Caring for Dogs With Lupus

For the owner that loves her dogs, lupus can be a very sad diagnosis. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease that affects cats, dogs and humans, that occurs when the body identifies its own organs as foreign and attacks. The disease is most frequently seen in large breeds, like German Shepherds, Collies and Siberian Huskies.

Symptoms of Lupus

Dogs that suffer from lupus will have a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms include fluctuating fevers, anemia, lethargy, anorexia, reduced mobility and dermal lesions.

When the body begins attacking itself, it builds antibody-cell complexes, known as immune complexes. The immune complexes lodge themselves in capillaries and in areas of microcirculation, focusing mostly on skin, kidneys and joints. The obstruction limits organ function.

The location of these obstructions can create symptoms for your dog. Skin lesions result from obstructions under the skin. Loss of mobility can come from obstructions in the joints.

Breeding Dogs with Lupus

Most veterinarians argue against breeding when the bitch or stud is affected. Although the cause of Lupus is unknown, some believe that the disease is hereditary. Furthermore, corticosteroids can limit a dog's heat cycle, and the sick dog's medications are known to cause birth defects and spontaneous abortions in puppies.

If any of your dogs are diagnosed with Lupus, you can prevent further spread by ending the breeding of the infected individuals and focusing more closely on treatment.

Treatment for Dogs with Lupus

Lupus is difficult to treat because it causes so many different symptoms, most of them vague. If you notice your dog behaving strangely, talk to your vet. Early detection is key in the treatment of Lupus, so that intervention can start in the first years of the disease. The first step is usually fixing the immune system with courses of chemotherapy drugs.

One of the biggest dangers with Lupus is the development of secondary diseases that result from the impaired immune system. Many vets recommend antibiotic therapy as a result of the low white cell counts. Kidney failure and arthritis are known to develop as secondary diseases with Lupus, and are treated in addition to the primary disease.

Vitamin E supplements can also prevent the development of secondary infections. By boosting the immune system with Vitamin E, as well as herbal supplements and plant sterols, you can control the immune health of your dog while spending more time focusing on treating Lupus.

Lupus causes loss of pigment on your dog's face, particularly around the nose. This can lead to sunburns with exposure to UV light, so apply sunscreen to your dog's face before leaving the house.

Overall, Lupus is a serious disease that kills up to 40% of affected dogs in the first year after diagnosis. By monitoring your dog's health carefully you can aid in the early detection of any secondary infection while at the same time treating your dog for the initial.