Disease: Gout

This page provides general information about  this condition. Text can be revealed by clicking on  the green headers. Links to press releases, results from DWHC investigations as well as other useful documents and relevant literature available on the DWHC website can be found at the bottom of the page.


Gout is a painful metabolic disorder caused by the deposition in the body of urate salts. In birds and mammals uric acid is a waste product derived from the breakdown of protein and some other foodstuffs and is normally excreted in the urine. When the amount of uric acid in the blood becomes too high it has the tendency to form salts that are deposited in certain tissues throughout the body resulting in gout. Two forms of gout are recognised depending on the location of these urate deposits; articular when it is found in the joints, and visceral when it is found in and on the organs and in the body cavities. Both forms are often seen simultaneously in birds.

Susceptible species

This condition is relatively common in domestic animals of all ages but it has been described in wild animals or birds.

The causes of gout are multiple and varied and include: Vitamin A deficiency which results in damage to the lining of the urinary tract; kidney damage resulting from, for example, bacterial, fungal or viral infection, amyloidosis (deposition of a misfolded protein in the kidneys often as a result of chronic infection); dehydration, and myriad others.

Signs in animals

In articular gout, the joints are often swollen and surrounded by firm swellings which contain a pasty white substance (urate salts). In visceral gout which may involve the heart, liver, kidneys, spleen, intestines, lungs and airsacs, signs depend which organ and the extent to which organ function is affected. Both forms are difficult to treat.

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