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

Annual Health Testing for healthy dogs - pdf (opens in new page)

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

    Urine Protein/Creatinine Ratio (UPC) or a Microalbuminuria (MA Test). These are add on Tests to the Urinalysis and need to be requested

    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.

    In tick or heartworm endemic areas, a SNAP-4DxPlus or AccuPlex4 test.

    If you are concerned about finicky appetite, Gulpies, occasional GastroIntestinal signs, IBD or PLE in the dog or its relatives, it is suggested that additional testing, such as fecal examinations, could take place.

    Please note that the following tests are only available in USA.

    • GI Panel plus - (B12/folate/TLI/PLI with resting cortisol added) From Texas A & M University (TAMU)
    • TAMU Alpha1-Proteinase Inhibitor (A1-PI) Fecal Test is available on this link to order your kit to detect GI protein loss.
    • Antech CE-IBD Assay test is available through Antech Diagnostics

    Blood Pressure Measurement (BPM):
    Ideally. the dog's BPM should be taken during each healthy visit (starting at one year of age), in order to get a base line and to get the dog used to having the procedure done.

    *The PLN-Associated Variant Alleles DNA test is recommended for each Wheaten Terrier (this is only a once in a dog’s lifetime test) The test is available from PennGen or Laboklin in UK and Europe. Go to the PLN Research page for further information.
    *Check with the owner that they have not already undertaken this test.

    Renal Dysplasia (RD)

    Abdominal radiographs/Ultrasound

    Final confirmation of RD, kidney biopsy (wedge, not Tru-cut).

    Addison’s Disease

    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

    Shelly Vaden, DVM, PhD, DACVIM. Professor Internal Medicine and Meryl Littman, VMD DACVM, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, 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.”

    Further Reading:
    “Recommendations Concerning Protein-Losing Nephropathy (PLN) in Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers" on this link (pdf opens in new page)

    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 P. Littman VMD, DACVIM, Professor Emeritus of Medicine (Clinician-Educator), University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, who led the research into PLN in Wheatens for decades. Dr Littman has retired, but is available for paid consultations and can be contacted at merylitt@vet.upenn.ed

    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


    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

    go to top