Canine Lupus Prognosis

Canine lupus is a disease that develops due to a hyperactive immune system. The immune system will produce inflammatory cells and will start to attack its own organs. The condition may be controlled and if this is done successfully, the prognosis is positive. However, if the dog doesn't get medication and the condition is left to advance, lupus may be fatal.

Lupus in Dogs

Lupus is a systemic disease that will manifest through the production of inflammatory antibodies. The dog's body will not recognize its own cells and organs and produce these antibodies as a defense mechanism. The disease will manifest through the inflammation of the lining of the vital organs, resulting in organ dysfunction or damage. The disease may advance if not detected and may cause death due to organ failure. Typically, lupus will attack the kidneys first, but the lungs or the heart may also be the first to be affected.

Canine Lupus Symptoms

The symptoms of lupus should be identified, as an early detection can help with administering treatment and controlling the disease, increasing the dog's chances of survival. Watch out for symptoms such as:

  • Fever, especially in the evening
  • Dermatitis
  • Skin lesions
  • Lack of appetite
  • Reduced activity
  • De-pigmented areas on the nose, visible especially if the dog has a dark nose
  • Swollen joints resulting in pain when moving

Diagnosis of Canine Lupus

If the symptoms are present, the vet should perform a few tests to detect if the dog has lupus. A positive antinuclear antibody test may give a clear diagnosis. Following the diagnosis, the vet will recommend treatment, which is typically made up of corticosteroids such as Prednisone.

Canine Lupus Prognosis

Lupus is not a disease that can be treated. However, if the condition is detected early and the dog gets regular treatment, he may live a normal life. If the dog gets corticosteroids or other immune system suppressants, it is important to manage the secondary diseases the dog is exposed to. In some cases, the dog may die due to a secondary disease that cannot be treated.

If the disease is not detected early, the inflammatory cells can cause permanent organ damage and the prognosis is poor, even with medication. Depending on the organ that is affected, the dog may survive for up to 12 months. If the organ damage is reversible, the dog has higher chances of survival.

Caring for a Dog with Lupus

A dog with lupus should get extra attention. He should not be exposed to sun, chemicals and other factors that are believed to activate the immune system. The treatment will focus on reducing the activity of the immune system. For this reason, you need to pay extra attention to any of the dog's symptoms, as he may get easily infected with other diseases. Some vets will recommend keeping the dog mostly indoors.