitor the degree of microalbuminuria.
If a pet has persistent and progressive microalbuminuria, then underlying kidney disease is likely present. Although a complete cure may not be possible, specific steps can be taken (e.g. diet change, specific medications, etc.) that may delay progression of the kidney disease.