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Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body mounts an inappropriate immune response to some part of itself.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an uncommon but severe disorder in which the inappropriate immune response is widespread in the body, and can cause arthritis, kidney disease, anemia, and skin disease. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) is thought to be a milder variant of SLE, and the problems are confined to the skin. CLE is also called discoid lupus erythematosus

What breeds are affected by lupus erythematosus?
CLE is seen more often than SLE, although both conditions are uncommon. There is a breed predisposition for the collie, Shetland sheepdog, and German shepherd, as well as crosses of these breeds.

For many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are inconclusive. We have listed breeds for which there is a consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed.

What does lupus erythematosus mean to your dog & you?
SLE most commonly affects joints, muscle, skin, blood, and/or kidneys. The condition tends to wax and wane, so your dog will have periods of remission and of flare-up. The kinds of problems you may notice include shifting lameness (ie varies depending on which joint is affected at any time), weakness and pale gums (due to anemia), and/or increased drinking and urination (kidney disease). The face and the feet are the areas of the skin most often affected, with ulcers and loss of pigment on the nose, and ulceration and thickening of the footpads.

With CLE, you are most likely to see red, scaling areas of inflammation on your dog's face, and loss of pigment from the nose. There may also be lesions on the ears and thickening of the footpads. Affected dogs are otherwise healthy.

Nasal scarring is common with both SLE and CLE. Exposure to ultraviolet light is a factor (especially in CLE), and so the condition is seen more often and is more severe in the summer and in sunny parts of the world.

How is lupus erythematosus diagnosed?
Because SLE can affect many different body systems, diagnosis is challenging. (In fact it is sometimes called, "the great imitator"). Once suspected, diagnosis is confirmed by specific blood tests and biopsy for examination by a veterinary pathologist.

CLE is diagnosed through examination of biopsy samples.Diagnosis of CLE is by histopathologic and immunopathologic evaluation.

How is lupus erythematosus treated?
Treatment for SLE generally requires relatively high doses of steroids in combination with chemotherapy. In general, dogs with joint, muscle, or skin disease seem to respond better to medication, and have longer periods of remission, than those with severe blood or kidney problems. Unfortunately, many dogs with SLE die or are euthanized within a year of diagnosis, either due to the disease itself, the inability to control it, and/or unacceptable drug reactions. In other dogs, the disease can be well-controlled with medication for several years.

CLE is treated with relatively lower doses of steroids plus vitamin E and fatty acid supplements. Treatment generally needs to be lifelong, and dogs usually do well on it.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation worsens the skin lesions in both conditions, so sunscreen is adviseable and dogs should be sheltered from peak sunlight (approximately 10:00 to 3:00).



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About Your Dog, is your online ressource of articles on puppy and dog health, dog training and information about your pet dog