Amyloidosis in dogs is caused by the precipitation of the abnormal protein amyloid in different organs of the animal. Amyloid is formed by faulty folding of the protein chain. This condition is hereditary in some breeds like the Chinese Shar-Peis. Heartworm infection in dogs, inflammatory diseases and cancers are also known to cause Amyloidosis. In many cases, the cause cannot be determined.
The deposition of amyloid can be either widespread or localized. The protein damages the tissue by displacing the cells there. When it occurs in the heart, liver, or kidneys, it results in death. This condition may occur in any of the other mammalian species domesticated by man, but older animals with mild forms of the disease may live without any incidents.
Since the abnormal protein occurs in different forms, amyloidosis can be classified according to the specific protein that causes it. AA amyloid deposits are usually caused by chronic infections or inflammatory conditions the animal suffers from. Cancers also cause its deposition. This protein deposits mainly occur in the kidneys or the spleen, often without showing any symptoms. It can eventually cause kidney failure as the protein gets accumulated there. Another form of the protein called AL amyloid targets the joints and the nerve tissue.
Amyloidosis is not easily diagnosed as the deposits occur in different places, and there are no telltale symptoms in the beginning. When chronic inflammatory conditions or infections are followed by kidney failure or liver failure, amyloidosis is suspected. However, there are no treatments available to remove the amyloids or reverse the condition.