Fanconi Syndrome in Dogs: What You Need to Know

fanconi syndrome in dogs

If you look up articles of Fanconi Syndrome in dogs, you’ll almost always see a picture of a Basenji. That’s because this disease disproportionately affects these amazing pups. Yet, Dog Owners of other breeds, as well as Dog Sitters and fellow dog lovers, should know more about this form of renal failure in dogs. Fanconi Syndrome in dogs can develop in any breed and researchers are still decoding the genetic component of the condition. In fact, there are even recent reports of an increase in Acquired Fanconi Syndrome.

That means that all of us should be on alert for Fanconi Syndrome in our pups. And because Fanconi Syndrome treatment is most effective in the beginning stages, we should also be well-versed in the signs and symptoms. So, let’s raise some awareness in our doggie communities!

Learning more about Fanconi Syndrome in dogs

Every time your dog eats or drinks, their renal system springs into action to accomplish two crucial tasks. The first is to filter all fluids for glucose, sodium, phosphates, and other crucial nutrients and electrolytes. The second is to expel everything the body doesn’t need in the form of urine.

The urinary system, then, isn’t just important for your dog to be able to mark their territory every few minutes during your daily walk. It’s also an important way for them to absorb minerals from their diet and maintain normal pH and blood levels.

But with Fanconi Syndrome, the urinary system doesn’t work so smoothly. In particular, a specific part of the kidneys, called the tubules, stops being able to extract nutrients from the fluids before they go on to the bladder. As a result, your pup ends up peeing out key nutrients that they need to survive. In an attempt to address the issue, a dog’s urinary system will go into overdrive, prompting them to drink more to make up for the missed nutrients.

Some Dog Owners think that they have a problem with their dog marking their territory indoors when really it’s a medical issue. If your dog just can’t get the hang of toilet training, it might be a sign of something more serious.

In most cases, veterinarians detect Fanconi Syndrome when the dog is between 4 and 7 years old, but signs can develop for around 11 months. If left untreated, the kidneys could fail completely, which can be a life-threatening situation.

What causes Fanconi Syndrome in dogs?

Fanconi syndrome may be inherited or acquired from other causes.
The most common form of Fanconi syndrome is an inherited disorder in the Basenji dog. A recent increase in the number of cases of acquired Fanconi syndrome in non-Basenji dogs is potentially linked to ingestion (eating) of chicken jerky treats, but this association is only speculative at this point. Rare causes of Fanconi syndrome include heavy metal intoxication (lead, copper, mercury, organomercurials, Lysol, maleic acid), drugs (gentamicin, cephalosporins, cisplatin, aspirin, outdated tetracycline), and some miscellaneous causes.

How can you spot Fanconi Syndrome in dogs?

We know what this syndrome does in the body, and we know a bit more about where it comes from. But how can you know if your dog has it? Here are the symptoms of Fanconi Syndrome in dogs that you should be aware of:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Disinterest in food
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Seizures

A dog with Fanconi Syndrome may not have all of the symptoms listed, and you may also see other personality changes. The effects can be quite different in each dog. But, if you see any drastic changes or any of the symptoms listed, get your pup to the vet. Early treatment is key for a successful recovery.


If your dog suffers from Fanconi Syndrome, your vet will probably prescribe a specific supplement treatment for recovery. In the case of Acquired Fanconi Syndrome, the vet will also want to identify the cause and make sure that the dog has no further exposure to the toxin.

In either case, treatment is lifelong and must be maintained to ensure that the kidneys are working properly. You’ll also need to schedule regular visits with the vet to monitor the success of the treatment plan. Luckily, so long as Owners catch and treat it early, their doggos tend to live out a normal lifespan.