We walk dogs that are healthy, elderly, and those which present with illnesses common and uncommon. Each of our pooches is treated with care, and our “special needs” walkees are given as much care as they need to make their walk comfortable and enjoyable, and at their own pace.

Lupus in dogs is a disease which, just like in humans, the immune system attacks the body’s own cells and tissue. There are two different types of canine lupus, each has different symptoms and treatment options.

The most common form of lupus in dogs is “Discoid Lupus Erythematosus” (DLE) which affects the dog’s skin, often commonly around the nose and face.

“Systemic Lupus Erythematosus” (SLE) is a much more serious condition possibly affecting almost any part of your dog’s body. The symptoms vary depending on the organs that are affected. Often, this can imitate the symptoms of other conditions which is why it often missed and proper veterinary diagnoses and care is of utmost importance

Symptoms that could indicate your dog has Lupus

The symptoms of lupus in dogs depend on the type. Symptoms of DLE are typically benign and mostly just affect the skin, while symptoms of SLE are extremely variable and are a lot more serious.

Here are a few symptoms that could present with each type of canine lupus:

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE)

DLE most commonly affects the face, nose, lips, mouth, ears, or areas around the eyes, although in rare cases, it has been known to affect both paws and genital area

Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Pale skin on the bridge of the nose
  • Redness of the skin, especially the nose, lips, and face
  • Scaly, flaky, or crusty skin
  • Sores / ulcers
  • Pain at the affected sites
  • Itchiness or scratching at affected areas
  • Bacterial infections

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

SLE is an immune disease where your dog’s immune system starts to attack the body’s cells and tissue, affecting almost any area of your dog’s body, quickly becoming life-threatening if organs are affected

Here are a few common symptoms that you might find present with SLE:

  • Shifting leg lameness
  • Arthritis, muscle pain, and stiffness
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Sores or lesions on the skin
  • Anaemia
  • Hair loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Seizures
  • Enlarged liver, spleen, or kidneys
  • Increased thirst or urination

Causes of Lupus In Dogs

“Lupus” comes from the Latin word for “wolf.” There is possibly a genetic predisposition towards Lupus, but real causes of lupus are still not well understood, even today.

Some dogs are more at risk for developing SLE, with it being seen in female middle-aged dogs more frequently.

Certain breeds are also predisposed, including:

  • Afghan Hounds
  • Beagles
  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • Irish Setters
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Poodles
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Rough Collies

Diagnosis Of Lupus In Dogs

You’ll need to see your Veterinarian for a proper diagnosis of either form of lupus in your dog.

DLE: A diagnosis can be done by a skin biopsy from the affected area to rule out other causes of any symptom your dog displays

SLE: this is more difficult to diagnose, but your Vet will run blood tests to check for something called “antinuclear antibodies” in the blood

Treatment for Lupus in Dogs

DLE is fairly easy to treat, and your vet will focus on healing and controlling any sores, lesions, or ulcers that may appear. Topical steroids are often used to suppress the immune system response and reduce inflammation.

SLE treatments will vary depending on the affected organs. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune response that is causing damage.

While neither type is curable, treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and will continue for the rest of your dog’s life

As always – we strongly advise to never try and self-diagnose your dog. If something is wrong, go and see your Vet. They are, after all, the best person for the job