Systemic lupus in dogs can affect several organs, cannot be cured, and is considered a potentially fatal disease.
In fact, it is estimated that about 40 percent of all dogs that develop this disease die within the first year of diagnosis.
Although it has no known cure, it can still be managed in some cases.
It affects all breeds of dogs; however, there are some breeds that are at an increased risk of contracting this potential killer.
These breeds include Afghan hounds, Beagles, Irish Setters, Old English Sheepdogs, Poodles and Rough Collies.
Shetland Sheepdogs as well as German Shepherds are also included in the higher risk group.
Systemic lupus in dogs is also known as SLE, or Systemic Lupus erythematosus, and it is an autoimmune disease.
It is best characterized, like all autoimmune diseases; on the basis that specific antibody or cell-mediated responses go astray and attack your dog’s own immune system.
However, it is much more severe than several autoimmune diseases.
This condition affects several of your dog’s organs, and because of this, it is considered life threatening.
Systemic lupus in dogs is especially dangerous to your pets kidneys where it can cause severe damage as well as affecting their blood vessels.
It is also well known for attacking your dogs red bloods cells and destroying them, causing severe anemia.
The list, however, does not end there.
It can also cause inflammation and tissue damage in your dog’s skin, heart, lungs, joints, as well as their nervous system.
The disease itself is considered chronic, but the signs can be acute or chronic.
In some cases, they may be both. If your dog is lucky enough to survive this killer, they will require lifelong treatments
The term lupus is Latin for wolf, and was given to this disease when it affects humans, as humans will develop a facial rash and hair that resembles a wolf’s face.
There is another lessor form of the disease referred to as DLE, which is Discoid Lupus erythematosus.
However, DLE only affects your dog’s skin and is not anywhere near as threatening.
Systemic lupus in dogs has several signs that will begin to surface, but the vast majority of dogs will show two very common symptoms in the early stages.
Skin problems and a lameness that has developed.
This lameness can come in two forms, gradual or very sudden. If you do notice that your dog is suddenly becoming lame, you should always check for a fever.
If it is arthritis that is developing, there can be a fever, but it is usually slight.
If there is a fever associated with these symptoms, it will be quite high and this is your first real sign that something much more sinister is developing in your dog.
The next sign to watch for with systemic lupus in dogs is bruising that occurs at the slightest of knocks or even touching your dog in some cases.
This is a real signal that something is wrong with your dog’s system overall.
The next symptoms will be signs of serious of skin issues, again either developing slowly or seemingly to appear almost overnight.
These include scabs, sores on your dog’s footpads or paws, or sores on the inside of their mouth.
They may also develop crusted feet that will be very easy to spot as well as a very sudden case of dandruff.
However, this will be no ordinary dandruff, as it will be so excessive that hair loss also develops.
This is still not the end of the symptoms, as your dog may also develop scabs on the tips of their ears as well as on their tail.
This is why this disease is often confused with DLE, as it appears to be primarily skin related.
However, what is happening internally with systemic lupus will surface in the next round of symptoms.
Your dog by now will start to become extremely lethargic and be very reluctant to walk because of the joint pain that is starting to surface.
They may also be developing hepatomegaly, which is an enlarged liver, as well as splenomegaly, which is an enlarged spleen.
Systemic lupus in dogs cannot be cured; period. It is a very wicked disease that claims over 40 percent of all dogs affected within the first twelve months.
There are treatments for this disease, but the side effects may be too much for some dogs and these effects may also take their lives.
If your dog can survive the treatments, they will have to be given for the rest of their life.
This may be a very difficult and expensive decision for an owner to make, but it will have to be made or your dog has no chance of surviving.
The first form of treatments with Systemic lupus in dogs will be immunosuppressive treatments, and they will not be optional, they will be required.
They will include high doses of glucocorticoids as well as other similar drugs.
Prednisone is used at the onset of treatment and is usually given in dosages of one milligram per pound of your dog’s body weight.
This is given twice a day for the first two weeks, and then is tapered off gradually until your dog reaches a regime of every other day treatments.
However, this comes with some possible complications, as gastrointestinal ulcerations may develop. The initial dosages also cause vomiting, diarrhea, and a complete loss of appetite.
Azathioprine is also given at a dosage of one milligram per pound of your dog’s body weight every day or every other day, depending on how badly your dog’s system has been attacked.
This drug also has complications, as it can potentially cause bone marrow issues, pancreatitis, or can cause liver disease to develop.
However, it will also be needed to combat this killer.
Gold salts may also be used to treat dogs with this disease in some parts of the world.
However, you should be very careful with this treatment and discuss it thoroughly with your veterinarian.
If your dog has any type of a kidney issues, it can very easily cause severe kidney damage as well as causing protein loss in your dog’s urine.
Antibiotics will also be used, at least initially, to prevent any type of bacterial infections.
Systemic lupus in dogs is a very serious life threatening disease.
The overall prognosis will all depend on the extent of the kidney damage it has caused as well as any other organ damage.
If it has caused severe anemia and what is referred to as thrombocytopenia, which is low platelet counts, it will be a very sad outcome.
What makes this disease all the more difficult is that the lifetime treatments can become very expensive. This will make for a tough decision for most owners.