Canine Lupus

Canine lupus is an autoimmune disease that can be fatal in dogs. The disease is present in humans also. The most common types of lupus found in dogs are the systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that affects the entire body, and the discoid lupus, which affects only the skin, focusing on the face and nose. Some dog breeds are more likely to get the disease. The disease will attack the dog’s internal organs, seeing them as foreign bodies.

Causes of Lupus in Dogs

The causes of lupus have not been established; it may be a congenital disease that may be triggered by different environmental factors such as exposure to sun or chemicals.

Symptoms of Canine Lupus

The symptoms of lupus will include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Rashes
  • Anemia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of activity and the refusal to engage in activities
  • Lesions on the skin
  • Loss of pigmentation in the nose and face area (in case of discoid lupus)
  • The dog is sensitive to sun

The disease will manifest itself through the attack of the internal organs; the body will build antibody cell complexes or immune complexes. These immune complexes will gradually destroy the organs, limiting their function. The immune complexes frequently attack the kidneys, the heart, skin or joints, so there will be symptoms related to the affected areas.

Diagnosing Lupus in Dogs

Given that the symptoms of lupus can indicate other diseases also, a thorough blood work is needed. The most accurate test to diagnose lupus is the ANA (antinuclear antibodies) test.

Treatment for Canine Lupus

Being an autoimmune disease, lupus will be likely to attack the dog’s own organs, identifying them as foreign bodies. The treatment should focus on weakening the dog’s immune system and stopping the development of the immune complexes. However, this will make the dog more susceptible to other diseases, which can be fatal.

Corticosteroids are administrated in high doses. The most common corticosteroids used for canine lupus are prednisone or prednisolone. The lengthy administration of corticosteroids can have multiple side effects in dogs including weight gain, behavioral changes and kidney problems.

The secondary infections that occur in dogs with lupus must be immediately taken care of. Kidney failure and arthritis may often occur as secondary diseases.

Vitamins and supplements may be recommended to prevent other infections; naturist remedies may also be applied.


Dogs with lupus cannot be treated, as a lupus cure hasn’t been found yet. The treatment should also focus on the secondary infections, making sure that the medication will not interfere with the drugs prescribed for lupus.

Nearly half of dogs diagnosed with lupus die within the first year of the disease; however, death is caused by secondary infections.

Even if the causes of the disease haven’t been established, dogs with lupus shouldn’t be bred, as it may be an inherited disease. Also, if a dog with lupus is pregnant, the disease may attack the fetus and this may result in a spontaneous abortion.

Lupus is a rare disease; if detected in timely manner, lupus can be manageable with medication and extra care.