Symptoms of Lupus in Dogs

Lupus in dogs has a rare incidence and some breeds are more likely to get affected by this autoimmune condition. The causes of the disease haven’t been studied and there is no cure for lupus. However, identifying the signs of lupus is important, as early detection can give you an upper hand on managing the disease and making sure your dog is not at risk.

Types of Canine Lupus

Lupus can be of several types, however, in dogs there have been only 2 identified types:

  • Discoid lupus, manifested on the dog’s skin and present mainly in the nose and face area
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) which is spread in the entire body

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system does not recognize the internal organs and will attack them.

Symptoms of SLE

The systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) will be manifested in the body and the dog will display several symptoms:

The dog will also spend more time sleeping and will engage in fewer activities than usual. SLE is a disease that will cause the production of antibody cell complexes, also known as immune complexes. The antibody cell complexes may attack any internal organ and hinder normal function. Typically, SLE affects the kidneys first. In this case, you may notice changes in your dog’s urination habits.

SLE may also affect the heart, joints and the skin.

Symptoms of Discoid Lupus

The symptoms of the discoid lupus will be mainly present in the facial area. You may notice a discoloration of the nose and the dog may also have negative reactions to the sun. He may have facial rashes that are butterfly shaped.

However the dog will also have fever and some of the symptoms present in SLE.

The lupus symptoms may be triggered by sun, over exhaustion or the prolonged exposure to harsh chemicals.

The disease may occur at any age, but is more common in dogs over the age of 5 or 6.

Diagnosing Lupus

The symptoms of lupus are not obvious enough to give you a proper diagnosis. The butterfly shaped rashes is a clear sign of lupus, however, this may not always occur or cannot be visible.

Blood tests will confirm the lupus. An antinuclear antibody test (ANA) is an efficient indicator of lupus.

Lupus Treatment

Lupus can be treated with medication that will stop the development of the antibody cell complexes, which may be done through chemotherapy. The dog should also get some immunosuppressants. Corticosteroids such as Prednisone or Prednisolone are prescribed.

Secondary infections may become severe in dogs with lupus, due to the immunosuppressant medication. In many cases, these secondary diseases can lead to death, so it is imperative to treat these secondary infections, making sure at the same time that the lupus is also under control. Arthritis and kidney problems are common in dogs with lupus.

Lupus cannot be fully treated, but is manageable.